We went Shopping!
Well, we browsed around on Amazon for a while and then waited 2 days to get our new purchases in the mail (thanks Amazon Prime!). That counts for shopping these days, right? So what did we buy and why do you care? Both are good questions, let me start with the second.
Animating to Live-Action Footage
So why should you care about our recent mini shopping spree? Well, one of the most fundamental elements of VFX animation is animating characters to live-action plates and we've been thinking for a while that it might be great to build a library of scenes for download. The equipment we've purchased brings us one step closer to being able to do that. There is still a lot we have to do and learn before we can create them, but at least we are making progress.
In the meantime, we thought we would share what we are planning and the equipment we are using.
I feel the need, the need for stability.
I always thought being a Surgeon would be a pretty amazing job; saving lives, helping people - sounded like a great way to spend one's working years. I looked into it as a career for a short time and eventually came to the realization that I can barely feed myself without spilling food everywhere; steady hands are not something I was gifted with. The last thing you want to see as you're going under is your surgeon fumbling around with the scalpel.
On a somewhat related note, we got a new camera cage to help shoot more stable footage!
I tried shooting some stuff while just holding a camera in my hands and almost got motion sickness from watching the resulting footage. Maybe I'd be the perfect candidate to shoot a front-line war scene where the camera is so shakey you can't see what's going on anyways, but that's not really the kind of footage you want to animate something to. Luckily, this new cage should help us record something more usable.
We also bought an audio recorder that we fastened to the cage to get better audio, should the scenes we film have an audio component to them.
Learning to track live-action plates.
Most of the studios I've worked at use PFTrack to matchmove cameras, so when we decided to start creating live-action plates it was the first program we thought of. It's still new to us but I think we should be able to learn enough to matchmove our cameras and have the rigs integrate pretty well. As with all new things there will be a learning curve, but it's one area I expect us to get better at over time. Right now we are digging through the ol' interwebs for tutorials.
HDRI's for Animation.
We also got a panoramic panhead. What does that have to do with shooting live-action footage? Well, the idea is to learn how to create HDRI maps so that after we shoot some footage we can also create an HDRI of the environment that matches. That should give us a decent start when it comes to lighting and accurately integrating the rigs. It's more of a theory at this point, so we will do some test scenes first and see how it goes.
So why are we telling you about this now?
It's going to take us a bit of time to get familiar with the software and the process to matchmove cameras and create HDRI's, but in the meantime we are looking for ideas about what kind of footage to shoot.
If you have any ideas for scenes you would like to animate to, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our Facebook post and we will see if it is something we can do!