Published on Wednesday, 18 January 2012
South Carolina’s Skyline Post has been using Autodesk Smoke to cover more varied and creative
types of editing and finishing tasks for the facility’s commercial projects.
|Skyline Post combines the services of an ad agency, a post facility, a production house, and a branding consulting group. With a recent expansion of services the staff has grown to 15 artists.
A significant portion of Skyline customers, according to founder and CEO Randall Owens, are large advertising agencies and corporate marketing groups in large companies, and the team has been using Autodesk Smoke video editing software as part of its editing, finishing, and colour correction services. The work can involve text animation, colour correction, scene tracking, rotoscoping and painting out or adding in elements – tasks that can’t be completed in a dedicated edit system like Final Cut Pro, their offline NLE.
|However, as other commercial editing software and systems were growing more basic and attracting more general consumer interest, Randall noticed a further trend. “More customers were trying to do in-house what they previously asked us to do,” he said. “What we do for our customers is about much more than software, of course, but some people saw it as a way to cut costs.”
Skyline wanted to show customers how, for editing, finishing and colour correction, Smoke is more effective than the applications that they could use in-house, and it gives artists more opportunities to show their skills. Soon Skyline had a chance to demonstrate its new tools. After creating a couple of web videos to bring himself up to speed, Skyline Smoke Artist Brian Cooper got to work on a challenging national spot for Craftsman tools.
|“With the tight deadline on the spot, I initially thought I would cut everything in other, more familiar software, and then bring it into Smoke for finishing,” he said. “After getting more comfortable in Smoke, though, I decided to do everything in one system. In fact, when I went back to our old software, it felt too basic. With Smoke, I’m able to do in a few minutes what would have taken me much longer in any other software.”
In addition to fast turnaround, the Craftsman spot held a number of challenges that Smoke is specialised to handle. “Probably the biggest thing was the amount of on-screen text the spot required. Every shot had moving elements, a dolly or jib moving in every scene. With all that movement, the text just seemed to sit there."
|Using the tracking tools in Smoke, Brian was able to add vibrancy to the text on the screen. “I decided to track the text to something in each scene,” he said. “Whether it was the logo on the actor’s shirt or another element, having the text track to an element added a really dynamic look. It was something I would not have even thought of doing in any other software, but it was a simple process in Smoke.”
Brian also found the Color Warper in Smoke very useful when the natural light changed during a shooting session. “They had two shots of a guy changing a tire that were in late-day, golden sunshine,” he explained. “But then the clouds came out. Using the colour matching tools in Smoke, I was able to match the colour of the third shot with the first two in just a couple of mouse clicks. In our old software, that would have taken much more time, assuming we could accomplish it at all.”
Another challenge involved selective colour correction to change the colour of a blurry Craftsman toolbox situated immediately behind an important product shot. When the client asked that the silver toolbox be changed to red, Brian was initially unsure if it could be done. “There was some huge depth of field in that scene, and the toolbox was really a background element. In order to affect a background element in a flat 2D scene, you would generally need to be able to track the scene and rotoscope anything that passes in front of the problem element before you attempt colour correction. But using Smoke, I did two quick masks over the toolbox and a Craftsman battery and did a colour match. It took me about 10 minutes.” www.skylinepost.com www.autodesk.com/smokeformac