Wednesday, 15 May 2013

SS2 : Plan & Micro Projects + tests

I have decided to collaborate with Mohammed Awath because he wanted to focus on post production Visual effects which I am also interested it. His original idea was basically to film a person walking and incorporate some animation in the surroundings, but looking at the time schedule left, I dont think we can add in some 2D animation, it will take some time to complete it, because I have experience it in the previous final piece on "Only Time Can Tell Animation" though it might still work...We have decided to look for actors and actresses right away so, itll be easier to contact them early.

We have decided to do some experimenting in our own for some Visual and Special effects, like green screening and camera tricks. Since this is the first time Im doing a Visual effects, I have decided to try out some Video Copilot tutorials and try it out for my self, I have done the Iron man hud tutorial. I think it is very simple to make, it not as complicated as I imagined because I have used after effects quite alot. Though I havent used any tracking on it because it is hard to track my face without a marker, especially I have used a really bad camera phone to record a footage of me, it is very blurry. But I am still happy with the result

Micro Project 1

I have made another mirco project experimenting on live action comedy skit. this is an idea that came out of no where and I thought it was a very funny idea, I had to film it. I asked my friend Danny to help me act out the scene and he was brilliant. the footages came out as I had hoped because we worked quite well in it and we enjoyed our selves. I do think if I am to have random person to act out in my soon to be film with Awath, I need to be good friends with the actors or we wont get along and might mess up the project. This tutorial is very helpful when shooting with someone. Even though this tutorial is for interviews, I think it could also help when filming in live action short story.

After filming with Danny, I have began to edit the footages in premiere pro, I have timed every footages right, adjusting the speed of the video to match it together, but not too much that makes the movement irregular. I have then simply adjusted the opacity of the fore ground layer to make it appear like a real ghost. I hope I could use this technique when creating my 2nd final piece after we finalised with the story.

Micro Project 2

If I want to specialise on effects and post production, I needed a footage to work on, I have done some experiment on special effects on reverse shot test where I had someone walk backwards and played it in reverse on premiere pro togive the illusion of the person walking forward. This has been inspired from my research.

After few days completing my micro projects, Riz Khan, another animator from the course has contacted me to to collaborate on a work experience to help promote Cranford College from London by having 7 adverts done. Our transport and food are paid for. I am basically in charge of the camera and lighting and Riz is in charge of mainly the directing and scripting because he has better grammar than I do :D I have used the things I have learnt from the video on "shooting an Interview" from above to use. I have made good friends with everyone. At first when we met the actors, they were very nervous because we behaved very professional. they arent even experienced, infact they literally work in that same university. So just before we shoot Riz and I got them to relax by telling some jokes and having fun. By the time we are ready to shoot, they will have confidence to talk to the camera. It takes some time to get them say the right lines, so we had to break it down for them, we switch camera angles so they can have a break from saying their lines and review it. I have kept the camera in mid shot so it shows professionalism and a little seriousness. If I was to use a wide shot, they would look too relaxed and feels more like a drama interview, didnt do close ups because its too serious.

We have shot 8 Adverts in a day and took all our energy away but it was a great experience for Riz and myself. When working in that college, we felt like we where big shots because, we got to do everything we want, they gave us all the food we need which I enjoyed and we got to redecorate the whole office. We even got to the principal's home, btw he is a millionaire and his home is gorgeous :D. For Post production a little editing is needed, just adding the logos and tags and we are done with our 1 days work experience. Here are some of the adverts.

After Completing the Advert shoot, I came up with the story about a man dying with a twist, I met up with Awath and discussed on ways to improve the scene and make it sound unique and simple to create. it took us hours to agree on the story and finally finalised it. I have then went on and do a proper story board showing the exact scenes I wanted to portray, though in filming, shot angles can be changed quite alot, depends on how good it looks like from the angle. We would be taking alot of footage to experiment and see which fits better.

