View Full Version : NEWBIE: Integrating FX with Final Cut

02-23-2004, 10:39 AM
I'm a Final Cut Express interested in Lightwave 3D. One basic question I have is: If I want to add EFX I create in Lightwave to DV footage I've shot, what is the preferred process? Importing DV footage into Lightwave as a background and modellin gon top of it? Or exporting my EFX as a file into Final Cut and somehow integrating it into my DV footage?

I know this is the most basic of Newbie questions - but I can't seem to find any online Lightwave 3D workflow tutorials that address this.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

02-23-2004, 12:58 PM
Well... that really depend on what you want to achieve..

Sometimes I put video as a backdrop in Lightwave.. but most of the time, I make the effects seperate from the video, or just use the backdrop video as a reference and then combine those FX in a compositing program like AfterFX or Combustion, or Shake when you have the money,..

then with this footage wich you can render out in any given format you go to an editing program where you cut the film like you want and add some audio..

This is only one workflow however.. in the years, you will find out what will work best for a certain given effect.

for example.. when you want to let a missle fly through a tunnel, and the tunnel is live-shot action.. you definetly want to put the video as a lightwave Backdrop so you can track how your missle has to move..

but you can then render them seperated to have more color and compositing controle afterwards.. (shadows, colorcorrection, highlights, more smoke, fog,..) and that, you can do in i.e. afterFX

02-23-2004, 01:15 PM
Thanks for the quick reply!
When you say "combine those FX in a compositing program like AfterFX or Combustion", does that mean I need a 3rd program to efffectively combine live DV elements (background plates) and Lightwave EFX?
I'm just a hobbyist and was planning to import my EFX shots into Final Cut and layer it over my DV footage (or vice versa). For example, if I create a hovering space ship in Lightwave and want to import it into Final Cut and place it into the sky of some DV footage I've shot - is it as simple as it sounds? Would the space ship element have a transparent background? I'm thinking the process would be similair to adding a Transparent GIF format photo onto a JPEG background.

Triple G
02-23-2004, 01:47 PM
I believe Final Cut Express should be adequate for what you're describing. (I've never used it, so I'm not 100% certain.)

But for the example you described, all you would need to do would be to render your spaceship out of Lightwave with an embedded alpha channel, then bring it into Final Cut and have it use the alpha channel to allow your background live-action footage to show through. If FCE does not allow you to do this, then you could either drop $700 on After Effects, or you could simply import your live action footage as a backdrop into LW, and render the spaceship footage on top of it. This will not give you much flexibility to tweak/color correct your shots after they're rendered, but if you're tight on cash, it may be enough to get you by.

02-23-2004, 03:45 PM
Originally posted by SUPERKUNK
Would the space ship element have a transparent background? I'm thinking the process would be similair to adding a Transparent GIF format photo onto a JPEG background.

Well it's not really the same.. because a gif file it's tranparent system is based on a color or a couple of colors.. basically what you say is: take yellow and everything that is yellow, make that transparent. That is what we call keying. It's what they do with the weatherman on a bluescreen or a greenscreen.

In LW you can also render images with a green or blue backdrop and then put a colorkey-filter on it in Final cut express or afterFX, .. but this is way too difficult + you will always see a small edge of green when you go soft on it.. It's really hard to get it right, ..

better option is like Triple G said: use an embedde alpha channel. An alpha is like a black and white image beneeth the surface of your normal picture with your spaceship. Everything that's white, will be seen, everything that's black will be hidden thus transparent.. various degrees of gray would result in semi transparent etc.

So basically a rendered image in Lightwave from you spaceship, would show your ship on a black background. The alpha channel will show a white shape where your ship is, on the black background.

If you can import those files in Final Cut express, you have your goal achieved.. Only problem.. I don't know if FCE supports alpha channels..

02-24-2004, 11:06 AM
Yes, Final Cut Express supports alpha channels. It is almost identical to Final Cut Pro, except that you can't animate effects, and you can really only edit DV. But for simple compositing like this it is perfectly fine. Just make sure that when you import your rendered clip from lightwave into FCE, set the alpha channel in the modify menu to black. This will give you a clean composite.