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thesir
01-02-2006, 09:31 PM
I have been looking heavily at getting LW + Vue bundle (which in my opinion is an amazing offer) but I am worried that my budget for compositing programs is even lower than my 3d effects budget is. I just want to be able to comp my chroma shots with my footage and comp in my LW/Vue stuff and have it all come together and not look 100% cheesy. Is this more about software of experience? I know most things are about 90% experience 10% tools but is this true for digital compositing?

I wish I could afford Shake 4 but I am looking at a program called Visionlab HD from some random company in the UK.
http://www.fxhome.com/store/ Its cheap and seems like I could do some pretty impressive things with it for the price tag. Anyone have any experience with this or any other program in the $400 or less price range?

Any advice is awesome,
The Sir

Mylenium
01-03-2006, 01:49 AM
I have been looking heavily at getting LW + Vue bundle (which in my opinion is an amazing offer) but I am worried that my budget for compositing programs is even lower than my 3d effects budget is. I just want to be able to comp my chroma shots with my footage and comp in my LW/Vue stuff and have it all come together and not look 100% cheesy. Is this more about software of experience? I know most things are about 90% experience 10% tools but is this true for digital compositing?

I wish I could afford Shake 4 but I am looking at a program called Visionlab HD from some random company in the UK.
http://www.fxhome.com/store/ Its cheap and seems like I could do some pretty impressive things with it for the price tag. Anyone have any experience with this or any other program in the $400 or less price range?

Any advice is awesome,
The Sir

Doesn't look too convincing to me, more like a homebrew software. Most of what they tout as "pro" features is pretty much standard in other packages. If you're short on money, get After Effects Standard or Boris Red, if you have some more money get After Effects Professional or combustion*.

Mylenium

prospector
01-03-2006, 02:17 AM
you might check around for a ver 8 of LW and it came with DFX, which is what you want and it will let you upgrade cheaper

thesir
01-03-2006, 02:37 PM
lol... uhm, looks like im screwed then. 8/ Boris red is 1k + and after effects standard is about 650... guess my production will have to be put on hold. Atleast I will have more time to worry about the story and doing storyboards...

DMarkwick
01-03-2006, 04:53 PM
If you can stand the pain of construction, make a multi-planar compositing scene in LW and use that. Really, it's not as insane as it sounds, you need several planes stacked one in front of the other that you can apply image sequences and their alpha maps to. Background plates, foreground images and incidental effects can all be added in & slid around. You can even tweak the image properties somewhat with the image editor (brightness, saturation stuff like that).

It's nothing like as efficient as a proper compositing app, but at least you already have it :D

Editing & sound, that IS another app :D

loki74
01-03-2006, 11:54 PM
Doesn't look too convincing to me, more like a homebrew software. Most of what they tout as "pro" features is pretty much standard in other packages. If you're short on money, get After Effects Standard or Boris Red, if you have some more money get After Effects Professional or combustion*.

Mylenium

I would have to agree.

As far as chroma keying, I have not been able to find any compositing software that does good keying on its own. As you probably already know, Shake comes with CFC Keylight and Photron Primatte, both of which are good keyers. IIRC, AE also has Keylight.

Looking on other forums, it sounds like you can do pretty much anything in AE that you can do in Shake, but it will take MUCH longer.

Also, the roto tools seem kind of weak. I mean they brag about a garbage matte.. okay, but I didnt see anything about pulling soft edges or doing pixel tracking. Am I just not looking close enough?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but keying, tracking, and roto are pretty much the most important things when it comes to compositing. This VisionLab thing feels awfully weak in all three areas.

At any rate, I would look into Mirage as well if I were you. I was not impressed with its keying capabilities, but it's roto tools looked alright as did its pixel tracking tools. Also, I think they have a deal for LW users.

In my personal opinion, if time is not of the essence, just keep saving up and get Shake... or Fusion if youre on PC. (unfortunately, Fusion is more expensive)

Best of luck to you!

PS-A question for DMarkwick--couldnt you lose resolution compositing in LW?

DMarkwick
01-04-2006, 05:25 AM
PS-A question for DMarkwick--couldnt you lose resolution compositing in LW?

Not necessarily, stuff you're worried about losing resolution on can be rendered out at higher resolutions and reduced at the last step to the required one.

As I said, its not a great solution, just a possible quick-fix one until a proper compositor can be obtained. But I do think that a lot can be done with sufficient imagination and a bit of wrangling. But you'll be stuffed if keying is needed, I don't see a way to do that in LW. I was thinking that anything made IN Lightwave wouldn't need keying as you just render out alpha mattes, and simple masking can easily be done especially if the camera is locked. Just make an alpha matte in Photoshop (or whatever paint program you use) or use LW's own alpha generating abilities.

