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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 successfully imported the render passes into After Effects. We took four of those passes and arranged them in the composition called Render to build up the renders so it looks similar to the original beauty pass. The order and the blending modes we use are very important to do that. Now the fact that these render passes are on separate layers is both good and bad. The good part is you have a lot of flexibility, you can apply effects to anyone of these individually, so every layer can be adjusted separately from the other layers. For example, the shadow layer already has the invert effect on it but none of the other ones do.
I can go to any of these other ones and apply different effects. For example, just as a task, I can go up to Effect and apply a Blur, like a Gaussian Blur to the reflection. Once I apply effects, that effect is once again listed under Effects for that layer and also the Effect options show up in the Effect Controls panel. So if increasing blurriness here, I can blur out just the reflection. Now this might not be the best solution for this type of project but does show you that all these layers can have a different set of effects.
So for now I want to get rid of this--we don't this at this point--I'll delete that. Now that's the good part. The bad part is if I want to move something around, these are all separate. So if I grab the diffuse layer and interactively click-drag it in viewer, it splits out from the other layers. Its transforms are different. So what you do about that? Well, you could move all of these together so all the transforms update. You could do that by, for example, Shift-selecting them all and then trying to move them, and that works. That gets a little tedious sometimes, and it's not really good for animation.
So I'm going to click Undo here, Ctrl+Z to go back, and we'll talk about some other solutions. Okay! Now our layers are back at the start point. Another way to reset the transforms, by the way, is just to click the Reset button beside that layer. Reset will set that set of Transforms back to their initial stage. In any case, what do we do about the fact that they are separate, and I want to move them together? One solution is Parenting, Parenting allows you to parent one layer to another and in fact there's a Parent menu right beside the each layer, so for example, if I go to Specular layer, go to its Parent menu, and switch that to the Diffuse layer, then the specular becomes parented to the diffuse.
So then when I move the diffuse, the specular travels with it, so at least now I have two layers moving together as a unit. If I want to move these all together, I had to Parent all the top layers. So for now, I am going to reset the Diffuse, get it back to the Start, and I'll go up to the top two layers and change those Parent menus to diffuse also. So now the top three will follow bottom one. So now if we move the bottom one, that moves there as a unit. So that's one solution. I am going to reset this for now. The other solution is to do something called Nesting.
Nesting allows you to place one composition into a second one and have that nested composition be flattened as a single layer. It's actually very common technique. So for now, I'm going to under the Parents, I am going to make sure to reset first on this bottom one then switch all these other menus to None. Now for nesting, I need to go back to my shot1 composition, then back to my Project tab. So I can do to nest is grab one composition-- for example, the Render composition--and pull that into the open composition, in this case shot1.
So that nested composition comes in as a single layer, it's flattened out. It has a signal set of Transforms. Now what's cool about this is I can go back to my original Render composition, and it's still there, it's still intact. I have all four of my layers here with all their own unique settings. I could update these all at once. I can add New Effects, I can change order of the layers, remove layers, add new layers, and what will happen is that will be updated so that the nested composition and shot1 reflects whatever I change in that original composition.
So the flexibility of changing all these things for the Render composition and having it reflected here where it's nested. So now it's nested and has a single set of Transforms, I can move that around as a single unit. Let's click-drag. Now one thing that's bad about this, which we will have to solve, is a fact that that there's no transparency. The black field of this nested composition covers up the background. I have to deal with that. But luckily, since we have nested composition it's easier to solve. So I'm going to reset the Transforms here.
What we do about the fact that there is no transparency here. But we can steal a transparency from different layer. In fact, if you wonder why we did the matte render pass this is why we did it to solve this particular problem. Because even before we nested there is an issue, there's not proper Alpha here in the Render composition. So let's go back to shot1. So I'm going to grab the Matte Render Pass and pull it down and drop it on top. We're going to steal the Alpha information from this or then steal the value information and give it out to Alpha. So here's the Matt Render.
It's White over Black. We don't need to see that, we just need to borrow information from it. So can go to the video eye beside it and turn it off. What we will do next is go to the Render layer and use this feature called TrkMat, it's spelled T-R-K-M-A-T. What that does is it steals information from layer above it and give that to the Alpha. So in this situation what I can do is change this menu here to Luna Matte. Luma Matte stands for Luminance Matte. We'll look at the layer above, in this case the matte layer, look at the luminance information, convert that to the Alpha and give that the Render layer.
So I'm going to select Luma Matte and therefore that objects cut out properly. Again the TrkMat goes one layer up, takes a look at the information, converts that to the Alpha, and in this case I chose Luma Matte option, so it's looking at Luminance information, in other words Brightness. Brightness is converted into Alpha for this nested render layer, and therefore it's cut out properly. So we have seen the advantages and disadvantages of working with render passes on separate layers. The advantage is you can adjust each layer individually.
Disadvantage is it's difficult to move those layers together as a single unit. Luckily you can either parent the layers together or you can nest. In this case nesting worked out great for us because it helped us to solve the problem of the Alpha Channel for this spyglass render.