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The Haunted House

In this Tim Burton style concept of a haunted house on a cliff we tried to work mainly with silhouettes, allowing only subtle highlights and atmos to imply detail.

While working on another project not long ago, we came across this stock footage of the dramatic silhouette of a cliff at night and knew we had to do something with it. The plate features a full moon backlighting the scene, creating very strong and contrasty shapes that would very much fit into a Tim Burton movie.

We used Midjourney to come up with some concepts of a haunted house, taking stylistic inspiration from classics such Sleepy Hollow and the mansion from Citizen Kane. We used image2image with some paintovers of the plate to guide Midjourney into the right direction, which worked well (apart from Midjourney insisting on gigantic moons).

Next, we used Syntheyes to track the camera and Blender to create the scene. As with all FunReel concepts, we used KitBash assets to populate the scene and create the mansion. We then used geometry nodes to scatter the haunted tree assets on the cliff and hand-placed some hero elements where we needed them. We animated a carriage and some horses to create interest and intention for the shot.

Lighting the shot was a bit of a balancing act since we wanted to let the silhouettes stand for themselves. To avoid over-lighting the shot, we rendered the specs separately and dialed them in during comp, just allowing the faintest hint of details.

To make the shot more cinematic, we replaced the clear sky with a matte painting that was a bit more dramatic. We then dressed in some whispy atmos to create the spooky and haunted vibe we were going for and added some practical elements of crows and torches to bring the shot to life.

This was definitely one of the team's favorite concepts from our first round of pitches. It was huge fun to work on and to see if we could come up with something that looked like it could be part of a Tim Burton movie. Gotta re-watch Sleepy Hollow again...

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