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Post Production techniques – After Effects and Premiere Pro CS5

Monday 14th February 2011

Title Development using After Effects

I’ve completed the planning and visualisation for my Film titles – that is the re-working of the Film ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’

I began by creating all the text for the titles in After Effects in the same order as they appeared in the original film, but actually the order and style/font does not matter at this stage as I will be changing the order and style/font as I insert them into the sequence.

Similarly with all my images created in Photoshop I imported these into After Effects ready to be included in the sequence.

I quickly discovered how confusing the After Effects interface is with so many images and text clips in the project group at the same time. I then decided to break the project up into 2 sequences to make it more manageable.

I also discovered that using After Effects to try and produce a long sequence was also almost unmanageable and so I decided to break each action up into a video clip of between 3 and 5 seconds duration using the workspace guides. As each clip was completed I exported this as a QuickTime Movie clip to be imported into Premiere Pro for editing into the final video sequence later in the process.

 

 

Once I had organised the development of my titles in short 5 second clips I quickly realise I could re use some of the images by dragging them onto the workspace this really speeded up the process. The same with Text design once I had worked out the style I was after it became easy to repeat the design.

I did try experimenting with several effects during the project but overuse of effects made the overall sequences seem over complicated and to be honest ended up detracting rather than enhancing the final titles.

As the film was all about the hijacking of a train I tried to associate the titles as much as possible to this and so I used Text that appears to flip ‘decode’ in sequence which I think looks like the rotating boards in stations and airport terminals as they rotate to show trains, platforms, arrival and departure times. I also  slid text in from the right and the left from off screen just like trains passing each other on the tracks.

I added a couple of images in reference to the hijackers shooting their guns and the speeding police cars and the final sequences ends with a Yellow taxi pulling up at the station, which ties in with the opening of the film with Martin Balsam exiting a cab at the stations entrance.

Up to now I’ve been using the original soundtrack as a guide but I hope to be able to produce my own soundtrack using GarageBand eventually as soon as I really get to grips with this application which I’ve only touched on a couple of time in the recent past.

I’m not quite 100 percent happy with the final video sequence and with plenty of time to work further on it (other assignment’s permitting) I hope to address these and get closer to that ever elusive 100 percent.

Conclusions/Notes

  1. Preparation was key with all the elements in place including a storyboard design moved rapidly on
  2. Working with After Effects which until recently was something I had had little experience of has proved to me just how versatile this application is and I’m looking forward to enhancing my knowledge of this.
  3. Sometimes less is more, keeping it simple seems to have produced a better final sequence than just throwing the complete effects options at the project.
  4. The soundtrack is starting to look like being the hardest part of the project.

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Post Production Techniques – Green Screen and Tracking

Green Screen

Thursday 10th February 2011

Green Screen – Tracking with After Effects CS5

In reference to the previous Blog on green screen video, Fridays Tutorial included a run through of Tracking using After Effects. Basically this allows you to track the movements of an object or part of an object and then associate this movement to another object. Let me expand upon that statement for example I’ve tracked the movement of the subjects left hand in the video below and I’ve attached the movement of the hand to the image of the football.
[youtube.com/watch?v=fwCKkT-9H_Y]

Green Screen Tracking

Tracking can be found under the Animation menu heading. Selecting Track Motion brings up the Tracker TAB with all the options associated with Tracking. So to get started a motion source is selected from the drop down menu. The Track type in this case is Transform and the box for position has been ticked. Next select a Target from the edit target (this can be done later) and we are ready to analyse.

Now position the Target Symbol in the Viewer that’s the two boxes with the cross inside and position this onto the object you want to track which in this case is the hand. Click the universal symbol for play and this should automatically position the boxes onto the hand and track the hand as it moves around the screen. Unfortunately in my experience it doesn’t and quickly loses it’s position.

