THE FINAL GLOW-UP
In this entire process, the step that gave the film the most impactful upgrade is the final stage of compositing. You can have a great character animation and a great story. But what makes the audience palpably feel the world you created is achieved in this compositing stage. This is where drawings become illusions of reality - where the laws of the physical world infiltrate the digital realm, breathing volume, depth, and LIFE into pixels.
For me, adding volumetric lighting per my advisor Ben’s sage advice was what gave the film a literal “glow-up” - pun-intended.
I can’t get enough of the POWER of lighting - it is not only an aesthetic measure to add drama and accentuate beauty, but it's also the crux of visual storytelling that directs the audience where to look and how to feel. Depending on its intensity, it can demand your attention or subtly whisper; it duets with its counterpart, shadows, to weave an intricate emotional tale about the character. UGH, IT’S EVERYTHING!!!!
With that, I enjoyed giving the final touches of volumetric lighting in each shot. Even with so little, you can do so much, so immediately.
DEPTH OF FIELD
If Lighting is the loud, extroverted sibling who LOVES drawing attention, Depth of Field is its quiet, introverted sibling who diligently does the work that people don't even realize is being done.
I made a depth matte out of a duplicate of the original comp, and used it as the source for Camera Lens Blur effect.
The difference is so subtle, and yet so effective in helping the eye locate immediately where to look in the midst of all the details of the city street.