Bringing a Photo to Life with 2.5D Parallax | Joe Fellows | Skillshare

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Bringing a Photo to Life with 2.5D Parallax

teacher avatar Joe Fellows, Make Productions Founder & Director

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      About Me


    • 2.

      About This Class


    • 3.

      2.5D Parallax Overview


    • 4.

      Choosing the Right Image


    • 5.

      Preparing Your Image in Photoshop


    • 6.

      Tips on Animating Your Image


    • 7.

      Animating Your Image


    • 8.

      Adding Extra Elements to Your Animation


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Joe Fellows of Make Productions is currently creating some stunning 2.5D Parallax animations on the web and TV. Discover what makes a convincing 2.5D Parallax animation and avoid the mistakes that will cheapen the look of yours. In this class, you’ll learn a step-by-step process for taking a still photograph and treating it in order to make a beautiful moving image. You’ll learn the fundamentals of what makes a successful 2.5D Parallax animation as well as a range of insider tips and tricks. This class is perfect for motion graphics designers, VFX artists, photographers and filmmakers. You will need a basic understanding of Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.

Meet Your Teacher

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Joe Fellows

Make Productions Founder & Director


I studied at London's Chelsea and Camberwell College of Arts, where I specialised in short films and animation. This has provided the foundation for my work in Motion Graphics and broadcast design and now at Make Productions. I have enjoyed directing and animating branding projects, title sequences and idents for clients including Channel 4, BBC, H&M and charities such as Shelter ,Cancer Research and United Way.

