VFX 101: Logo Case Study

(Herman Wang) #1

This is the eighth of a semi-regular series of columns I’ll be presenting on how to do some basic special effects, for people who have little to no experience. We use these effects quite frequently in our Harry Potter-based web series The Spell Tutor.

There was a discussion earlier in the forum around creating fake brands for use in web series. For the first episode of our third season, we created a fake coffee chain “Java Happy Time” for one of our characters to work in, by using VFX as an easier and cheaper alternative to creating actual signage.

This is from the unaltered footage of our opening scene, with the original logo present. We tripod-mounted the camera for this shot because it’s much easier doing VFX on mostly-static footage.

We designed a simple graphic and saved it to a transparent PNG file at high resolution. We were also able to create iron-ons with white aprons to add authenticity to our fake brand inside the shop.

The first step in placing the new logo is to get rid of the old one. The technique used here is described in detail in this column. We copied a strip of the blank part of the canopy, resized it a little, and then pasted it over the logo. Note that while this erases the old logo, it also erases the shadows cast by the power lines overhead. We’ll get to that later.

Next, we took our transparent logo, turned it white by simply dialing up the brightness of the image’s layer, and placed it on the canopy. We shifted its angles in 3D space using the editor’s built-in 3D placement as described in this column.

Finally, we replaced the power line shadows by copying the shadows from another part of the canopy and pasting them on top.

That’s it! The result is simple and fairly convincing, enough to establish the scene that follows it, as you can see in the episode.

Visual effects - Low Budget shooting
(Meg Carroway) #2

Does this only work if the camera is stationary? On sticks?

(Herman Wang) #3

It’s much easier if the camera is stationary. Otherwise you have to add motion tracking to the mix, and that’s usually tricky to get perfect.

(Meg Carroway) #4

Gotcha. Thanks! This looks super great, by the way! I really love all your articles on here- I haven’t gotten to use any yet, but knowing I can refer to them anytime makes me more likely to take on this kind of project in the future!!

(Herman Wang) #5

I’m very happy with the way this one turned out. To test it, I showed the final footage to a few people and asked them to find the special effect. No one could :slight_smile:

I’m glad you find them helpful.