Back from the Kingdom

where I left mine

New mini tutorial

it's so good to be lazy

New making of!

"Vite Marty! Monte dans la voiture!"

What is Sanfoneiro Creation?

!Warning! Artists association

Facial Mocap WIP - Round 2

Including spiky CG hair

Versus VFX finally explained

And there's even a PDF version!

jeudi 17 juillet 2014

An unexpected Making Of

"Unexpected Gifts" is a VFX based short film. It's a proof of concept for a future short film including object tracking and facial motion capture effects.
(A video compilation of VFX explained in this making of is available at the end of the article)

1/ Méliès process

Before shooting this film I made many tests about object tracking using a single camera as in the following videos:
After understanding the basic workflow of object tracking I moved on the props building stage with the help of a friend, based on the CG Keyblade I modelled.

On first tests, the wooden Keyblade only had black dots painted on, I had troubles in the tracking process so I also painted white dots and then everything worked fine.
I also wanted to shoot the entire process in 1 shot, Keyblade+head tracking and facial motion capture, both at the same time. Unfortunately my compositing skills aren't good enough to remove a heavy facial mocap rig from footage like this. I'd like to make some changes in the design of this helmet in the future.

In the end I shot the facial mocap in a separate session. Here is the witness camera that also recorded the audio.

The film was shot with my old Hacked GH1 and a 20mm F.1.7 lens. I did shot a 360° HDR image used for lighting and reflection in the render process, again with the GH1, Peleng 8mm lens and Nodal Ninja 3 pano head.

Once all the footage was shot I could start the tracking process, nothing complicated here as everything was well planned in the shooting process.
(More informations about the head mounted cameras helmet can be found on my blog.)

The Moon head is based on the scan of my own face made for an early project, it was achieved with Agisoft Photoscan, same for the teeth for which I had help from my dentist. I painted the replica she created with a random pattern to get more details in the scan as I read in the CG feedback forum, that method works really well, I never had that much detail in a small scale object like this before:

A last word about this first shot, the hardest thing to manage was the chain at the end of the Keyblade. I spent days on the simulation process, I tried different world scale, settings etc. It always ended up exploding the chain at some point in the shot. I even thought of using a cloth simulation with a skinwrap modifier but it looked horrible.
The solution: I used hinge constraints between chain links, that explains why it looks weird when you focus on the chain animation.

2/ The fake world

The following images show the shaded and wire view of the 2nd and 3rd shot of the short.
UG_MO_Wire_01 UG_MO_Wire_02 UG_MO_Wire_03 UG_MO_Wire_04
It was fun to create "every day" models again. Most of the elements are based on real objects populating my desk and room, the Revoltech Rei Ayanami was useful.

(WIP of the CG props - For the crumpled paper ball , I invite you to follow that nice tutorial from Matt Chandler)
However I noticed some interesting things when working on these 2 full CG shots with Mental Ray:
  1. Rendering procedural maps takes more time than rendering bitmaps. For the table model, I used a cellular material for diffuse, glossy and bump slots. I thought it was totally normal to wait 20 minutes for my image to be rendered (Hey, we're on Mental ray ;)), then after a mistake I discovered it was not normal at all, so I baked the cellular maps to bitmaps and the render time dropped under 10 minutes/frame, which is still insane. It must be something pro peoples might know and I, noob, just discovered.
  2. Using Render Elements takes a hell of a long time in Mental Ray. No comments.
  3. Motion blur Tips: We all know rendering motion blur takes years, even with unified samples. Exporting a proper velocity pass to be used in post with plugins and without artefacts is impossible, of course Spotmask plugin is here, but as explained earlier it takes a hell of a long time to render passes in MR. My solution: once I comped all my base elements together, I rendered them as an image sequence and projected it on the original geometry of my 3D scene using camera mapping, the material was auto illuminated, I deactivated all the lights and exposure controls then I turned on motion blur. I only used that method for the 3rd shot and it worked great, at 10 seconds/frames I got real 3D motion blur. That way if you feel there is a problem with the motion blur settings, you can adjust them, launch the render again and only wait a few seconds to get your motion blurred render. I used the same process for the Zdepth pass.
  4. Use Quicksilver renderer. It was the fastest way to render my Zdepth pass, only seconds to compute full HD images. I also used it to render the wire and shaded turntables of this making of. (Quicksilver render has other interesting uses I'll talk about soon on my blog.)
A brief note on texturing: I changed my wokflow for a faster one. Until now, when I was working on a complex model with multiple parts, I had separate texture files for each part (no wonder why it took so much time to create textures for my old projects). For Terra's Armor and Keyblade I merged objects together, armor elements, suit elements etc. I extracted UV information, then detached the elements again. That way I get constant look from one part of the armour to another. I feel noob for using this method up to now, I thought it was used only for single mesh low poly objects for video games.

