Digital Compositing 1

Course MD609 | Sebastian Kraft

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

Last updated 24.05.2014


Group 1 Tutorial: Wednesdays 8.30 am

Group 2 Tutorial: Wednesdays 10.00 am


On the upcoming Wednesday, 28th of May, there will be an additional greenscreen shoot in the first 2 slots (8.30-12am)

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.

Grade evaluation and deadlines.

1. 30% Combined grade on the following assignments in the semester:

     Assignment No. 1: Motion graphics: Animated logo development ("My Initials") - Deadline:  04.05.2014-10.05.2014

     Alternative Assignment No. 1: "GreenScreen Lightpaint" - Animation bumper / "Filler" - Composite.

Deadline: 04.05.2014-10.05.2014 - This assignment can be done alternatively to the normal assignment No.1

2. Preproduction presentation for the final project: 30.4.2013 8.30am-12.30am 20%

3. Final Project: 50%: 4.6.2014.

Project Details:

1. Semester Assignments:

Assignment No. 1: Motion Graphics: "Animated Logo Development" with your initials or GUC Logo.

Visual content: Appealing movement of typefont.


10-20 Sec of animation.
Length: 10-15 seconds
Sound(-FX) is appreciated.

Technical: Resolution: 1080p Container-format: Quicktime - Compression: h264.

Assignment No. 2: "GreenScreen Lightpaint"

Visual content: Lightpainting with hand or body in front of the camera. Movement of virtual elements triggered by your hand movement which transform subsequently into a claim of your choice. Added virtual background to replace the original Greenscreen color.


Length: 10-20 seconds
Can be considered to be a test for the final project.
Sound(-FX) is appreciated.

Technical: Resolution: 1080p Container Format: Quicktime - Compression: h264.

2. Final Project Preproduction Presentation: 07.05.2014 The presentation should focusing on storyboard, animatic and visual style definition: Max. 4-5 minutes presentation length.

3. Final Project: 50% "All about me": Length: 30 - 60sec. (rendered movie and after effects project, including all footage files).

This project will be presented on the 4.6.2014(graded presentation).

Including project development and presentation.
Concept and Storyboard have to be presented one month earlier- on the 4.5.2014.

The presentation should be short and crisp: 4-5 minutes presentation length.

Regulations for assignments:

All assignments have to be given in the following manner:
1. one .Zip File max. 200MB. (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. 5. Please Submit the file on the Dropbox // ( If you need an invitation contact the Lecturer or TA).

Digital Compositing

1 Week 1 - 26.02.2014 Compositing lecture - intro - resolution: history and future Introduction Assignment: Start of concept development for the final Project including storyboard + idea.
2 Week 2 - 5.3.2014 Compositing lecture. QuickTutorials: Chroma-Keying, Manual Masking, Rotopainting

Keylight // Style: simple Line growth.

Conecpt Dev - for GUC Logo Animation
3 Week 3 - 12.3.2014 Compositing Lecture QuickTutorials: Color-correction (Color Finesse) grading, enhanced Growth tutorials with particle effects. Greenscreen-Shooting preparation
4 Week 4 - 19.3.2014 Green-screen shooting - C3 -101/102 -> Greenscreen room Booth Groups have to Attend at 8.30am
5 Week 5 - 26.3.2014 Compositing lecture - color spaces and chroma subsampling. Quicktutorials: Working in AE 3d space. Assignment: Further Development of Final Project. 12 images of Storyboard and/or Animatic.
6 Week 6 - 2.4.2014 "All about me" project development in Depth. Assignment: Develop turning logo with your initals (A)
7 Week 7 Lecture on "Color Depth", RAW and HDRI. Working with Camera Raw. Assignment: Develop turning logo with your initals (B)
8 Week 8 - 16.4.2014 Assignments updates // Working in 3D Space // Performance oriented workflow. "RGB 3D-cubes" Assignment: Further Development of Final Project. Development of Animatic and/or video recordings.
9 Week 9 - 23.4. 2014 Project supervision for the final. --- Preparation: "Final Preproduction Presentation" slides. (Prepare for a 5 minute presentation).
10 Week 10 - 30.4.2014 + 4.4.2014 Final Concept Presentation
11 Week 11 - 7.5.2014 Second Greenscreen-shooting
12 Week 12 - 14.5.2014 Third Greenscreen-shooting
13 Week 13 - 21.5.2014 Automation // Working with ffx.
14 Week 14 - 28.5.2014 Round-up
15 Week 15 - 04.06.2014 Final Exam Deadline and Presentation Final Exam Deadline and Presentation Final Exam Deadline and Presentation


  • 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

Making of HP Hands on Youtube

Week 2

The Practice of Chroma-Keying on Set:

Week 3

Adobe TV:

Synthetic Aperture: Color Correction Basics

Synthetic Aperture: Color Correction Resources

Secondary Color Correction in After Effects

Creative Cow: Andrew Devis explaining Secondary Color Correction

Andrew Kramer on Audio to Video Techniques

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

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

Additional Information for Chroma-sub-sampling:

Abode After Effects Blending Modes Reference:

Color in Detail:

Wikipedia on Color Theory:

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:

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