About a month ago, I posted a little teaser about a “transformation” effect I made in FCP X for the Nine Lives movie campaign. As the spots are now rolling out, I thought I’d post a bit more detail. First, have a look at the effect, it’s about 10 seconds in:
For the campaign, we have 3 or 4 editors working on different spots in Premiere and FCP 7 (yes, FCP 7…) so, for logistical reasons, I cut this spot in Premiere. Trust me, it would have been easier in X for a number of reasons, but that’s another story…
The tricky part of doing 30’s and 15’s was getting the main character quickly transformed into a cat, it’s not a quick bit at all in the film. And, as I was skimming through some dailies in X… I had an idea. “CoreMelt Drive X has a cool Track Sparks Color effect” I thought, “why not incorporate that and make some ‘magic’ in FCP X?”
So… I made a rough version which was cut into some spots that went to focus groups. Audiences liked it. The marketing folks liked it. The director liked it. It was going into everything, so it was time to make a 2k version for finish. All this was done right in the timeline, I never left FCP X. I used Coremelt Slice-X & Drive-X, the built in Keyer, Draw Mask, Droplet and Glow effects.
Replace Purrkins Head
(can’t show the raw footage… sorry!)
I found a shot where Purrkins (Christopher Walken) gestures in a way where he could maybe be throwing something. Great! Well, except for the fact that he was talking while he did it. So… I had to replace Walkens head. I used slice X to cut it out, then placed another part from the same scene -where he wasn’t talking and looked ominous- under the cutout clip.
I resized the shot and keyframed the movement, then put it in a compound clip so I could fine tune the sizing without screwing up the keyframes from the first pass. Got that done, and exported a comped QuickTime master.
Make Brand Disappear
Again, skimming the dailies, found a long take where Brand (Kevin Spacey) is in the shot, then walks out so there’s a “clean plate”. But of course, the camera moved a little bit in the interim. So, I used the free Andy’s better 3D effect to line up the the empty room with the earlier section with Brand in the shot (seen above in the Secondary). Added a soft edge wipe from top to bottom, done. Put the whole thing into a Compound Clip so I could resize it.
Make Fuzzypants Appear
More dailies skimming… I found a shot of the cat sitting on a green cyc. Keyed him over the empty room part of the previous Compound Clip, resized and flipped him, did some tweaks to try to get him to match the scene, and then cut out a section of the empty room to partially obscure him for some depth. Used opacity to fade him in as Brand fades out… done. Made that chunk into another QT master.
Now to make it all work, hopefully… First I took, the 2 QT comps, and used Coremelt Drive-X to track some magical sparks on them. They were thrown by Purrkins, and then come into the next shot and envelope Brand as he disappears.
I then put these clips into Compound Clips, added an adjustment layer in each one, pasted the Drive-X Effect onto these, and disabled the clips from the film. That left me with just the magic sparks effect that I could tweak as needed. I then copied a bit of one clip to make a little sparkle when the cat appears.
Assemble The Parts
Last step was to duplicate the 2 Comp QT’s and stack them. On the top clip, I keyframed a Draw Mask on each clip to open up the area where the effect should travel. I then stuck the “magic” clips in the middle. On the bottom clip I added a keyframed Droplet effect that followed the magic sparks. Lastly I stuck the little spark for the cat on top.
A little tweaking and… OK, a bunch of tweaking. This is for a worldwide campaign so I wanted it to not suck. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I had to stop somewhere… Once I got it looking decent, I exported it as a 2k ProRes 4444 file, and off it went. If you watch tv, use the internet, or go to the movies you’ll be seeing it.
There’s actually a lot of stuff created in X in all the Nine Lives spots that will start appearing everywhere. Some I cut, some were cut by others. I recreated the Europa logo to freeze the goddess and remove her reflection (too distracting). FCP X 3D text, keyer and draw mask made that easy.
Many of the screen replacements for the trailer and in the spots, lot’s of retimed VO etc.
Could I have used other apps for all this? Sure, but why? It was quicker and easier to do all this in FCP X and export as clips that can be used by everyone, regardless of NLE. Everything I need is right in the FCP X timeline.
I would have preferred to cut the spots in FCP X as well, but whatever, I got to do all the fun stuff in it! FCP X is hands down my favorite NLE, but you can do a whole lot more with it than just edit.
Oh, go see the movie, it’s cute and you can safely bring your kids!