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:
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
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.
Step 2: Constructing Your Background
For my project, the background needed to be porous, letting the viewer see whatever footage is in the background, so a bay window set-up was drawn by arranging a series of rectangles in an architectural pattern. Using a brick pattern fill and no stroke, plus using effects like skewing the blocks helps to create a sense of realism.
You can also use texture patterns for the floor and stock images for the ceiling; really, though, it all depends on how much of each part of your background will be visible in the video, and how interactive you need different bits to be.
Step 3: Compositing Your Set
Import your background PNG image and align it however you need it to be. Begin to lay your object in the room, having been sure to keep anything animated or interactive as a separate file for later use. You may need to scale things down or tweak their positions.
Any background footage should be inserted above the placeholder green solid but below everything else.
Notice that the metal table is in the foreground; when you bring in your actor, they should be in front of a green screen... But behind a green cloth draped over a comparable table, bringing your faux table to the second layer in AE.
Exit Sign, go to step 4
Sliding Door, go to step 5
Lightning Generators, go to step 6
Holographic Screen, go to step 7 (not visible in preview video)
A lot of these things use the same basic techniques. Thanks for reading, and remember to have fun with the project, no matter how tedious the construction might seem or become.
Step 4: Flickering Exit Sign
Now, using the type/test tool, type out "EXIT" to create a new ext layer. Add the glow effect and then add the wiggle expression to the "Intensity" setting. This will basically give you a randomly generated number for the intensity of the glow, and this in turn will give you that nice flickering effect. I also played around with the glow radius settings (again, the wiggle expression) and duplicated the layer with an offset on this layer's effect timing to make the effect more apparent and feel more natural.
Step 5: Sliding Door
Step 6: Lightning Generator(s)
Step 7: Holographic Screen
After that, create two new rectangles and give them subtly beveled edges. Place one, darker coloured, on the layer belowthe screen. Place the lighter coloured one above it. These are the base from which your screen appears. To have the screen slide out from the bars, use the scale and position controls. Scale the screen down disproportionately to its expanded size and use the time-vary stop watch to tool to set in and out positions to animate the screen, watching it go from collapsed and barely visible to fully extended and vice versa.