April 6, 2018 : C2E2 2018 This Weekend!

C2E2 2018 starts today, and it will be the forth straight year I’ll be in attendance (and the third where I’ll hit all three days). As usual, there are some interesting looking panels, and there are always cool artists and merchandise booths to check out.

Sadly, I won’t partake in any cosplay this year. I just didn’t have any time to come up with an idea (not to mention actually making the costume). But that won’t stop me from enjoying other people’s excellent work.

posted by Pi Visuals at 8:50 am

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October 8, 2017 : Dragon Soul Piano Cover – Making Of

Making the Dragon Soul Piano Cover video was fun, but it did come with its challenges. Most of this came after shooting the video.

Some preliminary work was needed prior to shooting (outside of making the costumes, of course). The biggest was determining the best location for the mic. After some testing, the answer was on the book shelf, to the right of the screen behind a few books.

The other thing was setting up the shot. However, I wish I was more thorough with this. While I like the camera angle, I should have removed the mirror. The reason:

I should have realized the mirror was going to cause problems; and while I could have left things as is, I felt the presence of this Photo Bomber was too distracting.

On the bright side, I used this distraction (let’s call her Mary) as an excuse to do some masking/ rotoscoping. While tedious, it’s still a worthwhile skill to keep sharpened.

The first step in removing Mary from the video was creating a Mary-Free image in Photoshop. This was done rather easily with the Clone Stamp Tool:

The next step was removing Mary frame by frame. This required the use of masks in After Effects, and keyframing their position whenever somebody walked in front of Mary. This was admittedly a bit of a time suck: but after a decent amount of effort, I was happy with the final product:

Fortunately, once Piccolo came in the shot, he obscured our unwitting Photo Bomber. As such, I didn’t have to do this for the entire 90 seconds. It was closer to about 40 seconds.

There were a few other steps that had to be done. These included:

     • Reviewing The Takes: Playing piano in those gloves was not easy. It took several attempts before I got a satisfactory take. I believe out of 7 tries, there were only two takes where I didn’t cut early due to mishaps. Since the camera kept rolling throughout, I had to review and document where these were.
     • Audio Editing/ Mixing: Even though a good location for the mic was determined prior to shooting, I still took the audio into Audition and did a little mixing to boost the overall sound quality. As always with mixing, I could have spent even longer on it, but I had to know when to say when.
     • Add SFX: It was subtle, but I wanted to enhance the video with a few subtle sound effects. The most obvious was the ‘Whoosh’ around 0:04, but the footsteps and squeaking sound when I sat on the piano bench were also added after the fact. The other big thing was adding a ‘Room Tone’. This subtle background noise was present when the piano wasn’t playing and helped the transition between silence and music.
     • Color Correction: I have not had much experience with Color Correction, and this was a perfect time to get more acquainted. Ideally, I wanted to give Adobe Premiere’s Lumetri Scopes a whirl. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option this time around. Instead, I used some basic Contrast, Brightness, and Fast Color Correction settings to boost things up. I also got a better handle on the Waveforms and Scopes that detail the video’s color palette.

The adjustments were more subtle, but I used it more as a learning exercise while still tweaking things. Quickly: I lowered the brightness, increased the contrast, added some red/ orange to the highlights and midtones, and gave a slightly redish tint to the shadows. In the image below, the image on top is the original, while the bottom image is the color correction:

I normally do editing for animation projects in Sony Vegas, however I wanted to stretch myself a bit and use Adobe Premiere – something I have only a little experience with. I feel it provides more control with color correction, even without the Lumetri Scopes. Fortunately I was familiar enough with the software that it wasn’t much of a learning curve.

Overall, I am very happy with the end result for the video. The material is definitely esoteric, but I love it. Specifically, the dancing cracks me up as well as the interchange between Goku and Piccolo. Plus, I love the song (both playing it and listening to it).

The project provided a lot of fun exercises and yielded a video I thoroughly enjoy. Hope you agree – and found this post informative.

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:47 am

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September 29, 2017 : Dragon Soul Piano Cover (in Cosplay)

This Spring not only did I make my usual trek to C2E2, but I also spent a day doing some Cosplaying for the first time (the previous Halloween actually served as a trial run for the costumes).

In addition to enjoying the experience (the costumes were very well received), I also shot a short video that mashed my love of the DBZ theme song, Dragon Soul, with our Cosplay theme. I finally got around to uploading it:

I hope to make another post in the next week that details the efforts put into making this video. I didn’t just record it and throw it online. Multiple steps were taken after the fact to improve the quality as well as address issues that arose.

In the meantime, enjoy the silliness!

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:05 am

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January 13, 2017 : Costume Tweaks For C2E2 – Gloves

I was very proud of last year’s Halloween Costume . That night was actually a trial run for a day of Cosplaying at this Spring’s C2E2 (Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo). The run through went well, but a few tweaks were identified.

One of these alterations was the gloves. The original set was created from a spandex suit, thin EVA foam, and a good deal of adhesive. It wasn’t the most stable (or comfortable) concoction. I wanted to make a new pair that was strictly fabric, sewn together.

So after purchasing a sewing machine, learning the basics of sewing, and doing some research online; I was able to make some acceptable gloves. Below is a screenshot of the unfinished gloves:

Get ready for the Prince Of Saiyans.

The material used for these was flannel. I considered using a 4-way stretch fabric but was happy with the durability this provided. I still need to hem the edges at the forearms as well as Scotchgard them, but I am happy with the final product. There are a few things that could be improved, but I have decided it would be a better use of my time to focus on other aspects of the costume that need work.

posted by Pi Visuals at 2:42 pm

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