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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
As we've talked about earlier in this training series compositing is the process of taking multiple bits of footage and putting them together as if they belong together. So, again, we have this example we've seen already with this moving scenery in the background. There is just someone hanging the camera outside the car in a family trip and then we had the subway scene and then a few other elements with this guy sitting here. And they kind of look like they belong together, but as we saw before, earlier in this training series, giving them the same color correction will make them seem like they belong in the same composite a little bit more.
Let's look at another example. Earlier we keyed this footage of the host of this fictional podcast in front of this virtual set. The virtual set colors are very contrast-y. They're very strong and this guy's color is a little bit washed out. So, let's talk about how we would remedy that. For this background layer, the first thing I want to do is maybe adjust the Hue/Saturation a little bit. We can't really adjust the hue of our subject, because as soon as we start fiddling with skin tones it's going to seem very fake very quickly.
So, we could easily adjust the hue of the background. So, I am going to apply Hue/Saturation to this background, and we might start might by desaturating this a little bit. And we might also adjust the Master Hue so that the things seem to blend a little bit better. And I don't have some exact formula here, some scientific method to figure this out. It's kind of like an eye thing. You are kind of getting a ballpark by just looking at it, what are the characteristics visually of the background, and we have very strong powerful contrast, and then what I'm seeing from the subject is that we don't have that much contrast.
It's kind of washed out a little bit. So, we kind of want to a balancing act with both of these, so we can meet in the middle somewhere. And speaking of meeting in the middle, I think that as far as this background goes we took out too much saturation here. So, I am going to bring this back maybe to around -15, let's say that. And let's also apply a Levels adjustment to this background layer. And with Levels, we can make sure that we have the full spectrum of brightness represented and also we could grab this middle slighter here and maybe brighten things up generally.
That's already looking much more like the foreground. And actually, I am going to select the top layer and apply Levels to him as well. And I am going to drag the right slider in and the left slider in until they get to the first few dots here, because I want to make sure that there's enough highlights and enough shadows. And then what we can do is we could adjust this mid slider. Maybe drag it to the right and make it little bit darker, so that it blends in the background a little bit. And let's also add you Hue/Saturation to our main subject, because all the Levels adjustments to this guy has made him a little bit too saturated.
So, we are going to compensate for that by taking Saturation to the left a little bit, not too much again. Maybe about negative 15 or so is looking pretty good. And we have a fairly decent composite. It's not perfect, but it's definitely better than it was. To see what it was, we can come down here to the Timeline panel and we have these master fx switches, which are the visibility for all of effects applied to the layer. We know that if we want to turn off the visibility of the Hue/Saturation we can just click this fx icon for the effect and see the effect before and after.
And we could see that before without the effect on it's much more saturated and then when we click the fx icon on again, it's much less saturated. So, if we want it do that for both layers to see all fx off and on, we can click both of those, so those are the original, and there is afterwards. So, again, if we were to take this apart, the before is a very strong contrast in the background and kind of faded in the foreground, and then if we turn the fx on we're still kind of faded here.
He isn't so much different, but the background is significantly different and having them lightened a little bit definitely makes them blend together a little bit. So, as you're doing with compositing and you are dealing with keying, be aware that getting a good key and just removing the green screen is not enough to make a good composite, where the light is coming from in both sources. Light direction. But where the light is coming from in both sources plays a huge role in the believability of two objects looking like they belong in the same scene together.
And even without knowing any hard and fast rules of how to composite, like we just did. We didn't really have any specific guidelines what we're going for. But still just taking inventory of what's going on and looking at the pieces of your footage and seeing what's amiss and seeing what you could fix, that will help your composites immensely.
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