Faking An Alien Autopsy Part II
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

A scene from Part One of Faking An Alien Autopsy

In part one I demonstrated how you can use DigiEffects Cinemotion to create the illusion of a film to tape transfer. In part two I will be using DigiEffects Aurorix 2 AVX in the Avid Xpress system to add some final enhancements to our alien autopsy. I will also give some quick tips on how to create an interesting title effect using this plugin.

I’ve installed lots of programs, plugins, add-ons, etc. 50% of the time everything goes off without a hitch, the other 50% of the time I’m cursing and fuming at the system trying to get the new product to work correctly. It seems DigiEffects has perfected the concept of easy installing plugins. Point, click, install, open your application and use the plugin… simple. DigiEffects has begun to tailor their plugins to integrate with Avid systems AVX plugin standard. Aurorix 2 AVX will run on any MacOS Avid system that supports AVX plugins (this plugin was tested on the latest release of the Avid Xpress). The nice thing about AVX is it allows you to continue your work in the Avid environment without having to export your footage to another application to apply special effects.

This collection of 26 effects is a great tool for enhancing your image or doing effects not possible in a "generic" Avid system. The largest collection of effects is the Texture Generation effects that can be used to create some very nice moving backgrounds. The collection also comes with distortion effects (warps, bulges, whirling images), pattern generation effects (allowing you to tile your images), lighting simulation effects (spotlights, 3D lighting, and zooming effects), and probably the most popular effects in the package, the media simulation effects. I will be using the AgedFilm effect to grunge up our alien autopsy footage.

After completing part one, we need to import the enhanced QuickTime movie back into the Avid system. Import the footage to the correct bin and insert the clip in the timeline. In this example, the 12 second clip is inserted on video track one. There is no audio with the clip, so we will assume that when the footage was shot, the "scientists" decided to shoot MOS. Open the Effects Palette, choose Aurorix 2/AgedFilm as the effect type, and drag the effect onto the autopsy clip. There will be a slight delay as the effect updates itself, but more on that in a bit.

Open the Effects Editor so adjustments can be made to make the footage look like it has been sitting on a shelf for 50 years.

I used the following settings for this particular piece:

Response 45

Grain Amount 10

A small grain size will enhance the illusion of older film and look better on a video monitor than a large grain amount.

Dust Size 21

This controls the size of the dust particles that appear randomly on the screen.

Dust Amount 15

Dust Color H: 0, S: 0, V: 50%

Hair Size 3

Hair Amount 29

Hair Color H: 0, S: 0, V: 30%

Scratch Amount 8

This will determine how scratched the film is. The higher the number the more scratches will appear on the film. In this case, I chose a low number because this film probably hasn’t been viewed that many times, and the original camera that shot the autopsy was probably a typical government issue device with defects of it’s own.

Scratch Velocity 20

Scratch Lifespan 45

The scratch lifespan determines how long the scratch will last on screen before it disappears.

Scratch Opacity 30

Frame Jitter Max Offset 3

Frame Jitter Probability 5

Frame Jitter Maximum Offset determines how far the frame is allowed to jump when it slips a sprocket hole, while the Jitter Probability determines how often the jump could occur. I used low numbers for each of these.

Convert to gray ON

Grey value H: 0, S: 0, V: 75%

The Convert to gray and Gray value settings are what make the video look like the colors have faded or aged over time. Interesting effects can be achieved by this setting alone. To get a nice sepiatone look, adjust the RGB to a nice sepia color. Try a light, greenish yellow for a 70’s home movie feel, or a dark blue for a night scene from a 1950’s horror/sci-fi movie. For this example, I chose a light gray color for our black and white film.

Flicker Speed 0

Flicker Amount 0

Random Seed 99

Blend 99

The render time for this effect was as expected. For this 12 second clip it took about 20 minutes to render. While that may seem like a reasonable amount of time, if you were going to apply the effect to a whole project, the render time might be prohibitive. If the effect were applied to a three minute segment, it would take around five hours to render. Movie 1 shows the results of applying AgedFilm to the project.

Click here to download an mpeg clip of movie 1

All of the effects that come with Aurorix 2 AVX are keyframeable, so you can animate effects over time. I was able use AgedFilm, in a recent historical recreation animation, to make the footage look like it was shot years ago, but then slowly blended out the effect to create an interesting transition to present day.

Let’s use Aurorix 2 AVX to create some other interesting effects and turn our alien autopsy footage into a promo for Hoax’s Revealed 2.

I created a title on a black background with white letters and placed it in the timeline. Because titles are created with both a graphic fill and an alpha channel, you will need to expand the timeline and place the effect in the graphic fill section. To save time, you might want to create your title in a separate graphics program and import it into your project. Apply the LightZoom effect to the title graphic. This plugin can create the illusion that the graphic is zooming into view, or that light is pouring from the title. On the first keyframe, set the light zoom to 50 and the brightness to 25. On the last keyframe set the light zoom to 0 and the brightness to 15. If you like, you can experiment with moving the light source around the screen to achieve different results.

While this is a very cool effect, screen updates and rendering are tremendously long. So long that you may think your system has crashed. The render time for a simple 10 second effect was 4 hours! If there was one bad thing to say about the plugin it would be this particular effects update times. This is not just in the AVX version of the plugin. An acquaintance of mine recently purchased Aurorix 2 and mentioned to me that LightZoom had slow update times in After Effects on his system. If you can not live with the slow update and render times of this particular effect, you might want to look into getting an accelerator card for your system.

While you are waiting for this effect to render you might want to find something else to do. Go out for a nice walk, maybe see a movie, drink a cup of coffee, or listen to your boss tell you that while you are a valuable contribution to the organization, budget restrictions are preventing you from getting that raise for a third year in a row.

Movie 2 shows our final alien autopsy promo.

Click here to download an mpeg clip of movie 2

There we have it. Our own cheesy alien autopsy footage waiting for network executives to snatch up and air on their next special.

Features: 8
Ease of Use: 8
Performance: 8
Documentation: 9
Overall Rating:

Ratings scale: 1 is horrible, 10 is perfect.

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

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.