The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: Visual Effects - Part 2
Many different software programs, such as Photoshop or TVPaint, can be used to composite the different layers together in each frame as long as you can create transparencies for the negative space around the puppet and adjust the contrast and brightness. Independent animator Nick Hilligoss has his own method for compositing front-lit/back-lit images together using LightWave 3D. His foreground animation elements are captured as their beauty shots (Figure 9.39) and back-lit silhouettes (Figure 9.40). Each image sequence is separated, with the beauty shots applied to a rectangular flat object’s surface in LightWave as a color image map and the back-lit sequence as a transparency map. In this environment, black is solid, white is fully transparent, and shades of gray are partly transparent, so if there are any see-through objects or motion blur in the animation, they will also show up. Directly behind this rectangular object, with the beauty shots and mattes, is another flat object with the background applied to it (Figure 9.40). Both the background and puppet screen objects are exported together from the same camera view to create the final composite (Figure 9.41).
Further tutorial details for front light and back light compositing can be found on the YouTube channels for Nick Hilligoss (http://www.youtube.com/user/StopmoNick) and Ron Cole (http://www.youtube.com/user/animatorIsomer), as well as further tips searchable through Stop Motion Animation (http://www.stopmotionanimation.com).