Kathy & Eric's Wedding - The Invitation

Most folks do a very slick card, probably with embossed things, white lace and extensive of use of ligatures - something with paper that goes in an envelope. I wasn't really feeling like that would be any fun for me. Yes I could easily crank out an invitation, but no - I needed this to come more from whatever it is that is me. So it become a DVD that mixed live action video with animation, along with sound design and music of course.

The whole idea was to give something more to the recipients - an experience that would set up the proper mood for a wedding/party on a farm. I figured the extra work doing a DVD would be worth it. And it was.

For anyone who we were unable to invite, or for the curious, you can experience the artwork and the invitation video I created on this page. I'm including a lot of background information for when I look back at this page years from now. Feel free to skip over all the geekery.

**Fixed bad font in video during Eric's segment Sat, June 2, 2007 12:31 PM.

The Save-the-Date Postcard

Here's the postcard front. I believe we sent this out in August of 2006.

Save-the-date postcard

About the Postcard Artwork

I didn't know exactly how it would come out at first so I proposed we set up an automatic photoshoot via laptop and a digital camera. We'd dress up and try out as many poses as we could think of while the camera took a photo every 60 seconds. I've done this many times in my own stop-motion tests for music videos and such.

We did the photo shoot in our living room with minimal setup and lighting. We tryed all sorts of poses, outfits and props. Every couple of shots we'd wander over and look at the results on my laptop as they were downloaded from the camera. Of course while we're looking the camera would continue to shoot photos:

Kathy Ulrich & Eric Peacock reviewing the shots

Among a lot of really cheesy poses we struck gold with the origin of the iconic logo featured in all the wedding materials.

The un-altered source photo used in the invitation.

After the photo was picked out I decided to use a "dirty" illustrated look based on techniques I'd been using in my digital paintings. I felt this would improve or cover up the overall cheesiness from using the photo on it's own

I used Agency FB for the typeface. In retrospect I should've looked harder for other typefaces, but Agency was handy at the time.

The organic background art is built from several macro photos of grass with my own dirtification and manipulation. As is often the case, I am indebted to Stock Xchange for the free stock photos.

We printed online via 4by6.com.

The Invitation DVD

The outer cover of the DVD packaging:

DVD outer packaging

I suspect almost no one who recieved the DVD noticed, but the outer cover can be removed and flipped over for a more conservative version of the cover art:

Alternate DVD packaging

And of course the DVD label.

DVD disc label

Dirty secret: to package it all up we used recycled DVD cases taken from my own DVD collection - I'd been migrating my DVDs to DiscSox sleeves to save space and had a pile of cases in good shape ready to go. It seemed better than wasting them and helped keep the invitation cost more reasonable.

And last but not least, this is the meat of the invitation - the video itself. It's about 6 minutes long and a whopping 50 megabytes, if you've been reading anything on the top part of the page by now the video should be nicely preloaded and ready to go.

If it's not playing you may need to install or update your browser's Flash plug-in. This is resized and compressed down from the 10-bit uncompressed source, targeted at 700 kbps broadband. It lacks some of the oomph of the DVD on a system with a subwoofer, but should do nicely.

Geeky Production Notes:

I begin building artwork and doing some preliminary 3D animation (the title and those clouds) in early November of 2006. This came from storyboards that Kathy and I collaborated on. Kathy also wrote the dialogue and I filled in the rest. We shot the interviews and I did most of the real work starting at the very end of January 2007. We started shipping the DVD in the early part of February.

The video was shot in the corner of our spare bedroom, which most of the time functions as my laboratory/studio when it's not our home theater.

I used a green screen with three-point-lighting in a space far too small for proper lighting and keying - it worked well enough, but left me with a lot of digital clean-up later on while editing. To give you some idea, keying even high-quality MiniDV is something the professional world avoids because, well, it's hard work for mixed results.

We shot 1.5 hours of raw footage with the interviews with our friends. The outtakes included on the DVD didn't really show all of the good stuff, mostly because I ran out of time to edit more extras together.

The animation, backgrounds and miscellaneous artwork were created with the usual combination of software I use: Photoshop, Cinema 4D, Motion, After Effects, and photos I shot with my Canon Digital Rebel XT. A great deal of the art and photography was grabbed from the many works-in-progress that litter my hard drives.

The entire project was edited and composited in Final Cut Pro 5.1. The DVD assets were encoded and authored with DVD Studio Pro 4.1.

The DV video was shot on a 3 CCD Panasonic PS-GV400, a prosumer camera that has amazing quality for it's price-point. This camera shipped in 2003 and has since been replaced with lesser quality models in the same price range. Ironically even with the newer HD models on the market this camera has become a bit of a collector's item among video pros due to it's great manual control and high quality. Other than not being HD, it's been a great learning camera for me.

The audio was mastered in Soundtrack Pro version 1. The lavelier mic I had originally planned to use for recording the dialogue was inadvertantly fried before the shooting began, so I had to use room sound which was filtered and cleaned up as much as could be. Nevertheless the quality of the interview audio will always bug me.

Some of the music I used was from my own compositions. These were created with Digital Performer over the past five or six years. The intro piece with all the classical music is stock, but I cut it up and rearranged it pretty heavily. To date I have not released any of my original music that was used. They are part of an album that has been on the verge of completion for many years, but I have had complications getting it mastered and finished to satisfaction. I plan to finish and release this album online (and on CD for the few that would want it that way) after the wedding is out of the way.

Because of time, a lot of shots were simplified or left out. I'd never intended to use as many 2D stills as I did - but in the end it just wasn't possible to really exploit all the nifty things I could do around my full-time job (which had me in the middle of a big crunch).

-Eric Peacock, Sunday, April 29, 2007 2:10 AM

Updated Wed, August 29, 2007 8:10 PM

Stacks of DVDs ready to mail to potential guests