This was an educational test in which I shot immobile tripod footage and tracked a number of points on my palm using Syntheyes.
Once the points were tracked in Syntheyes the data was imported into Blender, where the monkey head primitive built into Blender (Suzanne) was composited into the shot, seemingly resting on my hand. I had a few issues. I can’t seem to figure out how to get shadows working properly *an issue I solved after writing this article*.
You can see there is a bit of ghosting around the hand, due to the quick ‘mesh’ I made of the hand on which the shadows were placed. A little bit of editing would clean it up, but at this point this test as served its purpose. Onward to bigger and better things. There is a small amount of slippage / jitter between the 3D element and the video footage due to inexperience using Syntheyes on my part. Hey, that’s what these exercises are for!
I would be a bit more in depth with this post, but the wee hours of the morning are upon me and I need to get some sleep, so how about this. If you have any questions or comments, go ahead and leave me one right at the bottom of this page!
‘roB’ is a robot character I made for a short film at Eastern Michigan University. He’s a spunky little bot with a get up and get it done kind of attitude, and he can often be seen hanging out on my desk.
Okay, so not really. This a special effects test involving matchmoving and compositing courtesy of Syntheyes and Blender. It is a shot I’m quite fond of, and it even has a special effects breakdown to show the ‘steps’ taken to go from raw footage to final composite. I think the visual effects breakdown took as much time as the tracking and compositing work itself.
The raw image sequence was processed using supervised tracking in Syntheyes, meaning that each bright green triangular point shown in the video I actually supervised the manual tracking of from frame to frame. Time consuming? Yes. But look at the results! How cool is that?
Of course, my trusty Blender came through for me on all of the 3D aspects. Modeling, lighting, rendering, and compositing were all handled by this powerful beast of a 3D package. If you haven’t looked into it yet, really, what are you waiting for?
While for the most part my colleagues and classmates in the field of what can be summed up as (and heavily understated by the words) ’3D Animation’ are supportive of new experiences, new software, etc, occasionally work that I have done is overshadowed for someone by the fact that I did not produce it using a ‘socially accepted’ software package such as 3DS Max or Maya. I am, of course, referring to my preferred package, my swiss army knife in a world of 3D, Blender.
The fact of the matter is, I have never seen any package commonly ‘recognized’ to be superior produce anything that Blender could not. In fact, I often see quite the opposite, in that few packages are as capable in reference to the multitude of features in which Blender dominates. What else can do particle simulation, volumetric smoke and fire, water, soft bodies, modeling, rigging, animating, texturing, and real world physics simulations all in the same package? Show me the money, folks.
I’m not necessarily saying that other packages are less capable, nor that Blender is the end all be all for every 3D user in the world. What I am saying is this; when you see a truly quality example of someone’s work, something they put a great deal of time and effort into perfecting to perfection, by all means ask how it was done and with what package. Compliment it if it truly shines, suggest better ways of doing things, compare pros and cons, and develop a unique and meaningful conversation or critique. What better way to learn?
But please. Please, refrain from changing your mind on the quality of craftsmanship just because it wasn’t made with an Autodesk product. It can leave a bad taste in both of your mouths, and may make you seem uninformed. By writing something off just because that high school computer science teacher you had said that it wasn’t worth a nickel of your time, you risk missing out on a tremendous number of opportunities! You might learn something new if you give yourself a chance to open up to it. Of course, that lesson can be applied to a lot of things in life, not just 3D modeling and animating application wars.
Now that the render I’ve been waiting on is done, I can stop pseudo-ranting and get to the interesting part of the post. I spent all afternoon and evening today working in Syntheyes and Blender. The included short fifty frame video marks a number of firsts for me.
Into SynthEyes went the image sequence, (video footage broken into a separate image for each frame). SynthEyes is a software package that, to put it roughly, determines how cameras and objects move based on video footage so that we can further manipulate them in software like Blender. It’s one of the things that lets us add special effects. Then came an hour or two of supervised tracking, a first for me, as in the past I have used SynthEyes’ built in autotracking functions to automatically track my footage.
