You are previewing Adobe® After Effects® 6.5: Studio Techniques.
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Adobe® After Effects® 6.5: Studio Techniques

Book Description

Ready to learn the visual effects secrets used at such leading-edge studios as Industrial Light + Magic and The Orphanage? Adobe After Effects 6.5 Studio Techniques inspires you to take your work to the next level with realworld examples and insider techniques. Get blockbuster results without the big budget as you delve deep into the essence of visual effects. This book goes beyond conventional step-by-step instruction, teaching you bread-and-butter effects that you can adapt and combine for countless projects.

• Real solutions from real professionals: Nobody does it better, and now they’ll show you how. Discover the keys to analyzing your shots from Stu Maschwitz, Visual Effects Supervisor for Star Wars, Episode One and Sin City. Unlock the mysteries of linear color space with Brendan Bolles, co-creator of the eLin plug-ins. Master fundamental effects techniques with Mark Christiansen, After Effects specialist for The Orphanage on The Day After Tomorrow.

• Compositing essentials: No matter how sophisticated the effect, they all start from the same building blocks. Find out what you’ve been missing about color and light matching, keying, motion tracking, rotoscoping, working with film, and more.

• Advanced techniques: Your goal should be effects so good that no one notices them. From sky replacement to explosions, from smoke to fire, learn to bring your shots to life and enhance scenes without anyone ever knowing what they’re seeing isn’t 100% real.

• Companion CD-ROM: Professional tools produce professional results. Demo versions of plug-ins from Andersson Technologies, Red Giant Software, Frischluft, and Trapcode will enhance your work. Stop relying on ready-made solutions and pre-built effects. Learn how to build up and customize your own effects with the tools at hand–you’ll be amazed at how much better the results look!

