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Below are the 16 most recent journal entries recorded in Art 4616 - Digital Compositing's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004
11:48 am
Mini-Project #4
150 frames including:

- at least 3 layers
- at least one keyframed node from the transforms menu
- at least one keyframed node from the color menu
- at least one keyframed node from the filters menu
- at least one matte
- at least one tracking node
- at least one keyframed text node
- at least one keyframed quickshape node
- at least one keyframed quickpaint node
- at least one node from the keying menu (primatte, color key, keylight, etc.)

A bonus point, which may retroactively apply to an earlier mini-project where needed, will be added to your grade. You may do one of each for a point so a total of 4 bonus points is available to you.
- retiming a clip
- a keyframed node from the warp menu
- a z-compose layer operator
- a drop shadow node
Thursday, October 28th, 2004
9:08 am
Motion Graphics and Z-Depth
We should have Shake back today. After we have covered the topic of Z-depth the rest of the day will be devoted to letting you practice making motion graphics in Shake. If you are in the animation class and are not creating your titles for it as your final project in this class, think of today as the opportunity to get your titles done. And if you are using your titles as your final in this class, you can work on your final today!

As we discussed in class in the past couple of sessions where we had no software, another important application of digital compositing software is in the area of motion graphics. All of the operators we have discussed this semester come into play when creating a dynamic look. Motion graphics are not only extremely important in advertising and broadcast television but are also the backbone of a compelling title sequence. Remember, there is much more to a title sequence than text.

Z-Depth is really very simple. As you recall, our old friend the alpha channel is a greyscale image that maps the opacity of an image. Well, Z-Depth is another greyscale image - only this time instead of mapping the opacity, we are mapping the depth perspective of the image, with white being at the front, black in back, and varying shades of grey determining how near or far the object is to the camera. Maya allows us to render our images with a Z-depth channel attached, and this can be very useful in avoiding depth issues when compositing rendered layers. In addition to its proper use, the Z-compose layer node in shake can be applied to elements without a Z-channel to create some really keen effects.

General Announcements

Tuesday will be a work day and I will be showing some of my title seqences and helping people work on theirs. Please do not feel compelled to be on time on Tuesday - this is everyone's first class of the day so I am giving you the opportunity to go and vote before you come in to school without fear of missing new material. I know schedules are hectic and it can be difficult to find time to get to the polls so I thought I'd make it a little bit easier. We will cover tracking and stabilization on Thursday, and the following week get into rotoscoping.

The Palm Beach International Film Festival has announced its 2nd Annual Festival Poster Design Competition. There is a $1000 prize. I will be forwarding you the info and entry form so keep an eye on your mailbox for that and good luck to those who decide to enter.

Also don't forget the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival is happening at Cinema Paradiso on Friday Nov. 5 and in conjunction with that we will be having a guest speaker from Rhythm & Hues Studios! You definitely don't want to miss out on this.
Tuesday, October 19th, 2004
1:28 am
Midterm Review
Topics we have covered:

Historical Background - Compositing was first developed as a photographic process. Over the years thinking in layers has allowed the arts of film, video, videogames, photography, and design to advance is ways the forefathers of our medium could only dream of.

Interfaces - There are many compositing interfces out there. If you understand the principles of compositing you should be able to translate your knowledge to any compositing package. While we are using and learning the Shake compositing package, we are addressing the principles of compositing in a way which can be interpreted across the board in compositing softwares.


Layers - The operaters with which you place one element over another, applying different maths to achieve the look you want.

Transformations - The operators you use to keyframe the elements into a specific place in the timeline.

Colors - The operations with which you manipulate the RGB pixel colors in the composite to achieve the look you want.

Alpha channel - A greyscale image where white = completely opaque and black = completely transparent. Used to determinte which portions of the element will be visible in the composite.

</i>Premultiplication</i> - The multiplication hre is the RGB channels multiplied by the alpha channel. A premultipliued image will blend over another layer with ease because it has an embedded alpha channel. Images that are not premultiplied require the addition of a matte.

Matte - A created alpha channel for an unpremultiplied image.

