MPC Dossier: tips for photorealism
Making Composites more convincing
- Examine the plate and carefully look at what’s in focus and what isn’t. Match the focus and depth of field to any element you are adding.
- Gaussian blur is a particular popular filter that you’ll find in VFX software. Avoid using gaussian blurs to simulate an ‘out of focus’ effect, if you can. The pixel averaging method of a Gaussian blur will tend to flatten your image’s highlights too much.
- Take up photography! Having a good understanding of lenses, exposure and depth of field really helps. At MPC we regularly run practical lens and camera workshops for both compositors and animators. They’ll never need to take pictures, but the more they know about how types of camera can subtly alter the image, the better their work is.
- Try to make sure that the darkest shadow/black levels and the whitest highlights in any element you add are the same as the background plate. You can check this by taking the Expose/gain/brightness or gamma up on the entire image to check that the blacks are matched, or down to check your highlights.
- Avoid ‘choking your matte’ (alpha channel). It’s tempting to shrink your matte a little whilst keying to get rid of problematic edges or nasty ‘spill’. It’s better to solve this with careful colour manipulation or ‘despill’ on the edges.
- Think about how cameras show us the world. For instance, if you put a very bright object into a photo that was very dark, the bright object will ‘blow out’ – we lose details in the brighter areas. Conversely, if you were to expose your camera to see detail in the bright object, you won’t see any detail in the background – it’ll look too dark. So, your images will look more realistic if you can mimic this kind of camera property in your work. But don’t overdo it. Trust your eyes!
Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers
Our purpose is to transform access to education.
We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.
We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.