I now imported my rendered crows as well as my additional zDepth layer back into After Effects to composite my 3D integration VFX.
The first thing I did was to create an animation where I used the crows layer as a matte to have Celina dissolve as they are being spawned.
I offset this layer in time a little bit from the actual rendered crows so it looked like Celina was breaking up or fraying out as the crows were spawned out of her body.To increase the effect of crows emerging from Celina, I added another layer of the rendered crows, set it to multiply and again, offset it in time a little bit.
This caused dark crow shadows to appear just before crow shaped pieces disappeared from Celina's body from bottom to top, increasing the impression that the crows were emerging out of her.
Next I simply added the rendered crows layer on top of the dissolving Celina layer. I was quite happy with the result as the transition from crow shadow to fraying out to actual crow seemed nice and seamless
Note that I only added the ground in so you guys can see the shadows. In my final crow render, as I mentioned before, only the shadows are rendered in my crows VFX layer
I then added Celina onto the clean plate I created earlier. I also added a large, soft shadow under the entire murder of crows because the individual crow shadows didn't seem to darken the ground sufficiently for such a large number of birds!
I used my zDepth layer to add some depth of field to the crows using the Frischluft Depth of Field plug-in. It basically allows me to use a zDepth layer and determine which depth is in focus and how shallow my depth of field will be
The final step to a completed 3D integration VFX was to add some colour grading and style to the video.I wanted to go for a rough, twitchy and disquieting look and so I drained quite a bit of colour, increased the blue, added some scratches & noise and used my favourite Twitch plug-in from VideoCopilot to create twitchy moments in conjunction with some time remapping
Add some music to taste and your 3D integration VFX is complete