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Hey what’s up? Andrew Kramer here for videocopilot.net
Now, I know it is been awhile since my last video tutorial but I am glad to be back and I think we have a pretty good one for you. What we are going to be creating is a set extension. So what exactly is a set extension? Well, sometimes you have a movie or commercial you working on and you need to have a background or establishing shot of say “Canada.” Now, nobody really wants to go to Canada or it is expensive to film in Canada, so instead, you take a picture of Canada and you put it into the background thereby making it seem like your actors are actually in Canada.
So, that is one example. Now, another example is say you need the background to be a place that does not actually exist. So, that is when you have your art department put together this great mat painting, you put it up there and it looks amazing. So, here is some different ideas of what you may want to use to set extension for.
Now we are going to take a look at actually executing a set extension and after effects. Oh! By the way, Canadians, I am just kidding around and I love you guys. I just, you know what? You know what it is? I figured you guys are the only one to be able to take that joke. Nobody else would have, oh crap! Now I am pinning everyone else. No, crap.
Okay, back to the tutorial. What were going to do is create this effect, so let us check it out. Okay so, that is Sam Loya, just traveling up the road here and making a stop at these deserted castles. Now, here is my favorite part showing you the “before and after,” so, here is the after. Here is the before. So basically, we just added in a few these castles, pretty straightforward.
Now, this locations is actually pretty close to where I live and so it means, Sam, we hiked-up there and it is kind of fence stop and we sort of made our way in through an opening, and we started filming and then this guy rolled-up on a motorcycle and he was the security guard. And he basically just say, “Hey, what are you guys doing here?” and we said “It is nothing, we are just filming for high school project,” and he basically thought that we were dumping trash on the land and come to find out. This land is actually all owned by, what is it… Anheuser Busch—the company who makes a fine beverage called Budweiser and it was pretty interesting, apparently they all owned all this land and they have those big horses with like the hairy feet, I do not know what they are called but those things and this is where they hangout, so okay let us go ahead and get started. What I have is a composition with our rough footage in it.
And what were going to do is to motion track it. Now, we are going to do something a little different than we normally do. I am going to create a new ‘no object.’ And then I am going to create another new ‘no object.’ And I rename the first one first—FIRST, and the second one—SECOND. What we going to do is motion track this footage in two locations, apply the first half of the footage tracking to the first ‘no”, apply the second half for the footage tracking to the second ‘no’.
Let us go ahead and start doing that now, so I am going to double click on the footage, and that opens up the footage in the layer footage viewer, and what we going to do is bring up the tracker controls, we going to make some space and were going to click track motion. Track Point #1, we are going to click on rotation that brings up Track Point #2.
What we going to do is move this track points to a good location, there is nice good contrasted points, I will just… and Track Point #2, we will use this leaf or discarded piece of garbage. You know, I think I actually want to make this point a little further way from this other point, so I actually stick it on these three little rocks, maybe.
Okay so, here are our two track points, we are going to analyze forward to make sure you are at the front of the footage, so analyze forward. Now were getting close to having one of the points go out of the frame, so we need the watch that. Okay, right here we are about to lose our track points so, we are going to stop right there, what I am going to do is click on edit target. This window comes out, set the layer to FIRST ‘no’ and then we choose okay. And there, we are going to click apply and that motion track data is now going to apply itself to that FIRST ‘no’ object. So first ‘no’ objects, let us see, we should up the second one. First ‘no’ object, you can see is stuck on that footage and the track looks pretty good.
Now what we need to do is motion track the second half of the footage. So, I am going to select the FIRST ‘no,’ hit the letter U that brings up our Key Frames. What we want to do is move the CTI (Current Time Indicator) to the last key frame of the first half tracking. And then we will double click on the footage and we can see our other track points here, we want to use another set of tracking point, so I am going to click Track Motion that creates another track point and then will click rotation which will allow us to track the rotation as well. So, we will move the first point out to the left and this point maybe to this little dark spot and the Track Point #1, up to this house, make it all bigger and okay so, those look pretty good and remember you want to be line up with the last key frame of the first half of tracking.
