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Create Monster Visual Effects in After Effects with the Monster Toolkit

Create Monster Visual Effects in After Effects with the Monster Toolkit and Mocha AE from Imagineer Systems from Rampant Design Tools on Vimeo.

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[toggle title=”Video Transcription”]Create Monster Visual Effects in After Effects with the Monster Toolkit and Mocha AE from Imagineer Systems Video Transcription

All you have to do is:

Hey hey, party people. It’s Sean Mullen from Today I want to show you the basics of how to create your own monster using our digital makeup and prosthetics kit Monster Toolkit. Let’s head on over to, and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. If you go to, it will take you to this page right here. From here, you can play the promo and learn all about it or you can just do some reading and take a look at the different kinds of examples. As you see right here, there’s more than 1,500 creature elements and effects, textures, things like that. It’s huge. It’s over 35GB. It is just all kinds of skin textures, and eyes and noses, and facial pieces, and ears and all kinds of crazy stuff. You can create all kinds of beasty goodness with this thing.
Go ahead and scroll down and you can see all the different kinds of examples of things that we offer here. The most important part is whether you have Monster Toolkit or not. We do have a free test drive so go ahead and click this button right here and download the free sample pack, and you can follow along with us. Go ahead and download the preview sheet too so you can see exactly what the Monster Toolkit has.
I’m jumping into After Effects. You don’t need After Effects to use this. There’s plenty of other software out there, but what you do need is some kind of compositing software or edit software with tracking capabilities. That means you can use After Effects. You can use Hit Film. You can use Slicex for Final Cut. Anything that has a legit tracker. The better the tracker, the better the composite. I love the planar tracking of Imagineer Systems software. For what I do for a living, doing visual effects for films and television shows, I would not use anything other than Mocha stuff, Imagineering stuff. I love Mocha, Mocha AE, Mocha Pro. Loves, loves, loves that software. If you have After Effects, Mocha AE comes with it, so you can follow along. Like I said, Imagineer Systems [02:00] software is included in Hit Film and in Slicex as well.
Obviously if you’re using this for graphic design you don’t need any tracking software, but basically the process is you do your tracking and then you do blending, and that’s it, so it’s just tracking and blending. It’s really similar to applying real makeup or real prosthetics. You apply it and then you blend it. That’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to show you basically how to recreate a look just like this, so let’s get started.
Here’s the raw shot of our actress looking at the camera, and all the footage that you see in the promo as well as this shot right here was shot by the fine folks at C Light Entertainment, so I have to give them a shout out. Thank you very much for all your hard work, it looks awesome. They shot it on the Black Magic 4k camera, so if you watch the promo you can actually watch it in 4k on YouTube. We did that so you can see just how high resolution these images really are.
Here’s our shot. The very first thing we have to do obviously is track things, and I deliberately picked this shot because it’s close to the camera, and I’m going to track multiple facial features to lock things down. Sometimes you can get away with tracking only one facial feature if the actor or actress is far away, but I chose this shot because I want to show you the intricacies of the tracking and the blending. What better shot to do that than a closeup? First things first, let’s highlight the raw footage here, and let’s go under animation, and track, and Mocha AE. That’s going to open up Mocha here, and it’s going to say, “Hey, these are the details of the shot.” You say Okay. I’ve already tracked this so it comes up with this, this window. You may not have that because you won’t be tracking the same shot. As you can see this right here is our entire shot, but here in the brackets the composition in After Effects. I’m only using this small portion of this entire shot for this tutorial.
All right, so [04:00] when I’m in Mocha, if you’ve never used Mocha before it looks different. It’s an usual interface. It’s awesome, it’s super easy to use. Go ahead and go to Imagineer Systems’ website and hit up some tutorials, but I’m going to walk you through it real quick. You can actually go through the basics of Mocha without knowing much about the software. When it comes for tracking for me personally, I pick a frame in the middle and track forwards and backwards. You don’t have to do that, and in this particular shot you don’t need to, but that’s how I work because you never know what kind of obstructions or obscurations are going to happen in the shot.
First things first, I’m going to go ahead and I’m just going to grab a spline here, and I’m going to draw around our actress’ right eye, camera left eye. There we go, and then I’m just going to click this button right here, track forward. It’s going to push through the shot real quick. Then I’m just going to scroll back to our first frame that we started tracking on, and I’m going to track backwards. All right, so if I scrub through here real quick you can see we’ve got our track, and I want to go ahead and I want to highlight “export tracking data,” click it, and I want to make sure it says “export tracking data After Effects transform data,” which is the position, scale, and rotation. Want to make sure that’s highlighted, and I’m going to hit copy to clipboard.
