This project has been both exciting and challenging. This unit has taught me so much about the VFX industry as well as the talks we were given from industry. This unit for me was challenging because of using a new software BUT that dosen’t mean i haven’t learnt a lot. This project has given me the excuse to learn a new software and create very cool outcomes! This project was all about integration and creating photorealistic vfx. This was something I kept in mind throughout every stage. The lighting, the texturing, the modelling. Each stage was carefully considered in order to create a realistic looking integration.
The process started with modelling the mushroom, as this is my first term using maya I was still a little bit slow with texturing. I used references and my own sketches to create the ideal mushroom for my shots! The modelling and texturing in maya, took some time. I feel like i spent too much time here, mostly because of some of my texturing troubles which when I resolved I was able to move on. This is something I want to reflect on however for future projects. This limited some of my time in comping. After texturing and modelling it was on to lighting the scene ready for the still shot.
The locations I decided to shoot was a tudor garden.I felt this would be a good integration area for my “giant mushroom”. This would make it not look so out of place and make for even more realism (though the possibility of locations are endless!) I wanted to film here because the hedges were very geometric and spaced meaning i could get a good measurement between the spaces. However what i did forget about was how the light would actually catch all the leaves! I used nuke to play around and create a realistic light which appeared as if it was catching the leaves. Furthermore I was looking into the spline grid and morph grid nodes as well.
The lighting was the next stage of my VFX journey and it was quite tricky. I designed the mushroom to only glow on the gills so I had to use light linking to achieve this look. Furthermore sometimes the software would not always work… Which was something I was not used to facing!! However In the end I created a light that matched my design concept so I was really happy! The spotlight however was white and the gill light was yellowy warm colour. I decided i would edit this in Nuke after by separating the lights in render layers. This was something I kept realising! Nuke is your friend and can be used to edit certain elements such as the shadows matching the colours. In fact it was easier for me at time to match it whilst I had the object integrated.
The camera tracker I actually really enjoyed! I felt really comfortable using it by the end and could remember everything from memory. I liked using nuke>Maya>nuke it felt nice having everything keyed and ready to go! Some promblems i did have however with this was putting it back into Nuke. This was because of some silly mistakes I made..
- Naming my file Cameratracker02 < so when the frame padding was added in maya it would only play on frame 20001.
- Reformatting! For the tests I created smaller tiff sequence but forgot to reformat so I was really confused when it was smaller and playing in a random spot.
These were really simple things which I now know are just as important as the big things. Because of creating these mistakes in the previs I was able to really quickly deposit my actual one! My footage was quite shaky which on later consideration I wish I had controlled it a bit more. But on the positive side it was able to show how well it stuck to the ground! I was able to create passes using OpenEXR. I didn’t realise how easy it could be to shuffle out my passes. In fact when it came to shuffle and copy I was scared of them but I can safely say now they are so very useful. They were used often in my node graph.
The still shot required me to build dummy geometry this really confused me when we did in class so I was slightly put off with the thought of creating (what at the time) seem a complex hedge. However I was pleasantly surprised. At first I tried to recreate the whole scene, which was silly as I only needed a smaller section so I reworked it so it was more accurate. The still shot for me was harder than the camera track, I found it difficult to split up the render layers as the glow was attached to the gill..I did find a way around it eventually but I did spend too long trying to figure this section out.
What I really enjoyed was turning the day shot to night. This was practically the same thing we had to do our homework. When I did my homework I remember being really stuck but I can now confirm I really loved grading and editing the scene so it was dark. This was actually one of my favourite tasks throughout this whole project. I struggled a bit with merge nodes and whether I was putting them in the right locations.
In the end I feel I have progressed so much from the beginning of the project. I was so scared to use Nuke at the beginning of the project; now I feel really comfortable using Nuke and most importantly interested in learning more.
I really happy with my camera tracker because it has a good stick and shadow integration. I did have some problems such as the shadows. The ambient light was not fitting under the mushroom as i realised I pushed the mushroom into the plane. Another problem was the white outline when deposited into Nuke. Because the white line was so evident it made the shadows looked fake! I used a Matte node and shuffle to rectify this problem.
I am not as happy with this shot, there was a lot of things which went wrong. Such as the transparency is very noticeable and the glow was really not working. This is something i wished I spent more time doing.