This time, not only did I track the movement of the camera using supervised tracking, but I also tracked a moving object in the footage, a vehicle driving down the road. After the tracking was done and the data was exported to Blender, I began playing with the idea of testing the footage by attached something to the side of the truck.
After a few hours of fiddling, the final product now arises. It’s a short (nearly two whole seconds) technical test slash learning experience comprised of a truck moving down the highway with an image of the TRON style spheres pasted realistically to its side. Not only is the truck moving, but the handheld camera is swiveling in a tripod like manner to track the truck as it moves along the road.
This may look pretty basic, and in some respects it is, but it is one of the most difficult hurdles in achieving realistic special effects and photoreal 3D additions to live action film. And jumping those hurdles can be a lot of fun.
Well, I’ve accumulated enough photos to do a decent photo post, so here it is, enjoy. Clicking on any of the photos should bring them up full size.
Above is a mockup of a simple website I made in Photoshop for a final lab last semester. There was no focus on web design throughout the course, the lab just had to show our proficiency with the tools that we had learned, and so could be a website, a video game interface, or anything similar, really. The images in the mockup are all examples of my own work as they relate to the ‘purpose’ of the website.
This one was from fiddling around in the beginning of December. Nothing too special here, just some flat Christmas tree shapes that I made in Blender and then duplicated and rotate to make trees. Then the trees were copied and moved about the snowy scene that I created. This was, basically, the result of fiddling around while in a computer graphics course while covering ‘vectors’.
This one may seem familiar, as there was a video of it in the final post from 2010. This hand gun was modeled, textured, and animated for the same class that I doodled the Christmas tree setting in. It was overkill for the project, as all that had to be shown was proficiency in manipulating entities through a timeline to create an animation. Something as simple as a 2D basketball shot through a hoop a few times would have sufficed.
This one was for the same Photoshop class as the first image. It is a composite of three seperate images. The first was of myself holding up the hammer against a different white background. The second was a photo of the barn wall with a nail driven into it. The third and final was a closeup of the subject’s head (my father). He was instructed: ‘look like someone is about to bash you in the head with a hammer’. He did a splendiferous job.
The final image of this dump was rendered just hours before this post was made to the site. I followed a Blender tutorial at BlenderCookie to make the glowing light effect, then added the TRON logo for kicks. This image is now the background on my larger monitor. Feel free to copy it and use it if you like it. I think I’ll do more with this scene and effect in the future.
Below is a quick render of a military missile I’m working on for a new project. It was made in Blender 2.53, and is a first foray into UV texture unwrapping and mapping in the newest version of Blender. A few more adjustments are all that’s needed and I’ll be starting on some other aspects of the required scene. References images and concepts were found via a Google image search.
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Shown here is the basic node setup after tweaking.
I followed a tutorial on CGCookie yesterday about creating node libraries and started to realize for myself how powerful nodes must be in educated hands. Feeling inspired, I felt the first thing I had to do was decide on some abstract, though meaningful text to render. Eclectic as my mind is, it latched onto a quote from TS Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men’; “This is the way the world ends.” Coming up in a close second was a quote by Aristotle; “Hope is but a waking dream”.
The left eye....something strange is going on here..
Alright, not so much candy as it is special effects.. involving the eye. Horrible pun, I admit, but the effect is still interesting to watch considering the relative simplicity involved in this special effects/compositing test. The video at the end of the article will show off the final result.
Using Blender (and, for the first time, compositing nodes), I hand tracked the movement of my eye from some video footage taken using my laptop’s built in webcam at the decent resolution of 960 by 540. The footage was taken while in a moving vehicle, for some added difficulty. Composited over top of the eye is a false retina, which has been animated to match the combined movement of the camera, my head, and my eye. Now that the eye has been tracked I can make any changes or additions to the eye that I want, given some time and effort.