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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 now are ready to move onto After Effects. So in project 1 we set the lights and camera to render out the spyglass. We also set up mental ray render passes to split out that render into multiple render pass layers within a layered PSD image sequence. So we are going to bring those renders into After Effects and also bring in the original footage that was shot with the actress. Before you do that in After Effects, though, I want to check a few things. One we want to make sure we are working in new project. So I am going to go to File > New > New Project. I am not going to save the old one, and then also I want to check to see where the settings are in terms of how the timeline is going to work.
Now since we are working with Image Sequences, it's often useful to not work in Time code, but to work in Frames. I'll show you where that is. If you go up to File > Project Settings, under Time Display Style, the option of Time code-- which is default--and also Frames. Frames are much easier to work with in this situation. So I'll click on Frames and click OK. Now we're ready to try to bring in some footage. Let's start with the live action. I am going to go to File > Import > File. The original footage is under the Footage folder under Shot1.
Now this is--once again--an image sequence, which means I have a folder full of 60 different frames. However, if I pick the first one, and if this option down here, Targa Sequence, is checked, which it is this by default, After Effects will actually bring in this series of images as a single unit. Now this does depend on numbering, and this is why it's important to choose a correct option in Maya. In the scene it says shot1.000.tga and so on. You have to make sure you have the same number numeric places for the number.
Three here for 000 and then three here for 001 and so on. If you follow that order, then After Effects will bring them in correctly. That's actually a frame padding option within the Render Settings of Maya. But so long as you render it correctly so the frames are in the correct order, After Effects will know what to do with them. So if I click Open, they'll come in as a single unit. You'll see right here shot1 from frame 0 to frame 59, you'll see up here all the various settings for that. It's 1920x1080. That's resolution. 60 frames in duration and 24 frame per second.
Now it's actually important to check the frames per second. Now in this case the video footage was shot at 24 frames. So that's great, it does match. But sometimes you might work in other frame rate like 30. So you want to double-check that at the start. Now it's possible to interpret each piece of footage to pick a different frame rate. If I go down to shot1, right mouse key and go to Interpret Footage and go to Main, there's a place to change the Frame Rate right here where it says Assume this frame rate. You can put in whatever frame rate makes sense. Now 24 works for us here, but you could put in 30 frame for instance, but that would be from the other project.
So 24 is good for us. I'm just going to get out of this window here. It's also possible to set the Global Preference, so it interprets all of the footage at the same frame rate. This is great for saving time. So this is actually up under Edit > Preferences > Imports. So if we go to Imports, there is a place where you can tell it to interpret a certain frame rate every single time we import. This is set to 24. Normally, it's set to 30, but you can change that at anytime. Again, we want 24. So if I leave it at 24 everything it will bring will be interpreted 24, which is perfect for project one.
So now we have shot1 which has the actress in it. Let's take a look at that. Now look at it. We need to set up a Composition. We have nothing right here in our Composition window. Now a quick way to set the Composition to make sure it's set correctly is to click-drag your footage and pull it down to where you have your layer stacked. When you let go, it creates a new composition, in this case shot1 which is the correct resolution, the correct duration, and also the correct frame rate. You can see that up here when that Composition is selected, it says the size right here or the resolution, the duration, and the frame rate.
Now you notice because we set the Time Option to Frames as opposed to Time code there's a frames read out right here on the timeline. So just count up from 0 all the up to 60. This is much easier for working with image sequences. Time code is really designed for video and doesn't make as much sense in this case. So there's a shot, and we can play it back this time or just scrub through it. Now since it's fairly large resolution it's going to look a little blocky as we're holding the Time slider through, but we can see that there's some motion there.
We'll talk more about playing back in later videos. So for right now let's go back and get the render of the spyglass. I'm going to go to the same place and go to File > Import > File. In this case the render is in the Renders folder under Shot1Monoculars in--it's the same deal. You pick the first frame of the image sequence, make sure the Sequence option is checked on, which it is in this case, and click Open. That's little bit different from layered PSD files, because they have multiple layers, you can either choose to merge all those layers or pick one layer and bring that in by itself.
We actually want to click the Choose layer button and then pick a layer. Here's all the render passes that have been converted to layers. Now we don't really want to MasterBeauty or Background. We want all the in-between ones. So I'm going to start with Shadow, pick that, click OK, and bring it in. It comes in as image sequence, but just that layer. You will see a layer name here and then the name of the file and of course the resolution, duration, frame rate up here. So let's go get additional ones. So there we have all the layers brought in, and because we did this in Maya in terms of the original render, each one of those layers creates a render pass.
Of course, we also have our original live action footage all brought in as the image sequences. We are sure that the compositions set correctly with the correct frame rates, correct resolution, correct duration. There's a second way to make a composition which is worth knowing, and that is to go up to Composition > New Composition. Underneath the composition here you have to make sure to pick the correct Resolution, the correct Frame Rate, and correct Duration yourself. Now for the resolution there are Presets, and we happen to have a preset here that matches, which is HDTV 1080 24.
But you might have other projects that use other resolutions and other frame rates and other durations. Now Duration is manually entered into this cell. I'm not going to create a composition now, because we are good to go, but this shows you can make one manually as opposed to dragging the footage down to the timeline. All right, so we have our footage brought in, both the render and live action. So we're ready to move onto the next step where we'll start to construct a more complex composite.
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