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Tricky compositing question - sand animation

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Corrie Parks
Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on May 27, 2014 at 11:57:17 pm

I'm a sand animator and I have a broad question to throw out to the compositing experts.

I'm looking for the best way to composite my sand footage (a frame sequence all shot on a DSLR) over backgrounds. I don't want to lose the individual grains of sand on the edges, but I don't want a glowing halo around it either.

Here are links to a background, foreground and desired final result.

Background 7539_sandcompositingbg.jpg.zip

Foreground (a sequence of animated frames like this) 7540_sandcompositingfg.jpg.zip

Final 7541_sandcompositingfinal.jpg.zip


Using color key and refine matte effects doesn't work on this sort of footage because there is too much white in the center of the egg. At least I haven't gotten a satisfactory result.

Sometimes animating a feathered mask with a multiplied layer on top works fine (that is how I made this final sample image), but once the image gets complex and is moving all over, then it's a real pain.

For more complex stuff, I have processed the frames in Photoshop with various filters to create an alpha channel sequence with a thinner edge. But I still have to open each frame and hand color the interior white bits black to have a solid alpha mask. That is how I did the fish in this film: https://vimeo.com/78802560

Interested in:

Is there an easier solution in After Effects that I am just missing?

Is there an easier solution in any other program out there?

I use AE CC on Windows 8.1 platform.

Thanks for any suggestions!

-The Sandy Animator
aka Corrie


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mathew fuller
Re: Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on May 28, 2014 at 1:09:07 am

Try this approach, AE scene zipped at link below

http://we.tl/9KVV93x56Q

This approach should work. But you will have to animate masks. This can be accomplished a lot easier with a little help from Mocha AE. If you are not familiar with using it… it does have a bit of a learning curve, but is well worth it in the end.

On a side note… your work is amazing. Keep it up.

~ Mat

My Work:
http://www.morecompletefx.com


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Corrie Parks
Re: Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on May 28, 2014 at 5:12:14 am

Thanks Mat, for taking a look at this. Your solution with the feathered mask and a multiplied overlay is very similar to what I ended up using.



I animated a mask for the egg section and for the rest I was able to get away with just multiplying the sand footage on top since it was mostly opaque black. It worked for this but I don't think it's practical for more complex stuff.

I haven't used Mocha. (It's a separate plug-in you have to buy, right?) Will it create tracking mattes for complex footage like the swimming fish in the other film? If so, it would probably be worth the learning curve for me.

In case anyone wants to try working some actual footage, here's a very short frame sequence. It should be loaded at 12fps.
7542_fishframes.zip

I've found my own workarounds over the years, but in my dreams there is a special effect/plugin/big red button I can push to make it blend perfectly. I'm pretty sure it's only in my dreams.

Thanks again!
Corrie


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Ross Shain
Re: Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on May 28, 2014 at 2:15:01 pm

mocha AE ships free with Adobe AE CC. It is not a plug-in. It is launched by selecting a layer in AE and under animation>track in mocha AE.

mocha AE is used for roto masking and planar tracking. Relatively easy to learn and lots of free tutorials.

Get started video series is here: http://www.imagineersystems.com/mocha_Fundamentals

Best,
Ross

Ross Shain
Imagineer Systems
http://www.imagineersystems.com


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Matthew Woods
Re: Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on May 28, 2014 at 9:03:19 pm

Have you tried the Paint Bucket effect? Its real quick, and I think it works well with things like this. I'd use a copy of your sand layer set to multiply to preserve detail in the sand grain edges, and a choked paint bucket key for your bright filled main images.

Here is an example project. Link it to the files you posted.
7545_sandfishtest.aep.zip

Nice fish animation!

-Matt

Need a quick break from motion graphics?
Try my game Constellation at:
http://www.paperdragongames.com


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Corrie Parks
Re: Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on Jun 27, 2014 at 9:22:47 pm

Hi Matthew,

Sorry for my delayed response, I've been out of the country for a month and just got to download your file. That looks great! I will have to try that on some other footage and see how extensively I can use it. I can think of a few instances where it might not work (like if there wasn't a distinctive edge on an object, just shading that faded into the white), but I bet it will work on the majority of what I am doing with sand.

Thanks for your help!
Corrie


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Matthew Woods
Re: Tricky compositing question - sand animation
on Aug 7, 2014 at 1:00:52 pm

Hi Corrie,

I was just cleaning up my downloads folder and found your fish animation. I thought I'd check this thread to see if you had tried it. Glad you like it. Much quicker than tracking a mask. I figured you might have a few frames where you have to put your own white mask behind it, but I thought it would work for most of your frames.

I think the paint bucket is one of the better overlooked plugins in AE. I find it helpful in lots of situations. It works well to cut things out that were shot against black or white, where a chroma key doesn't work well. If you don't have a pure background, you can also stack multiple copies of the effect with lower sensitivity to knock out different areas without intruding on the image you are trying to cut out.

I liked your fish, and I'd love to see your final animation. Post a link when its done!

Cheers,

-Matt

Need a quick break from motion graphics?
Try my game Constellation at:
http://www.paperdragongames.com


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