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How to Clone Yourself in a Handheld Shot (a Tutorial for Going Beyond my Kickstarter Video)

09.20.11 @ 4:09PM Tags : , , ,

I assume by now you’ve seen my Kickstarter video, which features two of me composited into one shot. Everyone knows how to do this — set up the camera on a tripod, don’t move it between takes, and film both sides one after the other — but it’s not a very “good” effect if you’re trying to go for something that isn’t so obvious. One way to make the effect more subtly convincing is to make it a handheld shot, and while I didn’t take my campaign video this far, I thought I’d use the video to show one way of compositing two people into a more naturalistic, shaky shot using After Effects. Here’s the tutorial (which is pretty basic, but may be educational to anyone new to After Effects):

You’ll want to full-screen the video to be able to read the on-screen text.

The difference is subtle, but do you think it makes the effect more convincing? For reference, here’s the original Kickstarter video (now on Vimeo in HD):

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  • Jim Barnett on 09.20.11 @ 5:07PM

    Dang man it was hard to follow because you set it up to follow your mouse so the screen was always moving….very disorienting!

  • There are two methods I use for adding the handheld effect, both of which are essentially picked up from the excellent videocopilot.net. The first method is similar to the one you use here but a bit more flexible; instead of using the wiggler, I use the wiggle expression (and sometimes also the . This can be changed on the fly rather than having to generate keyframes each time, and if linked to a slider control or similar the parameters can easily be changed throughout the comp.

    My preferred method though is to shoot some video handheld, motion track it, and apply that track to another video. It’s the best way to get a natural feel.

    • Absolutely — great idea, Luke. Didn’t think of that (of course, I had no intention of giving it a handheld look either, as I did it just for this tutorial!).

  • I wonder if it’s possible to do this kind of cloning in FCPX? And how?

  • It would be great if a company would design a USB 4-axis accelerometer device that you could just plug in to the NLE and add the effect of camera shake in real-time to the footage that is playing onscreen. This device would also be useful for many different effects as well. A motion sensing device like this would cost peanuts to make and would afford the filmmaker to create some post effects that were never before possible in such an organic and real way.

  • Thanks for the tip Koo!
    It was easy to follow, although scaling up works ok if shooting at 1080p and output at 720p.

    Thomas, FCPX is an editor. After Effects is a compositor, so it is designed for this kind of work.

    • Would a 3-5% upscale really be that detrimental to the 1080p shot? I’m seriously asking because I assumed it wouldn’t degrade it too much.

  • I really want to try this out, I see that there are three movie files though when you start out.

    1st: Good you
    2nd: Evil you
    3rd: ????

  • Koo,

    Thanks for this. This is a great tutorial. Your Kickstarter campaign was inspirational. I’m currently in the middle of one (just a $4k campaign) and have about $2400 to go.

    The short film I’m going to make after the campaign involves a character who appears twice in frame frequently. Here’s a test shot I did for it. I filmed it with my cell phone, so the production quality is not good, and it’s a little rough, but you get the idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCNK0iCBr6I&feature=channel_video_title

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