Stop the automatic analysis and then using the move forward or back single frame buttons re-position the boxes over the hand and so editing the tracking path. I had to do this manually for the whole sequence because the subjects hand flipped several times during the movement changing the light intensity and so the tracking could not follow it automatically.

With the Tracking analysis done I imported an image of a football which I set to enter from off screen and bounce towards the subject to the point where I had set my tracking path to start. I then went back to the tracking menus and edited the target to be the Football.

When I run the completed composition the ball enters from the left connects with the tracking path and then follows the hand movements and then finally exits the screen to the right at the end.

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Post Production Techniques – A look at AE and Green Screen

Sunday 6th February 2011

After Effects – Green Screen and Tracking

Morning tutorial on After Effects, Green Screen video footage and background removal. I’m finally getting to grips with After Effects and can actually be confident with background removal using Keylight 2.1 a very handy plugin which seems to work much better than the other methods of background removal available in AE.

We also had a look at tracking which I will go into more on another Blog entry.

In the afternoon session we setup the Greene Screen and learnt the techniques for lighting the screen and a subject in front of the screen. Thanks to a an earlier exposure to green screen I knew most of this but the use of a light meter hadn’t come up before.

I shot the footage below using my Flip camera, it’s a bit shaky because there was no tripod available at the time but it’s good enough to get the idea of the setup. The second video clip is the same footage after the background was keyed out. I used Masks which I had to key to the movement as the subject moved. It’s not perfect because the subject moved out of the area of the green screen at some point and my camera position changed part way through, but on the whole for an improvised session it worked well enough.

[youtube.com/watch?v=gf0xV_2n41Y]
Video before AE
[youtube.com/watch?v=skOLzxMTqU0]
Video after AE

Research – Hostage Film Title Sequence – Very Similar to Sin City?

[youtube.com/watch?v=uQpFlhXJBDo]
I like the dark graphics with the coloured text the mix of black and colour. I might look at this for another title project if there is time as it looks like it might be interesting to do something similar.

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Post Production Techniques – The Taking of Pelham Titles (Part 2)

Friday 4th February 2011

Title design – So far

[youtube.com/watch?v=3pKvRjP0DNM]

As I mentioned in my previous Blog Entry I’ve decided to re-work the film titles for ‘The Taking of Pelham ONE TWO THREE’ in the style of Saul Bass. Also as I have had no previous experience of using Adobe After Effects I’m going to try and use this as much as possible to develop this project.

I researched a number of Saul Bass designs in addition to those we previewed in class and from these decided on a colour scheme. I then searched the internet for a suitable Font and came across ‘HITCHCOCK’ which seemed ideal.

Using images captured from the film I re-worked these in Photoshop removing them in turn from their backgrounds and applied the stamp filter, adjusting the colours to match the characters name in the film, that is Mr Blue, Mr Green , Mr Grey and finally Mr Brown.

Using an essay I’d written earlier on the Film I uploaded the text into a ‘Text Cloud generator’ on the Tagxedo web site and using a graphic template produced the Typographic image of the front of an underground train which I then added to the film title as a motion graphic.

I’ve used the original soundtrack temporarily while I continue to work on my own soundtrack using Garageband – although this is proving problematic as I have still to source the loops I want use as they are not part of the standard Garageband installation.

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Post Production Techniques – More Ideas

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

[youtube.com/watch?v=6-WYm9nl32Q]
Original Film Titles

When researching title sequences I came across several re-workings of Bullitt on YouTube and so with this in mind I’ve decided to abandon what I’ve done so far and to look at another one of my other Film choices for my Film Titles project that is:- ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’.

Following a number of recent lectures the style of Saul Bass appeals and so I’ve decided to re-work The Taking of Pelham ONE TWO THREE in his style using After Effects. Although I’ve had only limited experience of using this application I hope to be able to build on this during the course of this assignment, as these skills will be almost certainly be of benefit for the future.

