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VFX Techniques introduces common yet critical visual effects techniques that are used in film and television shows on a regular basis. This installment shows how to build complex composites with Adobe After Effects and mocha, where motion graphics are mapped to live-action footage of an actor. Author Lee Lanier starts by combining rotoscoping and effects to digitally apply makeup to an actor to disguise motion tracking marks. Then discover how to transfer footage into mocha and generate planar tracking data that you can use to motion track graphics to the moving face of the actor. Plus, learn how to build and adjust motion graphics to create the look of a virtual tattoo and a pair of holographic heads-up glasses.
If you're a premium member of the lynda.com library, you have access to the Exercise Files used throughout this title. The Exercise Files are arranged in several additional folders within the Exercise Files folder like this one right here. The files are divided between After Effects files, aesthetic artwork created in Photoshop, video footage converted to image sequences, Mocha files, and also some Precomps we'll create during the course.
You will be asked to import various files into After Effects throughout this course. I'll indicate the file name and which folder it's in. We'll use the files to build a composition in which we add a heads-up display and electronic tattoo to the face of an actress. Now, I do want to mention several things about Mocha. For one, we're using Mocha for After Effects for version CS6, in which case you have to launch Mocha from After Effects. Let me show you how to do that. I've opened After Effects, and I have a simple composition in which I have a single layer.
What you can do is select a layer, go to Animation > Track in mocha AE. This opens the program. Now, it's going to want to create a new project based on that layer you had selected. However, you can just click Cancel, and it leaves the project empty. However, you can go up to Open, and open a file, for instance a file in the Mocha Files folder. Before I open, I'll mention one other aspect of Mocha, and that's the fact that it creates automatic backup files.
Here's an example, 3_2.autosave.mocha. This is nice in case you lose a file by accident. Now, you don't have to keep these, but they're there just in case. Now, if you save often on your own, hopefully these won't be necessary. In any case, I'm just going to open one of these Mocha files so you can see it. There we go, ready to work! Another potential problem with Mocha is if you move some of the files around, you take those Exercise Files and you put them in a new location. Mocha might get confused in terms of where those files are, or where the folders are.
I'll demonstrate that. I am going to go to a different drive and open a file. You may see this, 'Relink clip'. It's been unable to find where the Exercise Files are, in this case, image sequence. What you can do is click the Choose button, and go to the folder where those images reside. In this case, they're in my Precomps > PrepTrack folder. Before I select the first frame of the sequence, and I need to select the first frame, I want to mention the Results folder.
When you create a new Mocha file, you will sometimes get a Results folder close to the place where the image sequence resides, if you use an image sequence to motion track. Mocha uses this discretely, you don't have to use it yourself. Now, if you make a new project over top of the old project, it's going to actually want to overwrite this. Generally, it's okay to say Yes and overwrite. In any case, I'm going to relink my footage, I'll click on my first PrepTrack image, and click Open. Once that's listed, I can click Okay. It reloads the proper image sequence in the proper location, and then you're ready to work.
Now, if you don't have access to the Exercise Files, you can still apply the discussed techniques on your own assets. So, let's get started.
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