Men in the game are blind to what men looking on see clearly.
In visual effects, we often speak of The Eye, as in, "She has a good eye," or "He's got good technical skills, but needs to develop his eye." Sure, we admire the luminary visual effects supervisors because they can field-strip a Mitchell camera movement blindfolded or code their own HDR exposure-merging Shake plug-in from scratch, but they are most revered because they have The Eye.
What exactly does that mean? It's simple: Having The Eye means knowing the answer to the Ultimate Question:
Why doesn't this shot look real?
It's the question you're implicitly seeking to answer with every tweak of a slider, every opacity adjustment, every keyframe nudge. And it's the hardest question to answer about a shot. Worse still, as the shot progresses from take 1 to 10 to nearly final, the answer becomes more and more elusive.
This chapter focuses on some techniques for honing your eye. These are not compositing techniquesthings you'll do sitting in front of your workstationthese are lifestyle techniques. Much to the chagrin of those close to you, being a great compositor means thinking like one all the time. The answer to the Ultimate Question, the hardest question you'll ever face, is all around you in the real world, especially when you're not near your computer.
The only tools you'll need are your eyes, your brain, and a really, really expensive digital camera. C'mon, you were looking for an excuse to buy one, right? No? Fine, a cheap film camera is just as good, if not better. Funny, that.
Why Doesn t This Shot Look Real?
Section I. Working Foundations
The 7.0 Workflow
Selections: The Key to Compositing
Optimizing Your Projects
Section II. Effects Compositing Essentials
Rotoscoping and Paint
Effective Motion Tracking
Film, HDR, and 32 Bit Compositing
Section III. Creative Explorations
Working with Light
Climate: Air, Water, Smoke, Clouds
Pyrotechnics: Fire, Explosions, Energy Phenomena
Learning to See