Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Compositor's Eyes...

Hello LayerCake/Studio Magic friends! I hope everyone here is excited about the image making possibilities that await as we anticipate the arrival of the new Studio Magic II panel. But while we're waiting, I want to share some essential information that you can put to use right away in your compositing creations. So before we arm you with the most powerful one-stop-shop compositing tool on the planet, let's get to SEEING like a pro compositor.

Now let me start by assuring you that regardless of your level of artistry, anyone can understand and apply the principles I'm about to share with you to a meaningful degree. This applies whether you're doing a complex project that uses lots of different images or just as simple as a portrait placed onto a new background. Let's dive right in and starting examining the different things that help make more realistic and compelling images.

Whether you start your project with a background or the subject, you MUST take inventory of the following qualities they have in order to make any additional images/elements blend as seamlessly as possible with them. So, in no particular order (insert drum roll here) we have: 
  • Direction of light (and shadows)
  • Perspective (angle of view)
  • Size/scale (correct proportions)
  • Color - saturation & color cast (cool or warm)
  • Contrast (strength of lights and darks)
  • Focus (just what you think it means)
  • Detail & Sharpness 
Now, you may be thinking, "Hmmm, that's looking like my grocery list there, mister"... Well most are what you think they are and we'll still go over each of them in detail in future articles. One thing is for sure, if something doesn't look like it fits, it's most likely because there's a contradiction between the subject and its environment in one or more of these areas. All those weird, suspicious heads plastered on celebrities' bodies on tabloid magazine covers comes to mind :)

It's always ideal if the images we bring into our project (whether a portrait, background or some other element) match in all the ways listed above. But that's rarely possible. Then what do we do? We arm ourselves with the compositor's knowledge from our list then bridge the gap in the differences using the Studio Magic pro panel and the soon-to-be-released Studio Magic II panel. Think of them as the "Dynamic Duo" of compositing.

So, your mission, if you choose to accept it? Hang with me and you'll learn how to make more realistic compositing choices that help "sell the illusion" better. By using good compositing principles and mastering the tools, you'll bring all your elements more in line with each other so they play nicely together... like one seamless image. Interested? Then stay tuned!