Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Making of" Violet: Year One

Finally, I can pull from the darkness and head towards the light.  I've been missing from the fold.  Not from laziness, but from extreme busy-ness and secrecy.  My little girl Violet turned one and I was working on a video for her birthday party.  Because I wanted it to as much a gift to her as my wife, I had to keep it off the inter-web for it to remain a secret.

It worked.  My wife seemed overjoyed and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

For people who are interested in this kind of thing, I thought I would break down a couple of the effects in the video.

First thing.  All of the videos were taken with cell phones.  For some reason, everyone takes videos vertically and not horizontally (as in wide screen movies).  So my big problem was that I couldn't show video clips traditionally because of the black area on the sides.  My solution? Show the videos with cropped edges.  That's when I thought of doing the scrapbook.  It would allow me to cut off the black edges and place them on top of fake Polaroids.

The next problem was that I wanted the pages to curve like normal paper.  After Effects is a pretty flat program when it comes to 3D...for the most part.  It can basically be like flying index cards around a 3D space.  There is a normal page turn effect you get with the program, but it is just faking the turn.  I wanted to do better than that.

So after some research, I found a script called Bend Layers by Jacob Danell.  This program takes your flat image, asks you how many segments you want, and then splits that image in to a bunch of strips.  2 strips would be like folding it in half.  The more strips, the smoother the curve.

With that problem solved, it was just a matter of flying the camera around past the pages.  

I also wanted to give the whole thing a more cohesive look and better represent it in 3D space.  So I added a particle effect to better sell the depth of field and the the camera was moving and banking around.  I then loaded up Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks, and did some color correcting and flare.  I used to do a wash of film grain to make everything blend together better, but much prefer this way.

Without Filters

With Filters
I also decided to do some pseudo 3D photos.  The effect is from duplicating your image and isolating the subject from the front layer.  Then you spread them apart and move the camera through the 2 images.  A little play with the Lens Blur effect and it will work pretty well for you.

There were some smaller effects in there too, but these were the trickier ones.  If you hung in this long, thank you.  

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-Ben Hale

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