“Unearthly,” an independent feature film, required a scene to be set beside a large lake of hot lava. Here are a few steps I took to create a composite in After Effects.
The original plate was shot next to a lake. The plate was scaled, repositioned, and stabilized to remove the original camera movement:
A rocky, cave-like background with a bed of lava was fashioned by masking sections of royalty-free stock photos and arranging them as 2D and 3D cards. The masked rocks, arranged in 4 layers, were desaturated:
The following stock photo of a rocky Italian coastline was was used for the rocks:
The rough background was exported from AE as a flattened render and brought into Photoshop. This became the matte painting. The painting was refined with paint and clone tools. The colors of the lava bed were adjusted. Here’a an early version of the painting:
Note that still ftrames from the original plate and other shots within the sequence were pasted into Photoshop. Hence, the actors appear several times. Here’s the final verison of the matte painting:
The matte painting was brought back into AE. The plate was masked to fit over the painting. Foreground rocks were added by masking and color-adjusting another stock photo:
Glow and light beams were added with standard AE Glow and CC Light Sweep effect filters. Low-res stock footage of smoke and fire was added. Here’s the smoke and fire by itself after blurring and color adjustment:
Here’s the final composite:
“Heat waves” were added to the foreground by applying Turbulent Displace and blur filters to a low-opacity copy of the comp. In addition, a subtle camera “move” was added by nesting the comp into a second comp and animating the scale and position.
Check out the glow and atmosphere breakdown here.
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