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Creating A Cool Credit Crawl With Digital Anarchy's Toonit! And After Effects' Levels Effect

By Kevin McAuliffe

About a week ago, I heard another one of my favorite lines from a producer; "Can you create a cool look for our show's credits?" Since I'm always up for a good challenge, I came up with a very interesting look for the end credits for a piece I was working on, and I thought that for this article, I would show a quick and easy way to create a great credit look for any show you are working on. For this tutorial, I am going to use Digital Anarchy's Toonit! and Adobe After Effects'
Levels effect.

Now, since I cannot use the footage I was working on due to copyright issues, I am going to use a picture of my wife and I on vacation, as the look of the picture and the look of the footage is very similar. In my original footage, I had dancers dressed primarily in white on a very dark stage dancing in slow motion. As you can see, I have chosen a similar type of image to use where my wife and I are bright in the foreground, and the background is much darker than we are.

First, let's import this image into After Effects, and create a new composition to put it in.  It doesn't matter the size, so you can create one for the size of composition you will need.  What I primarily want from this footage is my wife and I with nothing in the background. 
Normally, what people would do is mask or rotoscope the footage frame by frame, which is time consuming and cumbersome.  A much easier way to remove all the information from the dark parts of my image is to crush the blacks using the "Levels" effect.  Select your clip, and navigate to
EFFECTS>COLOR CORRECTION>LEVELS.   Take your "Input Black" level and set
it to "20".  As you can see, almost all of the information from the darker areas of the footage have disappeared.

Now, we are ready to add our Toonit! effect to our footage.  Navigate to EFFECTS>DIGITAL ANARCHY<TOONIT! Roto Toon.  I'm now going to adjust my parameters to my liking. Take a look at the image below to see my parameters and the final result.

Now that I have my footage all toon'd up, I'm ready to build my credit crawl. First, I'm going to move my footage over to the right side of the screen and mask out the left side of the image that has the couple of lights that were left in the background. 

The reason for doing this is that we want a smooth transition between my picture's blacks and the background's black.  Next, I'm going to create a large image in Photoshop that contains my crawl. For users that don't have Photoshop, you can create your crawl using After Effects' Text Tool. Once I have my crawl, I'm going to drop it in my timeline and animate it crawling from top to bottom on the left side of the screen. Take a look below for a still of what this would look like.

That's it, you're done! If you want to get really fancy, you could add a motion effect so that your footage moves at five frames per second to really give it that "animation" look. Overall, this is a very simple technique, and Digital Anarchy's Toonit! is a great plug-in that gives you excellent results with little work. Anytime a producer asks you to come up with something "cool", think about the tools you have at your disposal, and if you put a little thought into it, you can come up with something that looks great with very little work required! For a free demo of Digital Anarchy's Toonit!, you can download it from their website at www.digitalanarchy.com.


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:toonit, special effects, after effects

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  • Creating A Cool Credit Crawl With Digital Anarchy's Toonit! And After Effects' Levels Effect by DMN Editorial at Jul. 01, 2008 9:50 pm gmt

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