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Thread: Can you create a virtual set using Lightwave?

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    SciEngArtist PabloMack's Avatar
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    Question Can you create a virtual set using Lightwave?

    I have been a Lightwave user for 9 years and a SpeedEDIT user for about 2 years. I am writing a science fiction screen play that will use virtual sets extensively but they will not be limited to the rather narrow kinds of sets (studios) used on news and weather programs. All of my virtual sets are designed in Lightwave. Ideally I would love to be able to create a virtual set for a live movie shoot using Lightwave as the final rendering will be done with Lighwave anyway. Can you import a Lightwave scene into a TriCaster as a virtual set or are the architectures incompatible? Even if I don't use the virtual studio facility in TriCaster 40, can I still use the built-in Chroma Key features to composite a background still or video, a foreground still or video with alpha and insert a live video with green screen chroma keyed in between? My aim is to have some live feedback to the director, cameraman and actors for a shoot where the live action and CG will be well coordinated. I would like to avoid the redundant work involved in duplicating the virtual sets in the Lightwave and TriCaster formats. Am I barking up the wrong tree or am I on track?

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    'the write stuff' SBowie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PabloMack View Post
    Even if I don't use the virtual studio facility in TriCaster 40, can I still use the built-in Chroma Key features to composite a background still or video, a foreground still or video with alpha and insert a live video with green screen chroma keyed in between?
    This will work, yes - but creating the compiled LiveSet effects that permit zooming in and out after the fashion of the supplied sets requires the use of the (extra cost) Virtual Set Editor.
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    SciEngArtist PabloMack's Avatar
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    Is it possible to import Ligthwave Scenes (LWS) using this editor? Even if I could import Lightwave Objects (LWO), it would be better than having to create everything from scratch. My fear is that the features in the Virtual Set Editor are too canned to be very flexible.

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    'the write stuff' SBowie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PabloMack View Post
    Is it possible to import Ligthwave Scenes (LWS) using this editor?
    VSE takes layered .psd files as input, and creates LiveSet projects from that. You render the various layers of your scene as background or foreground composition elements in your graphic creation weapon of choice (it could be LW, but you could use a carved up photo, water color, line drawing, or what have you), arrange them - along with video input proxy layers - as required, and import in to VSE.

    I think there's a video on the site depicting the VSE end of things.
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    SciEngArtist PabloMack's Avatar
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    One thing I don't understand is how a Virtual Studio can be in one layer but has both foreground and background elements in it. In a news cast, the reporter is in front of the background part of the studio but behind a desk. To me it seems that the main video would not always be in the background but would be in between two other layers that would provide the virtual set. I don't see how the TriCaster 40's architecture provides this. If your live video were always background (the BKGD layer) then you could never put anything behind it. Being able to chroma key your main video stream would be somewhat pointless because all you could ever see beyond the transparency created by the chroma keying process would be black.

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    From Browser To Broadcast jmmultex's Avatar
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    If you are creating the set in Lightwave, you need to pull elements apart into distinct layers. As a basic approach: You can first render the background without the desk and save it. You can then render the desk without the background and save it. Open Photoshop and import the background layer. Add a new layer and create the 'Input A' talent layer. You can the import the foreground layer. Saving this photoshop file would give you a basic set you could use in VSE. Keep in mind that when creating these sets, you should render from Lightwave in DOUBLE the resolution you plan on use the set at. When you zoom in to a set, you don't want to lose resolution - VSE will handle this for you, but you need to begin with the extra resolution there.

    Best,
    John
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    'the write stuff' SBowie's Avatar
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    In general, think of compiled LiveSet effects as multi-layer compositing effects - an opaque background layer, a foreground layer (typically a desk on a transparent field, and one or more live video input layers (the number of video layers supporting keying varies by model) placed in appropriate ways between the bg and fg, or even in front of the fg (to simulate reflections, for example).

    If you don't use VSE to create a LiveSet, you can still get a more limited virtual set effect using Virtual Inputs (M/Es, on 8000). All HD models <8000 have Virtual Inputs that support three inputs that can be drawn from a variety of sources, including files. It's easy to stack up a bg, video layer, and foreground with alpha. The switcher handles this composition as a single input.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PabloMack View Post
    One thing I don't understand is how a Virtual Studio can be in one layer but has both foreground and background elements in it. In a news cast, the reporter is in front of the background part of the studio but behind a desk. To me it seems that the main video would not always be in the background but would be in between two other layers that would provide the virtual set. I don't see how the TriCaster 40's architecture provides this. If your live video were always background (the BKGD layer) then you could never put anything behind it. Being able to chroma key your main video stream would be somewhat pointless because all you could ever see beyond the transparency created by the chroma keying process would be black.
    Check out this tutorial I wrote a few years ago for the NewTek magazine. I think it will help you visualize that. There have been some updates to how this works, mainly that you can use a placeholder image in Photoshop to gain the ability for warp and perspective without adjusting it in VSE, but basically it still works like this.

    http://digital.turn-page.com/i/61737

    Around page 10 or so…

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    SciEngArtist PabloMack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBowie View Post
    It's easy to stack up a bg, video layer, and foreground with alpha. The switcher handles this composition as a single input.
    And the video layer can be individually chroma keyed using the little sprocket icon in the upper right corner to produce alpha (thus two top layers have alpha)? And is the "switcher" you are refering to the mechanism that selects preview vs. program or something else?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmmultex View Post
    If you are creating the set in Lightwave...but you need to begin with the extra resolution there.
    This all makes sense. Do I have to have VSE to perform these actions without change? I recall something someone wrote indicates that you don't have to have the add-on in order just to import and compile a Photoshop PSD to make a Virtual Set. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by SBowie View Post
    "You've got to ask yourself one question ... 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, spammer?"
    Reminds me of Dirty Harry. He say's "Do you feel lucky today? Well, do ya? Go ahead. Make my day!". I just have to feel that Steve has a S&W 44-Magnum hidden somewhere but easy to reach.
    Last edited by PabloMack; 02-07-2013 at 04:25 PM.

