An infinity of candles

A quick tutorial on how I created this video of an infinity of candles.

[vimeo clip_id=25053936 width=”580″]

Using Adobe After Effects, I imported the source candles video clip, which was just fifteen candles (5 across by 3 down)

I then dragged the clip down to the composition area, and right-clicked on it in the main view window, choosing 3D layer. I’ll explain the 3D bit later on.

Next I added a Camera by right-clicking on the composition area, and choosing New->Camera. I chose a one-node camera for simplicity.

The Camera allows us to vary our view on the candles video, by zooming in and out, rotating, flying, whatever takes our fancy. The camera can only affect clips that have “3D layer” set, which is why we made that change earlier.
Expanding the Camera section in the composition area reveals a Camera options section. Inside that section is the Zoom setting, which is the one we want.

The smaller the Zoom value, the further away the subject will appear. The actual effect of that on the View window is to make the candle clip appear much smaller than it actually is, and giving us lots of empty space to add more candles! I set the zoom in my project to about 2400, which brought the camera far enough back from the candles clip that there was room for about twenty more clips. The zoom factor will also be affected by other camera settings, such as whether you chose 35mm, 50mm, etc.

Next came the labour-intensive bit. The next step was to copy and paste the original clip multiple times, and place them side by side. But, before I did that, there was one prepatory step I needed to carry out.

As I didn’t get the candles perfectly aligned in a straight edged rectangle (or even close) there is a lot of space at the edges of the clip that would make it hard to get the clips tight together without them overlapping each other. I want one big seamless candle vista, so the less space between them the better.

In order to deal with my neatness issue, I added a luma keying effect to the clip. I set the keying colour to Black, and increased the tolerance from 0 to about 20, which was plenty to make the dark areas around the candles transparent.

With that done, I could go ahead and create the copies. I placed each copy by hand, rotaing and/or flipping as taste dictated, so as to avoid the copying being too obvious. It all basically fit together like a game of Tetris. Some of the copied clips extend off the edge of the visible area, in order to avoid any empty spaces. That took about an hour. I then rendered the clip, and that was that. For anyone that’s interested, I render to the .h264 codec, at 26 mbits per second (CBR), with a resolution of 1280 x 720 (down-sized from the original 1920 x 1080). And that’s that, hopefully this tutorial will be useful to someone. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a shout.