By Becca Jaye Sharples on 21st November 2017

Interview With…
Head of Animation

Hello Viddyozers!

This week we’re looking at LIVE ACTION templates with our Head of Animation, Relja Trajković.

He’s truly integral to the running of Viddyoze, handling as many template requests as we can throw at him!

We decided to dig into the process of creating Live Action templates, from inception to posting to the platform for you to get stuck into.

Ready to have your mind blown with how we do what we do? Here we go!

Hi Relja, could you introduce yourself to our readers and users – let us know who you are at Viddyoze and what you do?

I’m Relja Trajković, head of Viddyoze animation team. I primarily work with our team of animators on template production, but I’m also very involved in development of our platform as our gifted development team tries to merge programing and art. You could call me an ultimate Viddyoze enthusiast right after Jamie, David and Joey.

How would you describe Live Action templates at Viddyoze?

As a breakthrough technology. The final result is nothing new of course, but how we do it is astounding. Mixing computer generated imagery with live action footage was done for ages, but never before was it done in such an automated way where anyone can create a custom professional looking video with just a few clicks. Making things run smooth without knowing exactly what the user is going to upload or type in has been one of the greatest challenges for Viddyoze since the beginning. That bar was raised when we introduced Live Action templates. If you’ve ever seen behind the scenes documentaries about movies and special effects, you’ve probably seen how they do it over and over again, until it’s just right, and they know exactly what’s in the scene. We don’t know what’s going to end up in the final shot, and we have to make it look right on the first attempt.

What is the process behind coming up with the next template idea?

People probably don’t know this, but we worked on the first 100 templates for months before even mentioning it to anyone. Back then, we had no idea what our users would want or need so we worked on a hunch. Started off with more generalized ideas like “iPhone in a hand”, and “man or woman holding a piece of paper”. Those could be used by anyone for anything. We then moved to more specific ideas like restaurants, spas, science, and food. Nowadays we have feedback from our users to assist us, but it still takes a few months to produce a template. This means whatever is being suggested now, we’ll probably see in a few months.

There is only a number of shooting sessions we can do in a month, and our ideas list is usually very influenced by what we can group together. A day always seems too short, and we race against the daylight – we have to be able to switch location, costumes and props quickly so we group themes together. Spa, gym, pool and restaurant scenes were all shot in a single day in a hotel. Business, science and holograms were also shot together since the costumes and visual styles are very similar.

So when your team is making a Live Action template who is normally on set?

When there are no people on the screen, usually the Producer, Director, Director of Photography, Props team and several assistants to the Director of Photography. When we can see people, there is a costume and makeup artist present as well as a number of models. We have several teams, around the globe, and sometimes I’m present too if it’s possible.

It must be quick to make right, we have so many?

That’s a joke right? No, they’re not quick at all. It usually takes months for one template to finish. Time compresses and expands during this process. There’s a long and tedious process of planning that usually lasts about a month, then things suddenly speed up and everything important happens in one day when we shoot the scenes. Then time slows again as we work with the footage, add 3D elements, track camera and object positions, go through multiple iterations, then test the template for various scenarios before it’s ready to be put online.

Wow, a lot goes into them then. Where are they filmed, just where you and your team live?

Some are shot here, but we have other teams in various parts of the world. I try and keep highly experimental ones close to home, so I can make some last-minute changes while on set. We hope to expand this team further, now that we have some valuable experience and clear guidelines.

It must be hard work directing from another country – where have your team visited this year?

We shot some footage on a beach in Mexico, and some great shots in a studio in South Africa. Looking forward to visiting some exciting locations in the future!

Do you use a lot of greenscreen technology, and is it difficult to set up for each template?

Yes, but we’re careful not to overuse it. We usually don’t use greenscreen as you would see it in movies. We don’t place actors in front of greenscreen and replace the background, we place green screen on props that our models interact with. So instead of carrying a big green screen with us at all times, we have to produce a lot of smaller green screens for each shot. Laptop with green monitor, notebook with green cover, green pen, green vinyl record cover, green t-shirt, green fluid poured into clear fluid and similar stuff.

However, while greenscreen offers great automated solutions, it affects the realism in certain conditions. Green color is bounced off the greenscreen onto models and environment. While there are great solutions for taking all that green off the scene in post-production, some scenarios require us to avoid greenscreen and mask things out with a tedious technique called “rotoscoping”. This means a roto and paint artist goes through animation frame by frame and manually marks things transparent. Let me just remind you that each second of our video has 24 full images in it. Feel free to feel sorry for our paint artist. She’s doing amazing work.

How much post production is needed?

Depends on the template and style of course. All videos go through a process of color grading, because usual camera output is too grey and washed out since it contains a lot of extra information so we can achieve any video look we want. This is the part where we decide on the overall tone of the scene and we can go with super vivid colors, or get that washed out old Kodak film look. After that, everything depends on the template idea. Sometimes additional layers of color correction, glows, blurs, and blending are added to blend logo or text better into the scene. A logo that’s just placed on top of the footage can look a little bit off. But add subtle glow or subtle blur, and the pixels blend together making it look like it was there, all along.

What does the future hold for Live Action?

More of everything I guess. More locations, more moods, more variations. Just like with our other templates, live action templates will start aiming for individual businesses, while still making some generalized videos. We keep listening to our users feedback and I wish to assure everyone all ideas are written down on our to-do list. We’re training and adding more people to this project, and I’m confident that will result in a large library of very useful and professional looking templates.

The guys actually went to Serbia to visit Relja and his team for a day of filming – here’s how it went down!

The end