Compositing & Post Production
For my composition I have chosen to do a short, 25-seconds infographic about the Tower of London Remembers and the Poppy Appeal. I’ve kept my composition simple, with bite-size information such as dates and facts about the poppy.
The initial draft for the flow of my composition was:
Starts with a soldier in a trench, then a timeline with dates swings around into a blur then finishes on “2014”. “2014” moves into the centre, getting bigger and morphs into “100 Years”. “100 Years” flips over and reveals “888,246” which moves off. A growing poppy gets smaller and turns into a field. Fades into a modern army soldier, then fades into tower of poppies, then fades into “Support Our Troops”, then fades into “Poppies London 2014”, then fades into “We Will Remember”.
While working on my composition, this progressed and evolved into:
Fades in from black with a soldier in a trench, then a poppy grows and “Tower of London Remembers” fades in around the poppy. The title moves out of view and a timeline with dates from “1914” swings around into a blur then finishes on “2014”. “2014” grows out of view through the “0” and “100 Years” shrinks in to view through the “0”. The soldier in the trench fades out, then poppies fade in with “888,246 British Fatalities”, hiding “100 Years”. The poppies and “888,246 British Fatalities” fades out, and a 3D poppy scene unfolds with “A symbol of Remembrance and hope”, then “Worn by millions of people, and then “Red because of the natural colour of field poppies”. The 3D poppy scene fades out, and the Tower of London with poppies fades with a wave of colour across the poppies. The Tower of London zooms out through a window with the title growing again.
I found choosing a topic a difficult task as I found it increasingly difficult to gather specific videos that I was able to use within my composition for free, as such I went through several concepts before finally settling on one where there was a suitable amount of video to use. I also found it difficult to gather any suitable green screen footage.
After collecting the videos for my composition I drafted the initial flow of the composition and began designing and producing the composition. I structured the composition into several sections (sub-compositions) to allow me to modify the main composition without hundreds of layers within one composition.
For my composition I have included several elements, including; text sequences, animations, and effects. I have also made use of several techniques; colour correction, rotoscoping, motion tracking, and keying using green screen. Along with the use of expressions to streamline the entire process.
The main, “London Re-Framed” composition starts showing a video clip (“Soldiers”) which has the Colorise - sepia, and Gaussian Blur effects. The Gaussian Blur’s Blurriness starts at 0, showing a clear picture, which then eases to 20, showing a blurred picture so that the title can be easily read above the video clip.
Throughout the project I’ve used a “Poppy” composition to allow me to modify this composition with any modifications propagate throughout the composition. This composition shows a poppy scaling in, as if it’s unfolding from the middle. There are three layers; “Middle”, “Petals”, and “Stick”, which has the Rough Edges effect using varying settings to give a more natural feel.
The main composition continues to show the “Title” composition on top of the “Soldiers” video clip, which shows a poppy with the text “Tower of London Remembers” fade and spin in around the poppy, the title then moves and rotates out of view. The text wraps around the poppy using an ellipse as a path.
After the “Title” composition, the main composition continues to show the “Timeline” composition on top of the “Soldiers” video clip, which shows a circular timeline starting from 1914 rotate in to view and rotate to reveal additional dates to 2014 and then rotate out of view. This composition uses a null “Timeline Controls” layer to control various settings of the composition using expressions; “Angle Control” adjusts the spread of the dates, “Text Color Control” adjusts the colour of the dates, “Circle Fill Color Control” adjust the colour of the dial centre and notches, and “Circle Stroke Color Control” adjusts the colour of the dial border. There are 101 dates in total, which would have taken a long time to write and position each one, instead I’ve used several expression to simplify the process. The Source Text uses the expression;
thisLayer.name which uses the layer’s name for the text, since duplicated a text layer increments the number by 1, this solves the issues of writing each date. The Position uses the expression;
effect(“Layer Control”)(“Layer”).transform.position which uses the Layer Control effect to select the previous date and use it’s Position, the Anchor Point is at the centre of the dial so any rotations rotate around the dial. The Rotation uses the expression;
effect(“Layer Control”(“Layer”).transform.rotation+thisComp.layer(“Timeline Controls”).effect(“Angle Control”).(“Angle”) which, like the Position expression, selects the previous date and uses it’s Rotation, and adds the “Angle Control” from the “Timeline Controls” layer. The first date does not have a previous date to reference, so does not make use of the same expressions, instead it has modified expressions to reference the dial. Now controlling the dial controls everything, including the dates. Since there are so many dates, I’ve staggered when they appear in the timeline to avoid overlaps. Because the timeline rotates so fast, there appears to be a waggon wheel effect, to prevent this I’ve used motion blur for my final render, which gives the composition a more natural feel.
