Japan was a blast. Another trip I’ll never forget. The highlight was seeing Shin Godzilla. In the days leading up to the premier I traveled to as many Godzilla places as possible. These places included Shin Godzilla locations made popular by the trailers. Kamakura was one place I had to visit if nowhere else. Shin Godzilla makes landfall there and walks parallel to the local train. After more than an hour train ride to Kamakura followed by a ten minute walk I found the exact location. I took photos and video with the intention of recreating this scene with the Banpresto Yuji Sakai Shin Godzilla lottery prize figure. I wanted to capture the scene as best as possible using all original photography. Several days ago while fighting off a bout of jet lag I put together the scene. Here’s the process from start to finish.
Step 1: Background. The street is narrow and a road traveled by local residents, school kids, bikers, and cars. My original photo is not perfect but very close to the composition in the film.
Step 2: Foreground. I had to shoot the Banpresto figure with the right angle, lighting, and scale to match that of Godzilla in the movie scene. How convincing the composite image will be is determined by seamless edges between Shin Godzilla and the background. If the viewer doesn’t question the validity of the composite image upon first sight, then success has been achieved. There’s no shortcuts when it comes to this part in the process. Meticulous attention and patience are required to cut around the figure.
Step 3: Positioning. Because my photo was not an exact match, the placement of Shin Godzilla was not a match. The tree on the right extends too far into the shot. So the figure is set further to the right. The tail was shot and positioned separately. The head was made smaller and the neck was widened a bit. Then I adjusted the color, levels, curves, and saturation.
Step 4: Details. The details can make or break the picture. The most difficult details were the train lines in front of Godzilla. Again, there’s no substitute to making these details look authentic. Thin lines were made in Photoshop to connect some train wires and close masking was used to make others. Next was the addition of smoke. This was simple but essential to camouflaging the seams between Godzilla and the photo. After adjusting the curves and levels, I was satisfied with the overall sense of realism.
Step 5: Adjustments. I made overall adjustments to the color and saturation in Photoshop. This helps the photo better match the trailer shot more closely.
Finally, I added the MyKaiju logo and descriptive text for visual interest. And here’s the final photo!