For a small video project, I wanted to take something from a video game an emulate it coming out of the screen into real life.
I researched some popular side scroller video characters such as Mario from Super Mario and wonder boy, but settled on Simon, from the video game Castlevania for NES. A 8 bit character would be easy to integrate into any background and faster to render.
I found some good reference pictures/Gifs of Simon walking, jumping and using his basic whip attack
I also took some other footage for the background. One steady shot of the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles, California, which was some copyright free footage; found online; and then some footage of my classroom taken from my chair (lazy, I know) on my phone. I will use these two scenes to integrate Simon into and, hopefully try to sell the illusion that he’s jumped out of his game and into real life. Remember in blues clues, when Steve (or Allen) would have to jump in or out of the paintings to follow blue around? That’s kinda what I was going for.
Anyways, I first created Simon walking through the Dolby theatre footage in after effects. Doing this was pretty straight forward. I cut Simon out of the background he came in and slapped him on top of the Dolby theatre footage (I will refer to it from now on as DT footage). I then copied the DT footage and pasted one of them on top of Simon. This is so I could cut out some of the objects in the DT footage and place them in front of Simon, blending him in with the background with cars and buses moving around in front of him. Didn’t take too much time or effort to do this and the end result looked good enough. It’s only the set up shot so I didn’t put too much time into it as the end result only equated to about two and a half seconds.
Originally I had a video taken from my phone of my desk with a green-screen background on the computer. I was originally going to take the footage I had and plaster it onto this green screen, but realized that it would overcomplicate things, waste more time and effort than its worth, and aesthetically look fake. I instead decided to re take the footage except with the rendered video playing on my screen already. this turned out to work relatively well and so that’s what I used moving forward.
I used, for the most part, the same method for integrating Simon into this footage as I did the last one, except with a couple of work arounds.
- Because this was real footage I took myself, the camera is shakey and has a bit of a pan throughout the video. In order to keep Simon planted on the desk as he walked across it, I used a camera tracker which took points from around the environment to track so that he would stick to the surface I put him on. This also gave it a sort of AR (Augmented Reality) feel and the end result came out surprisingly well.
- I also gave him a shadow as he landed on the desk. This was done by duplicating the composition and flipping it on the x axis, using a fill to colour the whole of Simon black Adding a pretty beefy blur effect (Gaussian blur) and then finally decreasing the opacity so you could see through it. This added a feeling that Simon was truly in reality, being effected by a light source.
If I could I would make a few changes.
- I would use the green screen footage and see what result I would get using the other method
- I would change the shadow to stick on the desk better and make it more realistic
- I would also add a few adjustment layers and effects to really make Simon pop.
All in all it was fun to do this little project, but I now have a better understanding of people in the industry that do cgi. You always want more time to perfect things, and that’s really all that good cgi boils down to.