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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 are now moving on to the final stages of project 1. We have the motion tracking working well on the spyglass so that it follows her hand, along with the rotoscoping that cuts it out, so it doesn't overlap the fingers. Now we have to worry about the CG in terms of how well it matches the live-action in terms of its color, its sharpness, and whether it's blurred or not. So first thing, we could do is activate Motion Blur. After Effects offers the ability to blur any layer that's in motion, and because the Render layer has a motion path, I can activate motion blur for that and get some blur to match the blur of actress's hand.
So I am going to zoom in here, and you can turn on Motion Blur in two places, the first place is right beside the layer. I can't see the switch now, but if I go down to Toggle Switches, I will be able to see the button for that and each layer can support Motion Blur. So here is the Render layer and here is the switch for Motion Blur, I will turn that on, it looks like three tiny circles. That's on for the layer but I also have to turn it on for the entire composition, there is big button here that looks the same that enables Motion Blur for any other layer that has it activated. So I am going to click that on.
As soon as I do that, you will see that there is definitely additional blur on the spyglass. There is more of Motion Blur for the first few frames where that spyglass is moving the fastest and little less for later frames. So now we have Motion Blur to help for the realism. Now one thing you might notice on the first frame is when I do that, it really exaggerates the dark edge here. I probably want to get rid of that because it looks very dark and heavy compared to the brightly lit scene behind it. So there we can tap into some of our effects and adjust the matte.
Remember the Matte layer is what's providing the Alpha for the render. If I double-click that and look at it in the layer viewer, once again it's just that white render over black. But the transition from white to black is pretty harsh, it's pretty quick, it's not very soft. What we can do though is add effects to the Matte layer, so let me go back to the Composition view. I am going to look at the layer by turning on the eye for it right now, and then apply a couple of effects. The first effect is going to be a blur, so Effect--with that layer selected--Blur & Sharpen, and Gaussian Blur.
Also I want to adjust the contrast, I am going to go to Effects > Color Correction > Curves. If I increase the Blurriness, then it gets blurrier. Now one disadvantage of that is, that it's going to expand the matte edge, giving more black, so the trick is to blur it, and then to adjust the contrast. And the Curves effect is great for that. The way it works is a straight line by default, the line is perfectly straight nothing has changed. But you can click on this Curve, you get tiny little points which you can then move around. You move around, you ultimately adjust the contrast, so if I click on the point in center and drag that downwards like this at a angle, it erodes the matte inwards to keep some of the softness.
So let's say that our Blur is about 3 and pull this down a bit, and then we will check, how this is going to look by turning off the eye. And so now we can also see it interactively, if I increase the Blur it gets even softer, if I pull this curve around I get different results, bigger edge or smaller edge. Let's take a look on another frame now to see what the quality is when there's not that much Motion Blur. Okay here it's been eroded too far, so I have too much blur. Let's try 3 again, and we will continue to play around with this curve here and see different results, so you can erode it quite far or erode it just tiny bit.
So I think I am just going to do a tiny bit just to soften that little bit, okay about there looks pretty good. All right, next thing to deal with is the color. Now the Render has very specific colors, we want to make sure they match the colors contained in the live-action footage. One of the first things to look at, along those lines, is the blacks and whites. When I say that I mean how dark are the blacks on the Render versus the blacks within the live action footage, let me go back to frame 0. Now one way to test that is to place your mouse over different parts of the frame and look at the Info panel.
This reads out the RGB values, so let's say put my mouse over the hair here where it's relatively dark, I can look over at that panel and see the values, those are in the low 40s for RGB. I do the same over the spyglass they are darker, around the 20s, all the way down to around 6 or so, so it will be good to raise up the blacks, the blacks have a brighter value and they are more equivalent to the live-action. Great way to do that is go to the Render layer, select that, and apply a Curves effect once again, so Curves. Now in this case, I want to raise up the dark area and the darks really are on the left side of this graph and the brights are on the right side.
So I am going to click twice here, and I am going to put a new point in center just to control the center, a new point down here towards the left bottom. Now if I raise this second point up, you see how it makes the blacks much brighter, you can go really far and make it super bright but that's too far. So we just bump up this little bit, then go back and read what the values are, so right now my blacks are more on 30s so that's definitely closer, now I have to be careful not to get too bright because I will wash out the entire render. The only thing I can do is pull a center one down towards the end here, so my bump is smaller.
So I would say maybe in the mid 30s is pretty good so that's where I am in the darkest part right here, let me load in at 30s, and we bump it up a bit more, it's pretty good. I don't want the top to bend down too much or darken the bright so I can also put a new point here to straighten this out. Now I am going to zoom out and take a look so that's looks better in terms of the blacks are better match, you can also do that with the whites, you want to match the whites you would see what the brightest areas are of the live action footage and for instance, the teeth are in the mid in 130s and 120s, and compare that to the brightest parts of the spyglass, and that's definitely much brighter in the reflection in similar and some other parts, but you would continue to adjust the Curves effect to try to match the bright areas.
Again the upper part of the graph is bright part, so it would affect the points up here. You can see if I lower down this top point, the brights get darker so that's one way you deal with that. I am going to leave this right, pretty much in center though, that looks pretty good. I'm not too worried if the reflections are little bit brighter because that matches her eye. Okay that solves the blacks and whites. The color in general is also good to match. You notice the live action footage is pretty red, if I put my mouse over this background wall and look at Info panel, you will see that the Reds are more around the 210 range, the Greens are in the low 200s, but the blues are way down on 185, so definitely skewed towards red, little bit more green than blue.
We can try and get the same balance on the spyglass by applying a color balance effect to the Render layer. So Effect > Color Correction > Color Balance. So it gives you is sliders for the shadow area, the midtone, area and the highlight area of the layer. The shadow area being the dark area and the highlight area being the brightest area. You can change the balance between red, green, blue. So, for example, I can expand the Highlight sliders by clicking these arrows, and if I just move one, you will see it will change instantaneously.
So now I have reduced the red really far down, and now I have a lot more green and blue. Now it's too extreme in this case. I am going to reset this to 0. What I want is little more red, a tiny bit more green, and a little bit less blue. So good values in this situation would be +5 for the red, +3 for the green, and -3 for the blue. And what that does, again it's going to give you a little bit more red, a tiny bit more green, and definitely subtract the blue, and now I will start to skew it to more of a reddish hue.
I can go farther but in this case, very subtle numbers work well. So we adjusted the matte to try to get rid of the black edge, we have also activated Motion Blur to make it blurry when the spyglass is moving fast. Then we adjusted the overall Brightness and Contrast, which affected the blacks and the whites, try to matching better to live-action footage. There is final step, we did a little bit of color grading by adjusting the colors to the color balance. Those are all important steps. There's few additional steps to take to get even better integration.
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