Dabbling in 2.5D

Furthering my AfterEffects compositing skills, I decided to take another DigitalTutors tutorial where the project involves taking a simple 2D image, and editing it to make it look as if it were animated.  I figured this tutorial would help me greatly with the game trailer project I am currently working on and add a touch of my own spice to the final product.

outdoorsceneSurprisingly there wasn’t much to it.  The fundamental principal you need to get right with this type of project it seems is choosing the right image.  You need an image that has numerous layers of depth or in other words, a background, a foreground and one or more middle grounds.  Like the image on the right for example.

With the appropriate image I then masked out the various sections of the image by depth.  Each mask had a feather on it to make it blend into the next layer and also changed their ‘Z’ positions to create a little depth which prepared the image for animating the camera.  Animating the camera was a bit tedious as a result of micro adjusting all the layers to get their perspective just right for the camera movement.  But once this was done correctly, the scene looked amazingly different, certainly not the plain 2D image anymore.

With the camera animated I added some simple effects to blend the layers into each other a little bit more and also add more depth.  So the mountainous layers gained a small amount of particles to provide a slight haze to them, and then I used the ‘Liquify’ effect to animate the water giving the illusion that it was real-time.  And then to finish the scene off I added some filter flare ghosting and a slight lens flare to give it that final pop.

Overall it was a fairly simple project that is easy to remember.  The numerous and multiple effects that you can achieve with compositing seems to be the most ambigous aspect of the procedure.  A lot of these effects are hidden within submenus, and also have their own special behaviors that only an experienced compositor can squeeze out.  Like the ‘Modifier List’ in 3DS Max I think this is something that will simply come with time.



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