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. About the Authors
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Introduction
    1. Why This Book?
    2. The Cult of Magic
    3. Truly Challenging
    4. The Keys
      1. “That Looks Fake”
      2. What Compositing Can (and Can't) Do
    5. About This Book
      1. Understanding Is Preferable to Knowledge
    6. If You've Used Other Compositing Programs
    7. What's On the CD
    8. The Bottom Line
  5. I. Working Foundations
    1. 1. The Effects Toolset
      1. Preparing Your Workspace
        1. Setting (and Resetting) Your Workspace
          1. A Second Monitor Is Useful
        2. Setting Preferences and Project Settings
      2. Elegant UI Usage
        1. Project Window Organization
        2. Context-Clicking (and Keyboard Shortcuts)
        3. Keeping Sources Linked
          1. Collect Files
          2. Reduce Project
      3. Footage and Composition Settings
        1. Interpreting Footage
          1. Alpha
          2. Frame Rate
          3. Fields, Pulldown, PAR
        2. Digital Source Formats
          1. Adobe Formats
        3. Composition Settings
      4. Previewing Like a Pro
        1. Resolution and Quality
          1. Reducing Things Further
        2. Maintaining Interactivity
        3. Caching and Previewing
          1. Setting the Preview Region
          2. What's Your Background?
          3. Changing the Channel
      5. A Useful Effects Palette
        1. Types of Effects
        2. Animation Presets
        3. Other Effects Tips
      6. Render Queue: Flight Check
        1. Placing an Item in the Queue
        2. Render Settings: Your Manual Overrides
        3. Output Modules: As Many as You Need
          1. Optimizing Output Settings
      7. Study Footage Like a Pro
    2. 2. The Timeline
      1. Organization
        1. Column Views
          1. Comments and Color
          2. Solo, Lock, and Shy
        2. Navigation and Shortcuts
          1. Time Navigation
          2. Making Layers Behave
          3. Timeline View Options
          4. Replacing Layers
      2. Transforms
      3. Working with Keyframes
        1. Temporal Data and Eases
          1. Easy Ease
        2. Holds
        3. Spatial Data and Curves
        4. Copying and Pasting Trickery
        5. Velocity and Value Graphs
      4. Über-mastery
        1. Dissecting a Project
        2. Keyframe Navigation and Selection
        3. Keyframe Offsets
      5. Animation Offsets
        1. Editing the Anchor Point
        2. Editing the Parent Hierarchy
          1. Nulls and the Parenting Cure
      6. Motion Blur
        1. What the Settings Mean
      7. Playing with Time Itself
        1. Absolute (Not Relative) Time
        2. Time Stretching
          1. Frame Blending
          2. Time Reversal
          3. Time Stretching an Animated Composition
        3. Time Remapping
      8. In Conclusion
    3. 3. Selections: The Key to Compositing
      1. The Many Ways to Create Selections
        1. Pull a Matte
        2. Use an Existing Alpha Channel
        3. Create a Mask (or Several)
          1. Use Blending Modes Instead
        4. Use an Effect
        5. Combine Techniques
        6. So What's the Big Deal?
      2. Compositing: Science and Nature
        1. Bitmap Alpha
        2. Feathered Alpha
        3. Opacity
      3. Alpha Channels and Premultiplication
        1. Premultiplication Illustrated
        2. Getting It Right on Import
        3. Solving the Problem Internally
      4. Masks
        1. Typical Mask Workflow
        2. Drawing Bezier Masks
      5. Combining Multiple Masks
        1. Managing Density
        2. Managing Multiple Masks
      6. Putting Masks in Motion
        1. Interpolation Basics
        2. Moving, Copying, Pasting, and Masks
          1. First Vertex
      7. Blending Modes: The Real Deal
        1. Add and Screen
        2. Multiply
        3. Overlay and the Light Modes
        4. Difference
        5. HSB and Color Modes
        6. Stencil and Silhouette
        7. Alpha Add and Luminescent Premultiply
      8. Track Mattes
        1. Why They're Useful
        2. Why They're Occasionally Tricky
          1. Render Order
    4. 4. Optimizing the Pipeline
      1. Navigating Multiple Compositions
        1. Project Template Benefits
        2. Working with Tabs
        3. Where Am I?
          1. Descriptive Names
      2. Pre-Composing and Nesting
        1. Why Do It?
        2. Options and Gotchas
          1. Layer Duration Confusion
          2. The Missing Option
          3. Data Pass Through
        3. The Cool Way Time Is Nested
          1. The Advanced Tab
      3. Adjustment and Guide Layers
        1. Adjustment Layers
        2. Guide Layers
      4. Understanding Rendering Order
      5. Optimizing Projects
        1. Post-Render Options
          1. Proxies
        2. Network Renders
      6. Onward to Effects
  6. II. Effects Compositing Essentials
    1. 5. Color And Light: Adjusting And Matching
      1. Optimizing Plate Levels
        1. Adjusting Brightness and Contrast with Levels
          1. Reading the Histogram
          2. Why Not Use Brightness & Contrast?
        2. Gamma Adjustments: Levels and Curves
          1. The Subtlety of Curves
        3. Just for Color: Hue/Saturation
          1. Alternative Color Tools and Techniques
      2. Color Matching
        1. The Fundamental Technique
        2. Depth Cueing
        3. Gamma Slamming
        4. Extra Credit
    2. 6. Color Keying
      1. Good Habits and Best Practices
      2. Linear Keyers and Hi-Con Mattes
        1. Linear Color Key and Extract
        2. Difference Mattes
      3. Blue-Screen and Green-Screen Keying
        1. General Methodology: Keying
        2. Using Keylight
      4. Understanding and Optimizing Keylight
        1. The Inner Workings of Keylight
        2. Focusing In: Clean-Up Tools
          1. Holes and Edges
          2. Noise Suppression
