Tuesday, February 3, 2009
This is the palace I was working on way back when. I eventually got around to finishing the sides, then moved the whole Photoshop doc into After Effects, where I realized 30 layers rendering simultaneously at print-quality scale would be a slight problem. So I went back into Photoshop and made a lower-res copy and consolidated and combined layers.
Back in After Effects, I set all of the layers as 3D and set about painstakingly arranging the layers along the z-axis and positioning the camera in a way that created the illusion of 3D as it moved in closer.
For the sky, I first tried using some time-lapse footage left over from my 300-level film, but the effect was a little too intensely surreal. So instead I found a high-res sky image on google image search and placed it in the After Effects composition, made it 3D, made it HUGE, tilted it forward at a 45 degree angle, and moved it quite a ways back behind the other 3D layers. I had it move a few dozen pixels to one side to simulate movement of clouds, and I'm actually very impressed at how well the illusion comes across.
The river water also surprised me with how believable it ended up looking. I don't have any footage of running water, so I found a high-res image of an ocean, cropped it, stretched it, and played with the levels until the contrast was ideal. Then I took it into After Effects, in a separate composition, and duplicated it twice. The second one I flipped horizontally and the third I flipped vertically. I offset them by a few dozen pixels, gave them all a right to left motion path, gave each motion path some "wiggle" (randomized movement) between their start and finish, and played with their opacity along the timeline so that only one layer was fully opaque at any given point.
(I'm not sure any of this explanation makes sense without pictures, so that might be a future update.)
Anyway this was my first time messing with 3D in over a year, and I forgot how fun it can be.