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Hexa
10-08-2004, 07:59 AM
Hi folks.

I'm currently working on some FX for an amateur fantasy movie. There will be fireballs, forcefields, flamewalls, explosions, skeletons, zombies, .... , all interacting with each other and, of course, the actors. Sounds like fun ? Well not really ! :o .

I use Lightwave and Blender for 3D, DFX+ and Adobe-bundle for post.

Since I've never done anything that complex and/or complicated it takes a lot of time just getting somewhere reasonable -- both in 3D and post. Fprime does help a lot, but I'm having a really hard time getting light and atmosphere to fit to the footage.

Once I get the basics running I will put up a website with some WIP and I will provide some tutorials on how I did get stuff done.

Well ... I'm pretty sure I will run into problems and I'm sure that you guys will help me out !!!

Off to work.

Christian.

Hexa
10-08-2004, 12:33 PM
Here you see a forcefield.

Before:

http://www.citysales.de/postings/kraftfeld_nofx.jpg

After:

http://www.citysales.de/postings/kraftfeld_fx.jpg

I used LW to make a virtual copy of the block, added some particles and set output to single frames. These I used in DFX to merge footage and FX via alpha channel. Last thing I did was masking out the guy in front.

Regards, Christian

robertoortiz
10-08-2004, 01:34 PM
Please show us more.
looks very cool so far.
-R

SplineGod
10-08-2004, 02:26 PM
Pretty cool! Its always fun to work on your own stuff. :)

theo
10-08-2004, 06:21 PM
I don't care for the shadow that is falling on the block from the actors arm. It spoils the particle effect.

Other than that not bad-

Hexa
10-09-2004, 06:45 AM
Thanks for your replies.

@splinegod:
Working on own things really is fun. Still very time consuming to render all that stuff. Also, when working on own stuff you just never stop tweaking. Not sure by now if this is good or bad.

@theo:
The shadow is distracting. It is somewhat hard to get rid of it though. It should be possible to (kind of) remove it by rotoscoping the shadow and then increasing brightness/color in that area. I still need to get used to DFX's masking capabilities to do this without too much of a hassle.

Elmar Moelzer
10-09-2004, 02:25 PM
Hey Hexa!
Cool stuff!
Makes me wanna see more!
If you have frames where parts that you want to remove the shadow from are not shadowed, you could simply merge them into the "shadowed" frames. No need to rotoscope and adjust the brightness (one should always have a few frames of the set without any actors in them when doing effects- shots).
If you dont have those frames, then you could still rebuild the shadowed parts of the stone- block in LW and camera- match it. Texture it and light it to match the scene and blend it in when the particles come in (since it will be mostly hidden by the particles then, you can camouflage this nicely). This would also allow you have the particles cast some blue light on the block, which might make the effect look even better.
If the Camera is moving all of the above is a bit more difficult though.
CU
Elmar

Hexa
10-09-2004, 04:10 PM
@Elmar
Actually I did use the method of overlaying footage to get rid of unwanted element a couple of times. Kind of funny that I never thought of doing it in this case. Without your hint I probably would have started rotoscoping the shadow :rolleyes: .... I took a look at the footage and found a frame with just the block. Still need to do some masking but that's nothing compared to cutting out the shadow at every frame :)

Since you all seem to be eager for some more pics: A flaming wall...

Before:

http://www.contentcharge.de/postings/flamingwall_nofx.jpg

After:

http://www.contentcharge.de/postings/flamingwall_fx.jpg

Small vid: Divx 5.2.1 aprox. 1.5 MB

http://www.contentcharge.de/postings/flamewall_fx_small.avi

I took some basic fire footage, added some LW particles for some smoke and merged these. I used DFX+ to mask the girl in front and (this was the funny part !) adjusted the color of surrounding rocks to make it look really hot. There still needs to be something added to the baseline where the fire emerges since it does not look convincing right now.

BTW: I use LW a lot to 'enhance' footage. Like adding particles for smoke, waterfountains, snow, etc.

MercrunneR
10-11-2004, 04:07 PM
I did a fantasy short as a student film recently, and I can empathize with you about the difficulty marrying CG and real world footage.

The only thing I can say is that most post-production problems can be fixed during production. Sounds backwards, but it's the truth. You can see what I mean in both of the screenshots you've posted.

In both cases, there are CG items that should be generating light and casting it on the surrounding real objects, but the CG objects aren't doing this. This is difficult, if not impossible, to fake, and can ruin the believeability of a shot. The solution is to plan and light for it during production.

In the case of the altar, you should light the rest of the room and the characters with a blue light source originating from the point of the altar and then paint it out/cover it up in post. Similar for the fire, lighting the woman and the tunnel with orange light from the flames and then adding the fire to complete the effect.

If you want to see an example of a shot that was lit with the intention of adding CG fire in later, go to www.gamersthemovie.com and watch the trailer (click on the center link). The affore-mentioned method is especially evident in the shot with the mage throwing blue fire. Watch it frame-by-frame and you'll see what I mean.

