Advanced VFX, in class assignments 2 & 3

July 3, 2015 at 7:00 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , )

Next on the docket was to become familiar with more complex scene compositing and utilizing OpenEXR files. The cool thing about .exr files (among other things) is that they can be multilayered. So. You can have 1 file in with all of your render passes (beauty, reflection, refraction, lighting, ambient occlusion, alpha channel, specular highlights, etc.) and each can still be manipulated independently within Nuke. That is so freaking cool. ANYWAY. I had to composite the exr footage of this Robot:


…into a moving pan on this city scene:


And for extra giggles, why not add a crashed ship in the parking lot? So, I dropped a hole in the ground, added some rubble and fire, and comped a ship in. Then. I set it on fire. Asset reveal!

Since the shot of the city was actually moving, I had to use motion tracking and the 3D scene elements in NukeX. Cameras and cards and nodes! Oh My! I was pretty proud of this for 3ish hours of work.

The next assignment was pretty similar, but was about simulating a building fire. I’m not going to break it down, because I’m sure you get the idea, but I’ll post the final video. I was pretty happy with the central fire, but not so convinced with the smoke coming out of the right window. If I knew then what I know now, I would just have used particle effects in Maya to custom make all my smoke and fire, but we’ll save that for the next ADV VFX installment.


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Advanced VFX, in class assignment 1

July 1, 2015 at 2:08 pm (School) (, , , , , )

One of our first in-class assignments was to take a green-screened actor and remove his arm. The footage was delivered as a TIF sequence, so basically instead of a .mov file, we got a folder of each movie frame as individual images. Like so…

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.36.47 AM

This is actually pretty common and is easier for some programs to handle, especially the one we were using to composite: Nuke.

So here is the first frame up close:


As you can see, the floor was dirty and the green a little uneven. Several key nodes were used to knock out that green and masks, of course, to hide that equipment in the corner and disappear the arm. Now where to put our zombie?

I found this room that could pass as a storage-type space, but most importantly, it was very large and at a good perspective. And the lighting was pretty even so it wouldn’t fight with the zombie footage. Of course it’s awfully bright, but that is what post is for, amiright?Theatre-Empty-2

So I comped the zombie and the room together. Did some color grading to give the ambience more of a cold, sickly feel. Added some questionably placed blood splattering (hey this was all in class after all…). And BAM: zombie sequence.

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backlog of updates: image manipulation and compositing

January 28, 2014 at 9:12 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Back into Photoshop!

Create a still life in photoshop. I started with a picture of a window, a bumpy texture for the table surface, and a dimpled texture to use as the base for the orange. The image was created using effects, adjustment layers, masks and hours and hours of painting.


The final project required me to find a black and white concept line art of a fictional vehicle. Using a combination of painting and integrating found images, I created a realistic rendering of what this vehicle might look like. I started off masking out all of the sections of the vehicle and assigning grayscale values to each section. and painting in the details.

Line Art from Free Patents Online:


Final render:


*mic drop*

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backlog of updates: advanced vfx

January 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

There are a lot of little assignments for these VFX classes and most of them are in class exercises, which does not leave a lot of time for perfecting, but we do learn a lot. In any case, here are some highlights.

Week 1: sky replacement. We had to take a clip of people waking across the screen and replace the sky. I also stabilized the shot so there was no camera shake. This was using Nuke for all of the effects and compositing (make sure to watch these on 360p, the lower setting looks like total crap).

Original clip:

Sky Replacement:

Week 6: compositing and motion tracking. In Nuke, I tracked the motion from the clip and exported the data to Cinema 4D. In C4D, I matched a plane to the ground and put a sphere on it textured to roughly match the stone in the clip. I added lights to match the lighting in the clip. Then rendered passes so the C4D camera recorded the sphere to match the footage. Then put renders back into C4D and composite everything together. Whee!

Final Project: This is basically like the Week 6 assignment, but more complicated. I added transparency and reflections into the mix to make these floating alien water cubes fly in formation across the screen. I also darkened everything to make it more moody and creepy.


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Last term, part 1

March 12, 2013 at 6:53 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Realized that I never posted anything from last term. LAME.

Nuke. There are always a crap-ton (technical term) of Nuke assignments in a VFX class, rather than a large/term-long project.

Blue screen removal: added noise (aka clouds for the cam to fall through… wheeee!), roto to correct the blue screen removal inadequacies around the legs and cord.

Source assets:


Final video:

Compositing: We got to learn about shuffling & compositing. Basically, you shuffle out different render passes of an image (specularity, shadows, lights, depth, highlights, ambient, etc – there can be a lot). With each shuffled, you can manipulate/adjust each thing independently of the others to maximize the final result.

Original image, pre-shuffle:


I added a glow to the lights, but a specific color glow to the robot wires, etc., and used masking to create the glow reflection in the floor; darkened the room and changed the backlighting. I added smoke, because reasons. Post-shuffle composite:


Fake 3D: Take a 2D image of a hallway and fake a 3D camera movement in it. BAM:

MOAR VFX! SO CHEEZY! Hey… lets play spot the fake thing… Ok, so here’s what I did. Took the original video and generated a 3D space using motion trackers to define a ground plane, etc. Once the 3D environment was established, I plonked a spherical primitive into the scene and found a relatively appropriate texture (Why, yes, that is a ridiculously large thermal detonator. Do you have detonator envy? YEAH, YOU DO!), added a shadow. It’s kinda lame, but it was fun in-class exercise and could totally be more awesome with more time to clean up the shadow and color correct… add some snazzy gun fire, etc.

This was our ridiculous final… some doofus decided that in order to make the kid freeze over the pool while the lady walks by, adjusting her suit, they should put a partial green screen behind her for no apparent reason. BTW, this was a real job brought to one of the Ai staff to fix. They wanted to make it cheap. That did not so much work out. FYI… It is MUCH harder and more expensive in human time and effort to remove green screen plus its reflection (aka spill) from people and puddles and metal than it is TO SIMPLY USE THE ROTO TOOL TO CREATE A FREEZE FRAME FOR PART OF YOUR VIDEO. Also… if you are going to use a green screen where the objective is to remove all the green and replace it with something else DON’T HAVE YOUR SUBJECT WEARING AND CARRYING GREEN BECAUSE THAT WILL ALSO BE FIXED ONLY WITH EXTREME TIME AND CARE.

Thus ends the lesson in common sense.

Original cannon ball with freeze frame already completed (water motion reinstated in final video):

Sample of original woman walking by:

Final composite. Painful, le sigh, but got rid of the green junk LIKE A BOSS:


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