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Reflection help: Person walking

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Nick ChristoffReflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 25, 2010 at 4:14:11 am

'm trying to create an accurate reflection of a man in a virtual world I have created. I'm using Video Copilot's VC reflect. Shots where the host is facing the camera square or walking towards the camera straight-on are not the problem. The issue I'm having are the shots where the host walks in from the left or right and moves towards the camera at the same time. His reflection needs to be at a perspective (as he walks from the back-left of the shot to the front-right)

I have tried to mask out his right and left leg and apply the preset to each foot, adjusting the position independently as well as the angle and the skew. However that's not quite working, as the perspective is off and looks odd.

Any thoughts on how to create the reflection another way? Many thanks for any help.

Image below for reference.

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Bartek SkorupaRe: Reflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 25, 2010 at 10:25:59 am

There is no easy way to do it. I hope you didn't promise that you'd do it, because you may fail.
I did it once, but the idea came from the client after the shooting, so I said I'd try without guarantee.
I used almost every possible distorting effect After Effects has to offer and the result was good, but I had just 4 seconds of the shot and it took me some time before I achieved something convincing. Almost every frame was done separately.
I had a guy dancing, moving back and forth and so on. I could get away with many mistakes because the movements were very fast. I could add some blur etc.
This is tough. I don't envy you.

Bartek Skorupa
Warszawa, Poland

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david bogieRe: Reflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 25, 2010 at 3:59:54 pm

Look on google and here on the cow for REFLECTION tutorials. It's not difficult but AE is not realworld 3D app and reflections require a certain amount of stylization. In a nutshell, you clone your layer, flip it, apply a fade out mask to it, apply a compound blur to it, and play with transparency and blend modes till you get what you think works. You guy is walking in a diagonal line, that can make things harder but not impossible which is why you must accept a level of stylization.

There is a direct, two-step process in Apple's Motion for convincingly real refelctions.


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Bret WilliamsRe: Reflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 25, 2010 at 5:24:44 pm

Yep, you'll have to do this one yourself. The VC tool is for flat 2D art like logos or video boxes, etc. Duplicate and flip the layer vertically, and blur and crop to taste. You'll have to use a key-framed distort to get the feet to line up. I think if the feet always hit each other, then it'll be believable.

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Steve RobertsRe: Reflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 25, 2010 at 8:14:14 pm

Distortion is necessary, and I'm not optimistic about the results. Why? Look at the legs. The forward leg is longer than the rear leg. If you flop the image on the X axis, the forward leg is still longer. Connect the forward feet (original + reflected) and the rear feet are way too far apart. The problem lies in the fact that onscreen, the Y-positions of the feet are different. The fact that they're both touching the same floor is irrelevant.

Why do we think reflecting in post would work? Because we're imagining footage shot directly from the side, where there's no difference in the Y-position of both feet. Now that would work. Technically, it would only be dead accurate if the camera were at floor level, but that would be picky.

All that said, try Distort>Transform and skewing. You might try the Puppet tool.

Personally, I'd convince the client to lose the effect. But if you said you could do it, you have to bite the bullet and make it work, or lose face.

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Steve RobertsRe: Reflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 25, 2010 at 8:17:41 pm

The simple on-set solution would be to have the talent walk into shot parallel to the picture plane, not toward the camera. That would work, especially given that the framing doesn't require the showing of the underside of the head (for example) in the reflection.

Next time ... :-)

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Nick ChristoffRe: Reflection help: Person walking
by on Jan 26, 2010 at 2:59:43 pm

Thanks for all the comments everyone—even though some were less than inspiring. I was able to pull the effect off by keyframing the position of a duplicate layer flipped on the Y axis, blurring it, and lowering the opacity. Luckily, there were only a few short shots that required the reflection. I also gave the host a shadow by duplicating the original layer, filling it with black, skewing it, blurring it, and then lowering the opacity. Once again, I keyframed the position of the shadow to move with the placement of the host's feet. This help add to the illusion that the host was walking through the space and helped to pul attention away from the imperfect reflection.

So for next time, what is the solution to achieve a proper reflection? Must it be captured during the shoot? Seems that unless you are lucky enough to be working with a straight-on shot, results can be less than acceptable.

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