Edbittner
01-04-2006, 05:40 AM
I did get the DFX+ with the LW8 upgrade, and I use that for all vfx compositing. For greenscreen stuff only I use Serious Magic's "Ultra"
http://www.seriousmagic.com/products/ultra/
You absolutely cannot beat it for green-or blue screen comps. It's about $400 bucks.( And there's a free trial).
E.

Edbittner
01-04-2006, 05:49 AM
Oh, by the way, stay away from that piece of crap software at fxhome. It's a piece of junk.( I tried their demo). Just d-load the trial ver. of "Ultra" from Serious Magic, you'll be blown away at how easy it is to pull razor sharp composites from even terribly lit greenscreen stuff. You can also take your footage and adjust the contrast, saturation,etc, to pull alpha channels from previously shot stuff. Trust me on this one.
E.

thesir
01-04-2006, 08:19 AM
Ultra2 looks awesome except for one thing.... NO MAC VERSION!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH...... :cry: I have a PC I could use for keying stuff on if I had to but I would love to centralize everything.... bah...

pixelinfected
01-04-2006, 08:22 AM
check on ebay, you can find combustion for since 300$
or after effects for 150$, i have both, if you can't buy both i suggest you combustion, is a bit complex then after effects but is more powerful and faster in render then afx, it can use 3d channel for multipass (in afx you need to buy pro version) and is compatible with 96% of professional plugin of afx

adrian
01-05-2006, 08:30 AM
For my two cents I would recommend After Effects Pro (I bought a second hand version of 4.1 for a lot cheaper than the RRP from someone on these boards no less), and then get Total Training's DVD training set which will enable you to get the most out of AE.

Only trouble is, that'll set you back a fair whack, but... they're both worth it!

Iaian7
01-05-2006, 02:50 PM
While I can't vouch for Combustion, I've used a bit of After Effects. The Production bundle includes basic 3D channel effects (depth matte, fog, depth of field blurring, etc.), 3D layers, and will even import camera motions from some programs using RPF or RLA sequences (see below).
The pro bundle also includes decent 2D tracking; which in conjunction with Lightwave I've used to add 3D character extensions to live action green screen footage (as a side note, I've used AE for just about all of my compositing work). Masks (roto) are also included... not sure if it's the Production bundle or standard, though. They work fine in 5.5... I believe 6.5 combines some of the tracking and masking tools as well.

While compositing rarely needs true 3D compositing, you can import camera data with RPF or RLA sequences by using Lightwave's image filter export plugins, but... the motion data is screwed up a bit. The axis information is inverted in some channels, and the rotations are seemingly randomly assigned. Be forewarned, LW camera banking does not work in AE... somehow Adobe has designed a rotation system that doesn't work with "proper" banking. Al Street's TransMotion Utilities really helps ease the transition from Lightwave to other apps, I was using them on a sequence about a year ago, and he's very helpful. http://www.ats-3d.com/

Since you're on the Mac, I would also highly recommend looking into Final Cut Express HD... while it's not an effects package like AE or Shake, it still has decent keying and a quick garbage mask, so in a pinch it'll work (though it won't be able to work with Lightwave's RLA/RPF/16-bit or Depth maps, nor does it offer animated settings, being an express version). At times, I've gotten better chroma key results with Final Cut than I have with AE, the biggest advantage being the easy colour smoothing (both 4:1:1 and 4:2:2), which helps remove the blocky edges derived from the drastic colour compression found in DV footage (this can be done nicely in AE, it's just not automatic). Plus, you can usually find Final Cut Express on eBay fairly cheap!

To be honest, I wouldn't bother with the standard After Effects package, it's not worth the cut in features, unless you're able to find it for... say... $73 on eBay. Final Cut will handle editing of course, so if you're just needing to comp basic Lightwave renders (that is, rendering quicktime files with the alpha included) then it should work ok.

I agree... Ultra 2 looks nice... and again, sadly no Mac version. :(

loki74
01-05-2006, 04:46 PM
Since you're on the Mac, I would also highly recommend looking into Final Cut Express HD... while it's not an effects package like AE or Shake, it still has decent keying and a quick garbage mask, so in a pinch it'll work

Hmm... I have Final Cut Studio, (so I can only speak of Final Cut Pro, not express) and FCP's keying/roto is OK at best. For an NLE keyer, its actually not half bad. I downloaded trials for zMatte and advantEdge, which are OK, I guess, but really not a whole lot better than FCP's built-in keyer. (advantEdge probably is, but I simply don't have time to learn all those controls!!!)