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1. About Me: Hi, My name's Joe Fellows. I'm the founder and director of Make Productions here in London in the UK at make we design and direct visual effects live action motion graphics on branding projects. We're lucky enough to have some fantastic clients and to have had the opportunity to have worked with some great brands along the way. Some of those exciting projects that we've been able to work on being 2.5 d parallax animations on its brought some amazing opportunities, such as viral videos on TV commercials on the opportunity to have our work screened at the Awesome Ted Talks conference this year. 2. About This Class: Welcome to my class, bringing a photo to life with 2.5 d parallax For my class, you will need a basic understanding off photo shop and after effects. At the end of the class, you'll have created a beautiful tracking shop made from a single still image. During the class, I'll be covering what 2.5 d parallax is how to choose the best image, how to prepare your image in photo shop, animating your imaged in aftereffects and some great tips on how to get the best results from your animation. Okay, let's get started. 3. 2.5D Parallax Overview: So what is 2.5 D parallax? Well, the 2.5 D or 2.5 dimensions refers to a technique used with an animation or compositing software where two dimensional objects are placed into three D space or zed space in visual effects terms, The Parallax is referring to a technique which creates the illusion or depth by moving background elements slower than the foreground elements. You'll be familiar with this effect when you're playing your platform. Video games on your smartphone or in reality when you look out of a moving train on the hills in the distance, are moving much slower than the trees close by. That is the parallax effect, so the concept behind the technique is actually being around for over 80 years was pioneered by Disney Studios. On their multi plane camera was this huge rig with a camera mounted horizontally over multiple planes off movable painted glass? Andi, what we're going to do today in after effects is basically a simulation off the multi plane camera 4. Choosing the Right Image: it's important to pick the right image for 2.5 parallax. There's no all images lend themselves that well to this technique. I'm supplying an image for you, but you might want to use your own image. And I just want to run through a list of main considerations. When deciding on an image Teoh animate, the animation is only going to be as good as the original image. If you pick a horribly composed, badly lit image, the animation will be horribly composed on badly left, so we typically work in HD. It's important that we use an image that's larger and pixel dimensions than the 1920 by 10 80 pixels, which is the HD frame. The larger dimensions give you flexibility and latitude when moving around the image in and out of the image images with distinct foreground and background elements creating depth work well as it enables you to exploit that parallax effect when you're animating. A bad example would be a notebook on top of a table because when you move the camera, the notebook in the table of virtually on the same plane so you don't get any of the parallax often what works really well in an image is if it has been shot with shallow depth of field. Creating that D focused, blurred out background. Look for inherent movement within the photo, and especially if your subject is human or animal helps inform how the subject should move , but you should avoid anything with motion blur. You want to use images that have been shot at high speed, where everything's crisp, nobler looks terrible and very peculiar. If you've got a big blurred out hand and you're meant to be moving in slow motion, think about how your split the image up into into layers into planes like the multi plane camera on What you Want to look for is that distinct foreground and background elements also bear in mind that when you have elements that are touching one another, things can become quite complicated. Azi have toe accurately move these elements together. Teoh create a natural look, otherwise it the things slip about it becomes very obviously fake. So in the beginning I would always try and avoid shots like this where say, someone was making contact with a war standing on the floor. But if you know how to approach these types of images, The results could be stunning, and that's what I want to tackle in my class today. So using the photo that I supplied or following along with your own photo, let's jump into photo shop and start preparing the image for 2.5 D parallax animation. 5. Preparing Your Image in Photoshop: So here we are in a photo shop. The picture I'm supplies lady in a park stretching on. And the first thing we want to dio days isolate her. She is the foreground element, if you like. And as I mentioned earlier, the reason I want to work on this image is the fact that her feet and making contact with the ground Onda uh, it can create problems unless you know how to deal with it. So that's what we're gonna approach today. So why I always do pretty much is, um, create a mosque. And so I just select the pen. It'll and I just start drawing around. And anyone who's familiar with photos shot will be familiar with this tool. And you might be asking her well, and I wanted to use, uh, the magic one tool. Well, you know the selection tools up here, the quick selection. Andi, there they are. Great. Those tools. But I generally find that is just quicker just to use the the pencil, because after you Daniel of initial rough selection with your selectable it never it's never perfect unless you've got, you know, like a green screen or, you know, it is against the blue perfectly blue sky. You're always going to get artifacts And, um, you know, bits the missed out or it's selecting the wrong bit and you always have to go back in and you have Teoh amend those little bits. And to be honest, by the time you've