Posts Tagged ‘vfx’

VFX Breakdown: Town Extension

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There’s a small engine behind the prop train in this shot which pushes the locomotive forward. Removing it required replacing the horse that runs behind it. I grabbed a time-offset translated version of horse for the replacement.

We had a number of photographs and plates of tents and people which we used to extend the town both on screen left and right.

At this point in the story, they crew building the railway should not have reached the mountain range we see in the distance. I translated the the sky down below the horizon to remove them.

Lastly, an artist generated particle smoke for the train. A live smoke element was used in other areas of the shot.

VFX Breakdown: Forest Fire

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The 3D tracker in Nuke did an okay job on this shot, though it took a little more time to get a good track. Although the resulting point cloud sticks well, it’s distribution never matched a real world camera move.

I sampled four different forest fire elements from National Archive footage and projected stabilized versions of them on to cards to use with the tracked camera.

The larger smoke plumes are actually still frames with 3D luminosity based animated distortion to give it a faked sense of movement.

Lastly, the reflection in the lakes was a second flopped render of the same element masked into place.

Trailheads Promo for the NSMBA

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This video features some fun motion graphics integrated into a promotional video for the NSMBA.

Each “trail head” image was composited together from stills. Instead of manually adding accelerating cuts between these composits, each image initially had the same duration. The acceleration in duration of each image was achieved using a time warp – this saved me a lot of editing time and allowed me to make a very accurate acceleration curve.

Spinning the NSMA wheel on their logo was completed entirely in 2D using components of their original logo. The basic concept was to remove the perspective, animate the rotation of the wheel, and add the perspective back in. With motion blur on and a camera fly-through, the result looks pretty cool.

VFX Breakdown: WW1 Battle Field

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We had two live action elements for this shot, a dirt explosion and some dark billowing smoke. Some burnt trees were also photographed.

The rest was cobbled together from stills projected through a camera onto a ground plane and cards.

The ground plane has some procedural displacement to match the hills and valleys in the comp.

The camera shake is animated using TCL random expressions whose amplitude is an animated Nuke nob.

VFX Breakdown: Avalanche

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One of the major shots for the season, we had one artist on the avalanche R&D for a month. Another artist worked on some smaller particle and fluid interactions.

Another artist was on the plane animation and mountain ground plane modelling.

I comped all these passes together for the most part using luminosity values of the avalanche to mask the plane.

I also had to re-project the matte painting of the plane’s skid marks through the 3D animated camera to integrate it with the background plate.

VFX Breakdown: Ice Shacks

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This shot required the addition of a few ice shacks into the plate.

From stills taken by the supervisor, I made 4 unique shacks – one for the foreground and 3 for the background. The shacks are graded to match the plate, adding in light leaks and highlights.

To tie everything in, I added some haze using fBm noise. I created the falling snow using particles applying the alpha channel to a gradient so that the flakes are light over the dark sky and dark over the light snow.

Add camera shake and done.

mrender: sendToAvconv 2014 update

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It’s time for a new version of the sendToAvconv that takes into account the -start_number flag and xterm (two options that came out of comments from the last update from 2012).

Now called mrender, I add this to the afterRender callback in Nuke write nodes to send a subprocess call to avconv (or ffmpeg) and render a Quicktime. This is primarily meant for linux distros which don’t have great gui options for converting image sequences into movies.


This update no longer requires image sequences output from Nuke to start at frame 0, or 1.

You can set xterm to show the output under the configuration options (request).

And if you have ffmpeg installed instead, you can set that to default


Ubuntu mimetypes

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Opening an unknown file type into a new default application is a bit of a pain in Ubuntu 13.10.

For example, getting .nk files to open by default in Nuke isn’t as obvious as it should be. Nuke uses plain text files with the .nk extension and always associate with gedit.

Ubuntu’s wiki page on adding mime types offers two solutions:

  1. modifying  /etc/mime.types
  2. add xml files in /usr/share/mime/application

Unfortunately, neither worked for me, for whatever reason. Option 2 however included the xml file information which was useful.

In the end, I used xdg-icon-resource and xdg-mime successfully.

With the Nuke for example:

install icon

install mime type

restart nautilus

The application-x-nuke.png  is just the launcher icon.

the mime type xml in the second step looks like this

More details at stackoverflow

Importing VFX Plates with reference MOVs

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This is an update to my previous post on using bash to shuffle files around into named folders.

The additions in this script take into account editorial giving us a reference Quicktime that should be filed accordingly.

Additionally, the script now takes an argument that is the folder to process. And prints the progress to the terminal.


Using MAC OS X launchd to schedule rsync

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When reviewing VFX shots, loading EXR files into RAM for realtime playback goes much faster locally than over our network. I’ve set up our review station to sync shot files for review using the Mac’s launcher Agents (launchd) thanks to some good documentation on

Using his template, I’ve got a plist file set up  and saved to  ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.rsgca.sync-comps.plist

The agent above runs the bash script below every 200 seconds

This rsync script above syncs all EXR files from our file server to the local RAID array.

The commands to load and run  launchd  are