Post-production - Selective Work in Fusion
The first step of the post-production was accomplished in Eyeon Fusion. The idea of this step was to match the contrast and colors for all objects to roughly one level, so the picture got a uniform impression (one example: the chrome objects were way too bright and had no contrast).
Usually we just render out masks for special parts like the ground, ceiling or couch, but this project was supposed to be a test balloon. First we tried to have masks created by object IDs from the G-Buffer of the EXR file in combination with the coverage channel. It is a good possibility because you are able to select the objects in Fusion directly by using the picker. But then we noticed that this way was too tedious because you have to merge the object ID with the coverage channel for every object before plugging that result as a mask into an image processing node like a color corrector. Most of the time it is much faster to just render out and use masks as filtered multimattes.
To have the chance to change color, effect of ambient occlusion, contrast and so forth for every object we decided to render out 16 multimatte elements. Every multimatte can hold masks for three objects, one in each color channel, so we had nearly 48 masks in the end. One the one hand it is beneficial to be able to change every object, but on the other hand it needs quite a lot of time because for color correction, ambient occlusion falloff and maybe reflection you have to set a node for every object. If you have 16 multimattes and make 4 changes for each of them, the result are 64 nodes you have to create and control.
Fig.08 is a screenshot of the final tree in Fusion. Inside the blue rectangle are the beauty pictures and the render elements like reflection, refraction, AO and falloff, which were loaded to form the start of the composition. In the red rectangle are the loaders of all multimattes and the green one holds the color correction nodes of all objects. The blueish green rectangle summarizes the additional reflections for some objects and the purple one is for the color corrections that use the falloff element as their mask. In the area of the white rectangle are the settings for the ambient occlusion effect for the separate objects. This is much better than just multiplying the ambient occlusion over the whole picture, because some parts may need it more than others. You have to use the ambient occlusion effect with caution, because overdoing it can result in an unrealistically dirty and dark picture. The black rectangle is the last one and holds the nodes for saving the final pictures. This tree looks pretty big, but only because we used so many masks. It was a good experience to have the possibility to change almost every single object, but it isn't essential for creating a good picture.
Fig.09 shows a comparison of the room before and after using Fusion. The difference is just subtle, but it is now possible to set the look from completely cloudy to sunny day without new rendering, just by using the lighting and global illumination render elements.
Corrections of the Whole Image in After Effects
The second and most intensive part happened in After Effects with the plugins Magic Bullet Looks and Frischluft Lenscare. It was primarily in this stage of the project that we set the final look of the visualization.
With Looks it is possible to bring the picture to a high end color finish by using exposure, gradient, glows, vignettation, color curves, saturation and a lot more features in a very natural and fun way. By using the tools in different areas like subject, matte, lens, camera and post you can reach different results in minutes. A big plus of Looks is the presets, which help to quickly try some rough concepts before working everything out in detail.
For this project we used a lot of spot exposure to light, shade or color different areas of the picture (e.g., we set the wall to a cool blue color and the floor to a warm yellowish orange one).
Additionally we often used a gradient (mostly from top to bottom or from corner to corner) to set the focus in the picture. A tool that we use at almost every occasion is Glow (Diffusion) to give a stronger, but at the same time softer, sense of the sun's energy. To improve a bit on the realistic look of the picture, we started to include some camera errors like chromatic aberration, vignetting and some edge softness. At the end we set the final look by using a color curve to strengthen the contrast. For this project we also used some color curves to increase the blue colors and decrease the red ones to give the whole image a more specific, movie-like look. Fig.10 shows a composition in Looks.
Fig. 10 - Click to Enlarge
To make a picture more pleasant and interesting, the use of depth of field is a good thing. It helps to guide the viewer's eye through the picture and let it rest on areas you want to emphasize. If you want to show some special part in the background, you can blur the foreground or vice versa.
To reinforce this, you can also play with the brightness and contrast of those areas. Things you want to highlight can be the bright ones in a mostly dark and blurry environment. That helps to make them stand out more.
For the depth of field effect we used the plugin Lenscare by Frischluft. Lenscare is one of the best tools for this kind of effect. You can set the sharp and blurred areas by using the ZDepth render element and adjust the intensity primarily in the post and almost in real-time. It helps to save a huge amount of render time and makes experimenting way more fun.
It gets a bit complicated when you've got transparent layers inside of your image. We accidentally ran into that problem because of our transparent balustrade around the balcony. The glass was active in the ZDepth layer and thus we were not really able to create a convincing blur for the areas of the background that were occluded by the glass. Fortunately, this mistake is not very noticeable and we will definitely keep that in mind for later productions.
You can have a look at our settings and the result of Lenscare for one of our pictures in Fig.11.
Fig. 11 - Click to Enlarge
Fig.12 shows a comparison of the room at late noon before and after using Looks and Lenscare.
Fig.13 shows a comparison of the room in the evening without artificial lighting before and after using Looks and Lenscare.
Fig.14 shows a comparison of the room in the evening with artificial lighting before and after using Looks and Lenscare.
This is the end of the project overview for the apartment and it was a pleasure for us to show you a bit of our workflow. We hope you had fun while reading the text and looking at the pictures. To see more of our projects, visit our website: http://www.lefx.de/referenzen/
or have a look at our blog:http://www.lefx.de/blog/
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