Hey Folks!

I've been working on a primarily live action film for a while now, it's a series of short films compiled together into a single project.  One of the films is entirely stop motion, the rest are all live action.  For the final short, I started thinking that I might like to combine live action and stop motion, but rather than composite the stop motion character into a live action world, I'd like to composite my actors into a stop motion world.  Do any of you have experience doing this?  Any suggestions?  Do you have any good examples you could point me to, good tutorials?

Thanks a lot!

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Thanks for the in depth response. Your images illustrating your process make total sense and are essentially what I do to match the action, though I actually did mine in reverse--shooting the actor first and then matching the environments to him(or maybe that is the same way you did yours?).

I'm definitely not going for realism, either, as the scale and look of my puppets would never sell what I'm doing as reality for sure, so I agree with you on allowing a certain style to show through.  I personally don't want the aesthetic of the after effects lighting as it's something that stands out to me.  Since the actor was shot on a RED camera there should be a good amount of latitude in the footage to be able to adjust highlights and contrast(though not as much as a RAW still file, for sure).

Anyway, thanks again for your input!

Roos Mattaar said:

Hi,
I have done exactly that in my last film. Although in my case I had a puppet of a large scale and so both the puppet and the live action were seperately composited. The set was a very small scale, and I made use of some bigger scale elements where the puppet had to touch, and some extra green screen on top of something I could lean on when I was supposed to be leaning out of a window. I didn't have many full body shots. Getting it right where you touch the ground is trickiest. I had a few shots and it worked ok. It's good to think of your film and how many shots you actually need where there is both puppet and actor in shot and both full in frame. There probably aren't that many, because there will be close-ups, shots with just the actor, shots with just the puppet, etc. Also shots where you are standing still are easier to get right than a lot of walking around.
Getting the lighting right is of course an issue, but what I found is that I could adjust a lot in After Effects: I tried to get the lighting as similar as possible in all shots (remember approximate positions of lights and be consistent in that for all elements of the shot you shoot) but of course it would still all look quite different when combining. What I found really helped was using the 3d ligts in After Effects. In this way I could add some subtle spots that worked on all layers and really helped blending it all together.

To get an idea of what I am talking about, I just made my film public so you can have a look at it here: http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/video/moonbird

Here are some pictures to illustrate. First one is the bird on a wooden bit, which I would blend with the miniature window frame later on. 2nd one is my green screen set up for a shot in the film where I am leaning out of a window of the miniature set.
Next one is a screen shot of Stop motion pro, where I used an image of the set (still in progress at the time but good enough for reference) so I could line up the shot of the bird in the right angle. That was definitely the trickiest part sometimes!


Just getting the style right is a big part of it as well. I found that it worked to combine everything, in that nothing in my film was really directly there and all was composited. In that way I knew I was going for something quite stylized already and I tried to make it work within the world of my film rather than trying to make it as realistic as possible.

I shot the animation first, but mainly for practical reasons that I was shooting in a studio space at my university and had to be out of the station before a certain date and had to start animating before I was ready for the live action shoot. In the end I could stay longer and also shot the live action in the same space anyway. 

That's cool, for me it was a style choice to use the lighting in After Effects. It can be very subtle, but it definitely isn't a must. It was the first time I worked with the 3d layers and lights and it was a nice surprise how well it helped bringing the layers together. If your initial lighting is good and consistent between the different shoots than some minor adjustments should probably be enough to make it look convincing. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your project!

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