Danny Princz of New York City-based Exposed has a reputation. While he’s renowned throughout the post industry for his creative designs and skills as an After Effects artist, he also has another reputation. If a project is tricky, a little too intimidating or challenging to take on; send it to Danny. It’s this reputation that led NY-based creative boutique, Delirium, Inc., to approach Danny. Delirium was gearing up for a HBO Sports project that would require some hi-tech trickery. Co-owner, Sharon Eagan, made the call. “Danny was a perfect fit for this job,” says Ms. Eagan. "He's always up for a challenge and is not afraid of the unknown."
The request: deliver a 30 second tool kit for HBO Boxing as an After Effects file, create it as a template so the team at HBO could swap out footage to promote future events. The scene -- a sweeping view of a boxing arena with a large monitor suspended from the ceiling where quick-cut, fast-moving clips of boxers would cycle through. And all this is going on as the camera quickly sweeps across the arena and approaches the ring. The challenge: deliver the final product in five days.
“At first glance, it seemed pretty straight forward,” recalls Princz. However, just before work began, the client had one more detail to discuss.
“There were about a half a dozen, highly designed logos scattered across the floor in the ring. On top of that, in each corner and on every turnbuckle and corner pad, there were more logos. HBO needed all logos removed! There is no way, in After Effects, to execute that kind of tracking while removing all logos throughout the shot and all in the timeframe they needed it done. To do this effectively, you need serious tracking capability. That’s when we brought in mocha from Imagineer Systems.”
Now, instead of removing the logos one by one on the existing floor image, Princz had another option. Using mocha to track the floor, Princz was able to create a clean floor, free of logos in one shot. mocha’s powerful Planar Tracker technology created a clean track that followed the floor across the shot, even as parts of the floor disappeared off camera. Princz was then able to use the tracking data to create clean corner pads and turnbuckles in all four corners of the ring. “There is no way I would have been able to get a track of that quality and ease using After Effects, period,” Princz commented.
In addition to what seemed an insurmountable tracking job, Princz was faced with another issue. In order to create a truly clean track for the new floor, he had to work around the ropes and turnbuckles that surrounded the ring. “This is where the power of mocha’s rotoscoping tools came into play. First, I completed a rough roto of everything in front of the plane I was tracking. But I also needed data from those objects for the roto. So I spent some time getting a decent track of the ropes for roto, which I then used to track the floor for replacement. Then using the same data, I attached splines to the same rope tracking data to use for roto. Some minor tweaking was still necessary of course, but the bulk of the work was already done. Within this single application, I was not only able to create an incredibly clean track, and was able to roto out the ropes and turnbuckles, create my track for the floor, then roto the ropes right back in. The workflow was incredibly smooth and fast.”
“What started out as a potential nightmare ended as an incredibly clean and very solid sequence. At the end of the project, we delivered a high quality After Effects file that the client could easily manipulate for future promotions. But we wouldn’t have been able to do without mocha. I earn my living with After Effects and I know its capabilities are much greater than most people think. But I also know its shortcomings when it comes to tracking.”
Imagineer Systems is also developing a reputation they’re very proud of – working closely with customers, listening to their requirements and pain points, and building that feedback into solutions that work best for their customers. It’s experiences like Princz’s that drove Imagineer to create an even more tailored solution for After Effects artists who are increasingly in the situation faced by Princz. Imagineer’s answer: mocha-AE.
Launched in October, 2007, mocha-AE is a stand alone 2D tracking tool for the After Effects community based on Imagineer Systems’ unique 2.5D Planar Tracking technology. mocha-AE helps solve problematic shots that traditionally challenge point based trackers, such as footage with objects moving out of frame, lack of detail, motion blur and heavy grain. This helps the artist to generate solid tracks, giving position, scale, rotation, shear and perspective matched tracks and exporting the data to After Effects in less time.
Upon learning about mocha-AE, Princz comments, “Based on what I’ve seen from mocha and the Imagineer development team, mocha-AE from Imagineer will be the perfect companion to After Effects.”