This is the establishing shot for my short film “Keep Your Feet on the Ground”:
Unfortunately, the consumer camcorder I used had no way to turn off the autoexposure feature of the camera, so as the camera pans down, the roof overexposes to white and the shadows under the eaves drop to black. After a couple failed experiments, I was able to correct the shot. Here’s the final version:
My first whack at this was just to try to color correct it. But where the roof is exposed to white, you can’t color correct lost detail back into that area. So since this shot was almost a nodal pan, with no action other than the camera movement, I decided I could create a panorama in Photoshop and then fake the camera move in Shake. This is what I did.
1) I stitched together the best parts of several frames into on Panorama. (Details on this step can be found in several tutorials across netland, so I’ll just illustrate the process with a simple, useless diagram.)
2) Next, I imported the panorama into Shake. After fiddling with image brightness, I noticed some mistakes I made when stitching the images together, so I Quickpaint-ed them away.
3) I then added the camera movement using a Pan node. This took some tweaking to get smooth camera movement and avoid looking off the edges of the panorama.
4) Now this isn’t a normal shot. The last frame of this pan is the first frame of a camera dolly in to the window. So the last frame of the shot couldn’t be changed from the original. I forgot that when I was making the panorama, and had painted all over the bottom part of the panorama. So I had to remake the panorama, being careful not to touch the bottom part this time.
5) The shot looked pretty good at this point, but I noticed the background looked like it should be warping a bit as the camera moved to better match the feel of the original shot. So I added a Lens Warp node. While it improved the shot, it also created several problems. It warped some of the panorama edges into view, and affected that last frame of the shot again.
6) I got around affecting the last frame by fading out the kappa value in the Lens Warp node over time:
7) To fix the edges coming into view caused by the Lens Warp node, I AGAIN had to remake the panorama in Photoshop, this time cloning in extra sky and bricks on the edges to make things work. (That’s the third time, for those of you not counting.)
8 ) Since the panorama isn’t video, the shot was missing video noise like a real video clip would have. I used a Film Grain node to analyze the sky on the original clip, replicate that noise pattern, and applied it to my panorama pan. Then I decided it didn’t look right, spent about an hour manually fiddling with the values, compared my manual film grain to the original clip, and decided the Film Grain analysis was way better than my poor attempts. Trust the Film Grain node analysis.
9) Finally, just to make SURE that the final frame matched up with the original footage, I actually spliced the panorama shot and the original clip together, making the original clip visible on the last frame. Ops OK. That means everything looked good, yo.