Visual effects are no longer exclusive to big-budget Hollywood
productions. New technologies and processes enable many effects to be
produced more efficiently. While most businesses don't have the need
for high-speed car chases with explosions, there are subtle ways to
incorporate visual effects into your promotional video or website.
Chroma key background replacement
connectivity speeds have offered more businesses opportunities to use
video to deliver their messages. A creative way to do this is to place
your spokesperson right on your website using a green screen (just like
in the local weather report) rather than in a boxed-in video.
In the example below, we shot video of a company representative and
placed him in a Flash banner on their website. Using software, we
created a transparency, or alpha channel, around the person so he can
be placed on any kind of background. While this process is fairly
straightforward, it requires some fine-tuning to clean up the edges of
the image and make sure the background is not showing through.
Watch this example in motion.
Green or blue backgrounds are used to create contrast between the talent and the background. Green is more commonly used for digital or analog video because video naturally emphasizes green, making it distinctive compared to other colors. Blue is more commonly used with film for the same reason.
Motion tracking and rotoscoping
A majority of the special effects you see in the movies generally involve a combination of motion tracking and rotoscoping in the production process. The most common example is the glowing light sabers in the Star Wars movies. The actors fight with sticks during the filming process and the glow is added later.
Motion tracking is the process of following the movement of a particular point, or points, in a section of video to add an effect that will move with it. Rotoscoping is a similar process but involves manipulating the motion and shape of an object.
Prior to modern software, these processes were done by painting on every frame of the negative (approximately 24 times per second of video). While software makes this process quicker, it can still be very time consuming, increasing exponentially with the slightest complication.
Watch an example of these techniques using screen replacements
Screen replacement is a common business application. When you see a screen such as a television or mobile device in a commercial, the image playing was most likely added in post production because video screens don't photograph well. A similar process can be used to place or replace a logo on a product or remove something that shouldn't be in the video.
We first used tracking software to define the shape and movement of the screen, the hand holding the device, the device itself, the finger’s movement and the surface of the table. Once we had this information, we brought it together in another software package.
With this data, we placed the video on the screen. The moving shape of the finger over the screen was then cut out from the screen video. If we didn't do this, the finger would have appeared to go under the image rather than on top of it. A similar process was done to place the animating tree branches on the surface of the table. Although this scene only takes up about two and a half seconds of the final video, it took several hours to create.
Advancements in software and Internet connectivity allow businesses to use creative visual effects to further develop their online brand presence. To learn more or begin a video project of your own, contact thunder::tech’s video team at 888.321.8422.