I’m going to go back to After Effects, and before I do anything I want to make sure I’m at the very first frame. Go to layer, new, null object, and then hit paste. If I highlight the null and I hit P and then shift, R and shift S, which opens up the position, scale, and rotation data, you can see that this is my tracking information. Position, scale, and Rotation. You can see the null right here, and it’s locked on to the I. For organizational purposes I’m going to go ahead and label this “left eye.” I know it’s her right eye, but it’s camera left just for organizational purposes.
Like I said before, in some [06:00] cases you can get away with just tracking one thing and applying everything, but you’ll notice that if you do that on a situation like this you could get slipping, because as the closer you get to the camera, the distance between the facial features could change. For example, this is a planar tracker that we’re using. The nose tip is on a different plane than the eye, which is on a different plane than the ear, and so on and so forth. We’re going to go ahead and track multiple features just real quick.
I’m going to ahead and go back to Mocha real quick. Going to delete this tracker, and I’m going to track her right eye. Now you don’t have to delete the tracker, I just do it for simplicity’s sake. I’m going to go ahead and track forwards. I’ll go back to that frame that I started from and track backwards. Cool, I’m going to hit “export tracking data.” Once again, make sure it says “transform data” and copy that to the clip board.
Going to go back to After Effects, create another null, new null. I’m going to call it “right eye,” and I’m going to hit paste. Holding down P, S, and R once again shows the position, scale, and rotation data. Cool, so now we have tracking data for the left eye, tracking data for the right eye, and I’m going to do one more track around her nose. I’m going to go back to Mocha real quick, and I’m just going to draw a spline around her nose. Track forward from here. [08:00] All right, so we’ve got our track. Hit export tracking data, make sure once again it’s set to transform data, copy to clipboard.
Go back to After Effects, make sure I’m at my first frame. New layer, new null object, and hit paste, and once again I’m just going to label it “nose track.” If I shuffle through you can see we’ve got three nulls, and they’re all tracking to the places that I track. Now we’ve got our tracking data and we’re ready to start playing around. Just like if I was going to do this in special effects makeup in the real world, I would start with a base. We’re going to change the color of her face, and then we’re going to add some textures, and slowly move on forward.
The very first thing I want to do is I want to change the whole color of her face. To do that I’m going to use an adjustment layer, so go new, adjustment layer, and before I do anything, because she’s so close to the camera her face actually goes past the frame lines. What I want to do is right here on the adjustment layer go to layer, solid settings, and I’m just going to go ahead and lock the aspect ratio, and I’m going to increase the height just a little bit because her face kind of bounces in and out of the frame lines here because we’re so close. That’s fine. This I’m going to call the “face roto.” I’m going to parent this to the nose track. Whatever positional and rotational skill data happens, the roto’s going to follow the nose tracking information. What do we do next? We highlight our pen tool. I like to use [roto bessié, 09:44] and then I’m just going to make a quick mask here. Nothing crazy, just basically [10:00] outlining her face.
Now here’s the cool thing. With the exception of some slight changes in rotation or closer distance to the camera, this mask is going to track because I already did the hard work in Mocha. Just go ahead and I’m going to make the key frame here just in case I have to make changes, but if I add an effect to this to show you exactly what the mask does, let’s see. I’ll just go to color correction. Let’s go ahead and do hue saturation, colorize. That’s pretty freaky. Let’s rotate it to more of a green. That’s cool. Maybe a little too much on the saturation. Let’s do a multiply maybe. There you go, that’s nice and creepy. Now if I hit play you can see that for the most part it follows her face. Now you can see over there on the right edge there’s a little bit of drift. We can fix that pretty quickly just by changing some key frames real quick. Just go like this, just pull this over. All right.
On this mask layer I’m going to go ahead and hit F for feather. I’m going to feather just a little bit so it blends. Then I’ll just scroll through here to see. It slips just a little bit there. She changes shape so I’m going to go just tweak this mask real quick. [12:00] I’m also going to hit M twice, and I’m going to expand my matte just a little bit, just a little bit. There we go. If I hit play, now our actress is feeling a little bit green. Okay, so far so good. Now if I was going to complete this shot I’d probably work on this hair a little bit and this ear a little bit, but for this tutorial I’m not going to focus on that quite yet. I’m just going to walk you through the basics. Like I said, it’s tracking and blending. Right now we’ve got a good base. We’re going to find out if this is a little too dark or a little to bright in just a second, but right now our actress is green.
