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Overall I am really pleased with how this project has gone. From seeming like I was never going to be able to do it, to seeing a finished product is a great feeling. I am particularly pleased with how clean the keying was, and the fact that all of the effects worked and mainly the fact that I managed to do them at all was quite good.

Although i’m glad it’s some extra work off my load, I’m still sad to realise I won’t be doing this again all year, as it’s been an enjoyable project from start to finish.

If I were to do this again, I would definitely use tracking points in the shoot to capture some motion in my scenes, as I feel that this is really lacking in my work. I think a few action shots where the camera is all over the place would have been the finishing touch I needed to make my project look much better, however, I am still happy with the backgrounds I chose and the way they portray the scene I wrote a few months ago, and it’s nice to see that script finally on a screen.

Here again is the link for my video:



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Before I rendered my footage, I decided to add a vignette to my composition to give it a more cinematic feel. All this involved was a solid black layer on top of the composition, an oval mask around the outside of the composition, and some feathering/opacity changes. I put the opacity down and the feathering up so it was barely noticeable but still visible around the edges.


Once I had a completed composition, I added it to the render queue. Once in the render queue, before I rendered it I changed the settings of the render to suit my needs.

For the good render, the one I would upload online and provide a link for, I changed the settings to a Quicktime movie. The format of this was PhotoJPEG, at 100% quality. This came out at over 1GB in size, and this was far too big for what I wanted. To bring it down, I reduced the quality to around 90%. This brought the file size down to about 240MB, which was more than enough for what I wanted. I then uploaded this to youtube

This is shown here:

I then needed to render out a file less than 100MB to submit to my uni. This meant that to get a good quality I would need to use h264. I changed the render settings, but every file I outputted at h264 blu-ray separated the sound from the video and I had no idea how to stop this. In the end I had to use the flv h264 render settings, and compromise a bit of quality for the reduced file size render. It came out at about 40MBso it wasn’t too bad for a 30 second piece.


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Now i’ve added all of my visual effects, I have a finished piece that i’m pretty pleased with!

All I had to do now was to add some sounds. At the start of the project I downloaded a massive pack of lightsaber sound effects, and proceeded to go through all of these to find the perfect sounds for my composition. I had to clip a few, but this I did using aftereffects. I did this by keyframing the audio levels on certain clips that I wanted to fade out or start later. I also adjusted the volume levels according to how loud a particular scene was meant to be, and whether or not there were multiple sounds going on at once.

I used around 11 different sound effects, and added these to my composition, set where I wanted them to start and finish, and then once they were all in the right place, I pre-composed all of the sounds into their own composition so that they were tidy and didnt flood the main timeline.



Shadows – Feet

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Once I had added the backgrounds, there was one scene at the end of the trailer where one of the characters walks away from the camera, and you see his feet which doesn’t happen in any other shot. Because of this and the positioning of the lighting in the set environment, I had to add shadowing for the half-second you can see his feet.

The wasn’t too much of a challenge, but involved knowing roughly where the shadow would fall before it had fallen.

Firstly, I created a black solid in the shot composition. I then set this to invisible so thatr I could see what I was doing, and used the pen tool to create a mask the went behind the feet of my character. This path was then keyframed, and the position altered so that it followed my character as he walked into the distance.

shadow foot 1


Above you can see the mask path. Once the paths were complete I revealed the layer which left the area inside the mask solid black. This I then feathered, and reduced the opacity to around half which made it look much more like a shadow.

Whilst I was doing this I realised that my characters foot goes transparent as he walks away.

To fix this I duplicated the footage layer, and like with the shadow I drew a path around the affected area. As keylight was being used on both layers, I then went into keylight and reduced the cli on the white. This revealed the missing parts of the shoe, and as they were transparent before, they showed up under the old footage making it look like they’d been there all the time. The result of this is shown below.

transparent foot fix


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Because I had keyed out all of the backgrounds for the shots, I needed to find alternative backgrounds. The setting for my script was an office environment, and to emulate this I wanted to use pictures that looked like the inside of an office, and were convincing enough to look like the characters were actually there.

Instead of using deviantart, I found a 5 for £20 download offer on, so I decided to cough up and take advantage of high res pictures. There were thousands of images relating to office interior on a search, but I managed to narrow it down to these 4 as my final 4 backgrounds for my project.


