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Maya Rendering for After Effects Composites
Illustration by John Hersey

Adding shadow to make the composite believable


From:

Maya Rendering for After Effects Composites

with Lee Lanier

Video: Adding shadow to make the composite believable

We spent some time adjusting the spyglass render in terms of the color and the motion blur and the matte edge to try to improve the integration. There are a few more steps we can take to sell that even further. First one is to put a slight blur on the entire render layer. Now CG Sharpe in general compared to the background the live-action footage in this case, which is slightly soft. If I zoom in there, you can see it a little bit better. So what I can do is go to the Render layer, go to Effects, and apply a Gaussian Blur. Now I don't want the blur to be too big.
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  1. 2m 0s
    1. Welcome
      47s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  2. 29m 49s
    1. Working with image sequences
      7m 24s
    2. Importing reference video as an image plane
      5m 13s
    3. Matching the 3D camera to the video footage
      4m 23s
    4. Lighting the model
      5m 35s
    5. Creating mattes and shadows in preparation for rendering
      7m 14s
  3. 15m 38s
    1. Using the Render Layer Editor
      4m 21s
    2. Splitting a scene into multiple render passes
      6m 6s
    3. Adding flexibility by assigning material and render overrides
      5m 11s
  4. 15m 2s
    1. Creating render passes using mental ray
      3m 50s
    2. Batch rendering render passes: Project one
      5m 24s
    3. Batch rendering render passes: Project two
      5m 48s
  5. 19m 4s
    1. Importing render passes into After Effects
      6m 25s
    2. Recombining render passes in a composition
      6m 31s
    3. Transforming multiple render passes as a single unit
      6m 8s
  6. 48m 7s
    1. Setting up a motion tracker
      5m 17s
    2. Using a tracker to analyze motion in footage
      3m 56s
    3. Adjusting tracker options for better results
      7m 2s
    4. Matching layer motion by applying tracker data
      6m 26s
    5. Refining a layer's transparency with rotoscoping
      6m 45s
    6. Improving layer movement with the Smoother tool
      5m 7s
    7. Improving the CG by adding blur and effects
      8m 7s
    8. Adding shadow to make the composite believable
      5m 27s
  7. 32m 36s
    1. Recombining render passes for project two
      5m 17s
    2. Removing unwanted elements with a garbage mask
      4m 57s
    3. Applying motion tracking data to a null layer
      6m 38s
    4. Adjusting shadows and matte edges
      8m 12s
    5. Using color correction to improve layer integration
      7m 32s
  8. 25m 46s
    1. Stabilizing shaky video with the Tracker
      8m 2s
    2. Tracking rectangular elements with the Perspective corner pin option
      5m 31s
    3. Adjusting corner pin points and paths
      6m 56s
    4. Applying corner pin data to multiple layers
      5m 17s
  9. 1m 16s
    1. Next steps
      1m 16s

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Maya Rendering for After Effects Composites
3h 9m Intermediate Aug 17, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, professional animator and director Lee Lanier shows how to create render passes in Autodesk Maya, recombine the passes in Adobe After Effects, and motion track the passes to live-action video footage that contains a moving camera or a moving character. The course covers both the Render Layer Editor and mental ray contribution pass systems. Additionally, 1- and 2-point motion tracking and match moving, stabilization, and 4-point corner pin tracking are discussed.

Topics include:
  • Working with image sequences
  • Matching the 3D camera to video footage
  • Lighting models in Maya
  • Splitting a scene into multiple render passes
  • Batch rendering
  • Recombining render passes in an After Effects composition
  • Setting up motion trackers
  • Refining layers with rotoscoping
  • Adding blur and effects
  • Adjusting shadows and matte edges
  • Using color correction
  • Stabilizing shaky video
Subjects:
3D + Animation Rendering Textures Video Materials Compositing Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects Maya
Author:
Lee Lanier

Adding shadow to make the composite believable

We spent some time adjusting the spyglass render in terms of the color and the motion blur and the matte edge to try to improve the integration. There are a few more steps we can take to sell that even further. First one is to put a slight blur on the entire render layer. Now CG Sharpe in general compared to the background the live-action footage in this case, which is slightly soft. If I zoom in there, you can see it a little bit better. So what I can do is go to the Render layer, go to Effects, and apply a Gaussian Blur. Now I don't want the blur to be too big.

