Cold Black Stars

Very pleased to say I’ve finally finished the music video for Dead Beyond Buried for their song Cold Black Stars.

Seems like an age ago that we first started talking about doing this and thinking back actually I’ve taken abit of a leap forward in terms of FX knowledge during the making.

At the beginning I knew we’d need asteroid fields and my initial plan was to construct some plaster models to photograph greenscreen then composite into my sequences.  As it turns out, three months and two computers later,  I ended up using some pre built 3D CG models for the asteroids.  Luckily Video Copilot released a plugin called Element which allows you to render 3D models within After Effects.  This meant I was able to use some rock models that came with the plugin for my asteroids and composite them into the scenes I’d already done using Particular ( a particle engine) to create clouds of rocks.

Here’s a screen shot.

The asteroids in the foreground are 3D models rendered using Element, the background comprises several particle systems created using Particular.

I needed the flare to wink on and off as asteroids pass in front of it.  Annoyingly, Optical Flares won’t speak directly to Element despite them both being Video Copilot plugins.  Having fiddled with it it seems that Element doesn’t generate an alpha channel (a channel which says which parts of the image are transparent) by itself.  If you precompose the Element layer it’ll then generate an alpha channel which Optical Flares can use to detect when there’s something in front of it.

Problem with that is if you have a camera move the two separate layers won’t be affected by the camera since one is precomposed in a separate composition.  You therefore need to slave a camera inside the precomp to the one outside to get the camera to move correctly with respect to both layers.

Abit of a mess about but it works.

Here’s another shot.  No 3D models this time, all the bodies were created by photographing an action figure dangling on a wire against a green screen.  I then created a short sequence with a variety of stills from the video and used those to generate particle clouds with Particular.  The foreground figures were video slides hanging in 3D space.  As they were rotating on their own they gave quite a realistic impression of motion.

Last thing to mention is grading the vid, something I’ve never been that great at.  One mistake I made when filming beast of the air was to forget to turn off one of the camera presets which was set to ‘vivid’.  Not having neutral colour made things very difficult to balance.

This time round I made exactly the same mistake!  Except this time it actually worked I my favour – I forgot to take the preset off, this time a custom one I have which increased the contrast and saturation.  I also had it set to a very cool colour temperature.  This actually translated to a very nice cool blue look.  I applied some cinematic presets I’d downloaded and also used another Video Copilot plugin Twitch to make the lights flash – I think it essentially adds a temporary glow effect every few seconds.

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