This was a relatively simple task compared to other aspects of this project. All I had to do was to import the files into my project, then on each shot comp, I had to insert the relevant image, resize accordingly to make it look the right perspective, and make sure the layers were in the right order. The result of the good keying from before meant that the shots sat quite nicely infront of the light backgrounds,

I did use some effects on the backgrounds though, as I felt they were a little too bright and took away a lot of the clarity from certain shots. I adjusted the brightness and the contast of each image, bringing the brightness down to -50 and the contrast to 25.

adding background

I repeated this task for every shot until all of the backgrounds for done. Now it looks so much better. Without these backgrounds my project has looked a bit bland!


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Because I was doing a trailer, I wanted to add the title of the movie just before the end in the traditional movie trailer style, followed by another quick shot and then the release date to finish with. The first thing I did was search for font’s to use on I’ve used this website many times for my web assignments as it contains a wide variety of fonts in multiple formats.

When I was looking through the fonts, I had in mind the traditional Star wars text, probably one of the most iconic fonts ever. I managed to find this which was pretty similar but not exactly the same:

titles font

This font was called Distant Galaxy. I instantly wanted to use this one, as it fit exactly the requirements I had.

I installed the font, and tried it out on After effects, and it looked really good!

Once I liked the font and had it installed, I added two text layers. One for the ‘SUIT WARS’ title, and another for the ‘FALL 2014’.  I then positioned them in the middle, duplicated both of these layers and pulled down and flipped one of each layer underneath its matching layer to create a reflection. I also reduced the opacity to 15 percent so that it looked like its actual reflection.

To add some effect to it, I turned all of the text layers into 3d layers, and then added two cameras. I added some gradual zoom to both cameras which were placed above the text layers giving the text a crawling in effect.

titles 1

Particle Effects

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CC Particle systems II

To create the effect for the saber clashes, I initially used CC Particle Systems II. This was because I had used it before, so I knew roughly what the parameters did, and not having used any of the others before, I didn’t want to lose myself in a mess of particles that made my laptop crash or something! As you can see, the image below shows the initial non-keyframed particle, set at particle explosion.

particle effect

There are several parameters on CC Particle Systems II. The first is ‘birth rate’. As I didn’t want to flood the area with as many particles as you see above, I keyframed the birth rate from just before every clash, to just after every clash like this: 0..3……..0. This meant that the birth rate would go from nothing, to 3 and then back to nothing after the clash, giving the effect that sparks were coming off of the sabers.

The next parameter is longevity: how long the particles stay alive for. I set this to 0.3 throughout the whole scene, as I didn’t want irrelevant particles scattered accross the screen for no reason. In real life sparks would die out after a second or so.

The next keyframeable parameter was the position (x,y). This simply meant that I had to place the particle exploder in the position of the clash after the last clash had stopped producing particles, and before the next started producing particles. As there were only 3 clashes, this was relatively simple to keyframe and maneuver the exploder.

Delving into the Physics parameters, I made sure that the velocity and gravity were both set to 1. Although, I (along with others I have since learned) tried altering these but it made little difference towards what I wanted it to do. Nevertheless, these settings were fine for what I wanted to achieve.

The final part of this effect was to change the birth and death colour. As sparks generally start off incredibly bright and fade out to an orangey colour, I set the birth to a light grey and the death colour to orange. I also made sure that these particles were lines.

Below is an image of the effect this gave. However, it was lacking some substance in the main clashes.

particle birth death colour

Particle Playground

After consultation, I was steered towards Particle Playground, an effect we’d touched on but I hadn’t had much luck with.

Below is just a shape layer, one that is set to go from bright white to orange in about half a second or so. This precomp then became the source for the particles in Particle Playground. I simply dragged this effect into a precomp, and just like in particle systems, I fiddled with the parameters until the particles acted and reacted the way I wanted them to.


To link the layers, I used the layer map feature, and told it to map the shape layer above. I then duplicated the layer with the effect in 3 times, so that I could have a spread of particles going off in three directions. I then screened this comp with all of the settings tailored to match the settings of the other particles, which gave the effect in the image below. Not perfect, but it certainly looks a lot better than it did initially.

particle sparks

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