In the Calendar, you’ll see “Meadow: Miranda Roto” for a while (see screenshot). This refers to the phase of a composite I’m working on. I’m extracting (rotoscoping) Miranda from a shot where she runs into a meadow. Then I’ll put her into another live action shot (composite).
For anyone who’s looked at the calendar to see what’s been going on, here’s what “Miranda – Chromakey” or “Miranda – Emerge” refers to. Miranda is supposed to be in a mysterious wood, not a civilized park setting. You can see in the frame of the original footage (second picture) that it looks like Miranda’s in the latter.
The “emerge” shot I’m working on is a composite that places live-action Miranda walking inside a wood made entirely of plates of still-image trees and leaves. (The first picture shows the composite in progress.) The program’s “camera” will glide through the trees as it approaches Miranda.
If you read previous posts, you know I’ve had a heck of a time trying to extract Miranda and her hair from the original footage. The extraction (roto) of Miranda and hair is almost where it needs to be. Once that’s complete, I need to figure out how to move the background plate and individual tree elements so Miranda is interacting with them convincingly. The camera was doing all sorts of movements in the original footage, and the composite elements will need to match those movements.
I’m energized today by the results of some experimentation. This shot had me worried for a long time, because the hair detail at the edges of Miranda’s head and shoulders needed to be cleanly isolated for a convincing composite, and I didn’t know if I could do it.
Normally, if you wanted to place a live action figure into a composite, you’d shoot against a green or blue screen. But this sequence changed significantly since production time, and I have to make do with what was shot.
You can see that Miranda’s hair is similar in hue to the background (right). This makes it difficult to select it. After experimenting with Shake’s luma and chroma key nodes, I found its color-replace node, along with the threshold node, gave me the results above (left). If you look closely at the hair edges, you can see that I was able to retain decent hair detail, with the background quite cleanly removed.
I’ll try to use this as a matte for the hair detail, and combine it with a rotoscope of Miranda’s face and body to get a solid and clean Miranda to place into a wood composite.
I’ve gone back to working on the “Stream” shot again, to do the “finishing touches.” About 70 frames of the roto of Miranda require cleanup. The original shot Miranda was roto’d out of had her walking through waist-high foliage, and all of the foliage covering her up needs to be painted out frame-by-frame in Photoshop.
I’ve started a new shot I call, “Emerge;” and am rethinking my assessment that the most difficult shots are behind me. In the past, I completed a few rotos of Miranda I ended up not using–weeks of work–because the hair never looked right. But this is the scene where Miranda finally sees what’s hidden in the wood. I have no choice but to roto Miranda, so she can be placed in a background that matches the other shots in the scene.
It might seem that you’d only need to roto the major solid areas of the hair, with a blur added to the edge. But I found that doesn’t look convincing, as my failed rotos proved. The first screen shot shows a frame of Miranda’s hair at its clearest–there are only a few of these kinds of clean frames (out of 194). It shows lots of little hairs that will need to be individually roto’d, to some extent. They move all over, blur, disappear and reappear in a different shape every few frames. At the other extreme in this shot, are blurry frames (like the frame on the right) where you lose track of all little those hairs.
On top of that, the camera is tilting and panning through the whole thing, so there’s a perspective shift I’ll have to deal with in the comp.
Lots of progress on the one of the most difficult composites in “Wood.” Miranda’s roto is essentially finished–just touch ups needed on it. I did a quick color correction to match her into her new background, and integrated her into the water to see how things are coming together. Looks great so far! I still need to mask out elements in the background that Miranda will interact with, and add mist and sun rays over her.
Good progress on the Miranda “Stream” roto I mentioned in the July 22nd post, considering the limited time I was able to give it. Hair, head, torso, skirt, right arm are finished. Working on left and right legs, and fine tuning what’s complete so far. The roto is 180 frames long, and I make a keyframe change every three frames, then go back and tweak in-between frames as needed. Also, did a rough composite over the background it will be comped into, and it was exciting to see it develop.
Detail of Miranda Roto
After a very helpful session with another amazing VFX artist/compositor, I was able to start a new composite today; beginning with another roto of Miranda. This roto’s challenging because Miranda is so tiny, when I zoom in close enough to work on her, she looks like a bunch of square pixels with no clear edges defined. (In the 2nd image, you can see how big she is in the original shot.) Getting the facial details was most challenging–four shapes made up that tiny face. The hair is another challenge–about 8 or 9 shapes. When finished, Miranda will be placed into another wide shot.