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VFX for the big screen

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Scott O'Hara
VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 6:54:00 am

Hey everybody,

Just recently shot a short film on a RED Epic, 4K.

I plan on having some VFX work done, most likely all in AE, though that could change.

I have compositing (eye replacement), object removal (stingers, apple box, etc, labels, etc.) and maybe some others.

My question is, what should I keep in mind when having the VFX done (by myself or someone else who is starting out) to make sure there's limited artifacting (hopefully that's the correct term) or better yet, NO artifacting, that would show up, if I was lucky enough to have it accepted to a festival and shown in a theater?

I'm concerned things I don't notice when viewing the project and VFX on a computer will become ugly demonstrations of my horrible mistakes when shown on a large screen.

I have some experience in AE but only for projects geared for the internet, viewable over the computer.

Any help/advice would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!

Thanks everybody.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 7:24:46 am

Invest in a calibrated monitor and a good output solution - 4k for both would be ideal.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 8:17:37 am

[Tudor "Ted" Jelescu] "4k for both would be ideal"

But it may be a bit overkill. I have made effects on movie that were shot on 4K but they were never mastered as 4K and they were usually made in 2K or full HD. Also if one does not have a powerful computer doing things in 4K is painful. You need A LOT of RAM if you want to preview large frames and if you're dealing with uncompressed stuff you'll need pretty fast disks/SSDs in a RAID.

I'd say that one of the most important thing is to consult with the colorist and how he/she is using the footage because there are a zillion different options in the RED source settings. I try to keep the same settings when I'm doing the effects so I can blend them in better.


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chris brett
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 9:14:26 am

-- also best do FX before footage is graded ---chris---


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Scott O'Hara
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 6:25:33 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks for the advice so far.

Yeah, I think the 4K monitors would be out of the question, just due to cost, though I know that's a good idea.

Ultimately the master is going to be 1080p or 2K at most.

So to make sure I understand, the most important part is blending the VFX with color? So would the artifacting and similar issues arise from a bad grade, and not necessarily with the VFX themselves?

I have a separate question about removing objects with AE. If I use clone stamp, etc., I feel like that would become really obvious if you blew that up on a big screen? Any experience with that? Any better tools for object removal?

I'm currently looking for a colourist, and plan on working off the RAW files for that and VFX.

Thanks for the tip on doing VFX before color. What I was planning to do was do a quick pass for white balance, etc. then doing the VFX on the clips, then brining back for final color (the majority of it). All on the RAW files.

Thanks again for the help.


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 8:38:14 pm
Last Edited By Tero Ahlfors on Jan 23, 2014 at 8:38:41 pm

[Scott O'Hara] "What I was planning to do was do a quick pass for white balance, etc. then doing the VFX on the clips"

Don't touch the colour info at all unless you're doing an effect that needs that. If you're dealing with washed out logarithmic stuff you can use an adjustment layer with a cineon converter effect to use it as a preview.


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Scott O'Hara
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 9:05:49 pm

I was meaning white balance because a lot of wasn't done while shooting. So I have the RAW data, but some of it may be difficult to see/work with unless some grading is done. (i.e., certain shots were underexposed).

So I was figuring to just do a pass in REDCine or if someone else does it, in Resolve, to give the VFX person something to work off of. Also, if I don't correct the white balance, etc. at a minimal level before VFX, won't that screw up their work afterward if I start doing that once the fx are finished?

If I'm wrong let me know and I'll make sure to do ALL CC after the VFX work including correcting white balance, etc.

Thanks guys.


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Darby Edelen
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 23, 2014 at 10:18:09 pm

Feel free to do some limited color correction on the footage before VFX so that the footage looks consistent but avoid doing any stylized or secondary color correction until afterward. Also you'll want to color correct any assets that are being added to the footage to match the source's color.

Beyond that I'd recommend that you use very small blurs on anything you're compositing in (no real world lens will give you a perfectly sharp image) and add some grain to the composited elements as well.

Honestly AE's toolset at this point is not the best suited for this sort of work (Nuke's is better). It can all be done in AE but it'll be more of a pain. Of course purchasing/learning an entirely new program is likely out of the question but I think it's worth mentioning that better tools do exist.

Darby Edelen


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Scott O'Hara
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:21:36 am

Thanks for the advice Darby.

When you refer to CCing the assets that are added to the clips, can you give me an example of what you're referring to? I'm assume you talking about VFX? Again just making sure I'm not missing anything.

Good call on the blurs. Thanks.

I've thought about using something other than AE. I couldn't, but I've spoken with a couple VFX artists who do use Nuke, etc. The biggest issue is cost, being that those people seem to charge more. Maybe I'm wrong there but I'll keep looking around. I guess it matters more on the experience and ability of the VFX artist than the program, but I know Nuke has a lot more to offer.