And then we will click analyze forward, and make sure the track stays on pretty well and be careful for not use points that overlap with your charter or anything like that. Okay, track looks pretty good and it target, make sure we have this SECOND ‘no’ select and we will choose okay and apply, X and Y okay. So now, back to the first comp, we now have are two ‘no’ objects. And if we bring up the key frames, we can see something pretty interesting here. Now what we going to do is link the tracking data together, in this way we can parent our background to one of the ‘no’ objects and it will reposition itself base on both trackers.
So to do this, what we want to do is taking the parent of the first track and parent it to this second track. Okay, so think about what is going on here. Our first track, so I am going to change the color here to a blue. Our first blue tracker is on the ground right here and we watch it now. It stops tracking at this point, no more data. Well, Tracker No. 2 are red tracker starts tracking at that same time. So at the point where they crossed or they overlap, second tracker picks up the parent. So the first tracker is now connected to the second tracker. So, when I scrub through this—you will see that the blue tracker still stays connected to the footage. So if I shut up the second tracker and watch all the way through, you will see that the first tracker stays connected to the footage even know the track points do not necessary stay on the frame.
So, this is really good way to link trackers together that say go out the frame, let us say you doing a sky replacement of a really wide, a really long pending shot and your track points are in the frame and they go out of the frame, and then in the frame and then out of frame. This will allow you to link multiple trackers together into one fluid ‘no’ object so, that should sink in there and you going to be a happy camper.
Okay, now we have our super ‘no’ object place. So now we need to put our background on it, what I did is I went to nearly the last frame here, on the rough footage? And what I did is simply, I click composition save frame as file and I saved a single frame as a Photoshop file and rendered it out. And then I opened it into Photoshop just like this and what I did is did a little mat painting. And I took this picture of this castle and cut it out, I do not want to get into the Photoshop tutorial but basically, here is our picture, scale it down to fit into our frame, and we can choose color range and the get rid of a some of the background here. If you hold down Shift, you can like click with the color range, and that looks good, hit okay and delete, so that is how we get rid of the background. Got the eraser tool, you know, just erase some of the excess stuff here and then we take the stamp tool, I do not do the Photoshop tutorials so, you just have to bear with me.
And basically stamped-in the grass to extend it because, you know, there is not a lot of grass in the original shot, right. So we extend the grass out and then that will allow us to take the eraser tool again and make a really large erase brush that we can use essentially to soften the edge of the grass, so that it blends better with our background plate.
Now the good thing about working in Photoshop is that you can work with good paint tool, you can do a lot of this in after effects but it is paint in the butt so you get in here and they will do some color correction on it, hue and saturation, I do not know. Match the color, something like that and position it, drawing some more stuff, all I could said. so here is the basic gist, then we duplicate it, put it in the background, scale it down and then add a layer style double click, and the quick color overlay, and we are going to color overlay with blue. So I just pick that blue color on the mountains there and then we will bring the opacity a bit down a little bit. In that way, it sort of looks like it is off in the distance, like it gets farther away and I choose okay. And you know, you can make a few these, make one smaller.
Now this is a pretty lousy Photoshop tutorial, I am just sort of assuming, we still do not know how to use Photoshop, so anyway, there is our little things and then I went in with the, whatever you call this tool, I am loosing in here guys, the stamp tool and sort of change the holes around on one to the other, just so it looked a little bit different on first glance. And so, you could move the hole to another location and then erase the other one, so you kind of create the illusion that there that they are different if you change them enough, okay. So once you have them all, altogether, what I did is I just put them in to a layer set, duplicated the layer set. I will see duplicate group and then CTRL E or if you go to a merge group, in that way, it sort of makes a land image out of this and that way you can open up the after effects and you do not have to worry about the layer styles coming through if you are not using CS3. Anyway, that is my basic mat painting tutorial.
Okay were back in after effects and now we can go back to normal tutorial speed and what I am going to do is import that Photoshop file. And when I opened it up, I get the Photoshop import dialogue and we can do footage or a composition. And we are going to select composition and okay. Now if we double click on the comp, we have our Photoshop file that we created and would just take, just the layer or copy it and paste it over top the frame and which the exported, in this case we exported frame 146. Now as you can see the shot does not stay connected to our footage.