What next? Well what I want to do is I want to add texture to it, because just turning her green and blending her? That’s great. A little bit of multiply blend with a hue shift, not too shabby, but that’s not too advanced. Let’s go ahead and find some skin textures. I’ve already pre-picked some textures. Here’s the skin one. It’s nice and yucky, it’s pretty hard core, and I’ve also got this one that’s also a cracked skin texture, see? Right there. Pretty cool stuff. I’m going to mix the two to get a similar effect that I created over here on this shot that I showed at the beginning of the tutorial.
Let’s go over here. Let’s start with this really jacked up skin texture here. Let’s drop it on the timeline. Now if I just blend this, switching it from normal to multiply, you can see it’s already affecting her quite a bit. Maybe even an overlay. Yeah, it’s really creepy, but it doesn’t stay where it’s supposed to stay, and obviously if I scroll through the shot nothing happens, so we need to do a couple things. First thing, [14:00] we need to parent this to the nose track information that we got from Mocha. Now if I scrub you can see that the texture moves with her face, but obviously it’s not contained within that roto. Once again, we need to utilize the power of that roto that we took. We’re going to duplicate this roto layer, move it above the skin texture, and I’m going to turn off hue saturation, get rid of that. Then I’m going to highlight the skin texture layer, and I’m going to track matte the roto. I’m going to change it from no track matte to alpha matte, so it’s only applying this texture inside this matte.
Now some people would say, “Why don’t you just roto the matte?” You can, but then if you need to change anything like reposition the skin texture you have to readjust your matte, and who wants to do that? I like to keep my tracking, my roto, and my effects all separate so I have ultimate control in case a producer walks in, or somebody says, “Hey, this is cool but we need to do X, Y, or Z.” To illustrate what I’m talking about, here’s the skin texture layer. If I highlight P and I move it up and down it’s still contained within the roto, but I’m able to reposition the texture itself which also does not affect the tracking information, because my track is contained in my null right here. My texture itself is separate from the roto, so the texture’s inside the roto which is being controlled by the track.
Now let’s reposition this. Find something, that’s actually really creepy. Let’s find something that we like here. Let’s switch into multiply. I’m going to lower the opacity just a bit. I just want a hint here. We may have to switch this skin to overlay to brighten up. There we go. I switched the initial base color, I’ll turn this off, to a brighter green so I can blend in this facial texture. Now if I hit play, the facial texture tracks with the girl’s face.
This is pretty cool and it works, but there’s a [16:00] couple issues. One, you can see the texture in her eyes, so we want to get rid of that, and two, we’re using a flat texture here. This is flat. This is a flat piece of artwork. Her face is curved, so I want to make sure that there’s some dimensionality to the texture. How do I do that? Make sure you highlight the skin texture and go under effect, distort, optics compensation. We’ll change the view center to somewhere around her nose right here, and then we’ll just start changing the field of view so it’s bending. There we go. It’s adding more of a curve. We can readjust this to figure out what looks best. That looks pretty cool. Now there’s more of a curved feel to the texture. This is the flat texture, this is the curved texture. This is just an artistic choice, whatever works for you. I just personally like to do this any time I’m mapping a texture to a person’s face. Never hurts to hit save every once and a while too. Okay, so we’ll hit play. Now you have this really interesting texture mapped to the actress’ face, and she’s got a green face, and so far she’s coming together. This is pretty cool.
All right, so like I said, the one issue I’m having is now I’m starting to see the texture through her eyes and I don’t want to do that. What do we do? You highlight the layer that the skin texture is using as a track matte, and all you have to do is make one mask like so, and hit M for masks, and change it from add to subtract. You’re cutting out that matte, see? It just disappeared. If I switch it back to none there’s the texture, subtract, no texture. Now I’m going to add a little bit of a feather, and I’ll do the same for this eye as well because [18:00] I don’t want the texture in the eyes, and hit subtract. Once again, hit F for feather. Now I made this one a little too big so I’m going to shrink it back down, because I do want the texture on her eyelids but I don’t want it in her eye. There we go, okay, cool. We’ll hit preview.
