The Accidental Highwayman

Making The Accidental Highwayman Videos

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

Reprinted with permission by Ben Tripp

This is what happens when a writer gets his hands on after effects.

In Los Angeles, everybody knows somebody who makes movies or television. Ben Tripp worked in the movie business for a long time, and his wife Corinne Marrinan Tripp makes documentary films and television. So he knows people. Talented, versatile people who make the magic happen. You might imagine that when Tor Teen approached him about making a book trailer for The Accidental Highwayman, Ben’s first instinct would be to turn to this tremendous pool of talent.

You would imagine wrong, of course. Instead, Ben set about making the trailer single-handedly. Then he got carried away and made three more. Along the way the scale of the task got completely out of hand, and the great Buz Carter was enlisted to assist in the shooting. Then it was back to the desk to begin compositing, titles, and building the sound. Here are a few interesting aspects of these miniature productions.

ben-study-vid-green-screen-original

All live action shots were performed in front of a green screen, at different times of day so that the lighting would match the backgrounds. In Los Angeles everyone has a green screen in their garage somewhere. This one was pinned to the ceiling or tacked to the back of Ben’s house. Here we see an interior shot of the ukulero performing.

ben-tripp-study

The backgrounds were composed in Photoshop; this study is what Ben wishes his office looked like. In fact he does not own a hippo skull or a bust of Voltaire and there is no stolen Vermeer over his mantelpiece. His real office doesn’t even have a mantelpiece in it. But the black-and-white portrait of his wife (next to the window) does in fact hang near his desk.


Below is a screen capture of what a home movie studio looks like these days: a whole lot of layers on a computer screen.

after-effects-compositing-ben-in-study

Not everything could be achieved digitally, of course. Stock footage of sheep and a large papier-mâché giant’s head were involved, too. Ben’s love of all crafts shows here in sculpture; he also sewed the rest of the giant costume.

Originally his French Bulldog Roscoe, who is the model for Demon in the book, was to appear in the videos. But he had recently had back surgery, was underweight and partially shaved, and looked like an uncooked Thanksgiving turkey. So he did not appear in the videos.

Read more about The Accidental Highwayman and Ben Tripp at his website, kitbristol.com.

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