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    LightWave documentation BeeVee's Avatar
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    Crikey, it used to be the *only* way you could create virtual sets...

    B
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    'the write stuff' SBowie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PabloMack View Post
    And the video layer can be individually chroma keyed using the little sprocket icon in the upper right corner to produce alpha (thus two top layers have alpha)? And is the "switcher" you are refering to the mechanism that selects preview vs. program or something else?
    Yes, and yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by PabloMack View Post
    Do I have to have VSE to perform these actions without change?
    I'm not 100% sure what you have in mind by "without change", but VSE is required to compile a LiveSet Effect, which uses 'oversize' (bigger than video res) imagery to let you zoom in without pixelization. A simple keyer effect (background, keyed midground, 32 bit foreground) can be performed in a Virtual Input without VSE.
    Quote Originally Posted by PabloMack View Post
    Reminds me of Dirty Harry.
    Gee, that never even crossed my mind
    (I do live in Texas now, y'all) .
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    LiveSet Making Machine joseburgos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeeVee View Post
    Crikey, it used to be the *only* way you could create virtual sets...

    B
    You could use Aura or Lightwave originally
    edit: Well I should say not to much after LiveSet was released so not right away but not far from original release. As a FYI, I still use Aura to create SD LiveSets for clients all the time
    Last edited by joseburgos; 02-10-2013 at 03:38 PM.
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    Hi PabloMack, we made a virtual set in Cinema 4D and found that we can't import it into the TCXD300 without converting it with the NewTek Virtual Set Editor software, we just have the one set, 3 camera angles, a and b monitors. Do you have any idea how much time it would take for someone to convert such a file using the NewTek Virtual Set Editor software? It seems that there are others in the same predicament, maybe there are individuals in this forum who do freelance work and can convert such files for others to use. I would imagine this would also be in NewTek's best interests as smaller players would then be able to effectively use the equipment. Any solutions are very welcome.

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    SciEngArtist PabloMack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBowie View Post
    VSE takes layered .psd files as input, and creates LiveSet projects from that. You render the various layers of your scene as background or foreground composition elements in your graphic creation weapon of choice (it could be LW, but you could use a carved up photo, water color, line drawing, or what have you), arrange them - along with video input proxy layers - as required, and import in to VSE.
    For my purposes, a set made of just still layers is not adequate. I can see how the background layer could be one of the "virtual video monitors" sized to cover the whole screen area configured through which you could either play a prerecorded video file, pipe a live video feed or just a still from a file for trivial cases. The foreground layer, however, needs to be able to directly handle alpha that is embedded and played from a video or still file. Of course, a camera feed that is used as a foreground would have to have its own chroma keyer (which I believe TC can handle). Otherwise, if the foreground layer couldn't handle alpha then I might have to generate a video foreground where the pixels are supposed to be transparent are colored instead with the chroma key color and then use the keyer to make it transparent.

    Perhaps one of the virtual studios that comes with TC40 is set up so that both the foreground and background are sized to the screen and come from either still or video files or live feed when the foreground can handle alpha if present. This should be the standard trivial virtual set. Can someone check on this? If there is such a thing then I may have no need to incure the extra expense of purchasing VSE and the basic TC40 should be able to meet all of my plans.

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    From Browser To Broadcast jmmultex's Avatar
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    My apologies in advance if I am misunderstanding what you are saying...

    All sets for TriCaster are made with still layers, combined with two elements bound to outside sources. You would normally set the background layer as a full screen image, and add any layers on top of that as elements that cover only part of the screen. This is the basic model used when developing images using layers in Photoshop. When stacked one on top of another, these layers form a composite image. Virtual sets allow you to add two special additional layers that can be bound to outside video/image sources. These layers need to be named either "Input A" (usually used to map in the talent) and "Input B" (for additional video or still image sources). These special layers can be a simple black rectangle that tells the TriCaster where to map the full input source, or a special UV image that allows an input source to be cut up into smaller elements or warped/distorted. (NOTE: If you want to use the UV images, your photoshop file must be in either 16bpp or 32bpp)

    Just as in normal Photoshop the order of the layers allows layers in front to hide parts of layers behind them. If you have a background layer, you can put "Input A" on top of that (to display the talent) and then a layer with a desk in it on top of the talent layer to have the talent stand behind the desk. If you have an image of a monitor on the front of the desk, you can then put another layer called "Input B" on top of the desk layer with a black box in it exactly overlaying the screen of the monitor. When built as a set using Virtual Set Editor, you can select a video of talent in front of a green screen (keyed out with Livematte) for Input A and then have Stills or a DDR selected as Input B.

    If you don't have Virtual Set Editor, you can still use virtual inputs to create a simple set. Pick one of the virtual inputs, and choose the default "A over B" set. For Input B, Select a still image as a background - This could be a JPG of a wall in an office. For input A, select a talent video over green screen (keyed out using Livematte). Then choose a transparent PNG file of a desk as the overlay, creating a 3 layer Virtual 'set' that can be accessed using a single selection (V1-V8 whatever virtual input you set it up on). If you needed an additional layer, that can be handle using a DSK outside of the virtual input. By carefully lining everything up, you can have a fairly believable virtual set without building a 'real' virtual set with VSE.

    Hope this clears things up. Feel free to contact me if you need some help...

    Best,
    John
    John Mahoney
    GNURAL NET, Inc.
    Trenton, NJ 08691

    [email protected]
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