Digital Compositing 1

Course MD609 | Sebastian Kraft

Effective digital compositing is critical in almost all visual effects work'' - Eric Roth, Executive Director, VES


Group 2: Mondays 2nd slot

Group 1: Thursdays 1st slot


Last updated 14.06.2011

The optional Speeches are also delayed to the 20.06.2011 - 4rd Slot after the exam.

There is a final date for the test - approved by the head of examination: Monday, 20. June 2011, 3rd Slot: 12 am. The CS labs is C3.225. Be on time as the test will start on time.

Mdropbox stays OFFLINE. Please hand in your work personal to me, or sent it to GUC-mail.

The Final Assignment and can be handed in until 13.06.2011 before 2pm.(Details for the Assignment on the bottom of the page).

Course Definition:

Since the first steps of cinema filmmakers have been searching for various optical and technical solutions to be able to visualize their imagination on screen. The combining of independent pictures-sequences to one never before seen composite turned out to be an art of sublime. Today a huge digital toolset enables the creator to control the visual appearance of the movies. The course will focus on the technical fundamentals and practical solutions of compositing.

Learning Outcome, Competences:

  • Standard technical background knowledge in the field of digital compositing.
  • Knowledge of various image manipulation processes.
  • Understanding the basics for three dimensional spaces for composting and visualization.
  • Theory and Practice of Color-screen Lighting and Keying
  • Using the toolset of Adobe After Effects to automate and enhance production-workflows.

Keywords: Postproduction, Compositing, Keying and Tracking, Animation for Postproduction.

Digital Compositing

1 Week 1 Intro and Secondary Color Correction Secondary Color Correction Intro T.A.of D.C.: Chapter3: p53-60; p81-90
2 Week 2 "How to think digital":Characteristics of Digital File Types Secondary Color Correction in Practice/Reviewing relevant topics of T.A.of D.C./"All about me" - References videos for the final practical assignment.
Andrew Devis: Animation a Camera 1-3 (Creative Cow Podcasts) T.A.of D.C.: Chapter4: Color Manipulations: p 93-103; Geometric Transformations: p125-138; Chapter 14: 3D Compositing: p428-435; Assignment to be handed in next week: "Girl" shot:Keying, Masking and Secondary ColorCorrection, new Background (Minimum time range:the first 47 frames of the shot)
3 Week 3 “Real volume vs. stacking”: Characteristics and Possibilities of 3D Layers, Cameras, Light and Shadows 3d Space in After Effects in Practice/Reviewing relevant topics of T.A.of D.C. 2 Video Tutorials on "HP-Hands" (see weekly online resources further down. Assignment to be handed in next week: GUC Credits: Convenient (scrolling) text for Mediadesign Credits (optional: defined in 3d space).

Text Reference:

4 Week 4 "Green Environments": The technical backgrounds of Colorkeying Final Project: Concept and Layouts, Practice of working with 3d cameras. T.A.of D.C.: Chapter 5- Basic Image Compositing: p 149-171 (22pages). Keylight Manual - Basic Keying:page 17-21. Review the last weeks texts(!)
5 Week 5 "Mix it": Compositing Layer Techniques: Blending and Isolating Advanced Keying Approaches/ Transfer Modes in Practice Keylight Manual - Advanced Keying:p 23-48; T.A.of D.C.: Chapter 6 - Procedural Matte Creation: p 206-221
6 Week 6 Round-up of first semester half, Explanations of Depth Channels; Working with Multi Pass Renderings
7 Week 7 ACTIVITY WEEK --- No Teaching activities --- --- No Homework ---
8 Week 8 Alpha Channels in Depth: "Pre-multiplication" and "Straight Alphas" TOPIC DELAYED, due to business trip
9 Week 9 “Sim-World AE:” Possibilities of Simulations and Rendering Effects // Alphas ... Distinctions between generators and simulations. T.A.of D.C.: Chapter 8, plus Chapter about Alpha Channels.
10 Week 10 "Do it again:" Preset Development in AE: The Possibilites of FFX Presets // “Do it fast”: Automation through scripting in AE Old Movie Animation Preset // 10 sec Particle Animation (Projectfile and Rendering).
11 Week 11 Semester Round-up(!) + "HDRI" – or how to beat the contrast of an Eye": HDRI Creation and Tone Mapping. Review on bit depths "FOV": T.A.of D.C.: Chapter3, p60-80 on HDRI
12 Week 12 Final TEST on Digital Compositing (Monday, 06.06.2011)


