Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Using After Effects in all the right places

This is not going to be a post that blows your mind, nor will it be a well-articulated post (continuing the pattern of all my others). My goal today is simply to highlight an excellent job one of my editors has done using After Effects. I guess I should give you all the proper context. I'm currently in charge of post-production on the upcoming ICTV show Working Title. With this position comes the responsibility of overseeing the work of three individual editors working on six episodes throughout the semester.

The show is a simple one. Its style strongly represents those of The Office and Parks and Recreation. In a minimally complex show such as this, one would expect there to be very little to do in post-production other than cutting together the footage and tweaking the audio a bit. At least that's what I thought, and to be totally honest, that's mostly what our post-production has consisted of. That, and color correction.

For those of you who understand the basics of color correction (that's the extent to my knowledge), you know it's not usually a particularly complex process; some color adjustments here and there, mess around with the exposure and saturation a bit, nothing too complicated. That's just the foundation of the process, I know. It's enough to understand what I'm discussing, though.

Everyone say hello to Erin! Erin is a wonderful cast member of Working Title and also happens to be one of the editors of the show! While she's doing a great job on her two episodes, she is, unfortunately, not the editor I'm going to showcase this evening.

What do you think of this shot? Pretty good, right? Well lit, in focus, nicely framed. It's a great looking shot for not having any color correction done to it if I do say so myself. The image takes place at the Golden Bell Film Festival (the festival which Erin's film was submitted to). Oh, did I happen to mention this shot actually takes place during the showing of her film? Everything about this shot is wonderful, minus the fact that it certainly doesn't look like a film is showing. Now look at this:

Much better, right? I'm going to be totally honest, this was none of my doing (surprise!). I never thought to ask Eric, the editor behind this spectacular transformation, to make a change like this. He though of it all on his own, and did a phenomenal job. It's a bit difficult to see exactly what he did in this small image to the right, so I recommend clicking the image to see a larger version. I'm now going to try to remember everything Eric did to make the changes you can so clearly see.

To begin, Eric placed two masks over the shot. One around the outside of Erin and the seats in the first row, and another one directly over Erin and the seats (everything else). He darkened both these masks drastically and then added a slight blue tint to both of them to give them that dark, movie theater feel. He then feathered the edges of both the masks to have more of a fade in the exposure change rather than leaving a clear cut between the two masks. After that, Eric added a solid black layer over the entire shot and then simply dropped the opacity to approximately twenty percent to make the shot just the slightest bit darker.

Here's the best part of the whole thing. What you probably didn't notice (which is, in a way, an indicator that he did a great job with it) is that Eric also added two lights to the shot as well: one over to the left and one to the right. The one to the left acts as a light source that one would expect to see from a movie screen. The one to the right behaves as the light that would come from the projector in the back of the auditorium if it were turned on. The lights don't make any major changes to the overall shot, but they serve to give a much more natural feel to the scene. It just goes to show that After Effects doesn't have to be used for animation, but can be used merely to change to look of a project.

I would have never thought to do what Eric did to this shot (or at least I wouldn't have put forth the effort to do it). It's well-rounded editor's like him that we need more of in this field. Interesting fact: Eric is only a freshman. Booyah! Kid's got a bright future ahead of him.

Side note: If at all possible, come to the Working Title premiere this Friday in the Roy H. Park School of Communications auditorium at Ithaca College! Doors open at 4:30pm. Here's the Facebook event. I'm sorry, my producer made me do that...

1 comment :

  1. Erin seems like a nice girl. You should give her nice things. Great post.