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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.
We applied the motion tracking tool with corner pin options to track the screen onto the PDA in the actress' hand. Let's take a look at our movie so far. So it's tracking pretty well, but there are definitely areas we can improve to make the integration better. If I go to a non-blurred frame, one thing that pops out is the fact that there is a strange gap at the edge of the screen. There is a new screen animation on top of the old screen edge, and that edge kind of shows through and looks a little strange. What might be nice here is to stretch the screen out a little bit more to cover up that old screen to get rid of that edge.
So one trick for doing that is to adjust the corner pin properties and move this set of keyframe as single units. So let's go down to the layer first, expand the Effects and look at the corner pin animation. So again, we have the four corners here, upper left, right, lower left, lower right, here's all of the keyframes. There are so many keyframes, we don't really want to adjust them here in the timeline, so another trick is to go into the Graph Editor, where we have more control. So what we'll do is we'll edit one corner at a time and offset the curve in both the X and the Y so that the corner on the screen appears in different place.
So, how do you go into the graph editor? Well, first pick a curve you want to work with or property you want to work with. For example, maybe we want to start with the lower left corner. I'm going to click this Include this property and graph button right here, so it turns dark. Next thing I'll do is go to the big Graph Editor button here, which switches to the graph editor view, so I'll click that and here's the view. Now the way it works is the red curve is the X, it's the traditional way that After Effects colors these, so you have the X value here and the Y value here, and you have the curve that results from that in the graph editor.
The cover is made up of a bunch of keyframes very close together, and the curve just threads through those keyframes to show you the result. Now in terms the way that graph editor works as for its values, the frames run left to right. The value that's stored by the keyframe, values run from 0 above 100. So there is particular keyframe, maybe this one right here I just clicked on it, well, you can figure out the value by reading down to up on the graph, so it has a value of around 150, 160. Its frame number is determined by the left or right motion, so this is frame 36.
All right, so what we do with the curves now we have them? We want to move these curves as single units, so what I can do is drag a marquee selection box around the curve, so let's start with the Y. I'm going to click right here in the empty space and form a marquee box, highlight the entire curve and let go, turns to deep gold yellow, which means it's selected. I can then move this curve straight up or straight down. Now I'll change the values of all the keyframes in that direction, so I'm going to click right here and drag straight down. You can see it goes up in the Y in the viewer.
If it goes opposite direction, it goes down, in this case I want to go down. Now you have to careful not to go left or right, that'll change what frame number it's on, that'd be bad, so just be careful. So there I pull that curve down, that's great! Now I can go and get the X curve, select the entire X curve and then pull that up or down to make it go further left. When I say left, I mean left in the viewer, so there it's going further left, to where that corner is. So it looks pretty good. Now what we will do is do that for the other three corners.
Now it's going to take a little while, so we're going to skip ahead, and we'll come back to that completed. All right, so now we're coming back after I have adjusted all four of the corners to the corner pin section in the graph editor. For each of these four, I have gone in and adjusted the X and Y curves. Now I can see them all at once, but what I do is go through one at a time. So Upper Left, Upper Right, Lower Left, Lower Right. Now once these are adjusted, you can see that that all of the edge is now covered up, that looks a lot better now. So I can go out of the graph editor and work on the next step.
So let's look on ways to integrating the screen render better, so looks like it's actually in the live-action footage. First thing we can do is activate motion blur. This track screen is ruined quite a bit, so motion blur would help us with the blurriness, especially at the beginning, so when I turn on the motion blur for the screen layer, now it's in by default, so I can go down to Toggle Switches and show that again. So I want to turn on Motion Blur right here for that layer, and also motion blur for the entire composition. Once we do that and I go to an earlier frame, you can see there is lot of blur.
In fact, there is so much blur there, it looks like the screen is popping off the top now. This would be a good place to adjust the corners individually for individual frames. So as we click the Corner Pin section, you'll see these four circles, you can move those interactively. So if I zoom in here, and just click, say this corner up here, I can move it around. They don't want to do this for all the frames, but for just a few frames it's not that bad. So I'm going to adjust this so that the blur doesn't quite go that far.
I'll do that for the bottom ones also and go to the next frame. It's mainly the top that's looking a little strange. Set the frame 3, it should be pretty good. Let's take a look, okay, not to bad. So now we have added motion blur to get that very, very blurry beginning and also adjusted those corners so it looks like the screen fits better at the start. So what can we do to improve the integration? Let's move to a non-blurred frame. Well, right now the screen animation is very crisp. One thing you can do is reduce the opacity on that layer and let some of the phone show through, let's do that. I'm going to Transform here on that layer, reduce the Opacity to 80.
When I do that, some of the colors sneaks through and actually that fades out a bit, I think it make the screen more integrated. Now if you had a reflection on the original PDA, then that reflection will also show through, so it's a good trick when you have something that reflective where you are replacing the screen. Now I can also add a regular blur to the entire screen just to soften the letters and little graphics, I think it's a little too sharp now. So I'll apply Gaussian Blur to the layer, so Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Gaussian Blur, probably a fairly subtle blur will work. Let's try it 1, so just a little blur to soften it, I think it looks better.
Now speaking of blur, the edges are very sharp still, in other words, the edge of the original animation that was stretched to fit the screen is still pretty sharp, that's why I softened it. Now since the Alpha is working correctly here, the way I do that is apply a special blur that just works in the Alpha by itself, and there is something called Channel Blur for that. So if I go up to Effect > Blur & Sharpen, I can apply Channel Blur. Now Channel Blur allows you to blur any channel, including the red, green, or blue. We just want to blur the Alpha, so I'm going to change that value.
Let's try 3, so just by blurring the Alpha Matte or the Alpha Channel by small amount and see the edge gets softer, that looks much better. We have adjusted the Corner Pin Tracking to make the screen fit the edges of the PDA much better, we also added some additional blurs and manipulated the opacity to get the animation to feel like it was shot in the same original scene.
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