Creative Communities of the World Forums

The peer to peer support community for media production professionals.

Activity Forums Adobe After Effects Watercolor / live action

  • Watercolor / live action

  • Jeremy Allen

    November 7, 2008 at 5:05 am

    I’ve been thinking of doing something like the video below for ages.. My girlfriend does watercolor and I would love to incorporate some of her work into mine. My main question is about how to get the hand drawn / watercolor look onto the talent. Do you think this was a frame by frame job, or some proprietary technique for filtering all the footage? I’ve seen alot of the tutorials for the “cartoon” look, but this is obviously more sophisticated and custom than some stock effects.

    Any advice on this process would be greatly appreciated.

  • scott novasic

    November 7, 2008 at 6:19 am

    this effect imho, has a multitude of techniques going on in it from how I see it. I watched it a number of times and frame by framed it.
    certain things, like the car itself, seem like they were matted out and compositied into the scene. A lot of the background elements like rock mountain arrangements seem ‘cut out’ then treated, then composited back in to the scene. The watercolor effect itself will usually create
    some ‘chattering’ effect to some degree. to overcome this or minimize this, it makes sense to either matte out an area or cutout\create a treated element and composite it back in. That element will not chatter at all. Given most of the angles used in the video it can be done pretty convincingly. If you matte out an image with motion, this allows you to customize your effect settings ONLY for that element. Which helps a lot, – in a scene, one effects setting may work fine for, say, the car. But be horrible on something a lot busier like the rocks.
    The whole video seems to have a ‘dirty film’ effect applied on top of it which is a great way to integrate all the different composited elements and make them feel ‘as one’ The watercolor itself is tricky, Sapphire has some very good paint plugs, fx factory has a pretty good watercolor plug in. And toon it is very good but expensive. The best new thing Ive seen for this is pretty exciting, AND its INCLUDED in the NEW AFTER EFFECTS CS4. I saw a demo of it here in LA at our mograph user group meeting. Its pretty amazing.
    All in all, it is not an easy look to pull off, dissecting a spot is easier than assembling one.

    Animation & Visual Effects
    Scott Novasic
    Los Angeles Ca

  • Mark Suszko

    November 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve always liked this effect. But as with everything in this business, the software only takes you so far: you still need artistic skill to make it really work.

    That said, I think the example was done with a variety of techniques. The back plates and some alpha overlays really are watercolors. The girl and the car are rotoscoped and then you have some choices in what to do.

    One is to hand-trace each frame and apply photoshop filters like this one, called BuZZ:

    but it looks like that company is out of biz for a while. A google search will find you some tutorials on how to apply various photoshop filters as an action to stacks of frames in a folder automatically and get *close*. I did something like that on a project two years ago, it was murder until I learned how to record actions and apply them to folders of stills, then what previously took me three days cranked out in four minutes.

    There is another product out there I tried, and you and your girlfriend might like it, when used in combination with a wacom tablet. Its called Synthetik Studio Artist.

    And it will apply these kinds of effects to movie files for you, manually or in automated fashion. Its not quite the same as Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” or “Thru a Scanner, Darkly”, (which you should research for more software clues) but you can come pretty close, and the interactive application using a wacom tablet lets you vary the effects and restrict them organically to just the areas you want. I found this to be very fun to play with, and you get to mix styles like pencil, chalk, and charcoal with watercolor and oils and acrylics. Makes stupendous looking stills, the trick is getting those stills into smooth looking motion.

    I think a combination of photoshop actions and the Synthetik Studio Artist application can get very close to what the artist did in the example video, but I think in the example they really spent time to roto all the frames and then apply their effects in a compositor like AE or Combustion. That’s my guess, anyway. My experience doing this on my own project was that you want to prepare the footage first by blowing out all but the most basic detail using level controls and also reducing the frame rate and then blending or morphing the frames to get back to the right speed but eliminate much of the flicker and chatter you’d get otherwise. Also shoot the raw footage with as sparse a composition as possible, with high dynamic range, and preferably shoot everything on greenscreen so you can easily isolate elements and avoid roto as much as possible.