gone back and you've amended all those bits and bobs that you know I haven't got right, you may as well have just drawn the path. Andi, this is something that I stand by pretty much always because it's, you know, it seems like it's ah the long way around. But actually, I always feel that in the long run, it's Ah, it's actually the quickest. Now we're coming down to the feet, and what I want to do here is I want to go around the toes. But then I want to create quite a loose path around the bottom of the feet, and I'll explain why I'm doing this later when we go into after effects. So I I may actually to speed up the, uh, I may skip to the end of this process, as I'm sure you don't want to see me, so draw around the whole of this body. It would take some time, so I might just skip through to the end. Um, so I've already done one cut out there. I'm just gonna call this woman to um and there we go. So drag you path into the selection. It doesn't matter how sharp the images. I always feather the selection. So go to select. Gotta modify and feather by default. I always put it at 0.5. I'm on older photos, softer photos, archive imagery. You might wanna actually feather it by one or even two. This is because you never get a completely flat a new blood or feathered edge. In reality or on film. It is never going to see that. Actually, it can call strobing, which isn't good. So now that you've selected it and you feathered it, what I wanted to do is copy Andi Paste, Cool this layer, woman. Now, the next thing that we need to do is we need to create a clean background Ondas. You can see our backgrounds got a woman on it at the moment. So what I want you to do is use your selection again around the woman and this time go to select, go to modify and expand by. Let's just say yet that's a 20. Not like that. And then I want you, Teoh. If you go Teoh, select again and you got a feather, Let's say feather by five. Like so. Andi, make sure you copy. Duplicate your background layer. Now if you go to edit and Phil 50 at five. Content Aware. Okay, what is going to do? It's gonna guess. Want to fill your selection with? And it's done a pretty good job, as you can see. So let me just de select our selection. Andi thinks is great. Usually this is always just a good starting point. You can see in the cloud area he's done. A really has done a really great job. Um, however, if you look around the legs is not so good, it's some sort of It's taken some of the blood out of focus stuff from the from the centre of the image, and it's sort of patched it together. So what I always think is used this use the fill is a starting point and then come and grab the clone stamp and just start typing those areas up. Make sure you want to continue that shadow when they come around and make that shadow is gonna cause a nice bit of parallax. That's gonna be something that you're gonna see. This museum painting at all, the sort of fuzzy, out of focus stuff that it's created. I mean, I'm pretty happy with that again. You know, there's always you can always go in and fine tuning, but I think that's a pretty good place to go up to you. Clean background and call it clean background clean Bijie. Now we've got our isolated foreground element, which is the woman we've got a clean background on. We want to keep the original. Always keep the original. Andi, we're good. Toe go. We're good to get back into after effects now, so just save this. Let's call this stretch final. You got 6. Tips on Animating Your Image: okay. I just wanted to give you a few tips on the animation side of things really important. To keep things simple on subtle so less is definitely more. These images are tiny moment in time, and if you try to push them too far, either way the ruins animation and it would just look terrible. Keep the movement linear. So I just have a key frame at the beginning. And at the end, I find also that these animations worked best between about three on five seconds in duration. If you're animating a dog going, have a look at how a dog move. So if the dogs jumping, try find some slow motion footage of a dog jumping and see how the hair moves on. See how the limbs move. You might be surprised. 7. Animating Your Image: Okay, so here we are in after effects. Andi, let's go ahead and import now. Ah, file. Which is this stretch? Final Pierce Day and import it as a composition retained layer. Um, on yet? Okay, that So let's just go into the compare. We can see that we've got our elements that I cut out clean background and our original Onda just quickly. What what you might usually do for a parallax shot is, for instance, you would This would be I a 10 80 frame. You would make these layers three day you would chuck a camera in. You would throw the background, um, into that space there further back, and then you would instantly have problems. When you moved your camera. You'll see that she's slipping all over the place. There she's she's not locked into the shop. So what you'd have to do is Dolly into the shot in order to bring her closer to the camera , her legs around that point. And then, you know that's your basic parallax. But what I want to do is show you a way that you can have ah, standing on the ground and it not slip slip about and look unnatural, so I'll just undo all that. Okay, so here we are. This is all come and I'm gonna leave it at this size because I want a pretty come this. Um So let's just get rid of the woman layer. Andi, we're gonna do something. Cool. Camera mapping. It's also known his camera projection on this allows you to take a still image and convert it into three D geometry. Eso you can animate it. Okay, so the first thing I want to do is create a camera and I'm happy with 24 millimeter. The next thing we need to do is create our solid screens that that that will be our three d geometry on. We're gonna create these in order to project the image of the background onto. So let's go ahead. Create solid. Let's call this floor. Let's make this three day on just to help us position this, I'm