Pulling A Matte - Creating an alpha channel for an unpremultiplied image. There are a myriad of approaches to pulling a matte.

Matte Creation in Maya - REassignation of materials to geometry to create a false alpha channel which is applied as a matte.

Using Mattes for Problem Solving - Splitting and layering a single Maya render into different layers according to the needs of the4 composite.

Compositing and Rotoscoping Mattes - Using the tools within shake to pull a matte.

Keying - There are assorted tools used to pull a matte for film or video shot in front of a chroma (blue/green/etc) screen. Keying is the technique of matte creation using these tools.

Filters, Warps, and "Other" - Image manipulation operators.

Text - Creation and animation of text nodes over composited layers.

Rendering - Creation of an image sequence from a Shake Script.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2004
7:31 am
Jack Lew from Electronic Arts should begin at 2PM this Thursday, October 14th, in the CEC.

I encourage you all to attend.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2004
1:19 am
Review for Thursday
Today we will be going over the filter menu.

Thursday is our third of four mini-projects for the semester. Don't forget these each count as 10% of your final grade in the class! Everyone has done really well on the first 2 projects, but we do have some B's floating around out there. The bonus portion on Thursday is your chance to pull one of those B's up to an A! So make sure you spend your time between now and Thursday preparing and getting comfortable with the following requirements. I know you can all do brilliantly! There's a lot of talent in this class. Preparation will let you show it off better.

For Thursday's Mini-Project You Will Need to Include:


1. At LEAST 3 layers
2. At LEAST one keyframed node from the transitions menu
3. At LEAST one keyframed node from the color menu
4. At LEAST one keyframed node from the filters menu
5. At LEAST one matte

If you have been short a requirement on any previous mini-projects, here will be your chance to make it up. I will raise a previous grade by that point if you provide me a keyframed warp node in this mini project. If you need the point it will be applied to the previous grade you need it for. If you don't need the point it will be socked away in case you need it between now and the end of the semester. You can't get higher than an A on paper, so if you don't ever end up needing it your reward will be having one more trick in your bag.

/hardass mode
Note the places above where I say KEYFRAMED. I let everyone slide last week on that. I will not be doing so again. You will only recieve half credit for a node that is not keyframed where you have been asked to keyframe one. You have been advised of this now so no complaining later.
/hardass mode
Monday, September 27th, 2004
11:39 pm
Matting part 2: Keying
Keying is a term used to describe many different methods of matte extraction. In general, it refers to the creation of an alpha channel where one was not procedurally created as in Maya. Bitmap images such as jpgs or digital video are typically not created with an alpha channel, and keying refers to the necessary process of pulling a matte from these images. A matte, remember, is a term for a created (rather than procedurally rendered) alpha channel.

Often as part of the production pipeline it is known in advance that certain scenes will be composited and these scenes are thus filmed with the compositing process in mind using a bluescreen or greenscreen. In fact any color can be used for color or chroma keying, but with human subjects epsecially there tend to be more reds, oranges, yellows and purples in the human skin tone than blues or greens, and so keying with those colors tends to remove the very subject one is trying to display. If you had a lot of blue-green elements you were trying to pull instead of the more common video footage of people, you might consider using an orange background color - in other words, a complementary color to the one you are trying to isolate and bring to the foreground is going to produce the best resulting image.

The two main types of keying are color keying and luma keying. Color keying is the type used with the color background such as bluescreening we discused above. Luma keying creates a matte based on lightness or luminance, and is less often used.

We are fortunate in that most compositing packages include a variety of keying tools that make this process easy and accurate. We are going to go over these tools and practice using them.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004
10:23 pm
Mattes; The Alpha Channel
As we have already discussed, the Alpha channel is a greyscale image that maps the transparency of an image. White is opaque; black is see-through; greys are varying degrees of opacity. This is essential to making your composites work.

Maya's rendering engine, along with most other 3D packages, gives you the option to have images rendered include an alpha channel and this is by default set to on. So images you have rendered out of Maya will come into shake or other compositing packages with an alpha channel already in place, or premultiplied. It's called premultiplied because it is the R, G and B channels multipled my the alpha channel that allows the compositing software to imterpret the image thusly. However, sometimes if you are rendering in layers you will find that these premultipled images actually create a conflict in the course of putting your composite together. We will go over optinos to rectify this in Maya as well as some simple tricks for dealing with these problems in compositing.

