Motion Graphics

Sherlock Holmes Ink Effect Tutorial

I love it when movies have good title and credit sequences, and in some movies they turn out to be better than the movie itself. When I saw the first Sherlock Holmes movie I thought they did a really good job on the credit sequence. Here is that sequence in case you need a refresher:

This was years ago now, but I thought the ink effect in the sequence was great so I decided to figure out how they did it. Here is what you need to do:

The whole effect is pretty much done with ink drop footage and luma mattes in After Effects. The logic behind the effect is to use ink drops to transition from video footage to a still image (drawing) and back again. Sounds easy enough, but the trick is in how you use the ink drops to reveal the drawing.

Basically what you need to do is take some footage of ink drops and put that footage on a layer above whatever it is you want to reveal (like a sketch in the sherlock holmes sequence). On the sketch layer you change its trackmat to “Luma inverted” so that the sketch is revealed as the ink drops fall/spread (but make sure the ink layer’s visibility is off). You may have to color correct the ink footage to get it black and the background white (or the other way around if you’re using Luma rather than Luma inverted).

Here is a link to some free ink drop footage to get you started:


Utah Engagement Video – Justin & Gina

This is an engagement video I shot for Justin and Gina where they tell the story of how they met and fell in love.

While normally I would love to be able to get everything right during the shoot, sometimes a little post-production work is called for. For this video I did some work in post to get a few of the shots exactly how I wanted. Here’s an example:

utah wedding video

The difference is subtle, but you can probably see that I raised the exposure on Gina’s face in the second image. I loved the composition for her interview with the tree and rock wall in the background, and I needed her in the shade for even lighting…but her face ended up being a little too underexposed. My reflector would have been a nice solution during the shoot, but luckily adding a little more light after the fact wasn’t too difficult. Here’s how I did it.

If this was a still image / photograph that I was correcting all I would have to do is just put a mask around her face using an ellipse shape, give it a feathered edge, and raise the exposure inside of the mask. But since it’s a video that won’t quite do it. Even though she was sitting fairly still during the interview, every now and then she moved around. So if I used a static mask over the top of her face she’d just be moving in and out from behind it. So to do this in a video you just have to add one more step…a motion track. In After Effects I did a motion track of her face. That way I could link the mask to her movement so that every time she moved around the mask stayed right on her face.

utah wedding video

And Voila! Subtle, but I think it makes a difference. Now next time just use your reflector…