The Theft of the Rothchild Ruby is our first detective story. Some of the standard training I've showcased in this movie are sequences of tracking and scent searching.  Some of the unusual behaviors are Jyah carrying a teacup and saucer on his head (see right), Jyah (see below) . . . .   

However, as those of you who make movies of your dogs know, almost everything the dog does on-screen is trained (or elicited) . . . even things  the viewer thinks are just normal dog behavior.  One of Jyah's cued trained behaviors is ventriloquist-like talking, which allows me to add words to his movements.   Really cool! 

In this movie, I've tried a couple of fun movie-making techniques . . . using "night for day" and using the chroma key to insert Jyah into stock footage.

Shooting "night for day" was really easy.  We shot an outside scene in the daytime on a cloudy day so there were no shadows.  In editing, I banded down the clip so it appeared darker, and then I added a blue filter over the timeline,  banding it down to semi-opaque to give a bluish cast to the clip below it, making the scene look like night time.  We also did this in the house (see picture above of Jyah pulling the key out of the lock). 

In our story, Jyah "interviews" several people about the theft of a valuable ruby ring.  Rather than looking for actors to be in the movie, we used (royalty-free) stock footage of people and added Jyah to the clip, using green-screen (chroma key) techniques.  This means I shot video of Jyah in front of a green screen.  Then, in editing, I chroma-keyed the green color out leaving only Jyah.  When I put that clip above a stock footage clip with people in it, Jyah looked like part of the people clip. 

The other thing we did new for this movie was to locate a company that sells latex masks.  My husband has a full beard which makes it difficult to disguise him as different characters.  Wearing the latex mask made him look nothing like himself.  When making movies, it is necessary to have an unbelievably tolerant husband!

pulling keys out of a lock 

Sydney makes tea, gets a paper out of a peddle-foot/closed-lid wastebasket, and operates a Newton's Cradle desk toy. 

 unzipping a bag 

        operating an electic door. 

As I love working with my dogs, making movies using their wide variety of trained behaviors to tell the story is the perfect way for me to preserve, in an entertaining format, all that I've taught them to do.  We hope that other dog-loving people will also enjoy our stories.

Copyright December 2010