          3. Fringing and Choking
          4. Spill Suppression
      5. Fixing Typical Problems
        1. On Set
        2. Matte Problems
          1. Edge Selection
          2. Matte Holes
        3. Matte Fringing
        4. Color Spill
      6. Conclusion
    3. 7. Rotoscoping and Paint
      1. Articulated Mattes
        1. RotoBeziers
          1. Strategies for Complex Shapes
      2. Working Around Limitations
        1. Tracking and Translating
          1. Auto-trace
        2. Masking Motion Blur
      3. Morphing
        1. Using Reshape to Morph
          1. First Vertex
      4. Paint and Cloning
        1. Paint Fundamentals
        2. Cloning Fundamentals
          1. Tricks and Gotchas
          2. Tracking Strokes
          3. Wire Removal
          4. Plate Restoration via Cloning
      5. Conclusion
    4. 8. Effective Motion Tracking
      1. The Essentials
        1. Choosing a Good Reference Point
          1. No Good Reference Point in Sight
        2. Optimizing Tracker Options
          1. Typology
          2. Rotation and Scale
          3. Confidence
          4. Other Options
        3. Fixing Tracks That Go Wrong
        4. Using the Timeline
        5. Matching Motion Blur
        6. Using Nulls to Solve Transform Problems
      2. Optimizing Tracking via 3D
        1. The 3D Camera: The One-Stop Solution
          1. Fake 3D Tracking
        2. Smoothing a Moving Camera
      3. Continuing a Track with Expressions
      4. Tracking for Rotoscoping
      5. Using 3D Tracking Data
        1. Working with 3D Tracking Data
          1. Importing a Maya Scene
          2. Try It Out for Yourself
      6. Conclusion
    5. 9. Virtual Cinematography
      1. 2.5D: Using the Camera
        1. Understanding the After Effects Camera
          1. Lens Settings
          2. Real-World Camera Settings
          3. Making Your Adjustments
        2. Emulating a Real Camera
          1. Making Use of a Camera Report
          2. Lens Distortion
        3. Mixing 2D and 3D
      2. Storytelling and the Camera
        1. Moving the Camera
          1. Camera Orientation
          2. Push versus Zoom
          3. Push it Good
        2. Camera Projection
      3. Camera Blur
        1. Image Planes and Rack Focus
        2. Boke Blur
          1. Go for Boke
      4. The Role of Grain
        1. Grain Management Strategies
        2. Grain Removal
        3. When to Employ Grain Strategies
      5. Film and Video Looks
        1. Garbage In, Garbage Out
        2. Frame Rate Matters
        3. Format Matters
        4. Color Affects Story
      6. Conclusion
    6. 10. Expressions
      1. Logic and Grammar, in that Order
        1. Okay, What Can't Expressions Do?
      2. Muting Keyframes
      3. Linking Animation Data
        1. Tracking Brushes and Effects
          1. Offsetting an Element
          2. One Channel Only
        2. Building Your Own Controls
      4. Looping Animations
      5. Smoothing and Destabilizing
        1. Steadicam and Camera Shake
      6. Offsetting Layers and Time
        1. Grain Averaging
      7. Conditionals
        1. Triggering a Filmic Dissolve
      8. Emulating 3D Tracking
      9. Tell Me More
    7. 11. Issues Specific To Film And HDR Images
      1. Film 101
        1. Working with Cineon Files
      2. Dynamic Range
      3. Cineon Log Space
        1. Digital Film
      4. Video Gamma Space
      5. Battle of the Color Spaces
      6. Floating Point
      7. eLin
        1. Not Just a Hack
      8. Conclusion
  7. III. Creative Explorations
    1. 12. Working with Light
      1. Light Source and Direction
        1. Location and Quality
        2. Heightening Drama with Light
        3. Neutralizing Light Direction
        4. Leveling Uneven Light and Hotspots
      2. Creating a Look with Color
        1. Using a Solid
          1. Day for Night
        2. Using Effects
      3. Backlighting, Flares, Light Volume
        1. Backlighting and Light Wrap
        2. Glints and Flares
          1. Glints
        3. Light Scattering and Volume
      4. Shadows and Reflected Light
        1. Creating Shadows
        2. Reflected and Interactive Light
      5. Re-lighting a Scene
        1. The Basic Linear Set-Up
        2. Experimenting with Exposure
        3. Crafting the Change
        4. Setting the Sun
      6. Conclusion
    2. 13. Air, Water, Smoke, and Clouds
      1. Particulate Matter
        1. Matching an Existing Shot
        2. Creating a New Shot
      2. Sky Replacement
        1. The Sky Is Not (Quite) a Blue Screen
        2. Infinite Depth
      3. The Fog, Smoke, or Mist Rolls In
        1. Masking and Adjusting
        2. Moving Through the Mist
      4. Billowing Smoke
        1. Mesh Warp
        2. Liquify
          1. Combining Techniques
        3. Smoke Trails
      5. Wind
        1. Adding and Articulating Elements
        2. Indirect Effects
      6. Water
        1. Precipitation
        2. Creating the Element
        3. Compositing the Element
      7. Conclusion
    3. 14. Fire and Explosions
      1. Firearms
        1. Firing the Gun
          1. Muzzle Flash and Smoke
          2. Shells and Interactive Light
        2. Bullet Hits
      2. Sci-Fi Weaponry
        1. Full Control
        2. Full Dimensionality
      3. Heat Distortion
        1. What Is Actually Happening
        2. How to Re-create It
        3. Variations on the Theme
      4. Fire
        1. Creating and Using Fire Elements
        2. Comping Fire
        3. The Need for Interactive Light
        4. Into the Third Dimension
      5. Explosions
        1. Light and Chunky
      6. Fiery Conclusion
    4. 15. Learning to See
      1. Why Doesn't This Shot Look Real?
        1. Seeing the Shot
        2. Analyzing What You See
        3. Knowing What You Know
      2. All Hail Reference
        1. Putting Reference to Use
        2. Integration
        3. Emotional Truth
      3. Rolling Thine Own
      4. Not a Conclusion
  8. What's on the CD?