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WiP: Let it Snow… November 19, 2008

Posted by William J. Meyer in Jack's Post-Production, Jack's Videos.
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…let it snow, let it flour.

Ice Tree 

Last winter I took some sweet pics on an icy day and kinda played around with how to incorporate them into the movie. I knew that I wanted to use the four seasons in some manner, but not until I removed an early scene did I realize the seasons would work as a transition, allowing us to jump ahead a year in the story and bridge the time needed for the titular house to be built.

I wanted to add snow to the photos for the winter portion, just animate them a little, give them a little life. At first I was going to use a particle generator, but I haven’t had much luck lately with particle generators. Then I stumbled upon the idea of using flour. The following short video gives a brief rundown of the process. The below explanation gives more detail.

Fill a zip-lock bag with baking flour and shoot it against a black drop cloth. Open the bag below the camera’s field of view. The flour particles will shoot up (open the bag like you’re angry). Blow on the particles if necessary/desired. Shoot the drifting flour using a long lens to create interesting depth of field.

In After Effects, apply Knoll’s Unmult to the flour layer to create transparency from the black cloth. You might have to play w/Curves (stacked before Unmult) for cleaner results. Apply a Lens Blur to the footage and increase the Specular Threshold. Adjusting the Specular Brightness will give the brighter bits of flour that neat “nearly-but-not-quite glitter” quality you see in drifting snow on a clear, sharp day (at least here in Wisconsin).

Fun.

-William, Director

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Comments»

1. Art - November 22, 2008

What can I say? It looks exactly like snow flurries (at least the flurries in WI). It’s pretty remarkable that all you need to do this is a bag of flour and After Effects. Actually, It’s so cool, if I were you I would recommend adding snow to every scene regardless of location or time of year! :)

2. Anita - November 22, 2008

That is pretty nifty! We get snow in Colorado that looks like that quite often. Now I want to see what happens if you use glitter like that!

3. Art - November 29, 2008

Hey WJ,

Good luck finishing a cut for the WI fest!

best,
Art

[Thanks, bub. -wjm]

4. video editor - October 23, 2013

Keep up the great work!


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