Digital Compositing

Master the final phase of VFX production!  

What makes movies like Star Wars, Matrix and The Lord of the Rings different from the others? Special effects, miniatures, explosions, dolls, digital characters and surreal scenes. However, any of these elements alone are not sufficient. It is the combination of various elements (for example, miniatures and actors) that merge in ways that produce an illusion of reality in the spectator’s perception. Therefore, an actor being caught against a green background is in reality also being transferred to a virtual world of a distant galaxy in a distant future. The very process of matching these elements is called compositing, which is what constitutes the main theme of this course. 

In over 70 classes and 100 exercises, students will learn the principles of compositing, matching a real-life image against a green screen with digital elements, color corrections and stereo compositing, while working with practical elements, film and digital material in a production environment. All techniques will be explained using excerpts from production, which will then be processed further by students. Also, technologies of digital signal, image and processing, as well as the technology of film and photography will be dealt with in detail with comparative analysis concerning their respective advantages. 

Aside from the technical aspect, students will gain a thorough insight into the theoretical elements of compositing, including the essentials of photography and visual arts as well as communication, whereby our students will gain a wider perspective and, consequentially, faster improvement. As the course progresses, the environment for practice will become more and more similar to a real production environment, encompassing simulation of various problems, deadlines and demands from the client i.e. the superiors.  

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Basic information:

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course duration: 12 weeks
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requirements:   Digital Image Editing*
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prices for international students click here        

prices for home students click here
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     *or  equivalent computer skills
   **price based on minimum 5 participants
 ***internship available

Online application send here>

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Course program:


Introduction to digital compositing
  • Introduction, history, optical compositing, basics of film, digital compositing with examples (Star Wars, Blade Runner, Terminator,
    Titanic...)  

Components of a digital image
  • Digital and analogue signals, digitalization, basic components of an image, pixel, bit depth, resolution, characteristics of images from
    film and digital cameras, HDR format, Gamut, Color space

Light and camera I
  • Basics of lights, movement of light, reflection, refraction, light sources, shadows, light temperature, white balance.
    Pinhole camera, visibility angle, perspective, explanation of aperture, depth of field, iso sensitivity, all with practical examples

Light and camera II
  • Filming angles, creative use of light, analyzing the light in various examples, recognizing types of light for easier matching. Camera movements, basic division and terminology. METADATA, how everything helps.
    Practical examples – the more the better.

Nuke basics
  • Interface, navigation, controls, nodes, loading files. Simple compositing with two overlapping images.
    (Parallel with examples from Photoshop, so as to display the parallels between Nuke and Ps. Simple key)

     Exercise

Input devices
  • Formats, analogue, digital, PAL, NTSC, HD, RED
    FPS, aspect ratio, compressing signals, compressing data, lossless and lossy compressions, file formats BMP, TGA, PNG, JPG, MPEG,
    MOV, DPX, EXR. Advantages and disadvantages, format conversion

All about color
  • Theory of color, examples of photographs and various works of art
  • Color correction in Nuke, showing what each slider does, explaining on a histogram what is happening with a signal
  • Secondary color corrections. Examples from production

    Exercise – color corrections, on a given example. (A homework assignment is also given)

Merge operators
  • Operations between two inputs. Plus, minus, over, min, max, screen, overlay... To be explained mathematically. Premultiply and
    unpremultiply
    (To be demonstrated through a simple example and then through an example from production)

    Exercise

Filters, interpolation, transformation
  • Blur, defocus, median, edge blur, erode, sharpen, soften, zblur, motion blur, emboss, god rays... 
  • Transformations: translate, corner pin, reformat, crop
  • Interpolation: cubic, nearest, mitchel...
    (To be demonstrated through examples including several examples from production)

    Exercise

Animation, working with keys
  • Roto, working with masks. Principles of animation, timing, spacing (Roto to be demonstrated through a simple example)
  • 2D tracking, matchmove, stabilization. Example: sky replacement. Planar tracker (to be demonstrated through an example)
  • Spline warp, grid warp, morphing

    Exercise

Compositing CG elements I
  • Pass compositing. Working with channels. Integration with real elements, reference stand in, light wrapping, shadows, standardization
    of color, spill suppression, atmospheric effects, camera characteristics, size and perspective, focus and defocus (bokeh), motion blur,
    lens flare...

    Exercise: demonstrations through a simple example and then through an example from production

Compositing CG elements II
  • Continuation
   
    Exercise

Visual qualities of an image and the perception of the eye
  • Light and shadow
  • Persistence of vision

Linear workflow
  • Nonlinear Color Encoding (logarithmic format)
   (Examples: The Other Guys (film): how to render, how to set LUT, how to finalize)

More complicated key, keylight, primatte and IBK combinations I
  • Custom despill, hue correct, smoothing edges, light wrap
  • Grain, adding match grain.
   (Here an example may be Annie or Mastercard Beach or a music video)

    Exercise

More complicated key, keylight, primatte and IBK combinations II
  • Continuation, key and key roto combined

    Exercise

3D space in Nuke
  • 3D space, navigation, controls, nodes
  • Camera tracker in Nuke and adding a track from another program (Maya)
  • Projections, removing unwanted objects (Best example: removing unwanted objects in The Other Guys - scene in a bar)

    Exercise

Stereo compositing
  • 3D space (Examples from Shark Night)

    Exercise

Quality and efficiency
  • Minimizing data loss, Internal Software Accuracy
  • Efficiency (Consolidating Operations, Region of Interest, Networked Environment, Disk Usage, proxy)
   (Examples of an efficient Nuke workflow)

Organization of workflow
  • Structure, working with files, working logically (gradually)

Working in pipeline surroundings and communicating with other VFX departments
  • Demonstrating through an example the organization of production between the CG and comp sectors
   (Shark Night may be used as an example)

    Exercise: group exercise Compositing and Light/render departments

Analyzing workflow through examples from production
  • Several examples may be taken from prior lectures and given now in full
   (Interactive lecture, Q&A, group analyses)

Automation of the comp process through Python and the creation of a gizmo
  • One simple example, gizmo for passes, from The Other Guys
    (Analysis: automatic comp, output gizmo...)

     Exercise: Python exercises

     Final exercise. Comp frame that contains CG, green screen, practical
    (A concrete example may be taken from Crater production)

      Independent exercise
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Literature* :

Brinkmann, Ron, The Art and Science of Digital Compositing, Morgan Kaufman Publishing, San Francico, USA, 2008
Wright, Steve, Digital compositing for film and video, Focal Press Publishing, Burlington, MA, USA, 2010
Jeffrey A. Okun and Susan Zwerman, The VES Handbook of Visual Effects, Focal Press Publishing, Burlington, MA, USA, 2010

* all literature is available to students at the Crater VFX Training Center library

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Certificate:

Upon completion of the course students will receive the Crater VFX Training Center Certificate for the successful completion of the course.

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