Most bitmap or digital video images are not premultiplied and thus if they are to be placed in a composite must have steps taken to create a similar transparency map for them. This created alpha channel is called a matte. We will go over a few ways to create and apply mattes to unpremultiplied images.

The techniques we will look at today are for dealing with 3D situations and creating mattes by hand. Tuesday we will look at matte methods involving color keys and special matting tools that incorporate matting blue/green screen elements and are commonly used in special effects compositing.

Useful Links:
Monday, September 20th, 2004
10:41 pm
Color and Filters

Compositing tools allow you to make a myriad of adjustments to the color of the images you are working with.

PIGMENT - Priamry colors are Red, Yellow, Blue.
LIGHT - Primary colors are Red, Green, Blue

Computers, Televisions, and Film all use LIGHT to form a picture, so the primary colors we deal with in digital compositing are RED, GREEN, and BLUE, or RGB.

Read about COLOR: http://www.rgbworld.com/color.html

Other values we use to adjust colors:

Hue: how red/green/blue - the shade of the color
Saturation: how saturated/greyscale - how much color
Value: how light/dark - the brightness of the color

Additional terms:

Gamma: Gamma correction controls the overall brightness of an image. Images which are not properly corrected can look either bleached out, or too dark. Trying to reproduce colors accurately also requires some knowledge of gamma. Varying the amount of gamma correction changes not only the brightness, but also the ratios of red to green to blue. More on Gamma: http://www.cgsd.com/papers/gamma_intro.html

Alpha: In addition to RG and B each image may or may not have an Alpha channel. An alpha channel is a map of the image's transparency - white is opaque, black is transparent, and greys are verying degrees of opacity.

Filters are effects added to the image in digital image manipulation; A filter effect consists of a series of graphics operations that are applied to a given source graphic to produce a modified graphical result. The result of the filter effect is rendered to the target device instead of the original source graphic.
More on Filters: http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG/filters.html

Examples of filters: Blur, Sharpen, Dilate/Erode, Emboss, Edge Detect, Pixellate, Grain, etc. ***Juse Like Filters in PHOTOSHOP!***

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, September 11th, 2004
2:56 pm
Ivan the Bastard and FAU
Sunday, September 12, 1 p.m.

All FAU campuses (Boca Raton, Davie, Ft. Lauderdale, Dania Beach, Jupiter and Pt. St. Lucie) are currently open, allowing students in residence halls to return to FAU. Classes on all campuses will resume on Monday, September 13 beginning at 7 a.m. for normal operations. Henderson and Slattery schools will also reopen on Monday, September 13.

Heading out from Atlanta in less than an hour. See you Tuesday.

I have made the appropriate changes in the posted syllabus to reflect the lost days: http://www.livejournal.com/community/fau_digicomp/588.html

Please note that the first in class mini project will be on Thursday September 16.

Tuesday we will be going over layers and transforms.

Current Mood: anxious
Sunday, September 5th, 2004
7:53 pm
No Update Yet
FAU has not updated its emergency information since 6 am thursday when classes were cancelled and campuses closed. Therefore I have no new information in therms of when we will begin classes again.

I hope you and your families, pets, and property all escaped unscathed.

I last heard from my family in Palm Beach County around 6 PM on Saturday and I am safe in Atlanta and keeping an eye on the reports as to when I may be able to return. I will post info as it becomes available.

Be safe everybody.

Current Mood: worried
Wednesday, September 1st, 2004
4:35 pm
Info Regarding Class Thursday
Hurricane Notice

Thursday September 2, 2004, 6 a.m..

Classes are suspended on all of FAU’s campuses, including classes at the Henderson and Slattery schools. University offices remain open and will close at 1pm today, Thursday. Only essential staff should remain to assist in the university closing. This message may be modified due to advisories from the National Hurricane Center, so continue to visit www.fau.edu for further updates.

