Monday, 28 September 2009

Fun with post-processing

I've been spending time making a music video for glam metal punk goth rockers SPiT LiKE THiS, and a few weeks ago I published a few screenshots of work in progress. It's proving to be quite an enjoyable challenge, for all sorts of reasons, and I'll post a few more things as I go. One of the things we decided we wanted was to have a studio sequence as well as on stage sequence. I wanted to get quite a different visual look for the two parts, so we could really emphasise the pyros and stage lights when we bring them in. Normally I just go for raw Moviestorm, but in the circumstances, I figured that some post-processing in Premiere was allowed.

This is what comes out of Moviestorm. Not a bad image of Lord Zion (even though he's missing his tattoos in this shot), but it looks pretty ordinary.

First things first, let's turn it into black and white. We could just leave it at that, and it would look more "artistic", but that's a lazy and boring approach. I don't care who else is doing it, it's just lame.

So now let's posterize it. Hmm. Still not very interesting using the default settings of 8 levels, is it?

So now we knock it down to just two colours. Pure black and white. That's better. Light and dark. That's starting to look better.

Now we can start messing about properly. We overlay this version of the footage on top of the original, and we feather the edges, so the colour bleeds through around the edge of the image. You can't really see it on the black sections, but it works well on the white sections.

And we finish by setting the upper image to 68% opacity. This allows a small amount of the colour to bleed through all the white sections, but heavily faded and desaturated, so what we end up with is an image that is both coloured and black and white. Effectively, we're drawing on 1890s hand-tinted animation styling as well 1960s poster art and modern computer techniques. It also has some elements of cel shading and rotoscoping, but doesn't use the Moviestorm cel shader.

And yes, that'll do nicely... and here's a short (silent) clip showing how Lord Zion looks in motion.

One of the techniques I had to learn was how to shoot footage for this. When everything's reduced to black and not-black, it's critical to be conscious of what's in the background, or else it'll create weird splotches, where a piece of furniture is turned into an odd-shaped object. Lighting and shadows are also crucial - what looks great in the original footage often looks dreadful when it's been post-processed, and I've had to go back and reshoot each take many times until it looks the way I want it.

And before you ask, no, we won't be able to do all this in Moviestorm, at least, not any time soon.


Kate Fosk said...

Nice look you got there Matt -Kate

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