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- Working with image sequences
- Matching the 3D camera to video footage
- Lighting models in Maya
- Splitting a scene into multiple render passes
- Batch rendering
- Recombining render passes in an After Effects composition
- Setting up motion trackers
- Refining layers with rotoscoping
- Adding blur and effects
- Adjusting shadows and matte edges
- Using color correction
- Stabilizing shaky video
Skill Level Intermediate
We have assembled the spaceship render passes inside our composition in After Effects, we also adjusted the various layers to improve the quality of the specularity in the reflection and also changed the color of the incandescence on the logo. We are now ready to take this composition and nest it into another one, so we can add the live-action background footage. So let me go straight to Composition > New Composition. I want to create new composition that matches the first one. In this case I need HD 1080, 24 frames per second, and a duration of 90 frames.
So this is all correct. I can click OK now, and there is a new composition called Comp 1. Let me go ahead and grab the Shot2Ship composition and drop it in this one and therefore nest it. Now I want to see this in front of the live- action, so I'm going to go to Shot2 and pull that down and place it underneath. Now even though that's in the composition, I cannot see it in the viewer. That's because the Alpha around the spaceship is not correct, I do not have the transparency information to make that work. So what I can do though is use the matte trick or use the matte render pass as Alpha information and apply that to the ship.
So I'm going to drag this matte render pass down and place it on top. And once again, as a matte, it's whites or a black, so I can use this as Alpha information for the track matte feature. Now there is one issue with this. If I zoom back and play this back, you'll see that this render pass also traps the shadow on the building. Now we're going to be able to use that later, but I don't want it for this particular iteration of the matte layer, I want to cut this out and just use the matte on the ship. Well, how we do that? Well, a great way to get rid of something you don't want for a layer is to rotoscope.
In fact, when you rotoscope in order to get rid of something, it's often called creating a garbage mask or a garbage matte. So in order to create a garbage matte, what I can do is go back to the Pen tool in rotoscope and then change some settings on that mask to get rid of that section. Let's give that a try. I'll go to Pen tool and draw a loose mask around that shadow area. I just want to encompass it. I want to close the masked path, it's going to keep that area, now that's not good for our purpose of using a track matte, but just for now, I'm going to leave it set to that option so that we can see where it is.
What I do need to do though is animate this mask changing shape over time, because the shadow moves, and so does the ship. So let me go to the matte layer, expand it, expand the Mask section, and then beside Mask 1, expand that and then click on Mask Path to activate the keyframing, so there is the first keyframe. Now I can go to the timeline and adjust the shape of the mask so it continues to encompass the shadow, but I don't want it to touch the ship itself. So in order to change the mask shape, I can use Selection tool and click on or off the various mask points, and then move them to change the shape.
It's going to be a tight fit between the shadow and ship, there should be just enough room, so you don't cut into the ship. So I'm just scrolling through and try to find the palm areas, it looks pretty good. Again, I don't want to touch the ship itself, I just want to make sure I always encompass the shadow. Now that I have the shadow isolated with this mask, I need to invert the way it's operating. I want to give the rid of the shadow, but keep the ship matte. A quick way to do that is to go back down to Mask 1 and change its functionality. There is a mode menu right here that determines how that mask is going to operate.
If it's set to Add, which is the default, it's going to keep whatever is inside the mask. If I switch this over to Subtract, it's going to invert that, now the matte is kept. So now we can use this as a source of Alpha, so I'm going to collapse this. I want to hide that layer, I don't need to see it, go down to the ship layer, go to the track matte menu and switch this to Luma Matte. Luma Matte is going to take the luminance information or the brightness information from the layer above, in this case the matte layer and convert that the Alpha for the ship layer.
So there we go, the ship is now cut out, and I'm not going to see a shadow, we will return to the shadow later on. It will be a good time to play this back and see what the ship looks like over the background. As we play it back, we can see that the ship doesn't quite match the building, remember we created some planes inside Maya to cut the edge of the ship out. However, as the footage moves forward, I'll just zoom in here, you can see that that's edge drifts. That's where Motion Tracking comes into play. What we can do is motion track the ship so that that edge lines up with the building edge.
And the problem arises because the camera's zoomed quite a bit, not only in terms of left-right, up-down motion, but also some rotation on there where the camera tilts left and right. Now you may know ship also looks a little bit jaggy right now, that's just because we're zoomed out. If we zoom all the way in to 100%, you can see the edges are clean. So we have successfully cut out the ship with the track matte trick using the matte render paths. We have also placed it over the background, now we're ready to tackle the problem of the motion, a figure a way to motion track the ship to the original camera movement.