As for FCP's roto tools-the garbage matte only comes in 4 or 8 point forms, and as far as I can tell, there was no option for soft edges or even curved points. Furthermore, interactivity was very slow.


I agree... Ultra 2 looks nice... and again, sadly no Mac version. :(
Yeah its very sad... I would have bought it months ago if it was for Mac!! Even better if they hade it in standalone and plugin form. Not having to leave my NLE would be great, and once I get the money for shake, it would be SO [email protected] to have Keylight, Primatte, AND Ultra as plugins all under one roof!!

...dare to deam, lol. :cry:

Iaian7
01-05-2006, 08:46 PM
Totally agree on the points about FCP/FCE! Very limited, but in a pinch, will sometimes work. While AE offers more control, I have seen some clips where FCP/FCE actually gave better keys, though cleanup really has to be done in AE (any roto beyond a garbage mask, and colour halos... etc.).
Granted, I doubt AE is really known for its chroma work... so I probably shouldn't be making too many claims, sorry! :)

Here's to a good, affordable chroma solution on the mac :beerchug:
someday...

thesir
01-05-2006, 10:07 PM
wow thanks for all the replys and this discussion is flowing nicely, I noticed there wasnt really anything posted in this part of the forum and didnt know if anyone even bothered to read it!! :D I wish I could just take the kick in the nuts and drop 3k on shake but thats how much I am spending on my computer.... and im 22... and working at a dead end job... my only saving grace is that I live with my parents and slide by with a $100 rent! :thumbsup: Beats living with a roommate and his bitchy girlfriend and paying $500.... anyway enough about my life story, basically its not possible. I just really dont want to spend the money on FCE and AE and LW and then not be able to do what I want to do. I would probably be forced to eat my computer and software all in one sitting and spontaneously combust with fury if it didnt work.

STUPID high aspirations and delusions of granduer!!! I have a big enough learning curve to tackle here without worrying about running into a glass ceiling. Thanks for all the advice though, far more than I expected and thanks for talking me out of that stupid FXhome software.

I guess I could explain one of the planned FX shots I have set in stone for the movie and see if anyone has any input on if I would NEED shake or something high end to do it or not.

THe first is a dream sequence where the main character is standing in a hallway. I could do the hallway all digital in LW to make the scene go easy and be easier to edit but then I would have to make it all look 100% real or it would ruin the scene IMHO. It is dimly lit and he is looking straight towards the far end of the hallway. I would have the shot of the hallway, a LW animation of a monsterous man wearing a butchers apron and nothing else holding a knife that is dripping blood standing in a deep shadowed corner that is modeled to match the hallway. I would composite them together to match up (if I didnt make the hallway entirely) and the creature steps back and disapears into the darkness of the corner. the focus changes to the main characters sweat covered face, focus softening down the hallway into a blur (I could do this with the camera but would have to have the comped animation blur perfectly with it or do it all digitally) and then to a close up of his eyes darting around (suspense building!!! *oooowEEEEwwoooo :eek: * He turns slowly focus going from on him to sharp all around and there isnt anything there.

BAM :devil: 3 inches from his face appears the face of the man comped in with matched lighting out of thin air for like 2 seconds and it goes to a shot of the main character springing up from his bed.

loki74
01-05-2006, 11:59 PM
lol yeah Shake is at the moment pretty much just this shiny thing in a box for me as well. I couldnt ask my parents for anything more--dual G5 and 23" monitor definately qualifies me as one spoiled kid. I'd feel terrible if they spent much more money on this... but I'm determined--I'll save as long as it takes!!! :thumbsup: :D

hmmm I'm a little confused, but I think I get the important stuff

Basically, if you need to comp CG over footage, you dont need anything special--just an alpha channel which LW can make. If you need to comp footage over CG (greenscreen) then you will want to have some sort of compositing solution. Right now, with your budget Ultra is looking pretty good, imo. I would suggest you make sure that your screen fills the frame though, that way you will have to worry much less, if at all, about doing a garbage matte.

As for syncing the DOF... well, you will want to take precise measurements of the camera (pos. in relation to character, rotation, height off ground, focal length, f-stop, etc). For matching up the DOF, you'll want to take down the focal length of the camera before and after it changes. Then in your footage, just step through frame by fram in your NLE to find out the exact frame or timecode the shift starts and ends. Then in LW just keyframe the camera's focal length at those times, and punch in the respective values you wrote down from your real camera.

