Wow, we are already six weeks into In-Depth and I am continuing to expand my knowledge of the visual effects industry. I am learning After Effects, which is another video compositing software. The reason I switched over to After Effects from Hitfilm is because the former has a lot more functionality, not to mention my mentor is incredibly skilled with After Effects and highly recommended it to me. Thankfully the basic controls of the two softwares are similar so I didn’t have a problem transitioning to After Effects. Over the last week, I explored masking techniques and learned how to draw and animate a mask around an object/person. In the end I created this effect where I clone myself, and I will show this effect at the end of this blog post. I also experimented with some clever cutting in my clips to create ‘magic tricks’, which I will include at the end of this post. If anything, my interest in visual effects is only growing, because I find the topic so fascinating and interesting.

 

I met up with my mentor again this week, and I learned more useful information, such as how to use the program more effectively, and shortcuts to tools within the software. Additionally, we went through a clip from Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War together, and looked at the special effects used in the film. My mentor pointed out to me that “no one will notice and appreciate an effect that looks good and has lots of detail, but they definitely will notice when an effect is lacking.” We went through the Infinity War battle scene frame by frame to view the effects, and my mentor pointed out elements that I didn’t notice the first time, such as subtle glows on a character’s face, or how certain parts of a character were masked out and had a different colour tone applied to match the surroundings.

 

How To Have A Beautiful Mind:

 

How to be interesting:

 

When we were looking at the clip, I related some of the effects to how they may have been created, so I could link it directly to my learning. By gaining an understanding of how effects are created in massive industries such as Hollywood, I can use this knowledge to create my own stunning effects. There was one shot in particular that stood out to me, and it was when Dr. Strange stopped a plasma blast with a fractal shield. When I told my mentor my thoughts on the effect, he told me how that two second effect alone probably took days to complete, just because of how complex it was. Through this confrontation I discovered how much time one may spend over an effect that is merely on screen for a few seconds. Furthermore, when my mentor asked me how I would go about creating a certain effect on screen, I would ask “what if..” and then provide my idea. A lot of the time my ideas were different than my mentor’s, and this is because there are just so many possible ways to achieve the effect you desire. These “what if” statements allowed us to think of different and creative possibilities that we didn’t think of before, and allowed for a more creative approach to the meeting.

 

How to respond:

 

Since After Effects is a fairly complicated program, I asked for clarification a few times. If there was any aspect of a tool that I didn’t understand, then I asked my mentor for more information about it. Additionally, if my mentor used a term that I didn’t know the definition of then I asked for clarification as well. When my mentor talked about colour grading footage to help it look more cinematic, I brought up facts on how all movie studio’s colour corrected their footage to help it pop out and look more professional. It’s known for filmmakers worldwide to colour grade their footage, and I used this to support my mentor’s point. Moreover, when we were discussing special effects in general, I brought up how I had always wanted to know how superheroes get their powers on the big screen. My fascination for superheroes ever since I was a kid is my motivation behind choosing visual effects for In-Depth.

 

Lastly, we discussed motion tracking with a built-in program called Mocha. Mocha uses plane tracking to track surfaces rather than just points, so I thought of it as a new and improved way to more accurately track surfaces. Using this, I was able to make the idea of tracking in Mocha more acceptable to myself, and a lot more practical to use. Now, as per my promise, here are some of my effects that I created!

 

A cool “magic” trick effect where I duplicate money on my computer and then pull it into the real world (It is essentially just clever cuts throughout the footage and being able to keep your hand still so the cuts aren’t visible):

Another “magic” trick where I use a pillow to change my shirt (Another cut in the footage, you just have to keep your position consistent to really sell the effect):

A motion tracking test where I tracked the screen of my laptop and replaced it with another video I made of some animated text:

 

A Harry Potter style wand effect, unfortunately the video exported with really grainy quality (I created it with various lens flares, shockwaves, and adding heat distortion to the footage to sell the energy blast of the wand):

 

 

And last but not least, the clone effect that I mentioned at the start of my blog post (created using masks, and layering two seperate clips of me):

 

 

I’m excited to keep going and to learn as much as I can about visual effects!