STEP 1: Import your source material
We start by importing a scanned image from an old Ballets Russes
program into 844/X and place it in the timeline. We paste a copy of
that still image on top of itself and enter the Matte Tool, then draw a
matte around the dancers in the center of the image. This allows us to
do things that focus our attention on the pair and pulls them a bit off
the background of the original photo. Exiting the Matte Tool, we save
the matte to the clip in the timeline and keep a copy in the bin, for
STEP 2: Scale your images
Using the 844/X Parameter Editor and Curve Editor, we scale each layer
up with a gentle zoom. Starting with the base layer, we set the scale
and anchor points to zoom in, then highlight the keyframes in the Curve
Editor and set them to Bezier for a softer start and finish to the
We can copy this set of geometric keyframes and save it as a filter to
a bin. Then, just drag the filter from the bin and drop it on top of
the clip in the second layer and all the keyframes will instantly be
copied to and synchronized in the second layer. We’ll also add a bit of
blur to the base layer as it scales up so it defocuses slightly while
the dancers in the center stay sharp.
STEP 3: Enhance the separation of layers
Right-click in the Parameter Editor and add a drop shadow with a nice blur to enhance the separation between the two layers.
STEP 4: Sub-comp the layers
Now the real fun begins. We sub-comp the two photo layers then return
immediately to the main timeline. A quick 1x process gives us the
sub-comp in place with the photos scaling and the drop shadow.
STEP 5: Add archival footage
We place some nice color archival footage of a turning dancer on track
2. Using Geometrics, we unlock proportional scaling and set the
horizontal scale to 75 percent so the old dance footage has the correct
aspect ratio within the 16 x 9 frame. It’s a real-time adjustment. By
hitting the scale-lock button again, we can keep that proportion intact
as we animate the scale on that footage to zoom in along with the still
STEP 6: Add an overlay effect
We change the blend mode of the dance footage to Overlay-it makes the still photo look like something’s shining through it.
STEP 7: Tone it down a bit
To make the effect subtler, we click on the dance footage and reduce
its opacity while also tweaking its saturation, hue, gamma, gain and
pedestal settings-using the randomizing function to make those settings
animate-until the moving imagery "projects through" the foreground
still photography. This gives us a glowing, flickering effect-a
superimposition of color and movement, and, because 844/X runs all this
in real time, we can experiment freely with different degrees of color
values and timings until we get an interesting old-time feel.
STEP 8: Add a real-time blur
To make the dance footage look more like a suggestion of color and
movement, rather than something literal, we add a real-time blur-a
great 844/X feature we use heavily-and keyframe its value so it blurs
more as it comes closer to the screen. Now the footage seems like
shapes moving-the image is perceivable, but not defined-and the photo
is coming alive.
STEP 9: Clean it up
The overlay effect needs to be cleaned up, because the dance footage is
spreading beyond the boundaries of the still photo and onto the black
outside the photo. We need to use what the matte automatically
generated when we created the still photo sub-comp and apply it to the
dance footage, too. By entering the Matte Tool, then exiting right
away, we trigger a dialog that lets us save the subcomp’s animated
matte to a bin. Then, we just drag the animated matte onto the dance
footage and we’re done. Once we’ve set up the sequence, we have the
freedom to copy and paste it several times so we can experiment with
variations on the theme and see which ones we like most. It’s real time
and non-destructive work. Very nice.
Dan Geller, Director/Producer, Geller/Goldfine Productions
Since 1986, Emmy Award -winning director/producer Dan Geller-with
producing-directing partner Dayna Goldfine-has created critically
acclaimed multi-character documentary narratives for theatrical,
broadcast, and home video release. Geller is also a co-founder,
producer and director at Storyline Productions in San Francisco, where
he has created award-winning business communications projects for
companies in high technology, biotechnology, medicine and education.
Ballets Russes, a documentary tracing the history and legacy of
ballet. "We created a look for the still image sequences that suggests
a period feel," says Geller. "It is a multi-layered effect applied in
the system at once in real time."
DVCAM footage shot in 16 x 9, transfers of motion-picture footage from
the 1930s and 1940s, and thousands of b-and-w photographs.
930 Pierce Street
San Francisco, CA 94115