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Best production path for merging live action with animated illustrations?

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Bill Paterno
Best production path for merging live action with animated illustrations?
on Sep 1, 2009 at 4:01:08 pm

I have a job I need to quote for a tv spot which merges live action with animated illustrations. Some of the animations are characters within a scene while others are parts of the shot ie buildings that I am replacing with an illustrated version.

My question is two-fold. First, what is the best/easiest (in terms of less time) production path...specifically with talent that overlap an object that needs to be replaced with an animated illustrated version. Should I request some green to place behind talent so I can slide the new version behind them? Or should I just roto/create a tracking matte for subjects that are in front of objects I need to recreate?

The second part of my question is about rotoscoping in general. I have a little bit of experience but this job would take it to a whole other level. I just recently upgraded to CS4 and I have been playing around with Mocha for AE. I see from a few tutorials that you can track mattes really well with the new planar/spline system. For example, I saw the one tutorial by Mathias Mohl which shows how he uses Mocha for AE to track a matte for a car. Could I do the same for moving talent (arms waving, legs moving, etc.) The car seems a bit easier as only it's perspective changes.

Any help, info, wisdom is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best production path for merging live action with animated illustrations?
on Sep 1, 2009 at 4:22:26 pm

[Bill Paterno] "...Should I request some green to place behind talent so I can slide the new version behind them? Or should I just roto/create a tracking matte for subjects that are in front of objects I need to recreate? "

Chroma key is the way to go. Doing this stuff with rotoscoping is simply too difficult, time-consuming and painful to contemplate.

You will want a chroma key screen bigger than what you think you'll need. Everyone always makes the mistake of using too small a screen, then regretting it later when they realize that the talent actually moves. If you intend to show feet, you'll also need a floor.

You'll want the BEST camera you can get for accurate color reproduction. Neither DV nor HDV will cut it for good chroma keys.

You'll also want your set professionally lit. Your Best Friend Vinnie may be a great guy and he may have read a lot of TV production books, but are you willing to stake a job on his reassurances that he knows how to light for chroma key?

Then do many, many tests prior to the shooting day with talent to get your chroma keying chops up, and to familiarize yourself with potential problems.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Bill Paterno
Re: Best production path for merging live action with animated illustrations?
on Sep 1, 2009 at 5:00:07 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the wisdom. We are actually shooting this on RED which is good because we are very familiar with the format here. I will talk with my producer today and make the plea for green screen. Fortunately I will be on the shoot for both days so hopefully I can pull some footage on location and do some tests to make sure I have what I need.

Thanks again.

Bill



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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best production path for merging live action with animated illustrations?
on Sep 1, 2009 at 5:15:53 pm

It sounds like you're pretty much set. Tests do indeed help. I've saved my little pink posterior any number of times thanks to tests.

I hope you've worked with a RED camera before -- I haven't, but understand that importing RED files into a given editing application can get pretty Byzantine. Tell your photog & editor that you'd like to work in 4-4-4 color resolution if at all possible -- you get a better chroma key that way.


Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Bill Paterno
Re: Best production path for merging live action with animated illustrations?
on Sep 1, 2009 at 5:48:49 pm

No worries. We own one here (although we are only doing post on this project) and have a pretty decent workflow...well decent for Avid.



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