June 23, 2010

Nice Rack Focus Experiment

Andrew Kramer added a nice tutorial tidbit, Nice Rack Focus Experiment:

"In a recent tutorial Animating a Still, we used tracking data from a real hand-held camera to give our still image a natural look, as opposed to using a mathematical expression like the wiggle. This gave our footage a natural organic look that would be difficult to achieve with expressions.

Then I thought I would try a similar experiment utilizing a real optical rack focus. So I filmed a dark square while performing a real rack focus to see if I could extract the information inside of after effects to use with a 3D camera."

The Video Copilot community offered several alternatives in Comments to Andrew's post. Also, Maltaannon tweeted that it would be simpler with his CE PixelSampler -- if you have the time to install and explore it. Maltaannon leverages the sampleImage expression;
it doesn't give you the read out on the screen, but it does return the color value, so you can link it to a text layer.

[update: on the AE-List David Torno explains why there may be problems with "Custom Effects" in CS5, "Maltaannon builds his Custom Effects usually involves a psuedo plugin via the "preseteffects.xml" file, like how I did my Handheld Camera script. I found out when trying to update my script that Adobe changed how those plugins are referenced in CS5. So the code syntax needs to be updated. I gave him a heads up when I found this, not sure if he's seen that yet or not though. It is fixable manually if you feel like diving into the code, but it's not for the faint of heart. "]

For more on
sampleImage, see posts by Dan Ebberts, by Todd Kopriva, sampleImage() is fun and More fun with sampleImage(): Ascii animation in After Effects from Creative Workflow Hacks, and info in Creating Motion Graphics (4th edition, Bonus Chapter 35B, page 48 under Sampling Colors; in CMG 5, it's in chapter 37B, page 49).

Update: for more on rack focus and blurs, see After Effects Rack Focus: tutorial and preset, and other posts tagged focus and blur.

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