I hope this helps.

Hexa
10-11-2004, 05:36 PM
Hi MercrunneR. Thanks for your reply.

I've really enjoyed watching your short. I see what you mean by lighting the footage to prepare for the effect. Our "production" was lacking one major thing: experience ! The shots were done by complete beginners all wanting to learn and willing to spend time (about 2 years) and money in something that nobody ever thought was/is going to work.

The quality of the resulting footage is somewhere between good and disastrous (wrong white-balance, awful light-setup, off-focus, shaking camera, etc.) - getting way better to the end. I'm sure, redoing that thing (taking into consideration of what we know today) would result in something really neat -- but that is not an option. So ... we'll try to fix it in post.

Fixing in post even does work in some cases. Stabilizing the shots does work way better than I expected. Also enhancing the overall quality is something that actually does work quite good. But, like you said, it is close to impossible to compensate major mistakes done during production by post.

Well ... currently I'm working on some classic skeletons to fight with some of the dwarfs. So stay tuned (if you like) !

retinajoy
10-13-2004, 09:07 AM
Nice work and you have done a good job of marrying the FX with shots done by an inexperienced crew. I used to do stuff like this when I was a student and really enjoyed working on this type of stuff, but have since got lost in doing engineering visualisations. Nevermind. Looking forward to seeing more of your stuff.

Are you going to post the finished film online? How about posting some quicktime video clips of the FX shots?

Edit: Just noticed that you have got an AVI. Looks :cool:

Hexa
10-15-2004, 11:00 AM
@retinajoy
Thanks for your reply. I'm glad you like it.



Are you going to post the finished film online? How about posting some quicktime video clips of the FX shots?

Well, we are still not sure about how to make that film available. Some would like to produce a decent DVD and charge a small fee for that. That would compensate for some of the money spent. Others would like to give it away for free so that more people are willing to watch it. Well ... kind of funny to think about that already, since there still is so much work to do :rolleyes: .

I will post most of the FX shots. Either here or on a dedicated site or on both. Like I said in the first post, there will also be some tutorials.

shaol
10-16-2004, 01:17 PM
I have a thought if you haven't heard it yet but when you are using element with glows thro a light with the color so that the footage of the efx looks like it belongs there. I've notice that the flame looking wall dosen't reflect the light that it should shows on the wall, etc.
good luck with project :D

newsvixen8
07-29-2005, 06:39 AM
I've just been asked to do some of the same FX you've been working on, and like you at that time, it's a new experience. Has time permitted you to fashion any of those tutorials yet? I need to get up to speed...thanks

archiea
08-03-2005, 08:49 PM
Hi MercrunneR. Thanks for your reply.

I've really enjoyed watching your short. I see what you mean by lighting the footage to prepare for the effect. Our "production" was lacking one major thing: experience ! The shots were done by complete beginners all wanting to learn and willing to spend time (about 2 years) and money in something that nobody ever thought was/is going to work.

The quality of the resulting footage is somewhere between good and disastrous (wrong white-balance, awful light-setup, off-focus, shaking camera, etc.) - getting way better to the end. I'm sure, redoing that thing (taking into consideration of what we know today) would result in something really neat -- but that is not an option. So ... we'll try to fix it in post.

Fixing in post even does work in some cases. Stabilizing the shots does work way better than I expected. Also enhancing the overall quality is something that actually does work quite good. But, like you said, it is close to impossible to compensate major mistakes done during production by post.

Well ... currently I'm working on some classic skeletons to fight with some of the dwarfs. So stay tuned (if you like) !

hexa...

its a great first step that you guys are taking!! congrats and try to enjoy....

Here's some (hopefully) straight forward suggestions that hopefully won;t sound too basic for you...

Live action camera:
Always white balance. To change a swhite balance in post will compromise the footage. I'm sure you found this out the hard way.
:D :D Also, you want to white balance under a light that is representative of being neutral. the goal to understand is that the purpose ofhte white balance is to ensure the proper reproduction of the colors. So say youa re shooting a music video under colored lights. You white balance to those lights and you are going to be correcting against them and you loose their colro contribution. So in that case you;d want to white balance to a neutral light and then switch on the gelled lights. You will find what comes out of the camera to being closer to your intended color. And always rebalance to the same source.. as its whats going to ensure your consistant color. here's a nice url that offers videos and products of what i'm talking about...
http://www.rawworkflow.com/products/whibal/

never leave the camera on auto focus. Even on a static scene it will hunt.. andit loosk amateurish

never leave the Iris on auto.. lock your exposure...

a bit of an artsey tip... use ND filters.. especially outside.. if you shoot at around F4 (i like 2.8 :D ) out doors you avoid that extreme depth of field that video cameras give you and it looks more filmic....

Speaking of filmic.. I like those 30fps progressive video cameras.. I hate interlace... ;)

mark spots ont he ground to help with yoru focus.. with some of these video cameras, its moot, but it depends on the model...

get as much coverage as you can 'afford'. it adds production value....