So what we need to do is at that point in time, take the parent whip for our set extension and connect it to the first track point. And this is the track point that runs through the entire shot. So now everything goes to plan, you can see that our set extension has now applied itself and were looking pretty good here. Now those are little off for the frame here, what we can do is just move it over all a little that should make that big of a difference.
Alright, this is looking pretty good and we want now to maybe add some different clouds. So, I have this picture of some clouds that we would just drag out and those just the high rise picture and the lower the opacity, just going to position this maybe about where I like it to be and then put it underneath our mat painting and then maybe bring the opacity up just a little bit, and then remember it is not connected either so will parent it to the first ‘no’ object and now it is connected.
Now we have a couple of problems as you may have seen in the past with our sky element and so were going to do is select the layer and we are going to come up to the rectangular mask tool. And we are going draw a mask around the clouds and if you hit M, it brings up the mask and we will set it to subtract, and then we hit MM twice, that brings up all the mask properties and we will turn the feathering up for this mask so it blends with the background a little bit better, so we just kind of turn this up—that looks pretty good. And then again we want to take another mask, rectangular mask, we will just draw one across the bottom, hit MM and set the second mask to subtract and turn the feathering up as well. In this way, it sort of blends with the background a little bit nicer. Alright, not a lot of room here for 720P footage
Now, there is couple things that want to talk about with this particular shot and that is you can see with pen up from the ground and you will notice that the shot is a little bit shaky and it is purposely shaky so that you have a more realistic feel, because we want to add CG elements, you know, it is a perfect linear pen that you do in a computer, it looks a little fake, so having a little bit a shake adds to the effect. And it is also important that the camera man or my self in this case, stands in one spot and simply pens the camera around, in that way the motion tracking will all work properly.
Another thing that is important about this composition is that he is in the foreground, these elements are in the background, now because we can see he is a person, you know it most part, we can tell how big is. Now comparatively, things in the background and things off in the distance have their own size as well and relative to the person and the foreground, we can distinguish how large those elements actually are. So, in this case these look like huge castles, not that castles would not be huge but that is important when you doing composition is the kind of think about those type a things, you know, you want to try to balance that out, you think about the rule of thirds.
The other thing is to be careful with your shot. So, in this case it works perfectly for adding in this extension because it does not interfere with our character. Now if this element were to be behind him, we may have to do some role that work or maybe we want to have a green screen on the set that we could used to kind of pull him out. But the idea with set extension is to have a real set, so whether it is small room that you make look larger or this speak open area, you want to have something real that the charter is on, in that way when you add in CG elements, the audience believes it a lot more because so much of it looks realistic, so, it is part of sort of selling it—you know you want to mix your CG in with your live action stuff as well.
Alright, let us get on to maybe some color correction. So, I am going to create a new adjustment layer, and this is a classic stuff, we going to do effect color correction, curves and no space to work with but it is okay. And were just bring the darkness down or the gamma down there and then we will take the elliptical mask tool, double click, that is a nice mask, we will hit MM, and we will change the mask to subtract, feather it up of bunch. So there we have a nice beneath around her shot, so far so good.
Then we create a new adjustment layer. Now, here is the interesting technique that I want to show you and that is to add track color correction. So, what I am going to do is apply that same curves adjustment to this. I am going to copy it from this adjustment layer and paste it on to this adjustment layer. Now by shutting off the first one, we have this one adjustment layer. What I am going to do is scale it up and I would not make a difference except that if it moves around it will stay affecting the layer like you see. And then I am going to take the rectangle mask tool and we will just cut it in half and make sure you make it extra large like that and hit MM and we will feather it out a bunch.
And then what I am going to do is kind of go forward to maybe about right here. And we will study this up even more, what we are kind of creating is this gradient on the floor and we will turn the opacity down just a little bit. So basically, we have created this adjustment layer with the gradient and we wanted to just affect the bottom of the frame of this particular shot.
