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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 spent some time working with the edge quality of the spaceship to make it better integrated, we also softened it slightly and then adjusted the color by just reducing the opacity. There is more room for color adjustment, however, to make it integrate even better. In fact, I am going to pick the spaceship layer and apply three new effects. First one is Color Balance, next one is Curves, and then we will add a new one we haven't used before which is Hue/Saturation. Let's start with Color Balance. Now, of course, the goal is to make it look like this was shot in the same scene as the actress.
So I think we have too much red and not enough blue even at this point. So what I can do is reduce the red for both the shadow midtone and highlight, maybe increase the blue for the Highlight. So let's enter -10 for the red, -15 for the red Midtone, -15 for the red Highlight. So it's -10 for the Shadow, -15 for the Midtone, -15 for the Highlight. Also, I am going to increase the blue of the highlight. So what that has done is reduced the overall amount of red and snuck up the blue.
So now, it feels a little bit better integrated into that sky. Now, it's still very saturated compared to the background. So what I can do is go down a little bit deeper to my Hue/Saturation and reduce the saturation through the Master Saturation control. When I put -40, you will see it becomes much less saturated and feels a little bit like there is additional haze in front of it which is good. Now, we still have the Curves tool right here in the center. I can go ahead and adjust that. I'd like to get this a little bit brighter because these are very brighter in that scene.
So I am going to click one time in the center and pull up the curve just to brighten it. Now, one thing to keep in mind as you're adjusting the colors to the curves or the Hue/Saturation or the Color Balance is the fact that you want the blacks and whites to match. Now in particular, the blacks are important here, you want the values in the black area on the spaceship to match the dark areas when the live action plate, like on the actress' hair. Now remember, you can check the Info Panel to see what the values are. So if I place my mouse over the spaceship here in the dark area, my values are in the mid 30s up to low 40s, with more blue, then green, and definitely less red.
If I check the hair, I have similar values, little less red, little more green and definitely more blue, all somewhere in the mid 30s to low 40s. So as you're adjusting those effects, keep that in mind you might want to test and see what your values are. So now that matches much better in terms of color. Let's move on to the next step. One thing we might want to do is reduce the intensity of the logos. Remember the logos are an incandescent layer by themselves. Let's go back to the Shot2Ship comp and adjust the incandescent layer.
I am going to expand that. One quick way to reduce the intensity is to reduce the opacity. So I am going to reduce this even further down to 60%. Now, I will fade out the logos a little bit more. Let's go back to comp 1. All right! So the ship is looking pretty good. Now, there is one additional thing we can do to make it look like the CG was shot in that video to start with. Now, video normally has compression artifacts and noise. The noise takes a form of shot noise which is 1 pixel variations of light intensity.
The compression artifacts are more blocky kind of compression artifacts that are necessary to store the video. Now, CG does not have any of that to start with. So if we want to add that, we have to use another effect. And one effect that's great for that is Match Grain. So I am going to go up to Effect > Noise & Grain > Match Grain. When I do this, I get a little preview box that's white. You can reposition that if you grab the center circle and move it. That just shows you what the grain is going to look like. Now, it's not functioning yet because what it needs is a source layer.
There is a Noise Source layer right here. We're going to change the menu to the footage where you're going to steal the grain and right now what has the grain is Shot2, and there is the grain. Now initially, that grain comes in very heavy. It basically exaggerates it. We don't want it to be that intense. So what we can do is go to Tweaking and reduce the Intensity, say 0.2. Now, it makes it very subtle but still in there. And what's great about this is the grain from the video and the compression artifacts from the video changes with each frame.
It's kind of like static on the TV. So the same motion is picked up by this effect Match Grain and applied to the spaceship. Now in order to get rid of the white box, I have to go to the Viewing mode, and set the final, Final Output. So now it places the grain over the entire spaceship. Again, it's fairly subtle with these settings, but it's going to add some more realism. Let's move on and deal with another problem which is the fact the spaceship gets cut off and the reason it gets cut off is we motion-tracked it, and we end up moving the ship to the right and left the gap here.
Quick way to fix that is to do another nesting. We're going to create a new comp or a new composition, make sure it has all the same resolution, frame rate and duration, and then nest Comp 1 inside Comp 2, so here is Comp 2 which is empty. Go back to the Project Tab and pull Comp 1 into it. Now initially, I am still going to have the same problem, it's cut off. But what I can do is scale up this nested comp to 105% and then position that nested composition so that we never see that gap.
So I need to move it pretty far to the left, so let's test that. So that's good, that's good, that's good. So I think we're safe there. So that prevents the clipping of the spaceship. Now, a small scale is not too bad. We're working with a pretty high resolution to start with, so scaling by 105% is not too bad. The same scale is not gong to degrade the quality too much. Let's apply the final step. Now, you notice that in the footage, the sun is right here, so it's making the haze very bright. In fact, the bright haze is traveling across the actress' hair and also in front of the building.
So it would be cool to get that over the spaceship also. So there is a quick trick for that. Let me go back to frame 0. What we can do is duplicate this nested comp, Edit > Duplicate and then make this layer brighter and apply a curve to do that, or Curves and make that brighter. Now of course everything gets brighter but what I can do then is create a mask that is circular in this area. So in order to create a mask, I can use one of the mask shapes we have up here. Now by default you will see the Rectangle tool. There is also the Ellipse tool. If I grab that and click-drag, it cuts out that layer in a circle.
So now I can position that circle such a way that it starts to overlap the spaceship. Now, the overlap is very hard right now, if I click off of it, or Escape--in this case I have the transform handle, so I need to escape--and then click off of it and then hide the mask, you'll see a really hard edge. So what I can do is feather that mask, and that ellipse shows up as just the mask underneath your layer. So here is Mask 1. I can increase the Feather to 500 pixels and therefore soften it. So when I brighten this, that bright fake sun starts to bleed on to the spaceship.
Just play this whole thing back. So there you go! We have taken a CG Render of a spaceship from a Maya scene that did not even have an animated camera, we have applied motion tracking and some masking to make it look like it's actually in the scene with the same camera motion as the live action footage. We have also spent some time color- grading the spaceship, adjusting its edges and in general making it look like it's in the same lighting with the same atmospheric haze. That's pretty cool! You can apply these techniques we have talked about in this series of videos for this project and apply it to any CG Render where you need to make it look like that CG was in the real world to start with.