Assignment 2: It’s a Doggie Dog World

So it all started with a beautiful sunset at the park while walking the dogs… light was soft, weather was mild – I wanted to do something related to that. I thought of doing some crazy paint spots glowing from the ground wherever the dogs’ paws were touching, but it turned out pretty challenging – so the Doggie Dog World developed quite organically. While I was reviewing all the footage, I noticed when they were running back and forth around a tree…Then the idea of a sci-fi portal came to me: a gate to another dimension maybe?

This portal was created with a simple waveform generator with some effects applied to it. The waveform creates the randomness of points protruding from it, the effect itself has plenty of settings that could be used to create a soft glow around it, but to make it look like it was coming from a bright source of light I used CC Radial Fast Blur (which I saw in a tutorial on Advanced 3D light rays from video copilot. The movement is applied by tracking it to the tree. Of course this “gate” is not as advanced as the volumetric light from the tutorial, but with a simple tracking applied to it, it’s quite effective. Evidently I had to make use of some of this knowledge, so you can see some of it in the opening sequence (although the rays are not very obvious and they were coming out black once I removed the background – blending modes and transparencies minimised the black – and even if it’s not as dramatic as the tutorial, it works well with the mood of the clip.

The real challenges came when the masks came into place. The quick panning to follow the dogs made the tree blurry in points making it hard for the auto tracking to follow a point – it also comes in and out of frame a couple of times, so I had to use different tracking points for both the portal  and revealing/masking the “other side” of the tree. I learnt about null objects – a great tool to parent other objects: like the footage of the parallel world.

The fantasy world was achieved by saturating the colour of the footage and masking it to show an image of a lake and a sunset. Different solutions were explored: Rotobrush – to make dynamic masks: it soon turned out a very tedious way of doing things since the sections were uneven in most frames and the results were very poor. I then tried the Rigid Mask Tracker, another way of masking regions with the pen tool. In this case it was a simpler way of doing it since the areas to be masked were still the same “shape” even when the camera is panning and zooming (to allow for these transformations I had to select the “position, scale and rotation” option of the effect) – as for the parts when the dogs were jumping towards the sunset and coming out of the regular area I had to manipulate the mask frame by frame – but the results were much better! A key cleaning effect was used to soften the edges and feathering it a bit to blend it with the background picture a make it look a little bit more natural. This was the most labor intensive task of the project, since there was a lot of trial and error, but I think the mask worked the best in the end.

Some final – and a bit extreme – cinematic colour grading from different tutorials like summer blockbuster colour grading and the blockbuster looks topped with a vignette. Even when these tutorials use 3rd party plugins, the colour theory and the basics of colour correction are there…

I watched a lot of videos and tutorials on how to do really cool stuff, and although I didn’t really use most of them, this opens a whole new world of possibilities for future projects.

Enjoy a Doggie Dog World.

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