    I like this efects when it is more rough, the Charles Shwab spots that emulate this technique just creep me out.

  • Jeremy Allen

    November 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for your reply Scott. I’ll check out the plugins you mentioned.

    Believe it or not, I was actually able to get in touch with the artist who did the watercolors and she gave me a bit of advice on how it was done. You were right, there are several techniques involved.

    She painted all the foreground, midground and background elements separately which were then composited together. As for the talent, she painted several “key” frames from the video stills, and then a professional animator (actually 3 of them) rotoscoped the rest. I’m guessing the animator just did the line work, and they added the watercolor textures in post.

    I figured the quality they achieved had to be done by rotoscoping. I bet a professional animator could knock this out in no time, but I’m afraid it would take me forever! Time to brush up on the ol’ wacom I guess 🙂

    If anyone has any advice on rotoscoping something like this I’m all ears!

    8core MacPro, 3.0 GHZ, 10GB RAM, OSX 10.5.2
    DualCore G5 2.0 GHZ, 2GB RAM, OSX 10.4.11

    AE CS3

  • Jeremy Allen

    November 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    And thanks to you mark!

    I agree, the Charles Schwab stuff is a bit too smooth for my taste. I really like the more organic, hand drawn feeling that this video produces.

    I think what also grabs me about this piece is the textures. I’ve always been big on texture and I think this example is quite nice.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, especially the advice on blowing out the footage to the essential details.

    As far as reducing the frame rate, how would you get it back to a speed that would sync with the audio? I guess you could undercrank when shooting which would produce faster motion, then reducing the frame rate would get closer to real-time?

    I guess ultimately this is going to take a lot of trial and error.

    Thanks again for the tips.

    8core MacPro, 3.0 GHZ, 10GB RAM, OSX 10.5.2
    DualCore G5 2.0 GHZ, 2GB RAM, OSX 10.4.11

    AE CS3

  • Mark Suszko

    November 7, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    For the frame rate, you could first treat the base video using a shuttter type video filter effect to get it to “stutter” a little. When all the frames have been treated and your result is a frame movie or a file of say, sequential targas, then use a playback speed increase, morphing, frame blending, or apply dissolves between all the images or something like that, to smooth out the motion. Your lip synch should remain okay. I noticed it was pretty far off towards the end of the sample video, but hey, it looked so great it is forgiveable. Or at least easily correctable.

    I took the time while waiting for a render to search out a few good links to getting the effect done in photoshop, a couple of the links are to actions that are pre-done, you just load them into photoshop, select a folder of sequential images, and let it rip. The others are easy enough to turn into an action: turn on the record action button in PS while you carefully apply the steps and filters of one of these “recipes” to the first image in the stack; when that one’s done, turn off the record function and save that as a custom action of your own. Export video from your NLE timeline as sequential images ( I like targas but others can work too) to a folder. Make sure the frame names have leading zeros, i.e. ig you have a thousand frames, the first frame can’t be called frame 1, it must be named frame 0001, 0002, etc. or your frames will get out of order. Put all those exported fames in one folder, apply the action to the folder, take a coffee break, come back and admire the hard work you did:-)

    Here’s the links, as of today they work, over time some may drop out, but be sure to compare the relative results of each.

    Awesome actions to apply to an image stack:

  • Jeremy Allen

    November 7, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Thank you x100!

    This is a great resource and surely these actions will get me going in the right direction, if nothing more than giving me a good idea of the possibilities.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help a perfect stranger.. The Cow RULES!

    8core MacPro, 3.0 GHZ, 10GB RAM, OSX 10.5.2
    DualCore G5 2.0 GHZ, 2GB RAM, OSX 10.4.11

    AE CS3

  • Chris Wright

    November 10, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    This has painting, watercolor and is free. very editable interface.

Viewing 1 - 8 of 8 posts

Log in to reply.

We use anonymous cookies to give you the best experience we can.
Our Privacy policy | GDPR Policy