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From the book

Putting It All Together

Want to know a secret? The most complex techniques are really just a bunch of basic techniques strung together. The advanced pros know how to identify problems and then map the right skill to solve those problems. In this chapter you learned several real-world techniques; now let's explore how they can be combined.

On a recent project, we were producing a product trailer for a client. In one shot, we had an instance where cables were being plugged into a piece of computer hardware (Figure 6.51). What we didn't know was that lights were supposed to blink (if the other end of the cables were plugged into Ethernet ports). A reshoot would take too long, so we had to get creative.

Figure 6.51

Figure 6.51 The lights on the unit are supposed to blink. What's a designer to do in the eleventh hour?

The first issue was to get the needed lights. Instead of worrying about matching the angle and size while shooting, we simply shot the lights square on (Figure 6.52). By shooting the lights in the dark, only the lights showed up; the rest of the shot fell off to black.

Figure 6.52

Figure 6.52 Thanks to affordable HD cameras (like HDSLR and AVCHD models), it's getting easier for motion graphics artists to keep a camera around.

The lights were then sized in a composition and rotated in 3D space to align them to the hardware. Placing the layers into Screen mode dropped out the darkest areas, leaving only the lights on top (Figure 6.53).

Figure 6.53

Figure 6.53 Promoting the layers to 3D space made it easier to align them to the source footage.

Once the lights were in place, it quickly became apparent that the cables needed to be extracted and laid back on top of the light layers. In this case, we used Keylight to extract the layers and then used the earlier trick we showed you of leaving Keylight set to the View Screen Matte option (Figure 6.54).

Figure 6.54

Figure 6.54 Keylight can be used to create a matte for the blue wires (left). Once you have the data, you can use a Luma or Luma Inverted track matte (center). The final results can then be assembled in the Timeline.

To complete this shot, the hand needed to be isolated and composited back on top. The Roto Brush was well suited to extract the hand from the footage so it could be composited back into the scene (Figure 6.55).

Figure 6.55

Figure 6.55 The Roto Brush made quick work of extracting the hand to its own layer.

Learning how to spot problems and quickly identify solutions comes with practice. But in this case, a complex fix ended up being less than 30 minutes of labor.

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