So far the story starts off with eye blinking, woke up in bed in a hospital and tries to escape the nurses, as he tries to get past them, he bumps to a busy nurse unexpectedly and continues to rush off the exit. The story is about a dying man so he goes out to the city and wants to explore and remember about good memories. At some point he had a jolt in his head remembering flashbacks about himself on the floor near a well and got helped by a pretty woman but he cant picture her face because his vision is going off. As he came to, he found himself near the well same as the flashback. He wishes to know who the woman was, so as he approached the well to wait, he lost all his energy drop to the floor. Camera pans to his wrist showing he is a patient. few seconds later his eyes r blinking slowly, and saw a woman trying to wake him up on the floor. The mans vision clears up a bit and remembered that the woman who help him in his flashback was the nurse he bumped to in the beginning and now is in front of him. He is satisfied that he saw her one last time and dies peacefully. After the credits, blinking scene is repeated same as the beginning waking up from the hospital. this shows that the events that are happening is on a loop but the guy doesnt know that, basically he has a short term amnesia.

We havent got any contacts of any actors to help us for our film but 3 actresses are willing to help. For now, I have volunteered to be the substitute actor doing some simple walks. Awath and I decided to test on camera angles, Awath is incharge of the camera because he is much more experienced in using one and he understands most of the settings. In this test shot, all I had to do is walk and act sad because it is also part of the story in the story board. I know I am a shit actor but I gave it my best. By the end of shooting, I have then composited the good shots and played around with some of the colour correction, I have even added in slow motion to give the effect of sadness which works well with the cinematic music. I have dulled the colour scheme and made it blue/ greenish which shows a bit of sadness because if I kept it too light, it would look too relaxing. we have also incorporated reverse motion in one scene where I started waving my arms around. I think it looked really good when it is played backwards. I added in a quick lens flare just to test the look of it, I didnt even animate its path but its alright for our first test

SS2: Research

The art of digital matte painting is a powerful technique for film makers. This makes the art of film making so much easier yet so much more ambitious. An effects editor can use matte painting to bring film to life by creating any living location they desire, space, heaven, forest, etc... this most of the times impress the traget audiences at the same time.

Matte Painting is a visually altered painted representation of a landscape background that would usually be too expensive for a film company to build and create or even travel to. Live action video footage are usually combined with digital matte painting these days. The live action video footages were mostly filmed on green screen or blue screen if the subject has a green colour on it to give contrast. This technique is used to place actors into many settings which are impossible to go to.

These days Matte paintings are mostly digital images that are created by using photo references, 3d Models, and used drawing tablets. After creating the ideal paintings, it is then combined with the 3D model environments which allows 3D camera movement. This can be done by using Blender, Bonjou, Maya, After Effects, etc...

Chroma Key:

Chroma key compositing is a special effects post production technique for compositing where you layer two images or footages on top of each other based on colour hues. This is to remove a background from the subject of the photo or footage and replace it with a desirable setting or scene where matte paintings come to use. This is mostly seen in news casting, motion picture and video game companies. A single colour range in the top layer is made transparent which shows the background from behind. This technique is mostly used in video production and post production. The technique is usually called colour keying, or green screen and blue screen. colour keying can be done in any colour but mostly used Green or Blue because it doesnt key out our flesh colours.

I am a big fan MysteryGuitarMan because he combines his stop-motion music with special effects and visual effects. In my example below, he has used the special effects to change his shirt and guitars. First He has used his shirt as a blue screen and used Chroma keying to change the colour and rotorscope it to make the change seamless by using the guitars as dividers.

As for the acoustic guitar change, he has motion tracked a picture of the acoustic to the back of the electric guitar, and used a morphing program for it to transform to the ukelele, rotorscoping is then used to clean and merge everything together by fading it together. Some parts he had to motion track his dog on a green screen on his hand.

In this video, I liked the idea where he used a slow motion effect on the background and he is dancing and singing around in real time which makes him look like he is superman moving in the speed of light. He has accomplished this by recording a footage of the background on a slow motion camera which in his case, he only had a camera that can shoot 60 frames per second. in the second footage, it was shot on the same place but with a green screen at the back of Mysteryguitarman. this was shot outside on the same place to get the right lighting for the camera. The first footage was then imported in final cut pro or premiere pro and played at 24 frames per second to give a slow mo effect and then layered the 2nd footage ontop and keyed off the green screen to make him appear moving in real time. If the 2nd footage with him on it was slowed down, the song would also be in slow mo which it will kill the whole purpose of the whole video.