gonna put a grid effect, generate grid onto this. No, you can position this using the original background. It sometimes helps just a have the subjects in there to help you. Position is and then I'm gonna go between the rotation tool on the selection tool, and you can do this. The shortcut is W for the rotation tool on DVI. I see the selection tool, so let's just go the rotation tool. I'm a position this so it lines up with floor, the four selection drug this down after rotation. I'm actually that that's looking pretty good, that about that angle. And then we can just drag direct bounding boxes toe resize it, push that back so it lines up with end of the field here on and we Congar bit wider. So that's good. That's our floor Now. The next thing to do is we want to create a solid screen for the trees on the sky. So let's duplicate the floor, which is Come on D. So let's go ahead and rename this. Let's call this sky on. We want to rotate this 90 degrees to the floor. So if you press are few highlights, sky impress our bring up our rotation parameters. Andi, in the X we wanna put that as 90 and you see that instant me. Put it in there the right axes and go to your side of you Go to the left of you on just and we just need to drag this into that space and you may just bring that up. So it's nice and neat up to that point in there. Let's go back to our active camera on. You can see we have our screens in place. Okay, so the next thing to do is we want to settle background layer to be our projected image is the next thing we do we want to do is set up our projector. So let's make our background layer three D and create a light spotlight is good and it's important that cast shadows is ticked and I k that so for organisational reasons, I'm just gonna move our projections set up to the top layers. And then we want to make sure that our light and our background have the same position as our camera. Select your camera and press P for position. I like the position and command. See for copy. Now open up your position on your light and your background on command V. When you can see that all the positions here are the same, I think today is we want a position the background just in front of the camera. So we go to our top position on here. We can see this is our camera here on our background is highlighted, so let's just nudge it up a few pixels and from experience, I know we want we want to put this to about 1%. It seems really small, but in your scale changes toe one. Okay, that and now go back to your active camera and you can see that it's still over shooting your composition window. So let's just shift and drag this so it's the same size, and now it should match up with the original background they wanna do is want to change this clean background into a piece of film, Really, In order to project, it shadows onto the solid screens. So select your background, press a twice, and it brings up your material options. And where is his car? Shadows and off hit off twice until it reads only now. The other thing is you got to make sure that light transmission is a 100% and make sure that, except shadows and accept lights are off. So now we want to set up our screens mm sky and floor screams to be protected. So first thing to do is let's remove the effects. It is because he that doesn't look right. And it's clearly you can see the the fall off of the light there and again press select them, impressed. A twice bring up material options. Not anything we do here is we turn off except lights, and that has created the camera mapping. So if you go to your camera now, you'll be able Teoh, move this around Andi. The next thing you want to do is animate the woman. So let's go back into our project. Let's find the woman on Let's put her into our own Kump. And actually, I'm just gonna tidy this up. I'm just gonna create fold of eco comes always try and be organized and press command k to bring up the composition settings on. I want Teoh Enlarge this Come size. Um, let's say 700 by 1000 on. Okay, that and then just drop the woman down to the bottom of your comp. That will make sense when we go back in into the final comp. We're gonna do a really simple animation here. We're gonna select their public Pimental, We're gonna pin her feet first. It's important that these don't move. And I think we should have two pens on the hips when the shoulders from the elbow on the wrist. And it's important where you place these. You can't just do you want to place him on the joints you don't really want to place, um, you know, in the middle, otherwise you'll get a strange, bending, unnatural bending. So at the end, this is the position way. Want her to be in If you press you, it brings up your a low key frames that you put in in the timeline. So here you can see all these key frames relating to the puppet pin tools. Okay, so what want to do is gonna drag them to the end, because this is our finishing point, and I'm gonna go tits the selection tool and the first thing I'm gonna do is select everything but the fate, and I'm just gonna take it over slightly to the right hand side. Then I'm gonna select everything but the hips. Just bring them over. Then I just want to select the arm and then when I play that through. You can see she's got quite a natural movement and it's quite subtle, and we can probably Maybe we could push that a little bit more. Might just slightly head up there and you can play around with this. You can make it. You know you can make a stretch more or less, but keep it subtle. Like I say, it's always important to try and keep it subtle. Okay, so let's go back into our composition camera mapping, composition. Let's drop our woman into this and make her three D and you'll see instantly that she is now being projected onto. So let's go into her material options A. And I want to turn off except shadows, Andi, except Lights. And I was looking a bit better. Now what I want to do is change her anchor point, so it's at the bottom, off the layer on. I know that it's we made this layer of 1000 