Instructables
Picture of Make a (2-D) Virtual Stage
I like to dabble in all things, not the least of which is film. Unfortunately, coupling an over-active imagination with a ridiculously tight budget makes producing most of my videos pretty difficult. As such, I've been looking into the magic of computers to try and smooth over any gaps in my movies where someone ought to have put some money... And so here we have a faux set (to compliment a lecturing mad scientist), built entirely in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, in lieu of a piricy, hand-built set.


So, for this project, you will need a computer with:

1)Internet access or a very large selection of usable photographs
2) Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects (Here, I use Adobe CS5)

To then use your virtual stage, you will need:
1) Actor(s)
2) Camera
3) Additional Video Editing Software

This Instructable will show the basics all the way through, and then reference additional step numbers for individual components of the space as I constructed them (just like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure).

Before you begin, please note that I'm not going to teach the basics of using any of these programs. Do not attempt this project until you have at least a working knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, and, most importantly, After Effects. You should have no significant difficulty with the project then.

Step 1: Collect Your Images

Even if you're not already working from a set script, you should have some idea of what you need. Hit the Interwebs and start to compile your images. A good resource is Google Images, but make sure that you've got your settings set for Large Images only, especially if you plan to work in HD.

These images will probably need some work, isolating the desired images and deleting their backgrounds and such. This will be done in Photoshop. My preferred method is to open the file in Photoshop and use the magic lasso as much as possible, then saving the cleaned up image, sans a background (and converted into a separate layer for that nice, transparent backgorund), as a PNG file.
 
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