You are viewing an archive of the old fxhome.com forums. The community has since moved to hitfilm.com.

Compositing: Invisibility & cloaking!

Posted: Tue, 3rd Jun 2008, 3:25pm

Post 1 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

Rating: +7


Introduction

Minimum requirements:
  • 1 greenscreen
  • 1 background video or image
  • 1 actor
  • FXhome CompositeLab Pro or VisionLab Studio

There are many different ways of achieving invisibility effects in movies, from very low tech to extremely high tech. In this tutorial we will be focusing on a particular distortion effect that looks great but is surprisingly easy to achieve. It’s similar to the cloaking system in the film Predator. Here’s an example:

Tarn uses his cloaking phone.

Adobe Flash is required to play this embedded movie. Get Flash now!

Surprisingly, all this involves is a simple greenscreen composite and the use of a single filter, called a ‘displacement map’.

Displacement maps explained

In physics, displacement involves ‘the displacing in space of one mass by another’. This is also a fairly accurate description of what happens in VisionLab Studio when you use the displacement filter.

The layer that you apply the filter to becomes the ‘displacing layer’ and affects all other layers below. The result is that the displacing layer’s form appears in the other layers as a watery effect – as if you were viewing the layers through a waterfall, heat haze or distorted glass.

The Shoot

One thing to bear in mind is that the displacement filter will affect the ENTIRE layer to which is it applied. This can be useful in some instances but most of the time you’ll want it to only affect a specific part of the layer – such as an actor.

The easiest way to isolate an actor from the surroundings is to use a greenscreen. VisionLab Studio can then be used to automatically remove the green, leaving only the actor against a transparent background.


Displacement effects can be quite subtle if there isn’t much movement. For our example, the actor provided a lot of movement so that the effect was easy to see.

The original greenscreen shot.

Adobe Flash is required to play this embedded movie. Get Flash now!

Click here to download a compressed version of the clip.


Unfortunately we can’t distribute the background image, but you can always use an image or video clip of your own choice.

Compositing

This is about as simple as greenscreen compositing gets! A quick auto colour-difference key removes the green and a square garbage matte takes out the surrounding studio, leaving the actor against a transparent background that can be filled in with a video or image of your choice, simply by adding the background clip to the layer below.


A spill suppression grading filter was used to remove green fringing and a light spill filter was applied to help blend the edges.


Depending on the background you may have to do some grading to blend the two layers together. In this example we’ve used a very bright, yellow background and have graded the actor accordingly with a mixture of colour temperature, saturation and ambient light filters. The brightness and contrast was also adjusted to match the background.


Displacement filter

To create the cloaking effect, all you have to do is go to the ‘Composite’ toolset and apply the displacement map filter to the actor layer. The layer itself will vanish, but its shape will still be visible on the layers beneath, which are very literally ‘displaced’.

The displacement filter has various options that you can use to customise the effect. Lower distance settings will result in a subtler effect, while higher distances will create a very distorted composite.

On the left we have a low level of displacement, while on the right the displacement is very strong.

Adobe Flash is required to play this embedded movie. Get Flash now!

Essentially, that’s all there is to it. In this particular example, however, we’re going to go one step further to show the actual cloaking in progress.

Cloak on!

This can be achieved using a variety of techniques, depending on the actual look you’re going for.

The simplest method is to take a copy of the original (composited) greenscreen layer and place it on top of the displacement layer. If you then apply a transparency filter and gradually lower it to zero, the actor will gradually fade away to reveal the displacement effect underneath.

Slightly more complex and time consuming is to use an animated mask, resulting in the cloak gradually moving over the actor’s body. The complexity of mask is entirely up to you and the needs of the shot – it can be as intricate or as simple as required. The mask should be applied to the top layer again, so that as the mask moves round it will reveal the displacement layer beneath.


For the example I created a multi-point freehand mask shape, compressed into a small ball shape, which was then stretched out over time to cover the entire body. The animation was designed to spread down one arm and then out across the torso, before finally covering the head.

Check out the masking video tutorial for more information on the mask toolset.

Extra cool stuff

The displacement map effect can sometimes appear a little grainy and pixellated, which can be somewhat distracting to a viewer. If you want a more fluid, smooth, watery texture try adding a Blur:Gaussian filter to the displacement layer. The default settings also blur the edges of the displacement layer; change the channels menu to ‘RGB’ if you want to retain sharp edges.


