Monday, 25 May 2009

Meet Bob

This is Bob. My very first CG character. This one I created in Maya. There's still much to do to make Bob look great, but I think he's going to look pretty scarry after I'm done with him... :-)

- Martin

Friday, 15 May 2009

Keying in After Effects

What is Keying?
- Keying is a procedure in which we extract a certain part of our video (e.g. actor) and make the rest transparent.
- We are using green or blue screen to help us in this procedure.
- In other words, we are setting up a proper Alpha Channel for our video.

What is an Alpha Channel?
- It is a Channel that defines which part of your layer is transparent (black color) and what part is opaque (white color).

What is the Color Keying?
- It is a procedure when we're using the layers RGB (Red-Green-Blue) values to extract a certain color range from the image.
- We often use green or bluescreen to help us in this procedure.

Why is there no 'redscreen'?
- Because most of the people have a little bit of red color present in their skin pigmentation and in case of using imaginary redscreen, we would probably always key out even a part of the face.

Why are we using greenscreen more than bluescreen?
- Because Blue Channel (Color) often creates more digital noise than Green Channel, which makes keying harder.

Exception!!! (Which I experience in almost every shot of Threads of Destiny) Blonde people should always be shot on a blue screen.

When picking a color for Color Keying, concentrate on the color that lies closest to the person's body.

Various Keying Tools in After Effects:
1) Color Key - pick a color, set tolerance, thin the edges and feather them. Even though you never really want your actor to be feathered around the edges.

2) Color Range - select more colors and the range of keyed out colors is created. Fuzzines is basically a feather option. Set Lab if you want a better key. Don't ask why, do it.

3) Linear Color Key - basically the same effect as a Color Key, with a difference that you can pick and add your tolerance manually on the screen.

4) Keylight - an award winning Keying tool and a built-in AAE CS3 plugin I like to use.

Spill Supressor - a great tool for getting rid of a green color from places like shadows etc.


a) View: ther are several view modes
- Source = shows the source video
- Source Alpha = shows the Alpha Channel of the source video
- Corrected Source & color Correction Edges = shows the changes in case of Pre-Color Correction
- Screen Matte = shows the newly created Alpha Channel. You need to set the Screen Colour below the View option in order to create the Alpha channel.
- Inside & Outside Mask, Combined Matte = shows the masks created in Inside Mask and Outside Mask dialog
- Status = shows your transparency only by using pure black, pure white and 50% grey colors. The 50% grey color indicates that the are is not 100% transparent nor 100% opaque. This helps you find spots of transparency you may have overlooked when playing with Screen Matte.

Gain: increases the gain of the picked Screen Color. Don't go over 150.
Screen Balance: Balancing the amount of grey pixels. Stay close to 50.

b) Screen Matte:
- Clip Black: increase to make grey pixels more black
- Clip White: decrease to make grey pixels more white
- Screen Shrink: expand or shrink the alpha matte
- Screen Softness: makes the edges of the matte feathered

c) Foreground Color correction:
- Choose enable to color correct the Matte, a very powerful tool inside the plug-in
- Colour Supression disables a certain Color from the unwanted Color Spill. Pick from the scroll-down menu and play with the Balance and Amount
- Colour Balancing changes the overall Hue and Saturation of the Matte
- In the Color Balance palette stay very close to white, if you want to achieve a natural result

d) Edge Color Correction:
- Choose enable to make active
- Similarly to the Foreground Color Correction you can adjust Saturation, Contrast, Brightness, Supression and Color Balancing for the Edges of your matte
- You can also specify the Edge Softness, Grow and Hardness here

e) Source Crops:
- You can crop your Matte here
- Pick the croping mode - you can either fill the crop with Color, repeat the same line of the cropped pixels, Mirror this line or Wrap it around. Experiment with these to see the result.
- By draging the Left to 100, you crop from the left side of the screen. By draging Right to 0 you crop the image from the right side of the screen. The same goes to Bottom and Top
- Drop the Edge Color Alpha to 0 to make the Color crop transparent

- Martin

Sunday, 10 May 2009

End of Universe

This is just another one of my VFX tests. I like blowing things and so...why the heck not blow the whole universe? But this time without using Trapcode Particular. So, this is how it's done with just AAE built-in plugins.

I'm also working on some effects for my fellow classmates animation movie. With any luck I'll post it here in a few days.

- Martin

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Latest Version of Possessed

Even though there aren't many important changes, there are at least few extra (subtle) effects in this version of my latest VFX short film. And it's on Vimeo now. And...bah, no more stupid reasons for posting it again. I'm just probably proud of it :-). Except the trainers, of course.

- Martin

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Good News

I've been gone now for a few days, shooting a promo for this lovely group of hotels. It's been a great experience for me, to work with professionals from Video Art Production. And I also earned money to buy a new laptop. I'll probably switch to Apple Mac.

And one more good news - in a recent post I've posted trailer for a fanfilm called The Hunt for Gollum. The film is out now and it's brilliant indeed. Watch it here and visit the homepage.

- Martin