After Effects CS5.5 Particles!?

Hello! This blog is still updating even my course is done (somehow).

Alright, I’m working on my own demo reel recently (for the sake of my internship experience).

Today I faced a problem about one of my favorite plugin in previous version of AfterEffects, CC Particle World. Due to the fact that I work on both mac and PC, I have a bit different version of software on both of them (this SURELY sucks). Most of the time, I work on mac CS5 platform, and I work on PC (CS5.5) only when my mac can’t handle some heavy files. I just found out that CS5.5 doesn’t include the Particle World! It’s Particle Playgound instead, which I spent hours figuring it out how to use it.

After watching online tutorials and some demo videos… I gave up… “OTL

Fortunately, I found a post in a forum suggesting to download from Cycore Effects site manually.¬†I followed that direction… andddd it WORKS!!

So here is the LINK of the download page. Download the CycoreFX HD 1.7.1 (the one that match your OS).

Problem solved! now back to work ūüėÄ

Some Final Thoughts

To sum it up:
After a trimester that I have been through, I learnt that simulating things in 3D is NOT easy at all. It requires a lot of efforts and understanding. Observing the real life will help a lot, but knowing how to achieve such an effect also matters. Creating convincing CGI isn’t the hardest part of the production process just yet. Blending them into the real world is even harder than make them believable because there will be REAL objects to compare with them side-by-side. Principle of animation is essential for the fine tuning stage due to the fact that it gives more ‘alive’ looking to the CGI.

In this trimester, I had a chance to go on a real shooting for compositing. I quite like it more than pure CG animation. I’d say it’s more “magical” when it comes to the final result. It’s a mixture of film and animation which I’ll be going forward to. Also, I’m applying for compositing jobs in my internship. I’ve learnt some basic skills from this study, which will help me with my thesis in post production.

Effects Usually Helps the Final Looks

Like the previous shot, it starts with keying out the on-green footage. By adjusting the hue and contrast to get ‘fleshy’ red, the keying work will rely less on clipping mask of the KeyLight effects. This will preserve more details on the keyed object.

Put the keyed shot on top of the white solid then make the shadow layer in the same manner mentioned above. Add CG background in and add some DOF(Depth of Field) effects.

Next up, I have an actress footage, which is on the wrong background. We can’t just key the footage out because she is wearing white dress. It’s Rotoscoping time.

Adjust the room to be darker as we’d like it to be.

Also, fine-tune with luma track for the hair detail.This stage is very time-consuming to get it close to perfection. In this case, I depilate the layer and crush one of them  into white zone and the other into black zone. After that, I rotoscoped them with precise masking and heavy feathering. This layer will be used for luma track for another actress layer (only for her hair).

Also, clean-plate of the screen received from rotoscoping the original background layer. The red area is masked out to be the alpha (see through).

I then layered them on top of another. Also I assigned new light direction by stacking darker  and darker actress layers on top with soft feathering.

Then I add screen like effects and light spilling with lens flares on top of the final composite.

Rendered Shot

Combining CGI and Footage in After Effects

I rendered only the layer that contains reflective monoliths, which have the moving red cloth within their reflection.

In this shot, I have 2 layers of Monoliths: 1 in white and the other one in black.

Then I blend the two together by adjusting the opacity. Also, I add a flare effect to make them shine.

The bed footage got keyed out the red, and then it was used as an inverted luma track for another footage layer. That causes the rest of the footage to disappear, so now we have a floating red bed.

Tracking the marker on the CG footage is a way to go. The movements of the ‘Null Object’ will be identical with the reference layer. With some helping hands from Pin Constraint tool, the perspective will be controlled and adjusted accordingly to the reference layer as well.

Putting the bed layer on top of the CG background will completely hide the marker on the floor of the CG layer. Adding another null object containing the position data to make it feels floaty.

To make a shadow of the bed, duplicate the bed layer, crush all the color detail to black, decrease the opacity down a bit accordingly to the distance from the bed to the ground, tweak the perspective,  and put the layer beneath the bed layer. putting fast blur effect over radial blur effect will do the tricks.

Some Process of 3D Camera Matching and nCloth

So, I’ve got a real footage of a red cloth on a green screen.

next up, I precisely match the camera view of the CG one with the one used in the footage.

Add a “polyPlane” on top of the model

Make sure that it has a reasonable amount of sub division.

Then try assign the plane to be an nCloth object.

Don’t forget to create nCache to record the nCloth calculation for the better performance of Maya.

with nCache attached to the object, you’d bear in mind that you may NOT make any changes on the nCloth object because it will lead to fetal error.

To get more sense of dimension from the CG work, adding AO (Acoustic Occlusion) is a wise choice.

“Sample” in AO setting defines the neatness of the shadow areas, but it requires more time tremendously.

Sometimes, the extra details does’nt worth the extended render time.

With some rendered passes.