In the example project I added an extra grade object to the top layer. A simple ‘glow’ filter was applied to make the cloaking highlight the background in a few places. The glow effect was limited to the cloaking effect by using an object mask. Object mask’s take the transparency information from one object and apply it to the current one – in this case it was linked to the displacement layer, so did not affect any areas of the frame in which the displacement was not visible.


Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Last edited Wed, 4th Jun 2008, 12:32pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 3rd Jun 2008, 4:28pm

Post 2 of 38

FXhomer46845

Force: 1 | Joined: 20th Jan 2008 | Posts: 20

Member

is there any way to do this same effect without a greenscreen?
Posted: Tue, 3rd Jun 2008, 5:30pm

Post 3 of 38

Ste

Force: 762 | Joined: 12th Apr 2004 | Posts: 116

EffectsLab Pro User FXpreset Maker Windows User

Gold Member

FXhomer46845 wrote:

is there any way to do this same effect without a greenscreen?
Yeah, but you would need to mask the person or object out and need a clean plate or static shot to go underneath.

Great tutorial by the way!
Posted: Tue, 3rd Jun 2008, 5:35pm

Post 4 of 38

Fingon

Force: 1622 | Joined: 21st Nov 2006 | Posts: 32

VisionLab User FXhome Movie Maker Windows User

Gold Member

Hi,

You could rotoscope your actor. But this is very time consuming and probably won't look as good as the greenscreen method.

Greetings
Fingon

EDIT: Oh, I was a bit too slow wink
EDIT 2: I can't download the Footage-File. It says "Error 404 File not found."
Posted: Tue, 3rd Jun 2008, 11:36pm

Post 5 of 38

Thrawn

Force: 1995 | Joined: 11th Aug 2006 | Posts: 1962

CompositeLab Pro User EffectsLab Lite User FXhome Movie Maker MacOS User

Gold Member

Thanks for the Tutorial, Tarn. I pretty much knew how to do this, but it's defiantly handy to have a source to refer back to.
Posted: Wed, 4th Jun 2008, 4:09am

Post 6 of 38

TubeTape

Force: 9542 | Joined: 24th May 2007 | Posts: 169

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXpreset Maker Windows User MacOS User

Gold Member

Thanks Tarn! Lot's of folks ask how this is done. Nice job explaining.
Posted: Wed, 4th Jun 2008, 8:08am

Post 7 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

Fingon wrote:

EDIT 2: I can't download the Footage-File. It says "Error 404 File not found."
Oops. It would seem that I forgot to upload that particular file! It's uploading right now, so give it another go.
Posted: Thu, 12th Jun 2008, 11:20am

Post 8 of 38

May the Force be with you

Force: 1412 | Joined: 29th Dec 2007 | Posts: 34

VisionLab User

Gold Member

Great tutorial. I tried it out as soon as I read it. Thank you.
Posted: Sun, 15th Jun 2008, 8:29pm

Post 9 of 38

RyanZ

Force: 389 | Joined: 13th Mar 2008 | Posts: 126

CompositeLab Pro User

Gold Member

forgive me, but this is my first time
i just got Comp lab pro and when i

go to the ‘Composite’ toolset and apply the displacement map filter, it takes the people i have against the green screen and makes them disappear

what am i doing wrong?

thanks
Posted: Sun, 15th Jun 2008, 9:32pm

Post 10 of 38

Axeman

Force: 17995 | Joined: 20th Jan 2002 | Posts: 6124

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker MacOS User

SuperUser

You aren't doing anything wrong. They are supposed to disappear when you apply a displacement map.
Posted: Tue, 24th Jun 2008, 4:47pm

Post 11 of 38

jawajohnny

Force: 1965 | Joined: 14th Dec 2007 | Posts: 829

VisionLab User VideoWrap User MuzzlePlug User Windows User

Gold Member

RyanZ wrote:

forgive me, but this is my first time
i just got Comp lab pro and when i

go to the ‘Composite’ toolset and apply the displacement map filter, it takes the people i have against the green screen and makes them disappear

what am i doing wrong?

thanks
You're not doing anything wrong. The whole point of this tutorial is to make your actors "invisible".
Posted: Wed, 25th Jun 2008, 8:11pm

