Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Apple Motion Tutorial: The Smoking Ghost

For me, photography is about continuous learning. If you learn all the time, you will become very good at what you do.

Because you are always pushing the edges, you will also do a lot of things you are not good at. With practice, you will get better, and eventually, you will be good enough to integrate the new thing into your arsenal of techniques and methods.

The video above is my first attempt to create a ghost by shaping smoke into the outline of a human head. The smoke is a computer generated particle animation. I composited the original head onto the smoke.

I used Apple's Motion, a very capable VFX application, to create the animation. To bend the smoke, I drew several bezier curves tracing the outlines of the head. I used basic smoke emitters, one for each bezier curve. To make the smoke bend along the curve, I set the Shape parameter in the Emitter tab to Geometry. I then dropped a bezier curve into the Geometry well in the tab.

I did a lot of other things. For example I turned the photo into a black and white sketch using Pixelmator. In Motion, I played around with blend modes, behaviors, and bump mapping, before I found a way to create the effect I wanted.

At this point, I can move forward in several different ways. For example, I can experiment with the same technique, but at much higher resolution, to create special effects in photos. Or, I could work with video, and use Motion Behaviors to attach the smoke shapes to a human body.

No matter which way I go, I will learn something useful, and have fun.