As my experience with After Effects is almost non existent at this stage I’m just going to bring all the images and text that I need together and place them into an After Effects sequence. Towards the end of the project look at what effects may be suitable. In this way I’ll have a working Film Title no matter what and if there is time incorporate some effects. I’m mindful though that it can be too easy to load the final Film Title with too many effects which would detract rather than add to the viewing experience.

Stage One

I need to:-

  1. Download and install a suitable Saul Bass style FONT
  2. Generate images of a Train and the main characters
  3. Come up with a colour scheme
  4. Music Soundtrack – using Garageband

Stage Two

I need to:-

  1. Learn how to use After effects
  2. Add all the images and Titles into an After Effects composition
  3. If necessary export the completed composition to Premiere Pro for editing

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Post Production Techniques – Bullitt Reloaded

Monday 24th January 2011

[youtube.com/watch?v=Vz1l3EQxyg8]

Bullitt re-loaded

When it came to choosing which Film to rework for the Film Titles project my choice was always going to be a 60’s or 70’s crime genre film. For me and mainly I think due to the fact I’d watched this film recently I had to look at re-working the titles for Bullitt starring Steve McQueen and co-starring 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 CID Fastback. To my mind the car chase was the whole point of the film, the rest did not really matter in fact it’s kind of boring to watch now.

With this in mind I decided to design the film titles around the car chase scene.  Unusually the soundtrack came first, I had to use the sound of that cars V8 and I needed some suitable music to set the video in that late 60’s era.

Starting from Friday I planned the video I was going to produce and set about organising the materials I’d need and allocated time for each of the processes.

  • Friday: Sound Production – Extract the Engine Noise and Music for the soundtrack
  • Saturday: Filming
  • Sunday: Editing

Soundtrack and Music Production from GarageBand

Friday 21st January 2011

Car Soundtrack: The first job was to extract the sound of a big V8 engine which was surprisingly easy to do as the Internet came up up with several to choose from but in the end I had to have the sound of the Bullitt car. I found a website which allows you to sample soundtracks and so using this I was able to sample the sound of the car from the original Bullitt film.

Working with this sample in Audacity I put together 4 sound sequences. The first was the sound of a car being started, the 2nd being the sound of the car revving , the 3rd of the car in acceleration and finally the 4th of the car screeching to a halt. The sequence of the car accelerating I designed so that these could be edited together to make a soundtrack of adjustable length to match the length of the footage I was going to shoot.

Music: Since the purchase of my Mac I’ve been constantly playing around with GarageBand which is almost my favourite App on the Mac. It can turn a non musician into producer of music scores and for me the ideal tool to generate copyright free music for film and video. I’d already made several songs and familiarised myself with many of the loops available.

One of the many great things about GarageBand loops is that they do loop and so it’s possible to produce a track length which can be adjusted to match the film sequence.

I used the ‘Upright Funk Bass 01’ loop with ‘Shaker 01’ loop for the intro and ending of the film. The actual music sequence was much longer and incorporated other loops including Latin Horns etc. but I decided they weren’t needed in the end.

Filming

Saturday 22nd January 2011

I had visualised all the sequences I wanted in my head and so I put together a shot list.

  1. Shot of legs walking towards a parked car. (Close Up)
  2. Shot of legs getting into car and closing door. (Close Up)
  3. Interior shot of door closing and finger pushing ‘Engine Start’ button (Close Up).
  4. Interior shot of the Rev Counter. (Close Up)
  5. Interior shot of hand changing gears. (Close Up)
  6. Interior shot of hands working the steering wheel. (Close Up)
  7. Interior shot through the windows screen for the planned route. (Wide Shot)

I used my Flip Ultra HD gen 2 for all the filming. For the opening sequences the camera was mounted on a table top tripod just a few cms off the pavement to give the low angle shots of the feet walking to the car. I used the same tripod for the cars interior shots of the gear changing and steering wheel movements with it setup on the passenger seat. For the Filming through the windscreen I mounted the camera on the seats headrest supports using a C clamp and a length of wood and some cable ties.