So a small number below 1 will probably be sufficient. So I'm going to enter .2. That just softens it a little bit. So here is with the Blur applied. If we turn off the Effect button right beside Gaussian Blur, here is before, and once again here is after, very subtle but very useful. Now while I am looking at the blur, I should probably reconsider the matte edge. I have additional blur to the blurred edge, and I want to see if that edge is still holding out. I think it's too blurry at this point. If I look really close I can see that some of the flesh color from the cheek is creeping into the gold.

I think too much. So I'm going to go back to the effects we applied to the matte layer to try to adjust that. In this case, there was a blur of 3 and the curve is bent down this much, so I think the Blur is too heavy. If we go back to 1, you can see it definitely gets sharper. So I can also adjust this curve here to see whether it looks better with a more routed edge or more expanded. So let's say that this looks pretty good right here. Now that color is bleeding in, it's still a little bit soft. All right, so there's one final thing you can do to sell integration, and that's actually a big component of the scene.

That's a fact that there's no shadow on her cheek. If she is really holding this device as she held her close to her face that would block the light, therefore there would be a shadow somewhere to her nose shadow right here on the cheek. So we don't have any kind of render pass for that, but we can fabricate that in the composite, and it's a great trick to do in After Effects. To do that what I will do is create another layer of the background footage or live-action footage, rotoscope that, and make it darker for fake shadow. So I am going to go down to shot1, select that, then go to Edit > Duplicate, and I will Copy the entire layer. It will be absolutely identical to the original.

Once have that copied, I can darken that. So I am going to go back to Effect > Color Correction and apply the curves one more time. In this case I want to darken that copied layer so I'm just click in the center and pull it straight down to darken it, well that's really dark right now, much too dark. So little bit darker is good, we can adjust that in a minute. Now I need to rotoscope out of patch of this so it looks like the shadow on her cheek, I am going to go to frame 0, grab the Pen tool again and draw a shape that's going to represent that shadow. In this case and went to loosely draw a shape around her eye and down into her cheek and then now to be sure to close that.

So it's like closer you see that there is definitely a darker patch now. Now it's really dark someone to adjust curve again. That's why a little bit darker. Now if click off of it so it's not longer selected, you can see it has a super-sharp edge to it. That's not really good for a shadow. What I want is a softer transition, so I'm going to go to the copy shot1 layer expand the Masks section and increase the Feather. Let's try 50. If I hide the Mask you see that it's definitely a softer transition. In fact, it's hard to tell where it starts, and that's actually great.

So at this point I need to--as does the spyglass so the shadow location is going to change. So I'm click on Mask path to get the animation for that frame and then skip ahead and change the shape of that Mask. I'm going to turn on the Mask again. And one click way to do with this is double- click on the Mask edge, or on the Mask line, and then move it as a single giant unit. So I am going to skip ahead 10 frames at a time, each time double-click to select the entire Mask and then move it so it's consistently over her eye and cheek.

And there is more motion at the beginning, so I am going to add a few more keyframes here to close to start. That's a general idea, though. You want the Mask to be in the correct position to emulate that cheek shadow. Now if you want to get out of this transform handle, you can hit the Escape key and that will put you back into your normal selection mode. At this stage, the shadow is dark the entire time, but the reality is the spyglass has been tipped towards her eye, so it would be great to change the darkness over time. One way to do that would be to the transform section on that layer and animate the opacity over time.

So I'm going to the frame where it should be the darkest, and she brings a spyglass close to her eye around frame 20. So by frame 20 it should be the maximum darkness, so I am going to click on the time icon beside opacity and leave it at 100%. Now I will go back down the frame 0 where the spyglass is far away, enter 0. So now if I play through it, it's going to get slowly darker. Let's go to frame 20 again to make sure that shadow is dark enough. I am going to hide the mask, and then we could play around with the curves again. So there's definitely darker, and there is little bit lighter, some place in between like that.

So this is the last step of the integration. Let's play it back. So you can see the shadow fading in slowly as she brings that closer, and we have motion tracked the spyglass and adjusted its various qualities like its color and softness to try so sell the fact that's incorporated into that video footage. So that wraps up project 1. We're going to move onto other projects in this course to learn other aspects of the Maya preparation and how to deal with the renders in After Effects.

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