Whew! You don't composite almost a thousand shots for a film without learning a few tricks! I learned a lot of time-saving techniques over the course of the past few years, and wanted to show you guys one of the cooler (though not as universally practical) ones; how to make some clouds and environments look 3d!
I was SUPER out of it when I recorded this (I didn't realize how out of it till later in the day, when I tried to interact with actual people), but I think that lends it a certain something (lack of coherent thought). Naw, I kid. Check it out.
Read this after you watch the video:
So, I didn't push this technique nearly as far as I could have. I stuck basically with using the image itself as the displacement map—but if you have an actual depth map? Whew! The options are limitless (hyperbole alert!)! If you have a still render of a ship in flight, and also the depth map, you can displace the ship render so that it looks 3d! Meaning you can do a 2.5d compositing deal and actually have a bit of perspective shift on the layers! It's amazing how little perspective shift it takes to suddenly make something look 3d, and our brains are totally hardwired to be super-sensitive to those changes, meaning even if folks can't put their finger on why, the shot will still feel a lot more realistic. I didn't get into this in the tutorial really, because all of the really cool shots I've done that for are in the finale of the film (which is still a secret, actually!). But maybe I'll put together another little something sometime.
Hope this helps someone!