So what I am going to do, is instead of leaving it there leading it kind of add itself to the whole shut, I am going to put here about here and going to parent it to the first ‘no’ which will make it leave the frame when it gets out of the shot. So this where we have, you know, kind of this gradient color correction that is kind of temporary so that the shot does not look all wash out. Not too bad. Okay, so I actually want to bring this up a little bit.
Now another thing I am going to do is create another adjustment layer. And were going to use the same principles as the bottom layer except we are going to make a golden layer for the sky, so we will scale up the adjustment layer, add the color correction photo filter, and we will set it to a custom color and just make it kind of an orange color. And they will turn it up, to your taste there and that colors the whole thing kind of orange—it does not look too good. So were going to take the rectangle mask tool and cut it in half, let see. Cut it in half and then hit MM and feather the mask.
So now we have created sort of this gel, I do not mean like hair gel, but like a film gel that just kind of adds a gradient to the sky. Now we do not want this to be up the whole time so we will parent it to our first ‘no,’ parent to the first ‘no,’ so now you can see that that layer stays connected to the footage and when the shot goes up, it goes out of the frame. So, that looks pretty good now, let see here. Let us take this adjustment layer on our floor and let us scale it up a little bit so that it covers the whole frame.
Now, we need to add an overall color correction, well we do not need to but we will and to do that, what we will do is a create a new adjustment layer again, come over to the effects and presets, we are typing green easy and here we have our great Film Magic Pro presets will take green easy, applied to our adjustment layer, and now we created this nice cinematic look.
Now, I am going to turn the other adjustment layer back on and maybe bring the opacity of it to 75. This layer is the sand color correction, this one is the sky photo filter and this one is our Film Magic Pro.
Okay, that is looking pretty good. Now, another thing we can do is sort of animate the clouds. So, here is our clouds layer and what I can do is hit P, bring up the position and key frame the position early on in the comp and then move forward to the end and then just kind of move over a little bit. So, I know clouds do a lot more and just move but sometimes a little bit illusion F9 on this key frame so that we do not see it beginning to move, but if we kind of scrub through it fast, you can see that the clouds are moving, you know.
Oh! One other thing—if you do not have Photoshop that is okay, what you want to do is go into Microsoft paint and you can just used some of the paint tools here and create you mat paining. And it got some pretty advanced stuff like the paint bucket here. We can do sort of shading on the buildings and those always looks nice, and let us do some counter shading on top here and I really like those rat holes in the original one. But you know, you can always have the high quality stuff that you want to go with, so you just have to compromise and I think we can copy this and paste it so that is a pretty nice feature. Let us go here, we are doing it, so copy this one more time. Let us see, copy-paste, put this one out into the background. So remember the rule of thirds—you want to kind of keep it balanced and okay that looks really nice and we got to go ahead and save this.
Okay back in after effects, I have a great mat paining here and what we are going to do this is just shut off this one layer and they will that and drag out to the comp. Now we need to get rid of the white so we will choose effect key, let us see, Loma key and will key out the brighter and the turn the threshold up, okay. So we will kind of position this a little bit, very nice. And then remember, we need to parent this to the first ‘no,’ that looks really good, so as you can see you know, you do not have an expensive program like Photoshop to do great set extensions like you see here.
Okay now for the lucky ones out there who have Photoshop, we are going to use to that. You can see, we are in business with this great effect. Now one other thing I did not tell you about is this shot is actually Sam’s audition tape for the movie ‘300.’ He was actually auditioning to be the hunchback and unfortunately there were some scheduling conflicts with my production company and frankly I said, “Look, I have many contracts and if you want them to be in this movie, I need 80 million dollars” and you know, they actually decided to go in another direction.
I think mainly though, they wanted a character to play a hunchback did not actually want a real hunchback, I was just kidding Sam, I know you watch this things I love you man. No hard feelings alright.
Okay guys I have wasted enough of your time. My name is Andrew Kramer and thanks for watching. Of course come check out videocopilot.net, we got a blog, we have great products, great DVDs—check them out. Buy them you will not be disappointed. Unlike you may have been with this tutorial, I mean the tutorials that you buy and the products you buy—they are actually high quality compared to this stuff. Alright that is all I got for now, see you guys.