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Tutorial: Compositing using Shake

By Carlos Reding


    In this tutorial, we're going to learn what kind of effects we can do using simple footages in the composite software "Shake". As usual, just load some music before you do ANYTHING, understood?.

 Let's start!

    Once we have our music, just open Shake (shot). Don't scare! the interface is quite well organized and quite simple too. Now, we must load our footage: click on FileIn node, in Image tab (shot), to open the loading dialog. Then, select the footages (shot). For this tutorial, I have used two images from a DTS logo animation I´m doing for "I took the red pill" (In those times that you are totally bored and you start some "temporal" work, which become more than temporal), these footages are: a caustics render with no special look, and the logo (this one in 32bit format). Both have not antialiasing... it's not necesary. Okay, this is an example that what we'll try to do.

    Because of diferent resolutions, the first we are going to do is to move the logo to the center of the caustics, the "born" place of the caustic. For that, just add Move2D node (shot), in Transform tab, into Logo node. Then, move it. To make this (and future) step more intuitive, we can click first in the node we're working on (Move2D) and then, the background node (Caustic). Using this, we can move the logo looking the path, where is being moved (shot). Once it has been moved, scale it and make the logo smaller (this option is in the same Move2D node) (shot). Are you stressed? No, uh? Shake don't eat humans :). As last thing, because the logo is goint to be underwater (that is supposed to be), we need to put the caustic over the logo: add a IMult node (Layer tab) into logo node, to make it the foreground, then, connect the caustic node to the background connector in IMult node (shot). Use ContrastLum node (Color tab) to tweak it. Just look like this.

    At this point, the tweaking of logo is done. We're going to add a green screen (0, 1, 0), which will be usefull for add a DropShadow node too. In Image tab, click on Color node and be sure to resize it to background resolution (shot). For adding shadow, I felt more comfortable using DropShadow node from Sapphire plugins pack (shot). You can download them from and use them in Demo-mode to follow the tutorial, if you want. (I highly recommend to download. I used more plugins from sapphire to make this tutorial). Okay, once we have added the shadow, we can stop working on the logo, by now. Let's work on caustics now.

    The first we're going to do is a mask, using RGrad node (in Image tab). The idea is to make caustics blur when is far from Logo, so, the mask is centered on the logo. We can use the tip, explained above, to adjust the mask intuitively (shot). Because we want blur the outside of the caustic rings, we must add a Invert node (Color tab). Now, add a blur node, such Defocus node in the Effect tab. You'll see that there is the same tool, but twice: one with a "I" in the name (i.e. IDefocus) and a little icon in lower-right corner. This means that tools can be controled by a mask. So add on IDefocus node into caustic node, to make it the foreground, then connect the inverted mask (shot). Two things I really like of Defocus tool are the boostpoint and superwhite options. Then, add a Gamma node (Color tab) to make the caustic footage more white, we want to fix all those grey areas (shot). The last tweak for caustic footage will be the addition of TV lines, for that I have used, again, Sapphire plugins pack (but I think there is a free macro called TVlizer). Just add Scanlines node into caustic node: set lines up to 300. Be sure to have these lines in Color mode. I recommend you do not modify any brightness or gamma anymore... or you're eyes will die (you can use Rayban sunglasses, indeed) (shot).

    Hello? are you still there? HELLO??!.... Okay, you scared me, man! Now, it's time to merge both footages. For this, we'll use the awesome Shake's Keylight. Add it (in Key tab) into our logo's DropShadow node, to make it the foreground. Connect Scanlines node from caustics footage, in background connector in Keylight. What the hell? This looks damn green! No problem, I´m your hero (I´m here to save you!). In keylight pannel, you can see few controls, one of them is screenColour, and is set to pure Blue. Change it to pure green (0, 1, 0). Better? (Tip: At this point, you can save some time adding the SetDOD, in Transform tab, into DropShadow node and adjust it to our shadowed logo: shot). If you had any kind of problem, like green borders around the logo and its shadow, just adjust screenRange option. At this point, we should have something like this. Well, well well... we're finishing this. Now, we must emulate water refractions. For this, will help the scanlines in color mode, because they will have a chroma blur (or something like that). Again, let's add another sapphire node, this time Emboss node. When it's loaded, we see few sub-modes in emboss node: emboss (as is), shiny, distort and chroma. We're going to use emboss in Distort mode. Connect caustic node as bumps. Tweak a little (shot).

    Well, as is, the effect is finished (shot). You can add noise, stilize it or whatever you want (if you want). I hope you have learnt something about create good looking effects from simple footages :) You can download a video of this effect in DivX (sound included!) here.


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