There might be an easier way to do that, but off the top of my head thats really all I can think of at the moment. Also, you wont need to take as many measurements if you use some camera tracking software (syntheyes is cheap, $300 I think, pftrack is supposed to be good but is more expensive). If you plan on moving the camera around at all, you will want this. Otherwise you could get away with just taking VERY precise measurements. If you do use tracking software, you will probably only need to take down the focal length before/after to animate the DOF on your camera in LW and match it up. However, measurements are a good precaution in any case, IMO.

good luck with your project!

PS if you have a really good idea, you might be able to get a grant which would pay for Shake. You'll need to be able to write very well, or know someone who does, but hey its worth a shot right?

thesir
01-06-2006, 01:08 AM
lol well I am spoiled too but not to such a degree. I got a bad *** digital monitor (only 19" :P) and some new drum triggers for my electronic drum kit for christmas... Far more than I deserved but definitely not a G5 you lucky devil!

I have far too many things going on right now and I am thinking of just giving up. I am writing a full length album ATM for my one man band... writing music for 5 instruments, getting all the recording equip and editing and producing it all myself takes up enough of my time, and to think I want to do a state of the art VFX filled horror movie on the side... Foolish yes, but I cant help myself. :hey: I am going to be a star, mark my words, but I guess I just cant make up my mind as to how I am going to do it... covering all the bases isnt a bad idea but I dont own a money tree unfortunately, which seems to be the main thing. :thumbsdow

$300 just to track my camera???????????? I will stick with my ruler and my deteriorating brain, its free... I can spend that money on something a bit more necessary. I dont deny it would be nice but such is life.

Ultra 2 is really seeming to be a great option for keying... but it would force me to use my PC for keying and doing the rest on my new g5... whenever I get it... I wouldnt be opposed to it but I just want to know that it wont be a pain transfering things from one computer to the next.

Grants arent a bad idea but I am not going to school and dont plan on it and I have no educational background in film or music for that matter. I am not a bad writer but I wouldnt even give me money! :D Ahh **** anyway, enough of me rambling.

loki74
01-06-2006, 10:44 PM
Ah a musician too? Just out of curiosity, what software do you use to record/do yoru drums and stuff? My brother wants to be able to record, but GarageBand doesnt meet his needs and Logic etc is too expensive. He's acquainted with FruityLoops, but they are unfortunately very Mac unfriendly...

But I digress. Getting back on topic,

lol $300 is actually a steal for this type of software... now were not talking about 2d tracking--I mean tracking, as in it will take your footage, analyze it, and make a LW scene (or whatever other 3D app one may use--they even export to Animation:Master!) in which the camera has exactly the same motion! As long as the tracking goes well, you'll have minimal match-moving woes.

Now you don need it per se if your camera stays put... but if it moves, getting the XYZ position and HPB rotation exactly right on a frame-by frame basis... ****. THAT is what I call tears sleepless nights.

pixelinfected
01-07-2006, 03:47 AM
syntheyes is software for you, since 300$ good and fast 3d tracking.
have nice day.

Edbittner
01-07-2006, 06:48 AM
For darkened hallways and such, don't forget, you can use lights with negative values in Lightwave to blacken any point in the scene. I've used this method to have subjects come "out of the dark", and with a little dark fog it's perfect. Oh, and don't forget to use a "dutch tilt" camera position for adding suspense.
E.

thesir
01-08-2006, 12:22 AM
For music recording software I will be using Digital Performer 4.6. Right now I have a digital 8 track recorder (Fostex VF80). DP 4.6 is pricey, yes, but its fricken sweet. Best MIDI compatibility and mixing out of any recording software. Its incredibly easy. Check out motu.com for info. Its pricey (so are there interfaces) but I am not willing to mess around with the sound of my recordings. Heres my future rig for recording.

Digital performer 4.6
MOTU mk828ll firewire interface
MX4 synth software
Mach 5 sampling software
New roland TD-8 drum module (mines a peice of crap)
MOTU midi A/v time piece

all MOTU made, designed specifically for mac.

Now do you see why I have a small budget for my film???? I am going to be spending about 6k on recording eq/ new G5 before I even buy any movie stuff. Its awesome knowing my recordings will kick butt but I cant help wanting to make awesome videos for my songs too, which was my main motivation to buy LW but then I got on the whole movie kick... maybe I will just make my videos pure lightwave... Save me some money!

I have a song off my upcoming album on my website if you want to check it out, dont know if your into metal at all. It is an instrumental piece called Muppet Mosh Pit. rabidmuppet.50megs.com