Archive for » June, 2011 «

Monday, June 13th, 2011 | Author:

Here’s another quick breakdown, it’s much easier to put these together than it is to re-edit a new showreel! These spots were produced by Rotor Studios in North Sydney. They were shot on an Arri Alexa and graded in DaVinci, the footage is gorgeous.

The interesting thing about these spots is the colour workflow that Rotor used. Colour management is a very complex subject matter, and it’s not a simple task to introduce a fully integrated, colour managed workflow to the entire post-production chain. I’ve work at loads of places where they think that colour management is simply a matter of calibrating the computer monitor. I’ve also seen places that don’t even bother with any colour management, and grade spots destined for broadcast on cheap computer monitors – without even a TV as a reference. But it’s quite a complex area, and the best advice for colour management comes from the awesome TV show ‘Monkey Magic’, which opened an episode with the quote “it is the beginning of wisdom to say ‘I know nothing’ “.

Rotor cleverly avoided colour management by reversing the usual post-production process. Normally (in my experience anyway) colour grading is the last step completed. Compositors work with ungraded footage and colour grading in After Effects is usually part of the compositing / fx process. Once the edit is locked off and all the visual-fx shots are complete, a colour grader will work through the timeline and make sure everything is consistent. Rotor reversed this process and colour graded the footage first, in a fully calibrated and broadcast specc’d DaVinci suite. All grading decisions made were made based on what they looked like on a broadcast monitor, properly setup and operated by a professional grader. The compositors then worked with the graded, output footage and didn’t adjust colour or levels at all. When the rendered composites were reassembled in Final Cut and output, the end result looked the same as when the footage was initially graded- because nothing had been altered! By using this ‘reverse’ process many of the pitfalls that go with a colour managed workflow were avoided.

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Thursday, June 09th, 2011 | Author:

Multi-pass compositing using Adobe After Effects.

I haven’t had time to create an updated showreel, but here’s some recent compositing work completed in After Effects. This was a fun project to work on and it was produced by a great team of guys at Digital Pulse, in Sydney.

The fun part of compositing is thinking of elements that would enhance the scene and then creating them from scratch within After Effects. For example, the opening shot required rain – that was in the script. But adding splashes on the footpath added authenticity- simple yet effective.  In the shot where the guy looks out of the window, some subtle light rays (using CC light burst) give the scene a softer atmosphere. And the ripples on the car windscreen as the wipers animate also add realism to the shot.

Most of these shots use a ‘light wrap’ to enhance the edges of objects. These are easy to make from a matte shape. You duplicate the matte layer and use it as an inverted alpha for itself. Then blur the top layer (the track matte).

In most cases I didn’t have a matte shape for every object in the scene, so I would concoct one from the depth pass using plugins like levels, curves or ‘extract’.

For stronger edge effects, and to create directional rim-lighting effects, I simply used the ‘bevel alpha’ effect on the matte layer. First I’d use the ‘fill’ effect to fill the matte with black, so you couldn’t see anything. Then the ‘bevel alpha’ effect would add a directional edge that I could easily move and adjust the thickness of. This could then be tinted and added over the colour pass. It’s a very useful technique using very basic effects!

The ambient occlusion pass is used to define shadows and edges, usually with either a ‘multiply’ or ‘linear burn’ blending mode.  I would always tint the blacks of the AO pass to be the opposite colour to the light source.  So if the light source is blue, I would tint the AO pass orange.  This adds realism and also a sense of warmth to shots that would feel colder and harsher if all of the shadows were pure black.

Finally, the Frischluft ‘Lenscare’ plugin was used to give each scene a shallow depth-of-field, and for a number of pull-focus shots.  It’s an awesome, gorgeous looking plugin.

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