Jan 11 2013
This is a video I was responsible for producing for Marc Lefebvre, an entrepreneur with his own company, Lefebvre International, that processes credit card transactions for merchants around the world. Marc wanted the final video for his personal blog, where he is teaching entrepreneurs some of the basics required to start their own business. He wrote the script himself and wanted to shoot on a green screen, originally with the goal of placing pictures of himself relaxing on vacation in the background. This plan changed, however, as the video developed.
The video was shot on Clarion University’s in-house green screen. Using their teleprompter system in-studio also allowed for Marc to get a good read while still looking directly at the camera. The hardest part of the shooting was getting him acclimated to reading a teleprompter, something he was not used to. It took a few attempts before we arrived at the final reading that, upon playback, was considered acceptable as a final read-through.
The majority of work on the video was post-production. It quickly became apparent that simply using the pictures in the background (Marc’s original idea), wouldn’t suffice. Enlarging them to fit an HD frame only pixelated them because of their originally small size; the video was also lacking because simple picture changes in the background weren’t very engaging. So the idea of changing the background to something more abstract was put forth, and I began brainstorming ideas.
The background of the video was generated using the transition effect, Card Wipe, in Adobe After Effects. With a touch of CC Cylinder on top to give it it’s direction, it became an interesting background effect. There are many other uses to which this seemingly simple transition can be put. If you want to learn more about different ways to use it, I recommend checking out the tutorials at these links:
Introduction and More Advanced
At the same time I was also working on the intro and outro for the video; the two segments would also be used in future videos Marc would create as short video blogs. He pointed me to several other videos that he wanted to emulate to get started. Taking what he envisioned, I substituted the different bits of media he provided and decided on a gold and black color scheme because it conveyed a very clean look. The swirls in the opening were created using the Trapcode Particular plug-in; I was just getting acclimated with the plug-in’s controls at the time (there are many of them) and thought they added an extra touch of ambience for the background. Attaching a small glowing flare to the front helped decorate it some more.
Animating Marc’s logo was another challenge. Since he could only supply me with a .jpg image, I found a font identical to that of the actual logo, and then recreated the oval shape using the Pen Tool. After that it was just a matter of designing a flare using Optical Flares form Video Copilot and animating it on the mask path, a useful feature offered by the plug-in.
Obviously another big challenge of the video was the opportunity to learn some proper keying techniques using Keylight 1.2. I’d previously tried some keying on test footage I’d shot myself, but the results always came out lackluster at best. This is primarily due to the mistaken rookie mindset of thinking that just clicking with the eyedropper once will instantly deliver a perfect key. This is almost never true, and I’d struggled before trying to make my footage look right. Fortunately this series of tutorials from Andrew Devis (Keying Resources) got me on the right track. I highly recommend any of his videos for learning, as he always does an excellent job teaching a wide variety of topics and has made A LOT of them.
The main tips I can give about keying are to know some of the additional options for refining a key, as Andrew goes over in the tutorial. Beside adjusting the matte’s clip black and white points, there is one big adjustment that just blew me away when I first saw the results: the despill bias dropper. This parameter helps eliminate spill from the green/blue screen caused by the light bouncing those colors back onto your talent. While previously I never noticed this undesirable color cast because I didn’t know to look for it, after seeing the results of a well-calibrated despill bias dropper, I can’t believe that I was so blind. If you’re new to keying and don’t know what I’m referring to, watch the tutorial above. Properly using that one parameter can take your key from average to stellar.
But enough gushing about proper keying techniques. Other than that, the rest of the video was fairly simple to put together, with various over the shoulder graphics and cut-aways to the pictures to help illustrate Marc’s points and make the video more interesting than just a shot of Marc talking for 2 minutes. Overall, Marc was very satisfied with the final product. I learned a lot about combining different effects while I was doing the research to complete this video, combining them in new ways to make something interesting.
It’s one thing to watch a tutorial and recreate an effect and another entirely to learn the concepts behind the tutorial and make something original from them. When everyone starts there’s always a period where they replicate a lot of what they see in tutorials or from instructors. This can be seen in my beginning work as well, even though many people outside the industry wouldn’t know it as a tutorial and be impressed nonetheless; the fact remains that it’s not entirely original. So, as I continue growing and learning, the goal is always to continue improving my core knowledge of how the program works so I can more properly combine the many effects to achieve the results needed. This way I can create my own concepts and execute original designs and ideas about what I want to create, rather than being limited to what others have already made.
Jobs Performed: Camera Operator, Editor, Motion Graphics
Equipment Used: Sony NX5U, Sennheiser Wireless Mic, Teleprompter
Software Used: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop