The huge visual effects shot I started working on on Aug. 14 2011 is finally finished. That was the main one–the climactic reveal of the meaning of the film; and it presented so many challenges. There are close to 100 versions of it that existed. Now, there really isn’t too much left to do on “Wood.”
The first of several feather-particle shots is complete. Getting those feathers to look and behave convincingly and match the live shots was more difficult than I thought it would be. Hope the other feather shots are easier, now that one’s completed.
Working in Apple Motion trying to generate CG feathers that mimic those in the live-action shots (real feathers). I’ll composite them into live action shots that need them (continuity). It’s the movement behavior that’s difficult to match; the direction of the wind in the live shots. Pictured is a screenshot of a shot element I’m working on now.
Good progress on film, despite long silence. Have been working on a fundraising campaign and that “Emerge” shot, which just needs some touch up work in various places. Fair to say the most difficult work is done, VFX-wise. Stand by for more and better updates.
Here’s a few seconds of the “Emerge” shot. Of course everything’s rough and the camera’s too high, but you’ll get the idea. The shot incorporates a match move and is a multiplaner.
This evening, the background and separate tree elements were linked to the motion of the live footage. Miranda walking through them, with a slow camera push in and pan made the shot much more dynamic and interactive than the original footage. Still a few issues to work out, but this is exciting to me.
Got a clean motion track of the original footage of “Emerge” shot today. The bottom picture shows original footage with camera motion being tracked. You can see all the individual frames as red dots below (x, y, correlation points).
Wasn’t easy, because not much of the shot was trackable. A distinctive trunk or branch would only stay in frame (or not be covered up by Miranda) for a dozen frames or so. Directly below is the background plate that the motion will be linked to.
I’m energized today by the results of some experimentation. This shot had me worried for a long time, because the hair detail at the edges of Miranda’s head and shoulders needed to be cleanly isolated for a convincing composite, and I didn’t know if I could do it.
Normally, if you wanted to place a live action figure into a composite, you’d shoot against a green or blue screen. But this sequence changed significantly since production time, and I have to make do with what was shot.
You can see that Miranda’s hair is similar in hue to the background (right). This makes it difficult to select it. After experimenting with Shake’s luma and chroma key nodes, I found its color-replace node, along with the threshold node, gave me the results above (left). If you look closely at the hair edges, you can see that I was able to retain decent hair detail, with the background quite cleanly removed.
I’ll try to use this as a matte for the hair detail, and combine it with a rotoscope of Miranda’s face and body to get a solid and clean Miranda to place into a wood composite.
Okay, wow–I’m still painting. This is VERY tedious. Pixel-by-pixel, frame-by-frame painting (in Shake, btw–not Photoshop, because I found out it didn’t work after several hours of doing it that way.) And I thought I was “almost finished” with this shot weeks ago. Well, at least I’ve figured out how to do cleanup work, which will help enormously with upcoming shots. Determining how to approach a shot’s problems is the hardest part of VFX for me.
Also, we’ll be recording the narrator’s VO on Tuesday. Looking forward to clinching that important piece.