Post 12 of 38

FXhomer36251

Force: 0 | Joined: 25th Jun 2008 | Posts: 7

Member

i tryed to make a self vanish with a clean layer underneath but when i play it..it trys to make both clips at once and it makes me look like a ghost all see through and stuff

this is effect im trying to accomplish


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xwho-Wb6DI

can anyone please help me out??
Posted: Thu, 26th Jun 2008, 2:32am

Post 13 of 38

Z films

Force: 316 | Joined: 27th Jan 2008 | Posts: 59

EffectsLab Pro User Windows User

Gold Member

Great tutorial tarn!
Posted: Thu, 24th Jul 2008, 9:05pm

Post 14 of 38

RyanZ

Force: 389 | Joined: 13th Mar 2008 | Posts: 126

CompositeLab Pro User

Gold Member

so, is this the same procedure you would use in Composite lab pro? Thanks
Posted: Fri, 1st Aug 2008, 8:21pm

Post 15 of 38

RyanZ

Force: 389 | Joined: 13th Mar 2008 | Posts: 126

CompositeLab Pro User

Gold Member

i am doing not too shabby here, but where do i put or drag my background once i get the black to replace my greenscreen?
Posted: Thu, 21st Aug 2008, 1:45am

Post 16 of 38

metallicrules

Force: 0 | Joined: 13th Jan 2008 | Posts: 1

Member

FXhomer46845 wrote:

is there any way to do this same effect without a greenscreen?
If you Don't have a green screen use a blue tarp. thats what i use. but its not as good. You can even use a bed sheet if you want. but the best way to go is a traditional green screen.
Posted: Thu, 25th Sep 2008, 12:24am

Post 17 of 38

DVStudio

Force: 4983 | Joined: 22nd Nov 2007 | Posts: 1845

CompositeLab Pro User EffectsLab Pro User PhotoKey 4 User FXpreset Maker FXhome Movie Maker Windows User

Gold Member

Thanks. +1
Posted: Wed, 22nd Oct 2008, 3:12pm

Post 18 of 38

StupidLikeAFox

Force: 1075 | Joined: 7th Jun 2008 | Posts: 235

VisionLab User

Gold Member

Could you do thi effect wothout a geenscreen? I have tried but It didn't work. I rotoscoped my actor with a masker and applied he displacment filter but it just turns out awful.

Any Help?
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2008, 5:46pm

Post 19 of 38

cavickers

Force: 236 | Joined: 1st Dec 2008 | Posts: 160

CompositeLab Pro User MacOS User FXhome Movie Maker

Gold Member

thanks Tarn
Posted: Fri, 19th Dec 2008, 8:22pm

Post 20 of 38

FXhomer33224

Force: 0 | Joined: 19th Nov 2008 | Posts: 1

Member

This has to be one of the worst tutorials ive ever read.A tutorial teaches,this is just an explanation,not a tutorial.
Posted: Mon, 22nd Dec 2008, 9:23am

Post 21 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

FXhomer33224 wrote:

This has to be one of the worst tutorials ive ever read.A tutorial teaches,this is just an explanation,not a tutorial.
I'm sorry you feel like that. Most other people seemed to find it very useful, though.

Personally I find 'explanations' to provide very useful teaching. Detailing precisely which slider values to use at every step might get you a good effect, but it won't necessarily teach you what you're doing. I tend to prefer writing tutorials that explain concepts in a way that the reader can then go and innovate on their own, using that knowledge.

It does require a basic knowledge of the program, of course, but then that's what the video tutorials and manual are for.

Ultimately, though, you can't write a tutorial that will cater for everyone at every skill level. So I'm sorry if this one didn't work for you.

Last edited Thu, 26th Mar 2009, 11:30am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 28th Dec 2008, 3:16pm

Post 22 of 38

cavickers

Force: 236 | Joined: 1st Dec 2008 | Posts: 160

CompositeLab Pro User MacOS User FXhome Movie Maker

Gold Member

Tarn is correct, this tutorial is great ********* biggrin
Posted: Wed, 11th Mar 2009, 12:24am

Post 23 of 38

1 Shot

Force: 800 | Joined: 27th Feb 2009 | Posts: 6

CompositeLab Pro User EffectsLab Pro User

Gold Member

Ditto that this was good, Tarn! I am very new to this program (and video editting/compositing in general!) and was able to step through and make this work the first time.

I think that would show this as an effective tutorial.