After the “Timeline” composition, the main composition continues to show the text “2014” in the exact same place as left from the Timeline, but with the Anchor Point adjusted. The Scale starts at 100%, which then changes to 7000%, appearing as like it moves in to the “0”.
Similar to the “2014” text, the main composition continues to show the text “100 Years”, however the Scale starts at 7000% then changes to 100%, appearing as like it moves out of the “0”.
The main composition continues to show the “Poppies” composition, which make use of the colour correction, rotoscoping and tracking techniques and shows poppies with text. It makes use of the Levels effect for the colour correction.
I use the Levels effect for all the colour corrections in the project, this allows me to keep the colour correction simple and compare the values between video clips, while also using the visual histogram for reference.
To rotoscope the video clips (“Poppies”, and “Tower of London”) I used the Roto Brush Tool and the Refine Edge Tool. The Roto Brush Tool does a great job at capturing the animation between frames, however the Refine Edge Tool really creates a more natural edge. I also used the Motion Blur and Decontamination settings to further refine the edges which cleans up the edge.
The “Poppies” video clip has 2 motion trackers, one for the poppy middle, and one for the seed. These motion trackers are then independently applied to the 2 text layers within the “Poppies” composition, so that “888,246” follows the poppy middle, and “British Fatalities” follows the seed.
After the “Poppies” composition, the main composition continues to show the “Poppy Field” composition, which shows a 3D poppy scene, using depth of field (blur) to show facts about the poppy. This composition uses a null “Poppies Controls” layer to control the camera. The camera uses Depth of Field to create a blurred appearance of layers near or far from the camera, the Point of Interest matches the “Poppies Control”, and the Position also matches the “Poppies Control” -1212.12 because the Position must be observing the Point of Interest. The 3 text layers match their relevant poppies. The background poppies’ Position uses the expression
seedRandom(0, true); [transform.position+random(-1440, 1440), transform.position+random(-486, 486), transform.position+random(486, 1944)]; which randomly places the poppy in the between -1400 and 1400 on the X axis, between -486 and 486 on the Y axis, and between 486 and 1944 in the Z axis,
seedRandom(0, true) stops the position continuously changing between frames, the boundaries varies for the background poppies. The background poppies’ Z Rotation uses the expression
seedRandom(0, true); transform.zRotation+random(-10, 10); which randomly rotates the poppy between -10° and 10°. Both of these expressions give a more natural feel to the composition.
After the “Poppy Field” composition, the main composition continues to show the “Wave” composition, which makes use of the colour correction and rotoscoping techniques and shows the Tower of London with poppies and a wave of colour (the poppies start dull and a wave of colour, starting from the window, changes them to be vivid red). It makes use of the Levels and Warp Stabiliser VFX effects. The Warp Stabiliser VFX effect smooths the motion of the video clip. The “[Tower of London FR.mp4]” layers also makes use of the Hue/Saturation effect which I’ve used to desaturate the poppies to give the dull effect. The “Poppies” layer has been rotoscoped and animated using masks that move, I’ve used both and Add and Subtract mask with a large feather to get the desired effect of a wave.
Finally, the main composition continues to show the “Christmas” composition, which makes use of the colour correction and keying (green screen) technique and shows the Tower of London and zooms out through the window with the “Title” composition again. It makes use of the Levels and Warp Stabiliser VFX effects. The Warp Stabiliser VFX effect smooths the motion of the video clip, particularly for the “windowclosepush Keyed” video clip.
The keyed (green screened) video clip (“windowclosepush Keyed”) makes use of the Color Range and Advance Spill Suppressor effects. I used the Color Range effect to remove the majority of the green screen, and then used the Advance Spill Suppressor to clean up the edges.
After completing my composition, I had to render the composition. Since I decided to use motion blur, the render times dramatically increased (hours for 25 seconds). To reduce the render times I rendered the TIFF sequence using multi-machine settings and rendered across multiple computers. Although there were a few issues with multi-machine rendering, generally this worked the same as rendering without it, and is a very automated process.