ATTENTION: Art Students and Personnel

Segment of the Hurricane Emergency Plan

Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters

I. Purpose

The purpose of this memorandum is to establish procedures for implementation prior to, during and following a hurricane.


Hurricane Season – This is the portion of the year having a relatively high incidence of hurricanes. The hurricane season in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico runs from June 1 to November 30.

In the event a hurricane threatens the South Florida area, the U.S. Weather Bureau will issue warning information through public releases for press, radio and television. Two of the terms used in hurricane advisories are as follows:

Hurricane Watch – This condition is declared when it appears that the storm poses a threat to a specific area. The watch usually covers an area of several hundred miles. It implies the possibility of dangerous conditions within 24-48 hours.

Hurricane Warning – This condition is declared when it appears probable that the storm will hit a specific area. The hurricane conditions are considered to be imminent or at least within the next 12-24 hours.

Advance Preparations

The following list of actions should be performed at the beginning of each Hurricane Season:

2. Establish a list of emergency Building Supervisors and designate at least one alternate supervisor.
3. Establish planned measures for evacuating personnel from the building, with special consideration given to the disabled and others requiring assistance, if necessary.
4. Establish procedures for informing all building occupants of the general hurricane procedures, the building emergency plan. Each building occupant is responsible for listing his or her specific critical items and the preventive measures required.
5. Establish specific duties of area personnel, such as movement of critical files or equipment from windows or ground level locations, unplugging equipment and identifying equipment that needs to be sealed in plastic.
6. Inventory and restock as necessary for each building with adequate supplies such as flashlights, battery powered radio, plastic sheathing and bags, duct tape, first aid kit and extra batteries.
7. Establish a list of any FAU equipment such as vehicles, boats or electronic equipment that should be moved off campus for safekeeping. Prop-3 forms, “Request to remove property from campus,” must be submitted to the Office of Financial Affairs in advance.
Prepare an inventory of all valuables and keep secure copies for damage assessment. Besides a written copy, pictures of the items or videotaping will assist in FEMA claims.

Hurricane Watch

The following list of actions should be performed as soon as the U.S. Weather Bureau has issued a Hurricane Watch:

2. All building supervisors and alternate supervisors will assemble and review specifics of the emergency plan.
3. Any equipment listed on a “Request to remove property from campus” form should be moved at this time.
4. Supplies for each building should be rechecked and restocked as necessary.
Computer hard drives should be backed-up and the back-ups placed in a secure area.

Hurricane Warning

Status upgrade to Hurricane Warning occurs when it is probable that a storm will hit this area. At this stage, the President or the President’s designee will declare the University closed. As soon as the U.S. Weather Bureau has issued a Hurricane Warning, all students, and personnel are to leave the building and FAU, except the Building Supervisor and assistants. No one should return until after the warning has been officially lifted by the U.S. Weather Bureau and local authorities.

Post Hurricane Procedures

No personnel or students should return until after the warning has been officially lifted by the U.S. Weather Bureau and local authorities.

Hot Line: Official University information will be made available in Boca at


Hot Line: Official University information will be made available in

Broward at 954-236-1800.

Current Mood: busy
Monday, August 30th, 2004
5:54 pm
After Effects Interface

Combustion Interface

Shake Interface

Introduction to Shake Tutorial:

Important highlights:Collapse )

Current Mood: working
Thursday, August 26th, 2004
8:43 pm
Here's the link to buy the Shake book

Other good books:
The Art and Science of Digital Compositing
Inspired 3D Lighting and Compositing

Many other awesome books are also available from Focal Press

Don't forget used on Amazon is a great way to save some cash.

List of great links coming this weekend. See you Tuesday.

Current Mood: working
Wednesday, August 25th, 2004
11:20 pm
Images and Links for Thursday's Topic
Oscar Gustav Rejlander - "The two ways of life" first composite photograph 1857

Georges Melies http://www.saeure.ch/super8/melgal.html
http://www.floridafx.com/Training/Tutorials/Tutorials.html Melies

1933 - King Kong
Director Merian C. Cooper and animator Willis O'Brien join forces for a masterpiece of effects, "King Kong." Stop-motion animation, miniatures, rear projection and optical compositing artfully combine live actors, puppets, and miniatures. The stop-motion animation of a menagerie of prehistoric creatures takes 55 weeks to accomplish.