pixels high, so if I change the why, anchor point to 1000 put it in the bottom and then I'm gonna drag this back down until she goes through the floor layer there. So what I want to do now is is draw her back, drag her back incense space till we get to her real position. Which is where the shadowy. So the shadows really important. This is a guide to where you should be, so we're pretty much there. So let's just drag it back up when you want her feet, just just a match where she should be. Now this is when you have Teoh reference your original background just to get the size right, so we need to make her a bit bigger. I mean, 120. Yeah, that's looking good. Let's just find Shane this so we can come up a tiny bit more. You see now, having that little bit of extra graphs that we left on, It's very useful because you can go into the floor layer of touch on, but it's not cutting her legs off. I think that's probably the position that we need or in okay, you know, the next thing I want to do is create the camera move. I want to create a very simple tracking shot, so I'm going to stop just to one side here, and then we're gonna go to the end timeline and I'm going to drag it to the left. You can see part of our screens here, but doesn't matter because we're gonna put this into another composition because you got to remember at the moment this is larger than an HD frame. I think that's looking good. So let's drop this into another composition on. Let's make this 1920 by 10. 80. Now, you say that we were cutting off quite a lot of this friend, but this enables you now, Teoh, you know, shrink this down and position it how you want. You know, you might want to shop with more sky. You might find that you want mawr grass in the shot. So this is this is quite useful to have a pretty come of this. And if I just, um, to run this through, I mean, as you can see, we've got the parallax behind her. I'm gonna make is a touch smaller and move slightly toe. No, you got 8. Adding Extra Elements to Your Animation: so when you're happy with your animation, you might want to enhance it will bring some other elements in. For instance, I'm going Teoh, bring in some leaves and some branches into the foreground. But you could bring some railings or offense or a bike frame or fire hydrant or whatever. You know. Um, on also, you might want to add some sort of dust particles. Sometimes this can help with that whole parallax effect. Also, it kind of adds cinematic realism t the shots. Okay, so we're back in after effects, and I just want to add a few little extra bits. I'm gonna add some or tree elements in the foreground is if we're kind of looking through, you know, a few trees. Or maybe we're in in some woods. So let's go back into the pre comp here, and I've got some PNG files here. This is some images with an Alpha Channel on a transparent background. Andi Utkan download These from the Internet is a number of sites that you can find for things like this. But if you type in, PNG quite often brings up pre cut out images, which is really useful. So let's just drop these two into here. Let's make them three D on going to see that they need their projected onto again. So let's press a twice and turn off shadows on lights on. You'll see when we move the camera, they're not in the right position. They need to be much closer to the camera. So let's drag him in dead space and just give them a very rough position here. I'm here and now we move the camera. They are moving. You could see the Parallax. They're moving faster, then all the other elements, which is the effect we want to create. So, actually, let's put this one even further in the foreground because that will move a bit quicker on a scale this one up. Don't overdo it. I want this to be quite subtle and then just go into the final comp here just to check where they are. So I'm gonna bring them down just a little bit. Certainly that one and that one of touch now there in the foreground and they would be blurred out. There's a slight depth of field going on in this photo and I wanna blow these out. Something's gonna go Teoh this fast blur just to get a very quick effect on the same on this one is this one. We need to be a little bit more blood because it's slightly more in the foreground now that this is a different voter and it doesn't look as riel. So you could come into your color correction on just just play around with it until it it looks riel. I may be dropped this saturation and then probably, um, let's go to curves stock in the whole thing. And I feel that it needs to be slightly more blue. Something like that could drop down a bit more. I like that a bit too much, Andi. Still think a bit more blue there, perhaps. Take out some red? Yeah, that's about right. Go into all final. Come. Okay, so let's see what that's looking like. That's great. 9. Final Thoughts: you might ask. Well, what's the point of doing this when you could just shoot live action slow motion while shooting live action could be very costly. It can also be time consuming on unpredictable. And if there's an image that already exists that conveys exactly what you want to say, then 2.5 d parallax is a great option. It's perfect for bringing to life archive photography in documentary. If you don't have a live action footage of your subject, then again, 2.5 parallax is a great option. Also, it's just a really lovely look in its own right. It's kind of got this hyper real cinematic ethereal feel to it, which can really bring something special to a production. So I hope this has been useful. Hope is being fun. I can't wait to see your finished animations. Please remember to upload your animations to a video platform and at the link to your class project in order for me to be able to see it on to share it with everyone else on skill share. Also remember, try having those different elements into the foreground, try some trees, and if that doesn't look so good. Try some railings blowed out in the foreground. Really? Can't wait to see what you guys going to come up with.