With all the sequences filmed, which took almost 3 hours I was starting to run out of daylight by the time I had completed. Before the end of the day I uploaded the footage from the camera into the Mac ready for editing on Sunday.

Editing and Post Production

Sunday 23rd January 2011

With all the footage already loaded into the Mac from the previous day I set about loading them all into Premiere Pro for editing. I ended up discarding many of the shots of the road sequences shot through the windscreen either due to the effect of other cars on the road getting into shot or the footage was too jumpy. In fact the sequence chosen was still too jumpy and so I loaded it again into the Mac but used iMovie and its stabilisation software to improve the steadiness of the picture.

As a final touch to the finished edit I decided to make all the footage after the scene showing the Rev Counter to be Black and White.

I then added the soundtrack of the car, editing it to match the video sequence. I also went back to the video sequence and added in the cutaways which I knew I would need showing the Steering Wheel movements and Gear Changes to match the changes in the cars engine soundtrack.

I then added and adjusted the length of the Music to match the video footage.

Notes and Conclusions

  1. Filming exterior shots from a moving car is not easy – special mounting equipment is essential to get a steady shot or a really good pair of steady hands.
  2. Plan more time for shooting – I started shooting in the afternoon leaving only 3 hours of daylight which was only just enough time.
  3. There’s no substitute for having a large budget and a team when it comes to filming car scenes – you need control of road and what’s on it, many of my first shots were ruined by other cars getting in the way and I’m no stunt driver so the only way to give an impression of speed is to speed up the film.
  4. Speeding up the films looks odd in places where the soundtrack infers the car is going at a fantastic speed but the car footage still shows other cars keeping pace or pulling ahead (See the sequence at the roundabout).
  5. I may re-shoot the road footage using the GoPro camera, assuming I can blag the camera and if the trials go ok, by this I mean a better quality image.
  6. The finished video is 6 seconds too long and so needs re-editing for this to be exactly 2 minutes in duration.

Finally: This is not the whole production, I still want to add some stills or video sequences to represent the main characters in the film. I’d possibly look to the Film Grand Prix and it’s split video sequences and see if I can re-produce something similar.

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Post Production Techniques – Idea Development

Thursday 20th January 2011

Post Production Techniques – Ideas for a 2 minute Title Sequence

What I’ve done before

I’ve produced a title sequence in the past using a large Photoshop image a montage which I’d made from several smaller images, the idea was to make a crime wall such as you see in many of the crime films, a wall with clues photographs and other information all linked together to form a picture of the criminal. I designed mine to be 1.6 meters long and 0.8 meters high.

The movement of the camera was all done within Premiere Pro, Pan and Scanning movement and with the titles overlaid on top. As I had yet to have any exposure to After Effects at the time I was limited to what Premiere Pro CS3 had to offer.

I might look at doing something similar this time but hopefully achieve a slicker result using After Effects.

[youtube.com/watch?v=GN47w7xYVq8]
Something I’ve done before.

New Ideas

I have to be honest and say that I am a fan of title sequences particularly those from the 60’s and 70’s crime dramas, think Dirty Harry, Bullitt, The taking of Pelham 123 and I think it would be a great idea to re-work one of these. Although I have to say that in particular it would be hard to improve on the opening titles for Bullitt, although they could have featured the co-star of the film the Ford Mustang Fastback in the titles.

[youtube.com/watch?v=S__L_OQe6NE]
Opening Titles – Bullitt

What I like about these titles is that they overlay the action on the film. I also particularly like the still shots of the mafia hit team with the lighting from below and the tracking motion of the camera as it moves from right to left. As the titles track or zoom from the screen they reveal new images in many respects it’s a mix of a slideshow and video footage.

I think it would be possible to do much of this in After Effects and if I was to choose this to re-work I would aim to ad footage of the car with its amazing engine sound.
[youtube.com/watch?v=GMc2RdFuOxI]

Bullitt Car Chase
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