compositing

Tutorial - Fusion, Zdepth, EXR's, 3dsmax by David Mackenzie

10. Adjust the settings to get the desired effect

It is AMAZING how often people ask me about this. I wrote a tutorial way back in 2010 about how to use Z-Depth passes in Fusion. To this day it still gets a lot of traffic. However, that tutorial is somewhat out of date and seems to be causing more confusion than clarity. So here is an updated tutorial. If you are really unsure about Z-Depth passes I would recommend you go and read the old one here and then come back to this one as I am not going to explain the basic aspects in this tutorial. I will also explain how to use a Z-Depth pass that is stored in a EXR file which I did not do in the last tutorial. So here goes. First off make sure you render something to an EXR that will have the Z-Depth pass embedded in it. This is not difficult to do, I am max guy so below is a screenshot of the 3dsmax exr save dialog showing my setup. The main things to look out for here are the "Automatically Add/Remove Render Elements" checkbox and the G-Buffer channels at the bottom, both of which are outlined in green. If you have a render element that is creating Z-Depth pass then it will be automatically embedded. For instance if you are rendering with V-Ray and you have a "VRayZdepth" pass in the element list you probably do not need the G-Buffer Z-Depth channel. I as habit always save a few G-Buffer channels as a 'just in case'. Often I will get handed a file that has had Z-Depth element added to it but the ranges have not been correctly setup, in this case it can be handy to have G-Buffer passes.

3dsmax EXR Settings

Hopefully by this point you have a render to take into Fusion. So lets get to it, this is super simple.

  • Create a "Loader" (LD on the toolbar) and load up your render.
  • Go to "Tools" panel and click on the "Format" tab.
  • Expand the "Channels" flyout.
  • Go all the way down to "Z".
  • In the drop down list for "Z" select your Z-Depth pass. This will depend on what you have named your render element. In my case, I select "VRayZDepth.R" (In 99% of instances you can select either the red, green or blue (.r, .g, .b) as they will all be the same.
  • Now if you click in the viewer press "Z" on the keyboard you should be able to see your Z-Depth pass. If you screen is all white or it is hard to see hit the normalise button so you see it properly.
  • Now you can add either a Depth Blur or a Fog node. They will automatically see the Z-Depth information.
  • Adjust the settings on either your depth blur node or your fog node.
  • Done, easy.

That's it. If you are unclear of anything above you can follow that same procedure in the images below which might make it a bit clearer.

[gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="1090,1091,1092,1093,1094,1095,1096,1097,1098,1099"]

I hope that helps everyone. I might do a video if I get time, along with my workflow for using Frichluft Lenscare which is what I normally use to create any DOF effects. If you have any other questions leave a comment and I will try to get back to you.

Suzuki Grand Designs TVC by David Mackenzie

Suzuki Grand Vitara TVC

Towards the end of last year we (Our Vision) were engaged to create a Grand Designs inspired TVC for Suzuki who are sponsors of Grand Designs Australia. As usual we had a tight timeline to turn it around in. The animation went from previz to final in one week, over the next week we rendered an comped. We used our own animation rig on the car that I wrote sometime ago which let me animate it very quickly. The rig I guess is a cross between simulation and straight animation which lets us have total control over all parts of he car.

[flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/video/Suzuki_Final.flv 600 337]

Below is the first render test we did with animation on the car. I actually preferred this camera animation but we thought it was a bit much for the subject matter and in hindsight I think we were right.

[flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/video/Suzuki_Render_Test.flv 600 337]

You can see all the work Our Vision has done for Grand Designs Australia and the Suzuki Grand Vitara TVC on Lifestyle channel.

Links:

Portal: No Escape by David Mackenzie

A friend of mine sent this short film to me. Its set in the Portal world of Aperture Labs and features some great shots and VFX. Here is the short:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4drucg1A6Xk[/youtube]

Here is the making of:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeTycAZsdzI&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

I hope you guys enjoy it.

Audi S5 Burnout by David Mackenzie

S5_Burnout

Audi S5 Burnout Image This a scene I put together a year or so ago to show case my new car rig. It is a very simple animation with only a few key frames used to generate the animation, everything else is handled by the rig. You can see the animation in the below. Keen observers will notice that the one of the front wheels does intersect the body work, this however was my fault for not setting the limits correctly.

I have also included a quick compositing brake down after the animation. I am happy to say that as soon as we get some time to prepare the rig for distribution we will make it available to everyone.

[youtube]0j8CniP4tgk[/youtube]

[youtube]EkjlaAwi5x8[/youtube]

Hope you guys liked it.

Cheers,

Dave

Using Z-Depth Render passes in Fusion by David Mackenzie

Zdepth

This is question I get on a almost weekly basis, how can I use my Z-Depth pass in fusion. For those of us who have been compositing for some time it is a dead simple thing to do but for those of you who are learning to composite or even just new to Fusion or other node based tools you might find this useful. First off if you are rendering OpenEXR files then chances are your Z-Depth pass will already be in the file which means all you need to do is add a depth blur node to your flow (see below), you can test to see if the Z-Depth pass is already present by clicking in the viewer and hitting "Z" on the keyboard. If you are rendering it as separate file or as a render element then I will show you how to incorporate the channel into your flow below.