T.A.of D.C.: = The Art and Science of Digital Compositing


  • Ron Brinkman: The Art and Science of Digital Compositing, Second Edition: Techniques for Visual Effects, Animation and Motion Graphics, 2008 (Morgan Kaufmann)
  • Jeffery A. Okun, Susan Zwerman: The VES Handbook of Visual Effects: Industry Standard VFX Practices and Procedures, 2010 (Focal Press)
  • Mark Christiansen, Adobe After Effects CS5 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques, 2010 (Adobe Press)
  • Tim Dobbert, Matchmoving, The Invisible Art of Camera Tracking, Sybex 2005

Additional Online References:

Week 1

Synthetic Aperture: Color Correction Basics

Synthetic Aperture: Color Correction Resources

Andrew Kramer on Audio to Video Techniques

Week 2

Secondary Color Correction in After Effects

Creative Cow: Andrew Devis explaining Secondary Color Correction

Masking and Animating Masks - Eran Stern: "The Pen Tool"

Week 3

Andrew Devis: Animation a Camera 1-3 (defined as homework in the second week)

Additional Information for Chroma-sub-sampling:

Week 4

Making of HP Hands on Youtube

Week 5

The Practice of Chroma-Keying

Week 6:

Abode After Effects Blending Modes Reference:

Color in Detail:

Wikipedia on Color Theory:

Week 9:

References to Alpha Channels:

Digitalartform on AlphaChannels:

PS - Tutorial:

AS - Video-tutorial (focus on the first 10min):

Wikipedia on Alpha-Compositing:

References to Simulation approaches // particle-sytems:

Week 10:

Scripting in After Effects by Jesse Toula:

"Expression Scripting":


In order to support students who still feel not comfortable in After Effects there will be an additional day, focusing once more on the basics:

Review the following tutorials ahead of the meeting:

The Pen Tool

Nesting and Pre-composing in After Effects 1+2

Bleach Bypass Effects


Primary Color Correction in After Effects

Motion Stabilizing

Deadlines for Assignments:

Assignments have to be handed in to the following date:

     Assignment No. 1:  The "Girl" Shot -        08.04.2011
     Assignment No. 2:  Mediadesign Credits - 08.04.2011
     Assignment No. 3:  Storyboard/Scribble for Chroma-Shooting - 08.04.2011
      Assignment No. 4:  "Old Movie Preset.  ffx File  -   02.06.2011 
      Assignment No. 5:  "Particle Simulations" - 10sec  13.06.2011(optional Assignment) 

Final Part 1: VFX Short -"All about me" - 13.06.2011

Final Part 2: Theoretical Test: Both Groups on Thursday, 15.06.2011

Assignments can be handed in one week late with the a deduction of 25%. No further delays are possible(no exceptions).

Dropbox is offline !(Please drop the assignments on the mdropbox.)

Local login to hand in your assignments: (no web login (!))

User: guc / password: guc

Alternative Login on Mac: ->go->Connect to Server->> "User: guc / password: guc"

Grade Evaluation:

1. 40% Combined grade including all weekly assignments in the semester.

     Assignment No. 1:  The "Girl" Shot (Assignment of week 2)
     Assignment No. 2:  Scrolling text for Mediadesign Credits (Assignment of week 3)
     Assignment No. 3:  Storyboard/ Scribble for Chroma-Shooting(Assignment of week 4)
      Assignment No. 4:  "Old Movie Preset.  (zipped  .ffx file)
      Assignment No. 5:  "Particle Simulations" (rendering and after effects project).

Final: "All about me": Length: 30 - 60sec. (rendered movie and after effects project, including all footage files).

2. 30% Final A: VFX Music Short: "All about me"

3. 30% Final B: Theoretical test on Digital Compositing

4. Special bonus on an optional speech on one "vfx-movie"

Regulations for assignments:

All assignments have to be given in the following manner:
1. one .Zip File max. 30MB. (If too big - sources have to be reduced)
2. The .Zip File has to be named in the following manner:""
xx for the assignment number.
3. All sources and project-files have to be contained
4. All projects need to be managed via "collect files" into one folder before saving.