Faking An Alien Autopsy Part I
by Stephen Schleicher

I recently watched a television special called Hoax’s Revealed. In one segment they showed a supposed alien autopsy being filmed in an army tent in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. They then went on to prove it a hoax. This got me thinking that I might have some old alien footage the Fox Network might want to buy for their next special.

In order to create our own cheesy alien autopsy footage, we’ll be using two plugins from DigiEffects; Aurorix 2 AVX for the Avid Xpress and Composer 1000, as well as Cinemotion for After Effects 3.1 (see sidebar on how Cinemotion can be used to clear up digital video grain).

Image 1

The first thing I did to create our fake autopsy footage was to shoot our "investigator" examining an empty table (Image 1). I shot this footage with a minimum of lights and a black backdrop to give us the feeling that we were inside a dark tent made of heavy military material. The footage was shot on SVHS videotape using the Panasonic AG-DP800P in a small television studio. The footage was then brought into the AVID Xpress and digitized at AVR77. The footage has a high contrast ratio but when we start adding filters and effects to the piece, we should achieve the desired effect.

Image 2

The next step was to composite our little alien gray into the footage. The alien was created a year or so ago for an ongoing project (Image 2). Considering the state of the project, this little guy was perfect for our dead subject.

In order to make our footage look like it had been shot on film and had gone through the 3:2 pull down process, we need to export the footage as a QuickTime movie and import it into After Effects 3.1 so we can apply Cinemotion to it. Cinemotion is ideally intended to be used as an enhancing tool with DigiEffects Cinelook to supply a little extra "oomph". However, as I played around with the plugin, I discovered the plugin can be utilized in projects without needing Cinelook. Cinemotion is an easy install, simply click, point it to the correct directory and voila! There are 10 plugins that come with Cinemotion including Grain reducer (to reduce/remove grain from footage), Adaptive noise (adds noise to area of minimal detail), Letterbox (creates cropping for film-aspect ratios), and the one we will be using, Film motion.

Film motion is used to simulate the 3:2 pull down process and give the illusion that the image was transferred from film. Film Motion allows you to control the 3:2 pull down process with more options than those under the After Effects 3:2 option in the render panel. Under the preferences adjust the settings for your appropriate system. For the Avid systems running on MacOS, set field rendering to Upper. If you are running MCXpress on a NT system the field needs to be set to Lower, and on the Media100 set the field to Upper. One thing I did like about the settings, is the major editing systems are all listed. For this piece I chose Avid Xpress Film1. These default settings will work for most projects, but I made a few adjustments for my own aesthetic likes. I lowered the blend with original down to 10%, and increased the shutter blur to 15 pixels instead of the default 4. I also increased the blur strength to 75% and the gain amount to 50% to add more artifacts into the image.

Render the movie out as a QuickTime movie using the current settings under the composition panel, and make sure the QuickTime compressor is set to your system (in this case media composer). As expected, the render time was about 1 minute for every second of video. I also rendered the comp out using the standard AE defaults but used the 3:2 pull down in AE with the WSSWW settings. You can compare the two below (Movie 1 with Cinemotion, Movie 2 without)

Cinemotion is an easy install, the plugin is easy to figure out with minimal manual referencing, and it can easily produce the results you desire. One drawback you might find is it will be nearly impossible to view the effects in real-time at full resolution unless your computer has fast update abilities. By lowering the image to 1:2 or smaller, you can get faster updates.

Clcik here to see Movie with Cinemotion   Click here to see Movie  without Cinemotion
Example Quicktime movies of our Alien Autopsy movie

In Part 2 we’ll take our footage back into the Avid Xpress system and give it that old film look using Aurorix 2.


Features: 7
Ease of Use: 10
Performance: 9
Documentation: 9
Overall Rating:

Ratings scale: 1 is horrible, 10 is perfect.

DigiEffects World Wide Web address is http://www.digieffects.com


Removing Digital Video Grain

One advantage of using a digital camera is the improved image, and the smaller equipment size. However if you have read Steve Sakellarios article on the Sony DCR-VX1000 you are aware that you can get a grainy image if shooting in low light. Cinemotion can remove the grain from the image through the Grain Reducer plugin. In a recent shoot, I tested the DCR-VX1000 and was quite pleased with the results. However, the low light settings gave us a slightly undesirable grain. With Cinemotion, we can limit the grain to an extent with the Grain Reducer portion of the plugin. Image three is the original footage, while image four has Grain Reducer applied to it.

Image 3                                                                       Image 4

When not molding the minds of video production students at the American InterContinental University in Atlanta, Georgia. Stephen Schleicher creates graphics and animations for many local video production companies. He can be reached at www.mindspring.com/~schleicher.