The motion for each camera used a different method. In the 2nd shot it's a keyframed camera with noise controllers in position and rotation. In the 3rd shot I shot with my GH1 a piece of my room full of contrasted elements to get a realistic hand-held motion, I adjusted the camera angle here and there to match Terra's animation.
Terra model was created from Tetsuya Normura's artworks and Birth by sleep references. I adjusted the body proportions to make it look more like a real human wearing a costume.
Same story for the 2 keyblades. (After some thought, End of The Earth Keyblade could be less thin.)
Terra's just a guest in this video but I had fun on some render pieces during the creation of the model:

All this Making Of videos and some more:


That project is not related with Square-Enix company.
It's a pure fictional and parody project.
All the CG elements seen in the film and in this making of have been created by myself.
- Nicolas Brunet / July 2014 -
(proof reading: Nick Tregenza)

lundi 14 juillet 2014

Unexpected gifts

Après un tournage éclair hier soir et une bonne nuit, j'écris enfin un petit billet sur la surprise que j'ai eu en rentrant du Japon. Mais d'abord, la vidéo! (sous-titres disponibles)
After a video shot yesterday and a good sleep, I can finally write a little post about the surprise I had when I came back from my trip in Japan. But first, the video! (subtitles available)

Ce n'est une surprise pour personne que j'adore le travail de Tetsuya Nomura donc je suis plus qu'heureux du contenu du paquet qui attendait devant ma porte.
I guess it's no surprise for anybody that is following me that I love Tetsuya Normura's art and I'm really happy with what I found in the package.

Voici quelques-un des autres présents qu'on peut apercevoir dans la vidéo.
Here are some of the other gifts we can briefly see in the video.

One of my favourite Sora's costume from KH2

The kinder chocolate was not included in the package ^^

Il ne me reste plus qu'à penser à un fanfilm, avec l'aide de quelques amis Cosplayers pour utiliser dignement cette réplique ;)
Now I just need to think of a fan-film idea and ask the help of some cosplayer friends to use that replica properly ;)

(Thanks to Harald Goetz, Tomahawk Ellingsen and Jentina Naudé for their help on the subtitles translation)

lundi 30 juin 2014

Modelling tips - Torn cloth

For a recent job I had to create a cape animation with a torn look on the edges of the cloth piece.
As I'm a lazy guy I thought of a way to do it quickly with less effort.
It's not another opacity/cutout map render effect, it's a geometric effect.
Here is my workflow:

(My premise that the cloth object is already modelled and unwrapped)

1/ Be sure to work on a poly editable geometry with quads because the end of the process will mess the topology, so better start with good basics.
Add a Turbosmooth to your cloth piece to subdivide it with quads.

2/ Apply a Volume select modifier, choose stack selection by Vertex, Selection method set to "add" and select by "Surface" then "Texture Map".  Load the map you lovely painted in your favourite paint software. Here white areas in the texture will select the vertices.

3/ If you need more definition in the volume selection, you can go back on the Turbosmooth modifier and increase the iterations until you get enough details without killing your computer.

4/ Add a DeleteMesh modifier on top of the Vol. Select.

5/ Convert your object to an Editable poly to get a clean object.

6/ Go on sub level selection "Element", select the main piece of the mesh then invert the selection to get all the flying parts of the mesh selected and delete them.

7/ Because we can't handle so much geometry (we're in 2014 only) add a ProOptimizer modifier, be sure to check "Protect Borders" and the 3 Material and Uvs options.
Then click on Calculate and go make some tea.

8/ In my scene a value of 5% of vertex was correct to get less geometry with still enough details for the main shape.

9/ Convert the mesh to and Editable poly again and add a Relax modifier, play with the value to get the look you want but don't forget to un-chek "Keep boundary Points Fixed and "Save Outer Corners"

10/ That's it! For fun you can even add a Shell modifier with a Turbosmooth on top.

Last words:
Actually the torn edges are flat, you can add another on top of the final mesh, with the same map you used for the vertex selection in step 2/, then add a mesh select, get the selection from stack, turn on soft selection, use a noise modifier on top... You get the idea ;)

(You may skip steps 7 and 8 by using GoZ and make a Zremesher of the cape)

As soon as you'll add the relax modifier in step 9/ you're Uvs will be stretched so it might be a good idea to adjust the unwrapping with some Zbrush magic (UV master: lazy people solution).

In the end I used that workflow for an animated cape blowing in the wind and it worked great.

Here is the video of the process explained in that post:

Tutorial - Torn cloth in 3ds Max from 1k0 on Vimeo.


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