Z-Depth Pass A couple quick notes about z-depth passes. First off I want to take a moment to mention that you really should be saving your z-depth passes at a minimum of 16bits per channel the higher the better. Secondly make sure the you have enough range in your z-depth pass, you will want to make sure the all of or most of your scene is visible in the channel. Sticking to those two point you will ensure you have a good amount of "play" in your pass for when it comes time to picking the start and end points of fog etc.

Z Depth pass and Base render
Base render on the left with its zdepth pass on the right Although the z-depth pass is very white is was saved in float as a EXR so there is plenty of range.

The Fusion Comp The fusion comp is very simple. The process I use is the most basic it involves loading your beauty pass then adding a "Channel Booleans" to the flow (make sure the beauty pass is connected to the BG input). Now load your z-depth pass and pipe it into the FG input of the channel booleans.  Select the channel booleans and set the "Red", "Green", "Blue" and "Alpha" channel to "Do Nothing". Now hit the "Aux Channels" tab, click the "Enable Extra Channels" radio button. Once the Auxillary channels are enabled select the z channel and set it to "Luminance FG".

Channel Booleans Setup

That process basically copy's the z-depth pass to the z-channel of your flow which will carried all the way down your comp from this point on. This means that at any point in your comp you can access that Z-Depth information. A couple quick points you can view the Z-Depth channel by clicking in the viewer and hitting "Z" (You can push "C" to get back to colour) if you see a red "X" in the viewer then something has gone wrong as the view is unable to display a Z channel. If you see black you might want to try hitting the "Normalize Luminance" button which is the right most button at the bottom of the viewer, this will normalise the data so it can be viewed generally speaking you will only need to do this if your Z-Depth pass is in floating point, remember to turn it off otherwise your results will vary frame to frame. If you ever leave it on and do a couple hours worth of colour correcting only to realise your output is still being normalised, I guarantee you will only do it once!

Fusion Flow
Notice that teh z-depth loader is the top node that is being piped into the "FG" input of the channel booleans.

To quickly recap, we have copied our Z-Depth pass into the Z Channel of comp so that it can now be accessed. Lets move on and do something useful with it!

Depth Blur There are many nodes inside of fusion that can take advantage of the z-channel. Nine times out of ten everyone wants to use there Z-Depth pass to create a DOF (Depth of Field) effect in post, so thats what we will concentrate on.

Luckily in Fusion this is very easy to do the Depth Blur node is very quick and easy to use and although it does not generate the very best effect allot of the time in can be used to enhance a scene, in any case it is one the building blocks to generate a really nice effect (That might be the focus of another tutorial?).

So lets go ahead and add a Depth Blur node by right clicking in the node view and selecting Add Tool -> Deep Pixel -> Depth Blur.

Fusion Add Depth Blur Screen Capture
Fusion Add Depth Blur node

You can now use the "Pick" focus point tool to set the focus area, you can also use the slider to for finner control.  Most of the controls are pretty straight forward the best way to get your had around them is play with them and check out the results. You can see the results of an example I prepared earlier below. Also try experimenting with the Fog node.

Base render with depth blur and fox applied to it.

If you have any ideas for other 3d or 2d tutorials please let me know here. I hope that helps you out next time you are having trouble with Z-Depth Passes. If you do run into any trouble then post a comment! Happy Compositing!

Shooting with XDCAM EX by David Mackenzie

xdcam_footage

Hi Everyone, We got a hold of a SONY PMW EX1 for a new project that we are shooting. This is third or forth time I have shot on XDCAM and I have to say that each time I do I am more impressed the. This time around we had to get some night shots that would really test the cameras low light performance.

As usual the performance of the camera was great when we finally got our plates into post we were pleasantly surprise with the quality and the lack noise in the shots.  I will say though you really do want to make sure that you get the shot that you need in the camera after all its recording an MPEG based format at 4:2:0. That footage is great just dont expect a couple of stops worth of play in post.

Check out the sample below to get an idea, I will upload a full res plate later so you can download it and check it out yourself. If you are wondering our project was not to go and shoot Lunar Park either, when I am allowed to show you what we really shot I will!

[flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/video/SONY_XDCAM.flv 600 337]

Cheers, Dave

Incursion by David Mackenzie

incursion

Incursion was a cinematic style animation created at Ivolve Studios.  The image above is the final grade and look. The image below was the initial grade and look that we went with, after while I felt as though it needed more atmosphere so I added the rain and did the regrade in fusion.

All of the buildings and assets in the scene are low-res assets built for real time use.  All of the assets had where built high res to create normal and specular maps we also backed allot of the lighting into the textures as well. Overall the result was quite good as usual if we had more time we could had have gotten allot more out of the scene but for two weeks work I think it came out quite well.  You can check out the videos below.

The final shot: [flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/game_shot.flv 613 308]

Compositing breakdown: [flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/game_breakdown.flv 613 308]

Modeling breakdown: [flv:http://daveandgoliath.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Game_Final.flv 613 308]

Cheers,

Dave