Monday, 3 September 2012

Monday Challenge

Just wanted to make a quick post. Happy to announce we've been selected in the past two Film Riot Monday Challenges. It's very exciting to see our work posted on such a great show with a huge following.

Here are the links to the episodes.

We're even the thumbnail for this one!

And the episode just released today.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Going MAD?

You know the feeling when you've got too many things on the go, it sometimes feels like nothing ever gets finished? Okay, it's actually just more of a really complicated project than anything. I've been filming for a work project that is almost entirely green screen and virtual sets. The story was written, storyboard drawn, and now a big chunk of the filming has been completed. The remainder of the filming will be more live action than green screen, but every frame will still be touched by the After Effects magic wand.

Speaking of After Effects. Video Copilot released their new plugin Element 3D! This is really going to change the playing field. From 3D textured text to animating reflecting logos, it is a pretty powerful tool. It isn't raytraced (which means it's not really reflecting things), but it still very convincing. What it is is very fast!

I saw a handful of people on YouTube animating objects and text and making some really great looking stuff, but I thought I'd go for something different. Since my green screen is all set up, I thought I'd take the opportunity to film a couple of shots. The flickering light on me is a halogen being bounced off of a wiggling car windshield reflector. The cave was a basic object modeled in Blender, and brought into Element 3D. I textured it and added the rock objects to the scene all in Element. The really cool thing is you can move around your lights along with the character. Once the cave was set up I duplicated multiple instances of Element to be layer in front of and behind my character. The music is from the "Horror Movie Music" collection from Neumann Films. They have some great stuff, and a bunch of free (even for commercial use) music as well! All you have to do is give Luke credit for the music. Check it out here.

Anyways, here is my Element 3D virtual set. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Adobe CS6 3D Camera Tracker

It's always exciting when Adobe has a new release. I have to admit, this release has really added some great new features. I did predict one of the big ones though, the 3D Camera Tracker shipping with After Effects!

When they released CS5.5 they added the Warp Stabilizer. I have used it numerous times now, and it can really stabilize a shaky shot quite nicely. While watching a video about the Warp Stabilizer there was a clip showing all the tracking points applied to some footage to do the stabilizing... much like the track points in the new 3D Camera Tracker. It made me wonder when they would take the next step, and add motion tracking.

If you are unfamiliar with motion tracking, it's the process of figuring out what the camera did in a live shot. A camera is then created in a compositing program, or a 3D program, performing the same camera moves. This allows you to add objects that weren't originally there as if they were part of the scene.

This is one of my first tests with the 3D Camera Tracker. It's quite intuitive: you track the footage, then right click one of the points you want to track and apply a null, or solid etc.

For this shot I applied a Null object to the distant background and created a solid parented to that null. I masked out the section I wanted to remove and used it as an alpha matte to remove the background from the footage. So I didn't have a sharp unrealistic edge to the matte, I applied the Turbulent Displace plugin. This gave a grass-like pattern to the edge, blending it nicely with the added virtual set.

You may not realize this, but changing backgrounds in television and movies is done far more often than you know. A lot of scenes for The Avengers were not filmed in New York, so they added New York buildings and landmarks. Even shows that you wouldn't think have any effect shots can have many. 

I look forward to doing more with the Camera Tracker and all the other new features, plus the completely new products they've added, Speed Grade for example.

As for the 3D Camera Tracker, I hope to do some more experimenting, and perhaps even do a video tutorial on how I created the above video.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Retweeted by the Calgary Comic Expo

Today is the opening day for the 2012 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. We're all geared up for it. Some advice for anyone who hasn't attended before... wear good shoes, and bring a water bottle.

Good news on the Twitter front.  They retweeted our commercial! I'd like to give big thanks to the Calgary Comic Expo for sharing our video. Our views have been quite consistent since. We're not at Double Rainbow numbers by any means, but as long as some people are seeing it. 

If you're interested in following them, their Twitter handle is @Calgaryexpo

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

2012 Calgary Comic Expo

Really excited about the 2012 Calgary Comic Expo this year. So much so, we decided to create a fan-made commercial for it. I Tweeted it to them, but I still haven't heard anything back from them yet. We're just hoping they'll like it. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Really happy with the lighting on this one. We shot in the somewhat later part of the evening so the light through the windows wasn't overly bright and we could expose properly inside without overexposing the windows. My soft boxes are at about 5500K which is a daylight temperature. I set my white balance on my Canon 60D to about 8800K. It really gave a nice warm yellow tone.

Interesting tidbit: By the time we got to filming the nosebleed scene, the sun had gone down... a lot, which is why we shifted angles to the over the shoulder. We needed to hide the window. 

Something really exciting to me is my order of Video Copilot's Action Essentials. It hasn't arrived yet, but you get a free downloadable starter pack. You see it in action at the 47 second mark. Okay, so it's not that epic, but that's the point. I have a lot of intimate evenings ahead when Action Essentials shows up.

Carol Patterson

A friend of mine named Carol Patterson is a fellow filmmaker. She has a really strong passion for documentaries and focuses on nature. While traveling the world, Carol always brings her camera, and she seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. 

Last Fall she signed up for an Adult Documentary Workshop at the Gulf Islands Film and Television School.

Below is her final project along with co-creator Tara Nichelle.

I'm really excited to announce her nomination for an award in cinematography for a short piece called
Nature Scapes.

It deals with how people are losing their connection with nature. How we spend so much time in front of the TV these days... or the computer... typing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  

Please enjoy. For more of Carol's work, please click here.

Or visit her website:

Monday, 12 March 2012

TubeTape Commercial

I decided to enter a contest being held by TubeTape is a company that sells lights, green screens, effects bundles and a bunch of other video production equipment. You can see some of the equipment if you check my behind-the-scenes video posted here.

The contest is for creating a 15 second commercial for them. It was a challenge coming up with something that couldn't exceed 15 seconds that included a before and after concept of how their products help. Lighting is always crucial to setting a good scene, and a green screen can place you in a new world.

The following screenshots are a breakdown of some of the layers in the ship scene. I purchased the Thunderbike model from Daz3D. I did the 3D animation in Blender, attached some lights, and exported the camera and object data out to After Effects. While Blender was rendering, I went over to After Effects to set up my scene, ie background stars, parented lights to object data from Blender. 

Render from Blender with alpha channel

Background Star layer added

Fractal noise red smoke and blast ring added

Optical Flares added

For voice work, I want to give credit to Aaron, a friend from work. I asked him if he would record a couple of lines for me. The, "That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's done!" is him. He gave me all sorts of takes with varying levels of intensity. I'm really happy with how it turned out. Thanks Aaron!

Also, my wife Elisa. She is the other radio voice. For version 2, I also had her do a narration with an English accent. I think it worked out very well and gave it a more commercial feel. Thanks wife!

In the end, I think having 3 voices (mine included) really adds production value. It really makes you feel like there are a lot more characters in the scene.

As for the contest, they'll announce the winner tomorrow. Wish me luck.