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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're now ready to move project 2 into After Effects, so the first thing we'll do is bring in the spaceship render from Maya. Now before I do that I want to check a few things and make sure the footage is interpreted correctly. First thing I'll do is go to Edit > Preferences > Imports and make sure the Sequence Footage is set 24 frames per second that the speed that the original live-action was shot at, so we want to match that. I also want to check the Project Settings and make sure I'm set to frames, it's a easier way to work with image sequences. All right! Let's bring the footage in, File > Import > File and have a spaceship render saved out in the Renders folder under Shot2Ship.
I want to just pick the first frame of the image sequence, make sure that Photoshop Sequence is checked--which it is--and Open that. Now just like project 1, because a render passes are stuffed into layered PSDs, what I can do is choose individual layers and bring them in one at a time, so I'm going to click Choose layer and here are all of the different layers in that file. Now I don't need the background, I don't need the MasterBeauty, but I do need all of the other passes. So I am going to start with the bottom one and working the way out, and so matte first, now I am going to go back and repeat the process.
So here are all our render passes from Maya. Now I also want to get the original live-action footage too. So File > Import > File, and this is saved under the Footage folder under Shot2. So first frame, make sure it's clicked to Sequence, and Open. Now because we checked our preferences, we know that these are all interpreted 24 frames per second, which is correct. So now that we have the footage imported, we can assemble a spaceship into its own composition, so there is no competition yet, in fact, it says None right here.
What I can do is pull down the first render pass and have the program automatically create a composition that has the correct resolution, duration, and frame rate. So let's start with the Diffuse layer, diffuseNoShadow, we'll pull that down, drop it in, and there it is. So let's assemble it, let's pull some more render passes down. Next thing I'll grab is shadowRaw, pull that down put it on top. Now again the shadowRaw pass creates a white shadow over a black field, and because there's no proper Alpha, it includes what's below it.
So what we have to do is invert this first, so I'm going to apply Effect > Channel > Inverts, so now we have black over white, then I need to change the blending mode. In this case for a shadow, it's great to use Multiply. Here's the blending mode menu. Now if you don't see it, you can always click Toggle Switches. There, it goes away, and here it is again, so I'm going to change the shadow layer to Multiply, and that multiplies the shadow over the spaceship, diffuse in this case and darkens a little bit, particularly around the fin.
Next thing I will do is grab the reflection, so I'm going to back to my list of footage here, we can use this little scroll bar to find it, there is the Project tab, grab the reflection, pull that down. And reflection needs a blending mode like screen, again, not proper Alpha, you want to just keep the bright areas. So I'm going to go back to the blending mode, change that to Screen, and then I want to grab the specular, same situation, pull that, put it on top, that needs a Screen also, I just want to save the bright areas. And last, incandescence, hold that down, put that on top, and these are just bright logos over a black field, so Screen works great for that also.
So there's a reassembled ship. There is one more render pass, we're going to use that later, which is the matte pass. Now all the passes are stacked together in their own composition, we can nest the composition later to move that as a single unit, but since I have all these render passes in separate layers, I can adjust them individually. For example, I can increase the intensity of the reflection in the specular highlight, so I can go to the reflection layer and apply an effect to adjust that. In this case the curves effect is great for adjusting the contrast and brightness. So I am going to go up to Effect > Color Correction > Curves, and if we want to brighten that reflection I can click to put a point here and pull this up, and there it becomes brighter.
I can do the same with the specular pass, Effect > Color Correction > Curves. You can also click to add single point there, pull that up, to brighten the specular component. You can see along the edge of the wing there. So you can adjust these layers if they're too dim or too bright. And another thing you can do is go to incandescence layer, which is just a logo. Now I could brighten that or darken it. In another option for any of these layers is to adjust the color. Let's say I want a totally different color for the logo. I have the opportunity to that because this is rendered separately.
So, for example, I can pick the incandescent layer, go up to Effect, go to Color Correction and go to Color Balance, and because these are all bright colors, I can go to the Highlights sliders Red, Green, and Blue, and change the values to shift the color. For example, if I put in -75 for Red, 100 for Green, and -75 for Blue, I have shifted the colors to a neon green. Of course, you can pick any color you want just by moving the sliders around.
I'll shift the balance of colors, so there's a reddish logo, let me go back to green one though. So it gives you a lot power in terms of adjusting your render. So now we have reassembled the spaceship through all the render passes, and we adjust a few of those layers to effects, so now we're ready to add the spaceship to the live-action footage.
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