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Logarithmic Conversion in Nuke vs. After Effects

If you ever need to use the Cineon Converter effect in After Effects… you know, maybe you want to create a LUT adjustment layer to match your real comps… you might save yourself some time by remembering this:

Nuke’s default log2lin gamma of 0.6 is like 1.0 in After Effects.

This concludes my public service announcement.

Monster of Nix

I had heard about the short film “Monster of Nix” by Dutch film-maker Rosto before but I haven’t seen it yet. Now I’ve stumbled upon some breakdowns of the VFX by Daan Spruit. It’s a really great demonstration of the kind of thoughts that already went into shooting the live action elements.

The other 5 clips (overview on vimeo) are great as well. They demonstrate the use of Fusion’s shaders and 3D system to – I’m assuming – cut down on render time for reflections and backgrounds.

Syntheyes Planar Tracking

These videos showing the new 3D planar tracking capabilities of Syntheyes have convinced me to invest in an upgrade:

Speaking of which… I have recently uploaded an updated Fusion export script for Syntheyes to vfxpedia. I wrote it a year ago and submitted it for inclusion but so far, Syntheyes is still shipping with that really old Fusion 5 exporter (which works but is lacking a few features). Here’s what I’ve changed:

  • Support for stereo camera pairs
  • Create locked cameras to prevent their accidental modifications
  • Added project info to comp’s comments tab and footage name to camera’s comments
  • Fixed cross-platform problems for object paths in FBXMesh
  • Generate meshes that are positioned correctly when imported into Fusion.
  • Nodes aligned to grid and spaced for tile pictures
  • Disabled clip lists in Loader, fixed length calculation and supported QuickTime
  • Updated input names of 3D tools (SceneInput and Output instead of “Data3D”)
  • Characters other than alphanumeric letters are invalid in node names and will be replaced by “_”

All of it is based on the Fusion 5 script (C) Russ Andersson and is provided AS IS without any warranty.

Download fusion6.szl here and put it into Syntheyes’ user scripts folder.

Looking at the latest exporters for AfterEffects, I can see that this script might still not be up to par so I’m currently revamping the script to fix some bugs and add support for planar trackers.

Still, the connection between Fusion and Syntheyes ought to be much closer as both support Python scripting now! My plan is to write some scripts for both applications so they can share cameras and point clouds much more seamlessly. Let me know if you have ideas on how to approach such a workflow! For starters, I was thinking of a “Track This” tool script for Fusion that sets up a scene in Syntheyes.

update 03/2014: I’ve released such a script.

In-Camera FX

Here’s a look behind the scenes of an Old Spice commercial that is mostly done in-camera. Nice!

The lack of a green or blue screen makes me think that most of the postproduction was roto. And – if you look closely – fish.

Action Sequences

Via Film Critic Hulk I’ve come across this nice and exhausting analysis of a particular action sequence in Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”:

The guy who made this is a movie critic who worked together with Roger Ebert so in a way his analysis of the action sequence has a bit of an academic feel to it. Sure, action that goes from left to right in one shot and then from right to left in the next may be “wrong” but it’s the 21st century. Nobody will assume that a convoy of half a dozen cars has suddenly changed direction.

Incidentally, I’ve also watched “The Dark Knight” again recently. The whole sequence didn’t feel that good to me but not for the changing number of police cars or the unclear position of Harvey Dent in relation to the vehicles.

still frame of The Dark Knight

  • To me it just felt preposterous that a truck can crash into the convoy to take out the SWAT vehicle in front of Harvey Dent’s transporter yet the convoy is able to continue without having to slow down. The Joker’s truck would probably block all lanes for quite a while.
  • It also felt weird that the convoy was diverted by the burning fire truck in the first place. It was supposed to be the most important convoy in Gotham City. The route was supposed to be cleared of any traffic, and there even was a helicopter. Yet nobody bothered to constantly keep an eye on the whole area? Nobody noticed that somebody ignited a vehicle in downtown Gotham? It was up to the cops in the leading vehicle to notice the burning road block after they had already been approaching it for at least one city block. That level of police-force incompetence is mind-boggling.

Here’s another video from Jim Emerson, this time about an action sequence in “Salt” which he thought was well-executed because it has shot/reverse shot consistency. I admit he has a point. But the stunts that Angelina Jolie pulls off in this clip are ridiculously super-human so I’m a bit uncertain which action scene I like better:

Anyway, the essay that led me to these videos in the first place is Film Critic Hulk’s three-part write-up on what constitutes good action scenes. It’s an interesting read if you have 1-2 hours to spare 🙂 Part 1Part 2Part 3

The Art of Simon Stålenhag

Fantastic paintings by Swedish (concept) artist Simon Stålenhag!

Painting by Simon Stålenhag

(check out his portfolio on

These paintings work on so many levels. For one, I dig the idea. Dinosaurs and Mechas in rural Sweden?! How cool would it be to live in that universe!

I also like how the artist chose seemingly mundane events for his pictures. Kids strolling around outside, people with their backs to the camera doing some boring tasks or manual labor. Nothing about the presence of dinosaurs seems to bother the inhabitants of Stalenhag’s fantasy world and those giant machines that are littering the landscape are as thrilling as rusty tractors. Are they the remnants of a war? Or “just” the result of energy shortage or an economic downturn?

Painting by Simon Stålenhag

Stalenhag’s paintings are also a great reference for cg compositing or matte paintings! Take a hint from his lighting, reflections and usage of fog and haze to create depth. Especially the painting of those sun-lit towers in the distance is a great reference if you want to get some inspiration on how specular highlights should be affected by atmospheric conditions.

(via pixelsham)


Countdown #6

Another video for the Fusion webinar countdown.

You can download the comp here. You’ll need one of my fuses and Krokodove 5.70 alpha as well as this font.

Music: Berry Nuggons by EAT! (cc-by)