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Original Still Image

Watch this still photo brought to life. Read the PicDrift breakdown below to see how it was made.

PHOTO CREDIT: Travis Colbert

Instagram: @traviscolbert

PicDrift artist breakdown:

My main goal in animating this photo was to try and capture the "party" atmosphere. A lot of fire and smoke, dominating figure of a DJ in front and a crazy crowd in the back. These are all great elements for making a cool parallax animation.

For cutting the photo into separate layers in Photoshop, I almost always use the Pen tool. But, sometimes, when the edge is not clearly visible or is faded, I have to use other methods of selection. To select the fire, I could've used the Pen tool, but, creating a channel luminance mask was much less time-consuming. Basically, I use the brightness of the fire against the dark background to create a black and white image to use as a mask.

The rest of the job in Photoshop consists of filling the empty spaces with the Clone and Patch tool, but also painting the missing parts with the good old Brush tool. Then, all those elements are imported into After Effects for creating the actual animation.

The main advantage of After Effects is the ability to turn the 2D layers into 3D layers, which are then arranged in Z -axes to create depth. It's really important to correctly estimate the distance between the front, middle and back elements of the photo. That way, the parallax effect created when moving the virtual camera is more believable.

The rest of the job consisted of stacking the various effects like lights, lens flares, smoke, and air particles to bring the elements together. Also, I animated DJ's arm moving up, using the Puppet tool, and the fire burning with the Turbulence displace effect.

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