Thanks again.


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 6:32:02 am

[Scott O'Hara] "When you refer to CCing the assets that are added to the clips, can you give me an example of what you're referring to? "

Well for example if you're adding a stock explosion to a clip you'll need to colour/grain match the element so it doesn't pop out as an added element.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:41:37 pm

Tero had some good advice - match the grain, color and softness of the original footage. Work at 32bit, do not color correct (my advice). If you need any sort of color correction slap a Adjustment layer on top, apply color correction to it, do your work and then turn that off for final rendering.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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chris brett
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 2:51:22 pm

---- I have heard that colour correcting can cause problems with keying ..................

--------------------------- chris --


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:18:43 pm

[chris brett] "I have heard that colour correcting can cause problems with keying"

Actually sometimes you'll probably want to color correct to do a key. But then you are manipulating the colours to give you a better matte as the result. The footage itself might get a little crazy so you wouldn't want to use that.


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Scott O'Hara
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 6:47:08 pm

Okay, so if I'm understanding you guys correctly: Even though the white balance and such might differ from clip to clip on the RAW, I shouldn't mess with it until after the VFX.

So for underexposed shots where it's tough to see all the details for VFX work (tracking, etc.) I should add an adjustment layer, CC that so I can see the clip, do the FX work then turn off the adjustment layer?

Then once I have completed all the FX, go to color grading and correct all the footage and VFX together at once.

Sound right? If so, when I have that adjustment layer active, and I'm working on the VFX portion, is there a way to make the settings or color neutral so when I turn off the adjustment layer, my VFX aren't all crazy with color?

Basically what I'm asking is there a way or setting to keep all the VFX (say a milky white eye composited onto someone's face) settings at some sort of baseline, so it's easy to grade with the rest of the footage? Or am I just making sure I blend it with the RAW footage as best as possible?

Sorry if I'm being redundant.

Thanks!


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chris brett
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 6:58:43 pm

Hi -- my point originally is that it is best to get the rushes with maximum picture information ( grading loses information )

---- unless you have been asked to grade it would be inclined to ask the director how he wants to handle this ---- match grain yes but grade along with FX work not so sure ...... it depends.....

--- last time I did anything like this the Fx was graded along with the rest of the edit at the finishing stage....

----------------------- chris --

=========================================


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chris brett
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:02:30 pm

-- obviously cc elements so that comp works -- but sort key first then cc downstream ---c---


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:39:56 pm

[Scott O'Hara] "Even though the white balance and such might differ from clip to clip on the RAW, I shouldn't mess with it until after the VFX."

That's the colorists job. I usually only have individual VFX shots and I have no idea what the surrounding clips look like so it's not my job to try to balance anything.

[Scott O'Hara] "Then once I have completed all the FX, go to color grading and correct all the footage and VFX together at once."

Grading is the last part of the production, yes.

[Scott O'Hara] "Or am I just making sure I blend it with the RAW footage as best as possible?"

Yes. You'll want to keep as much dynamic range/image quality for the colorist to work with.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 27, 2014 at 7:41:04 am

Work @32bit color, match the effects to the footage as close as possible ( color, grain, softness...) and grade the final.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Scott O'Hara
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 27, 2014 at 8:08:55 am

Thanks Ted.

I've been dabbling with this a bit, working with some r3d files in AE CS6. One question I had from this is in regards to color. I'll run this by the colorist as well. But in your interpret footage / main / more options tabs, you can get to the metadata. Working with the RAW clips, and the REDLog settings, it washes out the colors, which I've always understood to be true RAW before the color is manipulated at all.

I'm assuming this is what the colorists go off of when they start grading. And I'm assuming when you say to match the colors of the footage as best you can, I should be matching to this setting, instead of the other settings you can manipulate (i.e., Redgamma, etc.). Cause honestly those settings look like crap.


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 27, 2014 at 4:57:15 pm

[Scott O'Hara] "I'm assuming this is what the colorists go off of when they start grading."

You'll need to consult the colorist what he/she wants as the RED settings.



[Scott O'Hara] "Cause honestly those settings look like crap."

That's why you use an adjustment layer or a LUT to turn washed out looking RedLOG stuff to something that you can work with.


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Scott O'Hara
Re: VFX for the big screen
on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:39:36 am

Still looking for a colorist, but as soon as I find one I'll start that conversation. I was leaning toward doing some of the VFX myself, but with all the matching of color, etc. etc. I'm not sure if I should.

But if the budget becomes an increasing issue, I may have to do that, and possibly color in something like Magic Bullet.. It's been years since I've used anything other than CC tools in Premiere and FCP so.... yah...


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