Thanks for the great support forum!
Posted: Thu, 26th Mar 2009, 2:40am

Post 24 of 38

Terminal Velocity

Force: 2507 | Joined: 7th Apr 2008 | Posts: 1350

VisionLab User FXpreset Maker Windows User

Gold Member

FXhomer33224 wrote:

This has to be one of the worst tutorials ive ever read.A tutorial teaches,this is just an explanation,not a tutorial.
Oh gimme a break. Does it have to be the perfect definition of a tutorial? No. Does it provide extremely useful information? Yes. What are you complaining about?
Posted: Thu, 26th Mar 2009, 11:31am

Post 25 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

Thanks guys, glad it's of use to most! smile
Posted: Sat, 4th Apr 2009, 3:48pm

Post 26 of 38

TheOutlawAmbulance

Force: 931 | Joined: 16th Dec 2008 | Posts: 938

EffectsLab Pro User VideoWrap User Windows User

Gold Member

Can you do this effect with Effectslab?
Posted: Sat, 11th Apr 2009, 11:25pm

Post 27 of 38

FXhomer30225

Force: 400 | Joined: 19th Jul 2008 | Posts: 8

EffectsLab Pro User

Gold Member

OK, I have the soldier invisible in my WWII movie but how do I fade him back to solid/normal . I cannot figure out how to turn off the displacement map gradually when and where I want it to.
Posted: Tue, 14th Apr 2009, 8:57am

Post 28 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

Best way to do it is to have two layers - one with the displacement and one without. Then apply a keyframed transparency filter to fade from one to the other.
Posted: Fri, 24th Apr 2009, 4:45pm

Post 29 of 38

FXhomer76884

Force: 0 | Joined: 26th Mar 2009 | Posts: 2

Member

Hi tarn when i add a displacement map only my left arm is displaced in a big way on the rest of my body you can only see my out line can anyone hhelp me out
Posted: Tue, 5th May 2009, 9:57am

Post 30 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

You can try increasing the displacement strength. It may be that there aren't many details in the rest of your body to provide the displacement - were you wearing a plain, single colour, uncreased shirt, for example?
Posted: Thu, 14th May 2009, 3:01pm

Post 31 of 38

FXhomer76884

Force: 0 | Joined: 26th Mar 2009 | Posts: 2

Member

Thanks tarn
Posted: Tue, 16th Jun 2009, 2:29am

Post 32 of 38

FXhomer30225

Force: 400 | Joined: 19th Jul 2008 | Posts: 8

EffectsLab Pro User

Gold Member

Out of total frustration, I have been ignoring this video shot for a few months. I'm back, ok, I have the invisible soldier but can't get him to reappear, Where do I find a transparency filter? and how is it done? I'm told how easy it is but if one has never done it before, it is not easy.


The simplest method is to take a copy of the original (composited) greenscreen layer and place it on top of the displacement layer. If you then apply a transparency filter and gradually lower it to zero, the actor will gradually fade away to reveal the displacement effect underneath.
Posted: Tue, 16th Jun 2009, 8:31am

Post 33 of 38

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

The transparency filter can be found in the Grade toolset.
Posted: Mon, 5th Apr 2010, 8:00pm

Post 34 of 38

toufilefou

Force: 1000 | Joined: 11th Jan 2010 | Posts: 8

VisionLab User

Gold Member

my test, I am French and j' had difficulty in include/understand the tuto
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT-uds2gnmI
Posted: Mon, 12th Apr 2010, 8:25pm

Post 35 of 38

toufilefou

Force: 1000 | Joined: 11th Jan 2010 | Posts: 8

VisionLab User

Gold Member

it's bad effect ?
Posted: Tue, 13th Jul 2010, 5:11pm

Post 36 of 38

Micah master studios

Force: 822 | Joined: 30th Apr 2010 | Posts: 163

CompositeLab Pro User EffectsLab Pro User Windows User

Gold Member

I found it very useful and easy to under stand . I have been having problems with that subject . great job Tarn !

MMS out
Posted: Tue, 20th Jul 2010, 7:15pm

Post 37 of 38

Micah master studios

Force: 822 | Joined: 30th Apr 2010 | Posts: 163

CompositeLab Pro User EffectsLab Pro User Windows User

Gold Member

I still can't say how useful that was .

MMS out clap slowclap hugegrin tick whistle wink surprised cool
Posted: Thu, 18th Aug 2011, 7:02pm

Post 38 of 38

awesomefilmsvideos

Force: 400 | Joined: 29th Dec 2010 | Posts: 23

CompositeLab Pro User

Gold Member

i love your tutorials, tarn! biggrin keep it up! smile