Reverse motion film, I think this is an interesting effect, I could use this effect on my film because it is very unique, I can tell a story as my actor walk and interacts with the surroundings.

I find this video very helpful for creating a short film and promoting myself

I would love to do some matte painting for this second project because it is part of being a visual effects artist. I will be taking some raw footages and manipulate it so it will blend well with the short film I am about to create.

SS2: Moving into Visual Effects - Research

After completing my SS2 2D animation final, I have less than 2 months before the deadline. I have decided to create my 2nd Final piece and move on to Visual effects because I am deeply in love with big famous movies such as Iron man, Batman, Transformers, etc... I would love to film and direct my own movie, but more importantly I would like to focus on post production, which involves compositing and adding Visual effects. I am particularly in love with colour correction and colour grading.

Before I get started, I have done a bit of research about special effects and visual effects.

History Of Visual Effects

Motion pictures is one of the earliest form of entertainment technology, people usually are entertained just by watching normal everyday reality footages. As time passes by, people were able to produce comedy skits. Other people  used the first magic camera tricks just by stopping the camera and changing the scenes and playing it back again. Double exposure also began just by layering one footage on top of each other and this began the art of special effects. George Melies a famous magician became the father of movie special effects. He is well known for creating the first Sci-fi genre "A trip to the moon" it is a combination of animation, theatre play and special optical tricks. 

George produced 4000 films in all and discovered new techniques as he goes along. Many film makers these days are inspired of his work and working processes, people these days are improving and working on more realistic special effects. 

A popular iconic movie King Kong is one of the most loved character that has brought to life by special effects. It is a combination of stop motion animation and real life acting. Special effects has been used because there is no such thing as a giant gorilla and there are impossible scenes to shoot which are very dangerous to accomplish, even scenes have to be recreated by mostly creating a set and combining it using matte painting usually done in glass. this is done depending on how realistic the scenes they wanted it to be. During 1933 people believed King Kong was real because people have never seen this kind of film before, it is quite new at the time. 

looking at this image the footage of the girl is layered on top of the footage of the stop frame animation of king kong and parts of the background has been matte painted on. They have also used projection on the background for the live action.

In the first Star wars movie, they have been inspired from King Kongs Stopmotion effect to animate the robots AT-AT, these where all animated frame by frame to bring models to life.

Artificial visual or mechanical effects introduced into a movie or television show. The earliest special effects were created through special camera lenses or through tricks such as projecting a moving background behind the actors. Greater flexibility came with the development of the optical printer, which made it possible to combine separate pieces of film and replace part of an image, thus allowing for effects such as characters flying through the air. Special effects have also been created mechanically on the set through the use of devices such as wires, explosives, and puppets and by building miniature models to simulate epic scenes such as battles. The growing use of computer animation and computer-generated imagery has produced increasingly elaborate and realistic visual effects. Though each movie studio formerly had its own special-effects department, effects are now created by private companies such as George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, formed to provide the revolutionary effects seen in Star Wars (1977) and later movies.

But as time progress, animators and film makers started to used more CGI computer generated imagery to create a much more fluid animation and it has a much more easier way to manipulate, Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film. Visual effects using computer generated imagery has recently become accessible to the Independent filmmaker with the introduction of affordable animation and compositing software.

Visual effects are often integral to a movie's story and appeal. Although most visual effects work is completed during post-production, it usually must be carefully planned and choreographed in pre-production and production. Visual effects are designed and edited in Post-Production, with the use of graphic design, modeling, animation and similar software, while special effects are made on set, such as explosions, car chases and so on. A visual effects supervisor is usually involved with the production from an early stage to work closely with production and the film's director to achieve the desired effects.


Visual and Special Effects Techniques
  • Bullet time
  • Computer-generated imagery (often using Shaders)
  • Digital compositing
  • Dolly zoom
  • In-camera effects
  • Match moving
  • Matte (filmmaking) and Matte painting
  • Miniature effects
  • Morphing
  • Motion control photography
  • Optical effects
  • Optical printing
  • Practical effects
  • Prosthetic makeup effects
  • Rotoscoping
  • Stop motion
  • Go motion
  • Sch├╝fftan process
  • Travelling matte
  • Virtual cinematography
  • Wire removal