This exercise introduces you to preparing a 3D animation that can be merged with "live action" footage for a believable composite special effect

There are LOTS of variations to how this exercise can be done - pay attention to your instructor, and INTERPRET these instructions as best you can for YOUR situation.

We'll build the pieces into ADOBE PREMIERE ELEMENTS, and then use bluscreen or greenscreen effects to blend them together.

A. Get your ASSETS ready
You'll need to collect or shoot the following digital "Assets":
  • A BACKGROUND
    • This could be a large JPG from the internet, or some LIVE action video footage, or even some live action video shot against GREENSCREEN
    • It's CRUCIAL that the camera TILT angles match up - find a background that puts the horizon at the middle, and be sure your video is shot the same way
  • A Saucer Model ready to be animated

B. Get a PREMIERE FRAMEGRAB
  • Load your background jpg and or video into PREMIERE ELEMENTS
  • If you're compositing Live Greenscreen against a JPG, apply the KEY effects (greenscreen; garbage matte) needed
  • Scrub to a good scene in the timeline that you can use to align your animation with.
  • Use FILE - EXPORT - FRAME and save the file as FRAMEGRAB.BMP (or whatever is appropriate)

Also take note of the following in premiere
  • The duration of the "live" video
  • The exact times of key reactions from your actors
SaucerVideo02.gif
C. Try Making a NEW SCENE
  1. Go to SCENE - NEW
  2. Insert the Saucer using BUILD - ADD OBJECT - and choosing your saucer model
    1. Tap the "A" key to enter SELECT mode and Select the Saucer
    2. Tap the "M" key to enter MOVE mode and Drag the Saucer up
    3. Enter "Quad View" and hit "F" to better place the Saucer
      (experiment by dragging in each of the four windows)
  3. Rotate the Saucer
    1. Tap "R" to enter ROTATE mode
      1. View the scene from the TOP (Num-8)
      2. Use the RIGHT (but NOT the LEFT!) mouse button and rotate the saucer counter clockwise on the screen to face the camera

SaucerVideo00a.gif
SaucerVideo03.gif
D. Adjust the Camera

    1. Tap "A" and select the camera in "Quad View"
    2. Tap "R" to enter ROTATE mode
    3. Use the RIGHT (no, NOT the LEFT) mouse button to tilt the camera up to 0 degrees
    4. Try to adjust the camera and Saucer postition so the Saucer is in the distance and above the camera's eyeline

Add Sunlight
  1. Use BUILD - Add Light - Click OK

Adding a single light will override the "default" Anim8or lighting, and replace it with a single "sun-like" overhead light source. It happens to match our background video footage much better.
SaucerVideo04.gif
E. Change your Environment
SaucerVideo05.gif
  1. Use SETTINGS - ENVIRONMENT
  2. Select IMAGE background
  3. Load the "Saucer-Background-Framegrab.bmp" you made earlier
  4. Click OK and the CAMERA view will now get the new background
    (You might have to click the Camera Window for it to kick in)

Adjust the ANGLE of the groundgrid
  1. In "Quad View", repeatedly move and rotate the camera to put it in a good initial position. The gridlines should point toward the horizon as though it were the "vanishing point. You could align roads and other landmarks as well.


Position the Saucer against the background
  1. In "Quad View", repeatedly move and rotate the saucer to put it in a good initial position. The saucer should start so that:
    1. It will be hidden behind offscreen as the movie starts (even behind a building)
    2. It will fly above the actor's heads
  2. Hit the "F" key from time to time to keep all the elements visible on the screen
  3. Turn off the ground grid by going back into SETTINGS - ENVIRONMENT and un-checking the "Ground Grid" option
SaucerVideo06.gif
SaucerVideo09b.gif
F. Define your Flight Duration (The Timeline)

  1. Use SETTINGS - SCENE and set the total length of the animation to match the length of the live movie
    (number of seconds x 30fps)
    SaucerVideo07.gif
    SaucerVideo07.gif
  2. At the LOWER LEFT side of the TIMELINE, click the + beside "scene01" to expand the timeline. Expand the "world" as well and scroll down to eobject01 (that's your saucer)
    (You should drag the bar at the left-top of the timeline to make it a bit bigger on your screen so that you can see the "eobject01" track as well as the 00 - 01 second markers at the top of the tracks)
  3. Make sure you are in frame 01 of the timeline and Turn ON Keyframes
    (The key should glow Green!)
  4. Select the MOVE tool and lightly click the saucer object - this will create a keyframe that "memorizes" this initial position for the saucer.
    (Look in the 00 frame of the "eobject01" track)
  5. Select the ROTATE tool and RIGHT-CLICK the saucer as well - this will lock in the initial orientation
SaucerVideo08.gif
G. Set your Waypoints - The Keyframes
Object movement is programmed by establishing "keyframes" that mark the start or end of travel.

Though the image on the right shows the TOP view - stay in QUAD VIEW to control how the saucer will fly in relation to the background image. Start with only a few waypoints

  1. Starting Point 01
    1. Click on the frame corresponding to "second 01" on the eobject01 timeline
    2. Use the MOVE tool and Click on the saucer without actually moving it. This will "nail down" the saucer to keep it in the same location for the duration of the first second. You should see a new keyframe appear at 01 in the "eobject01" timeline
  2. Reaction Waypoint
    1. Scrub over to the time that your actors first noticed the saucer, and MOVE your saucer to where it needs to be on the screen
  3. Intermediate Waypoints
    1. Scrub BACK to a logical point along the path, and try moving the saucer to create a logical curve. You can rotate the saucer at these key frames to maintain a believable orientation.

Try playing your animation and see how it looks. You can modify the flight paths as you see fit, but here are some tips:
  • Use as FEW keyframes as you can to define motion - it will look smoother
  • Anim8or will impose some "wind up" and "recoil" to travel along a path - this can be adjusted later
  • You can try to add some "bob" to points where the saucer could be hovering in front of the actors
SaucerVideo09.gif
H. Render a "Test" MovieSaucerVideo10.gif
When you're ready to test your movie, be sure that you've selected the CAMERA view (turn off the QUAD View) and turn off the ground grid in Settings - Environment
  1. Use RENDER - Render MOVIE
  2. Create a filename "Saucer CGI Test" in your D: Drive folder
  3. Set the image size to 864x480
  4. DON'T click "Antialiased" for initial tests... it takes 10 times longer to render, and you should always test your movie with a "quick" render first
  5. Click OK


Rendering should only take a few minutes - you can go to the D: drive and check it out once it's finished.

If time permits and you're ready for the REAL render, go on to the next step
SaucerVideo11.gif

  1. Under Compressor, choose LAGARITH if it's available; if not, install it from the handouts folder, or resort to XVid or DIVX if you have it.
I. Render a GREENSCREEN Movie
(Note: the photos and models used in this demo use "bluescreen", but you can just as easily use "greenscreen" if that's what you've built into your scene)

  1. Go back to SETTINGS - ENVIRONMENT and choose either a solid green or solid blue background colour instead of the framegrab. tweak it's values to 0 Red, 0 Green and 0 Blue for a perfect bluescreen background. Click OK and OK
  2. Again use RENDER - Render MOVIE
  3. Create a filename "Saucer CGI 01" in your D: Drive folder
  4. Set the image size to 864x480
  5. Check ANTIALIASED IF TIME PERMITS
    1. It's a slow render but the quality is much better
    2. A good trick in the classroom is to let the students start a render at the end of the schoolday, and render overnight.
  6. Click OK
SaucerVideo12.jpg
Hopefully, your bluescreen animation is now ready to import into PREMIERE for compositing with the "live" Video footage!