All right cool, so now we have the base of our effect. She’s got this cool green hue to her, she’s got the texture. Let’s keep going. I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to highlight skin texture and the roto that I’m using as a track matte. I’m going to duplicate it. I’m going to go back to my project window, and I’m going to swap out the texture, holding down the option key, with my cracked skin texture. Now I’ve got both and they should all be tracked, because all the information’s the same. I just duplicated the layer. Now I think the crack is overtaking the other texture a little much, so I’m going to hit T for opacity and I’m going to dial it back. There we go. I also might want to hit P and just reposition it somehow, just find what works for me. That’s cool. Of course I’ll hit E for optics compensation, and I’ll make sure that it’s bending around her nose somewhere. There we go. All right, cool. Let’s hit preview. This is really starting to come along.
We’ve got the cracked skin, we’ve got the creepy skin texture, and this is pretty cool, but let’s say we wanted to do something with her eyes. Because we did track the eyes, might as well do something, right? I’ve got this eye texture right here, and these things are huge. Just to illustrate how large these elements really are, right now this is at 12.5%. [20:00] that’s 100%. Let’s go ahead and drag that into the timeline. That’s how big it is. The first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to scale it down a little bit. I’m going to hit T for opacity, I’m going to dial down the opacity so I can see. Reposition over the eyes. I’d like to place it pretty much over where the original eye is, so dial back the opacity, hit S for scale. Really just match this. Looks like it’s somewhere between 6 and 7%. Looks like it’s closer to 6.3. There we go. In some cases I’ll change the blending mode, so let’s change this to “screen” just for fun. All right, and then we’ll raise the opacity. Somewhere around there. 46% is pretty good.
Now of course we want to make sure that we’re using the eye tracks, so set this to the left eye track. If I hit preview the eye should track with her regular eyes. Now as we all know your eye does not stick over your eyelid, so there’s two things you can do. You can roto her eye back on top of it, or you can just adjust the mask on the eye layer, which is what I’m going to do. I’m just going to take our pen tool, and right here on the eye layer I’m just going to draw a matte where her eyelid would be. I’m going to hit M for mask and switch it from add to subtract, and then I’m going to feather it. It’s all about blending, no hard edges. I can probably feather it even some more. There we go, that looks good. All I’m going to do now [22:00] for the right eye is I’m just going to duplicate this layer like so, I’m going to reposition it. I’ll just use my mouse for that. You could just use P and adjust the numbers as well if you’d like.
Before I do anything else I’m going to switch it from left eye track to right eye track. Zoom in here, make sure my eye is where I want it to be, my mask is where I want it to be. Let’s see, my mask is a little lower. If you’re ever wondering where you should be looking for your matte, you can hit T for opacity and just lower it to make sure that you are where you need to be. That’s good. So far looking pretty cool. I’m going to just adjust this matte just a little bit. It’s a little high on the right side. There we go. If you’re thinking, “Okay, these eyes are a little too bright,” you can either dial down the opacity, which will blend the real eye with your composited eye, or you can just highlight the layer, go into effect, color correction, levels, and you can adjust the brightness levels here. You can just dial in the brightness there a little bit, that’s not too shabby, and then of course you can highlight that, copy and paste it to your other eye, and paste.
There you have it. You can change your noses, you can change mouths, you can change eyes, you can change skin textures, you can rotate the hue if you’re like, “Well the green witch is cool, but I want her to be more blue,” no [24:00] problem. Just go to your skin texture, and just rotate the huge to find something that you like. Now she’s more of like a stone feel. Once you have the tracking data and all the makeup in place you can do whatever it is you want to do, and you can make changes very quickly. You can swap out eyes, you can swap out skin textures. That’s it. If it wasn’t for my jibber jabber we’d be done a long time ago. This is really simple. All you do is you make sure that you have tracking data, and make sure that you’ve got a mask that you can plug in your skin textures to, and then you just blend it, and that’s it. It’s super simple to use the monster tool kit to create everything from zombies, to vampires, to the undead. You name it, you can do it.
This is pretty much the basics of how the monster toolkit works, that’s about that. Thank you so much for watching. We’d love to hear your comments and tutorial requests, so hit us up either on twitter at Rampant Design, or at Facebook at Leave a comment here in this video, tell us what you think. We’re coming out with other monster toolkit tutorials soon, doing vampire tutorials and fang tutorials, but if there’s something specific that you’d like us to create tutorial wise please hit us up and let us know. Once again, this is Sean from Rampant Design tools. Thanks for watching.


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