Making Comic Book City Skylines in Ultimatte Advantedge

Superheroes and villains oftentimes populate surreal, bizarre, and somehow unreal worlds, and Ultimatte Advantedge allows filmmakers to put their characters into just such backgrounds. As an example, consider a film such as “The Dark Knight,” which uses Chicago for their location, but it looks like something more than Chicago. Ultimatte Advantedge is a powerful compositing tool which not only lets you place your characters wherever you’d like, but it also allows you to manipulate the actual backgrounds you have access to. There are two distinct ways you can use Ultimatte Advantedge for a highly stylized, surreal background for your film project.

Step 1: Artistically Created Backgrounds

Perhaps you have artistic ability beyond simply film skills. If you or someone you know can create exactly the background you desire, have them create it, record it digitally, and import it into Ultimatte Advantedge. You may want a city skyline that looks like it came straight out of a printed comic book, and this is certainly a legitimate option. Once you’ve got this background, you can add hues, shades, shadows in Ultimatte Advantedge. Additionally, when you shoot the action that will happen in the scene against a blue- or green-screen, you will need to import that footage and composite it together with the backdrop.
Step 2: Actual Backgrounds

If you find or know of an actual background with a distinct skyline that will work for the effect you desire, you can actually shoot your action against that background with the knowledge that you can “fix” it later. There’s a notorious saying on the set – “We’ll fix it in post” – however, there are options through programs like Ultimatte Advantedge that will allow you to change it to meet your needs.

Step 3: Manipulating the Backgrounds

Take either your created/artificial background or your actual background, and turn it into what you desire. With Ultimatte Advantedge, you can altar the scene with contrast, lighting (or the lack thereof), shadows, hues and shades. Would the scene create the mood you want with a blue-cast over the background? Yellow-cast? These can add to your tone of the film. With additional plugins, such as Particular, Horizon or Shine, you can add elements like rain, lightning or a sunset.

Step 4: Film Your Talent

Based on the layout of your background (assuming that you didn’t film against an actual background), position your talent in front of your green-screen. Think in terms of the scope of your story, but position them to make the most of your background.

Step 5: Composite Talent

Import your footage of the talent to composite with Ultimatte Advantedge. One of the tremendous advantages of this program is that you can manipulate much of the matte without having the lines or blurring that occur more often with chroma key-ing. Pay attention to shadows and lighting. If you are careful with the details, you will create a whole new world against a comic book skyline that could exist nowhere else but in your own imagination!