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Disney Shadow Blend

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Ben HaleDisney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 4:42:57 am

First time writing into the site.

I'm trying to import hand drawn animation into After Effects and achieve the soft shadow blur that Disney has on their characters. If I were to do it in Photoshop, I would use the wand tool to select the 2 colors next to each other, and with the selection it created, apply a blur filter.

I was wondering if there was any way to automate this in After Effects? How can I only apply a blur to 2 colors at a time?

Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the help.

Ben


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Anders HattneRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:23:07 am

Unfortunately I don't understand what you want to achieve. Could you show some images of what you have and want to achieve?

http://www.ardillamedia.com


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Walter SoykaRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:43:16 pm

To build an effect like this, you want to create a new layer that contains only the two colors you're looking for and blur them.

Try this: duplicate your footage, then add two Color Key effects (one for each of the colors you want to blur, the Invert Alpha preset, a Blur effect, and finally a Matte Choker effect (in that order) to the top layer. Adjust to suit. You may need to create an animated garbage masks to eliminate any unwanted blurring in areas of similar color.

The keys knock out the colors you want to blur, leaving only the colors you don't. The Invert Alpha reverses that, so you keep the colors you want to blur, and knock out the rest. The blur is self-explanatory. The Matte Choker helps you tighten the blurred area, so it doesn't overlap into outlines or areas of other other color.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Ben HaleRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:57:20 pm

I'll have to try that when I get home from work tonight and see how it does.

To be a little more clear in what I'm asking for, I'm trying to only blur 2 specific colors, and not effect the colors around it. I've attached an image to show what I'm going for.



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Dave LaRondeRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 3:41:42 pm

I don't understand why you don't want to use AE's Drop Shadow Effect, if possible. It's a lot easier, and accomplishes the same thing you illustrate in your diagrams.

There are other ways to create shadows in AE as well, such as duplicating a layer, filling it with black, blurring it, repositioning it, and playing with opacity.

There really isn't a a a fast and easy, Photoshop-style way to do what you seek. That's one problem people with a mainly Photoshop-type background: "Hey, how come this isn't more like Photoshop? They're from the same company!"

AE did NOT originate with Adobe. Adobe bought it. So you have two different company's ways of approaching similar problems... and those different ways are yet to be rectified. Considering one application is designed specifically for motion graphics and compositing moving pictures -- a totally different set of problems from still images -- they may never be.

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


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Ben HaleRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 6:05:59 pm

Drop shadow or a black layer wouldn't work because the shadow area would bleed outside of the circle.

Interesting, though, is that your black layer idea is exactly how they did it on Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Thanks anyways,

Ben


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Walter SoykaRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 3:48:40 pm

This look is exactly what the technique I described above will do -- though I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish this effect as well.

Once you get all the parameters in the ballpark for a good look for your footage, you can save the whole stack of effects as an animation preset. Then all you will have to do to re-use it is duplicate the layer for each set of colors you want to blend, apply your custom preset, and pick the new colors with the Color Keys' pickers.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Ben HaleRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 16, 2009 at 6:12:03 pm

I'm excited about giving it a try. Thanks for explaining the Animation Presets too, I was weary of having to repeat the process for each pass that I wanted to do on the characters. I'll post my results when I get a chance.

Thanks,

Ben


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Ben HaleRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 22, 2009 at 4:15:48 am

Ran into a problem. Your idea was working great past the inverted Alpha section, but once I got to the blur all the problems started. Rather than just pull the colors from within the Alpha channel, it also started pulling from the outside and forming these "halo's" around the shapes. I've attached an image.



The matte choker wasn't working as well as I'd like so I tried creating an adjustment layer and using the duplicate layer's Alpha channel to try and contain the blur to only the area masked by the 2 colors. It was still pulling color from outside the Alpha channel. I was really hoping that the "repeat edge pixels" would fix it, but no luck.

I'm open, and appreciative, of any more ideas. Thanks.

Ben


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Walter SoykaRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:16:38 pm

Does it help if you precompose the layer after adding the color keys and invert alpha, but before the blur and matte choker?

Also, this might be easier to do on the shading itself, instead of the composited final. Do you have the animation in layers somehow?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Ben HaleRe: Disney Shadow Blend
by on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:43:52 pm

I think I tried precomposing last night, but I'll give it another shot later. As far as the actual animation, its not layered in a way that the color groups would be separate.

The original idea seems sound, I just can't get the blur effect to respect any masks that I put on it. Not sure if there are any other "blur type" effects that might give me a similar blending effect without the problems.

Is there a way to get After Effects to trace the shape of the mask I'm creating after the invert Alpha step? I haven't tested it yet, but the blur filter might not pull outside the mask if it was something drawn with the pen tool. Thought I heard of an auto-trace somewhere, but I could be wrong.

Thanks again for your help.


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