One of the bigger technical aspects we’ve been working with in the second year is After Effects. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but I like it. Tracking, animation, logos, all sorts of things. But one of my favourite things we’ve had a chance to work with is the green screen and keying functions. Surprisingly, too, one of the more involved processes (at the start at least). Sure, it sounds easy to put somebody in front of a green blanket and edit around them but to get it to look seamless and real? That’s the cool challenge.
On to the story of the day, though. One of the latest assignments in Compositing and Visual Effects is to film and then edit ourselves onto a beach. Like I mentioned earlier, easier to say than do. First, you have to get the lighting right. Is the sun coming from the right? Up above? If your shadows don’t match you’ll instantly look out of place. Next, you have to have something that matches the surroundings. Going to the beach in a winter coat might sound fun but if you’re going for realistic you have to cut the funny business (which we still managed to work around buuuuutttttt that’s besides the point). So, now that you’ve filmed and out away your equipment (and organized the room), you just have to load into After Effects and key it, right?
Well, surprisingly, yeah. You can load your base footage, load your filmed green screen footage and pop a keylight filter onto that bad boy. To make it look great, though, you have to work at it. Gain, screen matte, colour balance… not going to get into it all, but a lot of delicate balancing. And that’s what we did today; we met up, set up lights, filmed each other, and just had a great time practicing with the equipment and working on the assignment. I find the best part of my peer group is that you’re never alone in working on something, even in solo projects. They’ve all got your back, and want you to learn and improve along with them. Again, besides the point. But know that I’m appreciative of the group that I get to graduate with!
Maybe one day I’ll have to green screen myself onto the moon. Who knows. By the time I could actually get the lighting right we’ll have space travel anyways 😉