Join Mark Christiansen for an in-depth discussion in this video Common film, video, and animation terminology, part of After Effects CC 2019 Essential Training: The Basics.
- [Narrator] When I worked for Lucas Film I remember a meeting where George Lucas himself was talking about accusations that he was a very technical director. His response that film is a technical medium. And regardless of what you think of George's film making style, he was absolutely right. Film makers are praised for their ability to deliver aesthetics and emotion but doing so relies on technique. Lighting and sound have always been central to any successful film or video. Now a days it's also rare for a project of any prominence whatsoever not to have sophisticated visual effects, color and even motion design work.
Visual effects of VFX is the general term used for effects added to a moving image using a computer. People outside the industry will sometimes call this special effects, but in the film world that term refers only to practical effects taken on set at the time of production. Explosions, stunt men shattering windows, that kind of thing. Visual effects is all post production. Green screen is the generic term for shooting live action and replacing an empty background environment that is all one color.
The concept of taking a shot where ever you can get it and inserting it wherever it needs to go is practically taken for granted these days. Green screen uses a single color to stand in for transparency. Pure digital green or a blue green mixture known as blue screen that's a little easier on the eyes. Green has become popular, because in a digital world it's very distinct from the color of flesh and hair. Rotoscoping is the generic term for how you remove a foreground element from it's background when you didn't have a green screen. Like key framing this term also comes from the early days of animation at Disney.
Animators would trace motion frame by frame on to film using a device called a rotoscope. What most people don't realize is that even this far into the 21st century, roto is still often a pain staking process done by hand. All though this is evolving with tool like Rotobrush, this purely automated approach, tends to miss too much detail. Motion track is the art and science of matching the motion within a shot. Either re-creating how the camera moved or how all the details on a character or object move in the scene or both.
Motion tracking has to be more or less perfect to work at all, because our brains are incredibly skilled at noticing motion discrepancies. This probably saved our ancestors by warning them about predators. Color correction, the whole area of color in film and video has been revolutionized over the past couple of decades. It's now standard procedure for a project to be finished by a colorist. This artist sets the emotion and the aesthetic look of the piece, as well as fixing technical problems like mismatched shots or flawed lighting setups.
There are entire software applications just for color correction, but After Effects is also highly effective for this kind of work. Composting is the term for assembling a visual effects shot using elements that were not taken with one camera so that they appear as if they were. This is generally the final step in the visual effects pipeline, prior to color correction. The person who does this work is called the compositor and in After Effects the shot or sequence is a composition, or comp.
Motion graphics differs from visual effects in that it is generally less concerned with realism and more with aesthetic delight. Motion graphics may involve type animation, it is graphic design put in motion for the purpose of focusing the viewers attention and conveying a specific feeling or reaction. If there's one area where After Effects has been considered the 900 pound gorilla for the past couple decades, it's mograph. Now I admit that this lesson has been full of very brief short hands for complex processes that people spend lifetimes mastering.
If nothing else, I want you to be aware of these short hands. As you're no doubt well aware, there are resources on this site as well as on google or amazon, to help you delve in as deep as you wanna go with any of these topics.
- After Effects and industry terminology
- Six foundations of After Effects
- Setting up a composition
- Working with layers
- Animating compositions
- Applying effects, including lights
- Working in 3D
- Rendering projects