Feb 022012

In 2010 I got together over the Internet with four other YouTube musicians to create a collaboration video. We decided to perform a cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb from the 1979 album The Wall. The plan was to put us all together on the same virtual stage, even though we were all in completely different places around the world. Breno (keyboards) lives in Brazil, Omar (drums) lives in Mexico, Brad (Bass) lives in the USA, Sergio (guitar) lives in Costa Rica, and I live in Australia.

We started with a guide audio file and we each played our parts along to that guide track. Everyone sent their recorded tracks to me so I could synchronise them and mix the audio into the finished sound track for the video.

Each of us shot two camera angles of our performance in front of a green-screen, one full body and one close-up. Using a green-screen allows the background to be made transparent using a colour keyer so the performers can be merged with the 3D digital background.

I started the video by building a 3D environment inside After Effects from a series of flat pictures created for the various surfaces such as the wall, floor and speaker sides. The next step was to key out the green-screen backgrounds from all the videos and colour-correct them so they had similar tones. Due to the video files all coming from low quality consumer cameras and less than ideal lighting, keying properly was a bit of a challenge and I had to resort to manual tracing around some items, particularly the drums.

The full body videos were then placed on the stage and I added lighting effects to tie it all together. This produced a 3D scene through which I could move virtual cameras. The only problem was that the actual videos of the performers were two dimensional, so in order to keep the illusion of us all being in the same place I had to be careful to limit the 3D camera movement. If the camera was moved too far it would become obvious that the performers were in fact only two dimensional.

The camera movements were programmed to add interest and then I rendered out the first camera angle ready for the final edit. Each frame took a few minutes to calculate and render and the full 9 minute file took several days to complete.

I then duplicated the first composite 5 times as a starting point for the close-up camera angles. This enabled me to make sure each camera angle would have the same lighting effects so I could freely switch or dissolve between camera angles in the final edit as if the sequence had been filmed on a real stage.

I then imported all six camera angles into Premiere along with the mixed audio track, synchronised them and created a standard multi-camera edit ready for upload to YouTube.


3D Stage

Green-screen video clips placed in 3D space on the stage

Stage Top View

Tracing Around The Drums

Stage Without Lighting

The Completed Video – Comfortably Numb – Distant Minds


Trailer – Comfortably Numb Unmasked

  10 Responses to “Comfortably Numb”

  1. Excellent!!

  2. bravo bravo bravisimo!!

  3. I ran across this amazing video while exploring your site. Simply amazing what you and your crew have done. I’m at a loss for words.

    Even more thank you for detailing the backstory. I can only guess at how much time, planning and coordination each one of you contributed into making this video.

    If you don’t mind, how long did it take from conception to video posting?

    • Thanks Jim. The total project took about 10 months for conception to upload. Actual editing time was about 250 hours, but there were many experiments along the way that were scrapped. I expect it would take about 100 hours to do it again.

  4. Hi Mike,
    Came across this via EPC.
    Superb video, superb PF music, superb artists!
    Well done to all.

  5. Mike, thats a really great edit. Great tune and a pretty darn good rendition. Well done.

  6. Recently, green screen rentals have been noted to gain popularity with most filmmakers in the country. This is primarily due to the fact that studios offering green rental services produce quality videos for their clients.

  7. Amazing… 😀

  8. Wow.. Mike.. what a lot of work went into this.. but it’s great and I play it all the time. It means I also get to see my little bro.. 🙂

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