Song of the South 1946 First feature film to combine live action with cel animation, James Baskett (Uncle Remus) first live actor hired by Disney.

The Invisibles


Thinking in Layers

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, August 21st, 2004
3:22 pm
Silly Bus
Syllabus: ART 4616
Advanced Digital Compositing
Elli D. Edy
Email meaig@yahoo.com
AIM animistress23

Online Extended Office Hours:
I will be logged on to the above AIM Screen Name and available to answer questions and discuss your needs during the following times:
Monday 3 PM – 11 PM
Tuesday 7 PM – 11 PM
Thursday 7 PM – 11 PM
Friday 1 PM – 6 PM
I am also happy to make arrangements to help you in person or online at another time when we are both available. I encourage you to get a free AIM account and drop me an instant message anytime you see me online, office hours or not.

Course LiveJournal Community
I have created a community on LiveJournal as a class resource. I request that you create a free account on LiveJournal to make full use of this learning tool.

What is LiveJournal? http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=56
Create a Free LiveJournal Account:
Join the Class Community:
http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=fau_digicomp click to join.
Read and Participate:
http://www.livejournal.com/community/fau_digicomp/ Bookmark this site and become familiar with it.
Get Started:

The last url above contains complete information on getting started and has all the links above it right there for you to click and go.
Important posts including this introductory information and the syllabus, a list of recommended links, announcements and other stuff will be put in the memories section for easy access. To access memories go to the community page (url above) and click the heart shaped icon or the memories list or click the memories link in the user info.

Texts and Materials

Recommended Books:
· The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Ron Brinkmann. Morgan Kaufmann; ISBN: 0121339602
· Inspired 3D Lighting and Compositing by David Parrish. Premier Press;
ISBN: 1931841497
· Digital Compositing for Film and Video by Steve Wright. Focal Press;

Recommended Softwares:
· Shake
· After Effects
· Combustion

Course Objectives
· Assemble a “bag of tricks”
· Attain a basic understanding of the principles of compositing
· Train the eye to recognize and dissect composites in a variety of media
· Develop a working competency in one or more compositing software packages
· Use digital compositing to add polish and shine to your animations
· Blend 3D elements with video footage to create special effects
· Recognize how to use digital compositing to your best advantage in the production pipeline
· Have fun!

Course Procedure
Most classes will have a workflow divided into 4 segments of a half hour each for our two-hour class time:
· Principles The first part of the session will be spent on the compositing principles relevant to the day’s topic
· Observation The second part of the session will be spent observing examples of the day’s topic in multiple media
· Practice The third part of the session will involve actively doing the operations of the day’s topic. We will do tutorials and in-class mini projects.
· Play The last part of the session will be time for you to intuitively explore the different kinds of things you can do using the day’s topic. Feel free to bring your animations from other classes in and experiment with them during this time. I will also be available for individual help during this time.

We will have a short break halfway through the session.

(subject to change; all changes will be announced in class and on the LiveJournal community)
August 24 – Introduction, Syllabus
August 26 – Background & History
August 31 – Interfaces & Introduction to the Shake interface.
September 14 – Images, layers & transforms
September 16 – Review & 1st in class mini project
September 21 - Color
September 23 – 28th Alpha mattes & keying
September 30 - 2nd in class mini project & first graduate paper due
October 5 - filters and text
October 7 - 3rd in class mini project
October 12 – work day/assistance
October 14 – work day/assistance
October 19 – Midterm – view midterm projects and critique.
October 21 – 26 – text and motion graphics (various title sequences)
October 28 - November 2 - z-depth and premultiplication. Tutorials.
November 4 - 9 - rotoscoping and quickpaint. “Waking Life” special features.
November 11 - 16 - video
November 18 – 4th in-class project & second graduate paper due
November 23 – Careers and Industry discussion
November 25 – Extra Topics and Review
November 30 - work day/assistance
December 2 - work day/assistance
December 7 – Final Critique
December 9 – Final

Assignments and Grading
In-Class Participation – 10% of grade.
4 in class mini projects – 40% of grade.
Midterm – 10-second minimum composite showing mastery of the interface and operators. Must show shake tree and rendered composite. Please turn in as a shake script and a video file, please use .avi, .mpg, or .mov. 25% of grade.
Final – 30-second minimum composite demonstrating mastery and understanding of the topics the course has covered. Must show shake tree and rendered composite. Please turn in as a shake script and a video file, please use .avi, .mpg, or .mov. 25% of grade.

