WIP: Fly Into a Picture

One of the effects I’ve always wanted to pull off was flying into picture – similar to what was done in the opening credits of HBO’s Carnivale:

Some tarot cards are dropped on a table and then the camera flies into them revealing a full 3D (Well, 2.5D actually) environment. I’ve always admired it because it clearly took an immense amount of preparation and thought, while at the same time being visually stunning.

Anyway, as we’re working hard in getting Holomatrix (a new product you’ll be hearing more about soon) out the door, I needed a break from the daily grind, so I thought I’d try my hand at it.  This is what I have so far:

Click Image to watch video.

It looks simple, but trust me, this is a lot harder than it looks. The problem comes from the fact that you don’t want the image to have a change in perspective until right when you start to enter it. Otherwise it never looks like a picture – more like a window. It becomes especially obvious if the 3D camera were to pan left or right. You’d really see the perspective change then.

The key is to find the exact point where to switch between a 2D flat layer and the full 3D environment. Using several pre-comps and a lot of expressions (Which I haven’t quite optimized), I’ve been able to pull it off automatically, but it’s going to require a little more research to make it more useful. I’ll let you know when I have it all worked out.

Click Image to watch video.

To the left is a link to the same animation without any of the color correction and other effects I used on the 3D environement, so you can see it more clearly. BTW – the grass was entirely generated with After Effects using CC Hair. The actors are, of course, from Crowd Control, our vast libary of Pre-keyed Alpha Stock Footage.

12 thoughts on “WIP: Fly Into a Picture”

  1. create a selection like a soft vignette, use this with force motion blur at the cut in point. This will smooth the jump, little bit of time remapping thrown in will help soften the effect.

    Been playing with this for a private client.

    Also what helps is the colour treatment stays the same throughout, you are going from one colour temperature to another. try blending it. The other trick is to force a focal point to go to, then eye does not have time to wander.

    On the original footage the camera path is quite close to the golden mean, if you have adobe lightroom look at that you will see what I mean.

    Love to see more,


  2. I am familiar with this problem. As far as creating it entirely in AE out of separate elements it looks as if you have come very close to solving the mystery. Using two live action plates is much more difficult to match perspective and make a seamless transition. Jacqueline Guzman, a VFX artist who attended Vancouver Film School at the same time as me, was the first VFS student to attempt this insanely intricate shot. You can check out her VFS demo reel at her website http://www.jackieguzman.com

  3. He Aharon,
    Pretty cool effect. Seems really hard to do.

    I’ve noticed, wachting it a couple of times, that it seems to shock a bit when the transition is happening. Looking closer at this and for example focussing on the frame instead of the center, the camera movement it fluent.

    So a inspected the Carnivale example, and noticed two things;
    1) Only the side borders are in frame when it transfers to 3D (maybe this helps sell the effect)
    2) The 3D seems to be in 2 seperate passes. The first pass when the borders are in frame and the camera zooms in, revealing more of the image on the sides. Then after the borders are out of view the 3D aspects is fully visible.

    Then I could be wrong, I’m a newbie to this kind of stuff and just wanted to give my two cents..

    Love your work and site!

  4. Whatever happened to this tutorial Aharon? I am really interested in this effect.

    Anyone know of another place that shows how this effect is achieved?

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