Learn the post production element of rotoscoping & creating live action animation special effects.
Welcome to this week’s Trips and Tricks. I’m Joseph Ayres. Last week, in episode 79, Matthew and Derek explored how to we shot a video for vidcast opening animation. Now we’re going to walk through post-production. But first, let’s take a quick look at the footage that Matt and Derek created.
So, now for the fun part - creating animation. We’ll be using three applications: a non-linear editing application such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, or vector-base illustration program such as Adobe Illustrator, and effects or animation key based software, like Motion Aftereffects or Flash.
So, let’s jump right in.
Cropping the video
I’m working in Final Cut Pro, but your software should have parallel features.
So, I imported my footage and placed it on the timeline. Double-clicking on the video, I go up to the Motion tab, and choose Crop. Adjusting the sliders, I crop out the unwanted clutter from one side of Matt, and then the other. Now, when I play it back, I have a nice clean sequence that is ready to export.
Exporing the video
Exporting from Final Cut Pro. From the File menu, I choose Export, using quick time reversion. From the Format menu, I scroll down to Image sequence. Clicking on Options, I take a quick look at my settings. There are many file formats to choose from – .tiff, .jpegs, or Photoshop files all work fine for what I’m doing. So, I’ll just stick with .jpegs.
Choosing your frames per second is a trade off, but less frames per second, the quicker the animation process will go, but will result in a less fluid final product.
Now, I’ll name the file Running man and export to a new folder. As you can see, I have a folder of .jpegs titled Running man 001 through Running man 228. Now I’m ready to turn these raster based .jpeg files AI files.
Setting AI presets
Setting Adobe Illustrator presets. Right-clicking on the first .jpeg, I’ll open it up in Adobe Illustrator CS3. Making sure that .jpeg is selected, I click on the button to the right of the Live trace button and choose Tracing options. First, I’ll turn on preview so I can see what I’m doing, and we see Matt become a silhouette in the bottom corner.
Now I’m going to play with the threshold’s slider until the glare of the Matt’s shoes disappears.
Next I’ll check on the Ignore white option. This is important. Otherwise, each file will import with the white background.
Now, I’ll save the preset as the Running man 5. Then I hit the Trace button, and then expand. Now I’m ready to save, which I will do so in a new folder.
Using Adobe Bridge
Normally, you would have to open up each .jpeg and trace using your new preset. But if you got Adobe Bridge, there’s a much better way. Open up the Bridge, I select the files I want to convert, and go to the Tools menu on top and choose Illustrator, Live trace, and then my preset Running man 5. Changing the document profile to basic RGB, I then hit the Choose button and select my destination folder, and then hit OK.
Now I can go goof off for a while, until Bridge does its thing.
Import into Flash
Importing files into Flash. In Flash, we can see, I already got my background and animation set up. From the File menu, I choose Import, Import to library, select my files and then hit Import to library. In the Import options, I’ll leave them all at Default, and hit Enter.
Now I’ve got all my images imported into my library which I’ve organized into a folder. As we can see here, I have my AI, or Adobe Illustrator files, Running man 001 to Running man 228.
Creating a movie clip
Creating a movie clip. Right-clicking in the library palette, I select new symbol and make sure movie clip is highlighted under Type. I name the clip and close the dialog box.
Flash automatically puts you into a new timeline, the movie clip timeline. As we can see on top, we’re working in Running man clip.
In the timeline, I’ll click and drag to select frames 1 to 228. Then hit the F6 key to create a blank key frame in each frame. Going back to frame 1, I grab the first AI file and drag it onto the stage. One of the great things working in a movie clip is that it starts the new timeline, so the current frame, displayed here as Frame1 matches the file name, Running man 001.
With the first image placed, I’ll drag from the rulers to create guidelines. I’m targeting Matt’s hips here, which is his center gravity. His head and feet will move about, but his hips will pretty much stay static.
Advancing to frame 2 on the timeline, I drag Running man 002 onto the stage, and using my arrow keys, positioner. Now on the timeline, I can juggle between frames 1 and 2 and adjust positioning accordingly depending on the effect that I want.
Clean up. Now I’ve got all 228 images placed, and I’ll scroll through looking for things that need touching up. Here on frame 124, we’re missing part of the shoe. It may be caused by a reflection.
With a move arrow, I double-click on the image on the stage. Now I’m in the imported Adobe Illustrator file, as we can see listed here. Making sure that stroke fill are black, I use the rectangle tool to fill the gap.
Now I click on the Running man clip to get back to my movie clip.
Next I’ll scroll to frame 182. I see there’s a mysterious blob hanging out here to the left. Double-clicking on the image and, oops! I double-clicked again, and went too far. I just click on Running man 182 to go back to my Illustrator file. Now I select the unwanted element and delete, and then back to my Running man clip.
When I’m done, I click on scene 1 to go to my main timeline.
Adding figure to the background
Adding Matt to the background animation. Ok, first I want to create a layer. I’m going to scroll over to where I want Matt to start, his animation. I’ll hit F6 to create a key frame, and drag the Running man clip onto the stage. As we can see, it’s much too small, but that’s one of the great things about the movie clips. You can resize the whole clip and you don’t have to resize every single frame.
So, using the Transform tool, I’m going to hold down and Shift and just create the size that I want, there, that looks good.
Now, on my timeline, I’m going to scroll over to where the action stops, so you can see the background goes from top to bottom. We want the figure to follow that action. So I created a new time frame, um, created a new key frame on the timeline and place it where I want it.
Now I go to the first key frame, right-click and choose Create motion tween. Now I can see, Matt moves down with the background. As we continue scrolling through, we can see the action, but Matt doesn’t move with it. Unfortunately, we cannot view the animation in a movie clip in this view. So, we have to the Preview mode, which is command Return. Now we can see Matt moving along with the background.
As you can see, we have a lot of work to do to make Matt look integrated with the background.
Going back in the Flash, I’m going to select movie clip; I’m going to scroll to the spot that I want, and create a new key frame. That’s F6. Now, holding down Shift, I’m going to transform him till he’s much larger and position him appropriately.
Going back to my first key frame, right-click and choose Create motion tween. Now, as Matt progresses down the hallway, he gets bigger. Let’s view that again.
So, this is looking a whole lot better. It looks like Matt stays on the ground, he doesn’t go flying up to the space. So, we have one more change to make.
As, after Matt turns the corner, I’m going to want him to make him smaller again. So, I found my spot, create a key frame, and then create my Motion tween. There.
Let’s take one more look at that.
As you can see, I probably got two hours of fine tuning to get this exactly perfect. But we’ll just move on from this point, I’m going to show you how to export the file and then we’ll be done.
Once you got everything done, you like the way it looks, you’re ready to export, go up to File, down to Export, Export movie, Format – I’m going to choose QuickTime video and hit Save.
For compressor, you have many, many different options here. I’m going to chose DV/DVCpro – NTSC.
Quality goes all the way up. We have no sound, so sound format is disabled. And, we hit OK.
Now we have a QuickTime file, it’s ready to go.
And there you have it.
The process is a bit laborious, but rewarding, and creative possibilities are limitless. We advise that you do not skimp on the pre production planning. Storyboard it out and get a clear idea of look and stylization you want. And give yourself plenty of time for trial and error.
For our opening sequence, we created the background animation in three different styles and shot the video twice before we got exactly what we wanted.
For Videomaker Tips and Tricks, I’m Joseph Ayres. Thanks for watching.