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After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance

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Dario Biagiotti
After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance
on Apr 12, 2018 at 1:31:00 pm

Hi fellas.
I'm new to this forum, sorry if there's any rules or policies regarding posts I might've missed.
Me and a group of friends are currently in the pre-production of a short horror movie we're gonna start filming sometime during this summer.
There is a shot of the main character walking on a large earthen field. According to story line, he is to be walking on a vast expanse of this very thick, tar-like substance. This shot is only going to be a few seconds long. Any way, what I am wondering is, what can I do and/or use to make this look as similar to the description in the story as possible? Do I need to render an entire new landscape, or is there maybe some particle effect I can add to the ground?


Any help is appreciated. It would ease things up if there was a YouTube video I can rely on, being a beginner when it comes to the program. We're willing to put down the required time it takes to get the best results, meaning we're not backing out of a challenge. We're probably gonna be in post-production by the end of this year/beginning of the next, so there's enough time for us to learn.

Please help!

Cheers,
Dario


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Blaise Douros
Re: After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance
on Apr 12, 2018 at 6:32:35 pm

Hi Dario,
You can make this as simple or as complicated as you want. If it were me, I would try to go to a location that had as much of the look and feel as I could, and then comp in some background pieces to complete the look. Or you could build a small practical set with ten feet of goop, with a greenscreen backdrop, and build the rest of the world around that. Or, you could just shoot on greenscreen, and composite your character into a static scene--a matte painting, for all intents and purposes.

The key is that one of your team members needs to be able to generate photorealistic assets to use to create this environment. Whether that's by digital painting, Photoshop, or 3D modeling, you need to have the ability to create this environment in order to composite the character into it. Once you figure out how you're going to generate the assets, you can make some decisions how you'll solve the shooting problem.

For normal VFX work, they'll shoot it the way the director wants, and the VFX team figures out the best way after the fact. But since you're a novice, you need to build your VFX shots around your skills.


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Dario Biagiotti
Re: After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance
on Apr 12, 2018 at 8:16:19 pm

Hey Blaise!

I'm so grateful for your fast response, thank you very much for your tips.
Being relatively new to filmmaking and special effects, we'd probably go for the background composition. Would it be considered too advanced for us to maybe visualize some movement on the field using simple particle effects perhaps, or maybe some sort of layers, to give it a more realistic look?

Cheers,
Dario


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Blaise Douros
Re: After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance
on Apr 12, 2018 at 10:07:47 pm

It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If you want things like fog or mist, then you can use things like Turbulent Noise to generate a layer of slow-moving fog, which you'd then composite in multiple layers. Particles tend to work well for things like sparks, ashes, that kind of thing. A small amount of particulate can help sell the depth of an effect, particularly if you have a moving camera.

Look into the 3D Camera Tracker, and do some experimentation. With a good camera solve, you could place things on the ground, or in the background, that move with the scene.


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Greg Gesch
Re: After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance
on Apr 13, 2018 at 12:41:28 am

Hi Dario. I would strongly suggest that you use something that looks like real "tar" and have it laid along the path he walks. It need only be wide enough for him to walk on and you can fake the rest of the floor. Trying to get that stickiness looking real would be a nightmare for even an experienced VFX person.
Blaise has given you good advice and options. There are a lot of tutorials around about green-screen and set extensions, so make sure you have a good idea of EXACTLY how you are going to do it before you start shooting and save yourself a lot of headaches.
This might give you some ideas:
http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials/alien_surface/


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Dario Biagiotti
Re: After Effects movie landscape tips and guidance
on Apr 13, 2018 at 9:05:19 am

Hi Greg!

Being novices and all, we're probably go for one of the more "simpler" solutions. I don't wanna overdo it and put too much effort being our first real movie and all. It's probably better if we made something easier and make it look good instead of making a half-assed attempt of rendering and entirely new landscape.

And again, thanks for the great tips, from both of you. We're gonna be holding a meeting with the crew this sunday, where we'll discuss special effects amongst other things. We should have a better understanding of what we want after, so I'll get back to you guys with the latest info if you wouldn't mind helping me more. Luckily this is the trickiest scene in the movie when it comes to VFX, and probably the only one that's gonna have to be partially digitalized. We're also gonna have some parts made in stop-motion. My thought is that this movie is gonna be a little experiment/introduction for us to most of the aspects within filmmaking. I am aware that your first movie never turn out as you'd expect it to, but it's the experience I'm looking for.

Cheers guys,
Dario


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