In-Class Participation – 10% of grade.
4 in class mini projects – 30% of grade.
2 Short Papers – Short papers, 1 – 2 pages. First paper will be on the compositing in a movie of your choice. Second paper will be on a compositing topic of your choosing. 10% of grade.
Midterm – 10-second minimum composite showing mastery of the interface and operators. Must show shake tree and rendered composite. Please turn in as a shake script and a video file, please use .avi, .mpg, or .mov. 25% of grade.
Final – 30-second minimum composite demonstrating mastery and understanding of the topics the course has covered. Must show shake tree and rendered composite. Please turn in as a shake script and a video file, please use .avi, .mpg, or .mov. 25% of grade

Attendance Policy
If you don’t want to learn this, why are you here? Showing up is your own responsibility. The less information you are exposed to, the less you absorb and this reflects in the quality of your work, which is reflected in your grade. Everyone gets sick or has mishaps occasionally. You have a variety of ways to let me know when these occur and prevent your attendance. Use them, and you’ll get a lot more understanding if you miss something important. The attendance policy is common sense. If you are not present you had better have a good reason and/or know the material that was covered in your absence.

Auditing Students
Auditing students are welcome. However, if you are not registered in the course and not receiving a grade I request that you please go last in all critiques. It is only fair to the students who paid for the course and have a grade riding on theirs. Thank you for your cooperation.

Current Mood: busy
Friday, August 20th, 2004
1:16 am
Hi Everybody! (Hi! Dr. Nick!)
Welcome to the LiveJournal community for the fall semester digital compositing class at Florida Atlantic University's Ft. Lauderdale campus.

You should consider this community, and all of LiveJournal, as a termendous resource in your work this fall. Because we will have some new LJ users here, let me explain some things about how this works.

What is LiveJournal?

Create a Free LiveJournal Account:

Go to the community info and click to join the community. Membership is open so you will be able to post to the community immediately.

How to post to the community
Make sure you are logged in to LiveJournal. Go to the update page, http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml and click the more options button at the bottom of the entry window. The first optional setting listed is "journal to post in". Select fau_digicomp from the drop down menu as the journal to post in. Write your entry in the text window, and click "update journal". It's that easy.

I typically check my correspondence multiple times daily. If it's 2 AM and you are having a problem, post it. There is a good likelihood I will have a reply to you before morning. I'm a night owl.

Replies are made by clicking on "leave a comment".

I encourage you to reply to each other's entries! This is not just Q&A for me to help you. Discuss ideas, experiments, and techniques amongst yourselves. If you know a solution to a posted problem, post it! Discuss the various ways one could approach it. Use it to your fullest advantage. I will read and comment on every entry. Every reply to me will go to my email and every reply I send you will go to the email box you have specified on your personal account.

Another thing here you will find extremely useful is the interests links off the community info. As I develop the userinfo I will post in it links to specific communities you may want to join in addition to this one. There are some great digital artists on LiveJournal, and some great communities devoted to our arts. Most of them will be happy to critique as well as give helpful hints and advice if you post queries to their communities too. And by reading these communities regularly you will also gain insight from the work others share and the discussions of the industry.

The syllabus and other helpful posts will be logged in the memories section of this blog. To access them go to the userinfo and click the heart shaped icon above the info section.

Once a week I will post an overview of what we covered in class that week. Handy for review and also if you miss a class to see what you missed out on.

I hope you all enjoy this dynamic online interface I have chosen to use to maximize the potential and resources offered in this course.

Current Mood: excited
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