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Creation of Virtual Environments

Learning Edge created a CD-ROM training series for Course Technology that required actors shot against blue-screen to be placed into environments that didn’t really exist.

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I designed these virtual office environments, building them entirely in Photoshop. Some elements were derived from stock photography: the brick wall pattern, floor texture, day planner, and computer monitor. Other elements were shot in-studio: the tissue box, glass bricks, and artificial trees. Much of the rest of this scene was created from scratch inside Photoshop: The desk and wood textures, sticky notes and notepad, cubicle dividers, windows, and company sign.

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Since my virtual environment had to be laid directly into the edited video, I worked very closely with the Director/Editor to ensure sight-lines, perspective, and actor staging/gestures would work appropriately.
The area inside the red box is the portion of the screen that was actual video. The surrounding area was available for other user-interface elements. By only using a small portion of the screen for full-motion video, we kept file sizes small and playback performance excellent on lower-end target computers.
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A critical eye can certainly recognize that this is a virtual environment rather than a real location. In hindsight, I went a little wild with reflections and such. However, even including the perspective and depth-of-field “tells”, I think the layout and design really sells the end-user experience.
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