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Agent Smith Explosion?

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Christian Griffin
Agent Smith Explosion?
on Jan 11, 2011 at 6:04:02 pm

Hi all, for those who don't know what I'm talking about, watch the end of the Matrix Revolutions. I tried finding a clip of it for quite some time but couldn't find one anywhere =/

I want to recreate the scene where Agent Smith beings glowing with pure light (which forms a perfect halo around his sunglasses, of course) before he finally explodes. I won't be trying this with clones of course! I'll only use one 'Smith'.

I have some ideas about how to do this, but they all seem very much as though the results they offer will be incredibly subpar and not very good-looking at all. So, I was wondering if anyone could offer me any tips or advice?

On that note, there is one very specific question I have. Should I use a greenscreen to film my 'Smith' or not? It seems it would be easier to do the effects, but I'd really rather not, since our resident greenscreen is very poorly lit and has many folds that prevent a clean key. Besides, I have a hard time believing they used a greenscreen when watching the movie.

So, that's about it. Could anyone possibly lend me some tips or advice from one experienced AE user to a medicore one? :D

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Michael Szalapski
Re: Agent Smith Explosion?
on Jan 11, 2011 at 6:42:57 pm

They used a green screen an awful lot in that movie, but I suspect the shattering effect as you describe it was done with a 3d model of their character.
No matter how you acquire the to-be-shattered image, it will have to be separated from the background. The solution for that is to either film it on an evenly lit green screen or rotoscope it out.

As for shattering it with light coming from behind, there are several ways you could do that.

One way:
Precomp your character layer. Name the precomp. Shatter.
In the precomp, isolate your character from the background.
Shatter it.
In your project window, duplicate the Shatter precomp. Name it Shatter Light
In the Shatter Light precomp. Duplicate the shattering layer. Remove the shatter effect from the lower layer and fill that layer with white.
Fill the upper copy with black.
In your main comp, stack the Shatter Light comp on top of the Shatter comp.
Apply Shine or CC Light Burst to the Shatter Light comp.

That should be getting you roughly in the ballpark. You can create a custom shatter map and/or a gradient map for your the shattering effect so that certain parts (sunglasses) stay together and then shatter last. Keep in mind, the Shatter effect is rather complicated and will take some time to get right.

If you want the character to be moving as it shatters, you may need to use the puppet tool on the precomps...I dunno. It's an effects shot, depending on how you want it to look there will be layers upon layers of different things happening so that it all looks good. Hopefully this points you in the right direction.

BTW, what's the point of having a useless green screen? It's just wasting space. Get them to fix it (or fix it yourself). Throw more light on it and remove those wrinkles! Either that or toss it completely and use that space for something more useful.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

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