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January 11, 2005

Digital Compositor - So, what is it you do exactly?

well...I just smack pixels around all day,

Digital Compositing: The digitally manipulated combination of at least two source images to produce an integrated result.
(as defined in The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Ron Brinkmann)

As digital artists, we work with multiple image sources. Live action plate photogrphy including, blue/green screens, miniature photography, photographic elements shot on stage, and still images. Computer Generated Images (CGI) or sequences, which can include, effects elements, digital environments, digital matte paintings, general objects, animated creatures, and characters.

Its the seamless integration of all these sources that we assemble one final whole image that you will see in the end. That end result being on film at the movies, on tv, in a videogame, or in print somewhere in a magazine, on a billboard, or poster.

In its basic form, it would be put A over B, but in it's usual more complex form its treat A a dozen times, add it to C, mix it with H, link it to M, animate it by F which was treated by G a dozen times and then over B, and B has a few dozen treatments of its own.

Below is a screenshot of my project script from a shot I composited from Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (click on image to view it big)

Each of the nodes in 'red' represent an image or sequence of images, treatements are below them, then they find there way over or under one another, until we reach the bottom of the tree for the end result. To add complexity, I have below another script that created just one of those 'red' image nodes above:

So what does all that mess of spaghetti nodes and noodles create? - below is the final shot created from those scripts above. A over B right?

[shot za12 - Starship Troopers 2: - 2004] (2.5mb Quicktime)

The shot above was created using a number of the source images talked about above, including: the live action plate of troopers running toward the base of the outpost. That was built on a sound stage. The top of the outpost is miniature photography shot on stage. The storm building and rising, was created entirley from a 3' diameter cotton roller shot on stage at different speeds and angles. The crash of the storm was created using impact dust elements and cloud tank elements. The rest is 2D photographic dust elements used many, many times, I also did some hand drawn lightning arcs and hand animated internal lightning patches in the storm.

"weeks, and weeks of work, FOR SECONDS, of on-screen entertainment."
-Eric Leven
Visual Effects Supervisor
Tippett Studio


Posted by dschnee at January 11, 2005 8:30 AM