How to put yourself into the Avengers

by birtanpublished on August 24, 2020

All of us here at FXhome are big fans of the Avengers, so we thought we’d do whatever it takes to get ourselves a spot in the record breaking blockbuster. If we do this, we'd be going in shorthanded. Yeah, you mean cause they killed all our friends? We're the Avengers. We gotta finish this. Do you trust me? I do. You could not live with your own failure. And where did that bring you? Back to me. I first created a document and made note of who I wanted to be in the shot, and any extra lighting tips so that I wouldn’t forget. This could be considered preproduction, and

It was essential in making sure things ran smoothly. The 2 most important things you have to get right on set are the lighting and the camera angle. There’s not really a mathematical or definite way to figure out either, you kind of just have to really pay attention to the shot you’re trying to match, and break it down. Looking through the trailer, and the shots that I chose, you can see that for the most

Part there is an even, diffused lighting on the characters. There are a few shots where there’s also a blue sidelight, usually coming from a window. To figure out where the light was positioned on set, look at the direction the shadows are facing. For the main source of light I used a Westcott Spiderlite TD6, placing it on whatever side of the actor matched the trailer. For side lights I used our smaller one of the same brand, but with a blue gel clamped onto it. All of these shots were filmed on a tripod-

Even if the scene in the trailer has movement, it makes more sense to motion track a stable clip onto it rather than try to replicate the camera motion on set. For the shots when the actor was meant to be looking at someone else, I used what I had on set to give them a reference to focus on. In Kirstie’s shot, that was me standing next to her. In Josh’s clip that was an extra light on one side and my hand on the other. And in my scenes it was a tall cardboard cutout of a rocket that we have for some reason.

Now that we have the footage, we can bring it into HitFilm. I won’t go through every shot in the final sequence, because the process is basically the same for each. First, motion track the shot. Depending on how much detail is visible, you can use either HitFilm’s built-in point tracker or, if you have Pro or the add-on, Mocha HitFilm. I found that Mocha was better at tracking shots where the background appears as a flat surface. To do this, add the Mocha HitFilm effect directly to the clip. In the Controls panel, launch

The Mocha UI. Select the X Spline layer tool and draw your shape, then track it. Once finished, select Export Tracking Data. Make sure the Format is set to HitFilm Transform Data, then press Save. It’ll save as a composite shot, which we will then import in HitFilm. Copy the Point from the composite shot that is imported and paste it into the comp you’re working in. You can delete the imported folder now if you want to clean up. Now I’ll bring in the green screen clip I’ll be using for this scene. Parent the

Layer to the motion tracked point. Grab the freehand mask tool and isolate your actor, to remove any other things that were visible on set. Then key out the green. We have another video dedicated to showing you how to do this in both HitFilm Pro and Express. Since I was working in Pro, I used the Chroma Key effect. Then I’ll use a variety of effects to better composite my actor into the scene. Spill Removal got rid of any lingering green. The Curves effect was useful for darkening the light

On the actor and tinting them the right color to match the background. Light Wrap helped blend the color between the two plates. If the skin tones weren’t matching, I used Hue Shift to move them over a bit. A Lens Blur effect was added if the actor was supposed to be far away from the camera. This also helps hide some of the compositing. Finally, if the actor was supposed to be behind something or someone in the scene, I duplicated the clip of the trailer, placed it on top, and masked them out. Depending on the complexity

Of movement, you can use either HitFilm’s masking tools, or Mocha’s. The head replacement on Tony Stark was actually more difficult than just inserting the full actor. I first had to erase his head and create a clean plate. I then traced around my head and attached it to the track. Technically, it isn’t a hard thing to do, but lining up the angle and the edges of clothing takes some messing around. For more information about green screening in HitFilm, check out this tutorial. Leave

Any questions down below, and I’ll see you all in the next video.

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