Also.. for hand held shots.. build a small rig to mount your camera that has the handles about a foot and a half apart... the camera moves will look "heavier" and not have those micro hand movements.. The electronic cam stabilization helps out alot already, but it can make hand held shots look sluggish.

Turn off the camera sharpness...

in general.. design yoru shots like a painting, asking yoruself where the points of interest are.. then have your lighting concentrate on that. Often alot of films look flat. Looks at your cave shot... squint your eyes. you can swee how your eye gets lost... its flat.

Look at the comparision below, I 'relit" your shot "in post".. and assuming that its a lockoff, you can do the same too. Not knowing your story, i took for granted that the main light source would be the enterance. But that the emphasis should be on the girl. Perhaps you can see how this sets up beautifully to showcase your fire FX.. which speaking lighting wise, is centerstage. meanwhile, the foreground rocks which dominated so much of the frame, have been reduced to a series of mystereous hilights.

My monitor gamma can be al wrong for this since I still hav eth eold mac gamma, shich brightens up PC pictures, but i think you get the point,...

have fun!!!!

archiea
08-03-2005, 08:51 PM
crap!! My monitor gamma IS off.. Sorry.. its probably too dark,..,, but I think yoiu get the point.. Load it into df and convert hthe gamma from mac to PC for a poor mans version!!!

here I adjusted it with a monitor closer to PC gamma (I think)

Hexa
08-12-2005, 04:11 PM
Hi folks.

It's been some time now and we are still working on getting this thing to some prefinal stage. As some of you might have experienced before it can be quite frustrating when people, that in the beginning were very eager to participate, suddenly disappear into the large void. From formerly 10 people only 2 remained. I think that is a common problem for projects like that. Even my time is vanishing due to having started my own business. I'm sure we will finish this up -- but there is not going to be any tutorial too soon. I'm sorry for that.

Thanks archiea for you comment. Since I still need to do the post I will take your ideas into consideration and try to highlight some details. I totally agree: Do your very best during shooting -- you will see why when you try to 'use' the shots later. It's very frustrating when you look at a decent scene and know that proper preparations would have made it really outstanding. I would love to go back and redo all that footage with what I know now (and taking into considerations of what you guys are talking about). This thing started as some hobby-project and the final look will, most probably, reflect that.

But it's been a great time and we all learned a whole lot. That knowledge will help the next time someone is asking for some kind of 3D-enhanced-clip. I managed to build virtual cities only to let them burn in some mage's firestorm. Undead that are jumping around, slashing heros, vaporised when handled by a priest. Montainsides that did not exist until we decided to -- it was (and still is) hard work but it's really been worth the time. It's amazing what you can do when you have the right tools -- and buying that LW and DFX+ offer was one of the best decisions I made. Also you all should not underestimate the value of such a large, friendly and helpfull community.

I will post some more shots here once I got some time to do so.

Best regards,

Christian Lehmann.

archiea
08-16-2005, 01:57 AM
Hi folks.

It's been some time now and we are still working on getting this thing to some prefinal stage. As some of you might have experienced before it can be quite frustrating when people, that in the beginning were very eager to participate, suddenly disappear into the large void. From formerly 10 people only 2 remained. I think that is a common problem for projects like that. Even my time is vanishing due to having started my own business. I'm sure we will finish this up --

common? COMMON?? Its more like SOP: Standard Operating Procedure! I find that its more common when its done with friends. Hmmm... some friends... Some even prefer staying at home watching Oprah instead of helping.. Blows me away!!!

I findit best to get kids from schools.. go to a treater or acting school. They have a vested interest of getting a reel from you. If they don't stick around.. no reel.



Thanks archiea for you comment. Since I still need to do the post I will take your ideas into consideration and try to highlight some details. I totally agree: Do your very best during shooting -- you will see why when you try to 'use' the shots later. It's very frustrating when you look at a decent scene and know that proper preparations would have made it really outstanding. I would love to go back and redo all that footage with what I know now (and taking into considerations of what you guys are talking about). This thing started as some hobby-project and the final look will, most probably, reflect that.


well u have to start somewhere.. you don;t come out fo the womb knowing this stuff.. despite how many people there may be who act like they do....




But it's been a great time and we all learned a whole lot. That knowledge will help the next time someone is asking for some kind of 3D-enhanced-clip. I managed to build virtual cities only to let them burn in some mage's firestorm. Undead that are jumping around, slashing heros, vaporised when handled by a priest. Montainsides that did not exist until we decided to -- it was (and still is) hard work but it's really been worth the time. It's amazing what you can do when you have the right tools -- and buying that LW and DFX+ offer was one of the best decisions I made. Also you all should not underestimate the value of such a large, friendly and helpfull community.

I will post some more shots here once I got some time to do so.

Best regards,

Christian Lehmann.


Keep it up!!