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Student CGI compositing Test q's


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#1 stephen lamb

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 05:10 PM

Hey All,
I want to run a small test to try and learn some of the basics of shooting for visual effects work, learning the CG element, and learning the compositing element. I know that the better my master plates are, the better my composite will be. So my question here has to do with getting a high quality digital master onto my computer. The supplies i have/have access to.

A mac G5 with FCP HD running a single 1.8ghz processor 1 gig ram 160gig 7200 rpm harddrive
16mm arri sr2 converted for Super16mm

i have no advanced tape decks other than DVcam.

The basic test i want to conduct is to shoot some footage of the dowtown where i go to school, and then composite in some CG elements, such as broken buildings, flying saucers or just whatever i feel like. I will be shooting super 16 film. Because it is just a small test, i feel like cost will not be a huge hindrance, and i can spend a few bucks.

My questions is this: i know FCP can handle very very high quality images and video, and i believe my computer can handle it as well, but i have no way to get that data onto my computer as i have no fancy deck. i am thinking about trying to use the DVCpro50 HD codec, any suggestions there? Are there any labs that would telecine super 16 to a harddrive i send them, or onto some other data format like DVD etc?

Any other suggestions that you might think i would need to hear would be useful.
Thanks for your time guys!
Steve
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 08:12 PM

DVCPRO50 is ok for compositing, but not awesome. It should be good enough to do your tests, probably (I use it lots for medium-level greenscreen work). DVCPRO-HD would be much better, and you could fit I think around 5 or 6 minutes of raw footage onto a DVD-R. I don't think most telecines will convert this for you, though. For this kind of work, I think you'd be best served to have them give you 2K data files, which they could probably convert to a TIFF image sequence or something and use your portable firewire drive. 10-bit Cineon DPX files would be even better.

Also, to make these tests worth your while in the "real world," in my opinion you're not going to get very good results from FCP because the toolset isn't very robust for this, and you might end up blaming your footage when a more suitable app and some skill could make the same comps look great. I think you'll want to move up to at least Adobe After Effects, and possibly Apple Shake or its equivalent. Maybe you only meant that FCP was your video capture tool. You could do basic compositing with stuff you shot on DVCAM just to learn the ropes at a lower quality (and with more frustration, of course).
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#3 Mark Allen

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 09:02 PM

if you are doing this for education - all you will learn from dvcpro or dv compressed footage is what the limitation of that format is for compositing. I would recommend getting your footage telecined or scanned to hard drive - perhaps fotokem or cci digital in Burbank can do this.

Then, try it uncompressed and compressed with dv and you'll learn something extra too.

The folks that do composites are using either - keylight, primatte, or ultimatte - and they make a difference - keylight is what we mostly use. Some folks are using custom keyers or noding in Shake as well.

Perhaps there are demo versions of these softwares - even if they put a big X through it - you'd still see your composite results.

Then compare it to final cut's keyer and you'll learn even more - though it's possible to get an okay key with final cut.
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#4 drew_town

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 09:42 PM

I'll second Gordon in that you'll want to use After Effects or another program for compositing. FCP is not a compositing software. And the image sequence suggestion is also a good idea.
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#5 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:42 PM

sounds like something like bono labs (see the ad to the right) might be exactly what you need. and like everyone else says, FCP is editing software and "vfx for editors" software, which means it's not vfx software. for compositing, after effects, shake or combustion are recommended.

and if you'll be adding 3D-generated elements, then the magic words are "multipass rendering". it's pretty hard to pull off a decent photorealistic composite without it. best of luck & post your results!

also, if you use bono labs, let us know how the transfer looks.

Edited by jaan, 01 September 2005 - 11:42 PM.

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#6 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:44 PM

also, the perfect text for any student of compositing:
The Art and Science of Digital Compositing, by Ron Brinkman

... highly recommended.

hope this helps,
jaan
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#7 stephen lamb

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 01:41 AM

Hey guys,
thanks for your input so far,
i guess i forgot to add that FCP won't be my compositing software, only my editing, i know i have access to at least after effects. I'm going to call the labs and talk to them, so you might hear more from me in the coming days/weeks as the test continues, any tips for the actual shoot in terms of information i'll need to record for use in the CG enviroment. Thanks for the book suggestion, i'll check it out.
Thanks again,
Steve
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#8 Michael Most

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 01:10 PM

so you might hear more from me in the coming days/weeks as the test continues, any tips for the actual shoot in terms of information i'll need to record for use in the CG enviroment. 


Not to be snotty, but if you're a student, why aren't your instructors answering any of these questions?
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#9 stephen lamb

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 04:56 PM

Don't worry, not a snotty question at all. Two reasons though, one is plainly that i haven't asked them. The second reason is also the reason i haven't asked them: Most of my profs don't have much knowledge of the newer HD formats and the pipelines in place that handle it, and also none of the profs at my school know much about visual effects, it is not part of the curriculum here at all. i have spoken with several profs before this on related topics, and while helpful, my questions were not entirely answered. I guess i am opening myself up for attack against my film school, but i love it here, all my profs are great, but like all things, you can't know everything. And added to that, this is an extracurriclur test im trying out, and something that is definetly not part of our schools curriculum and so, here i find myself looking for a few answers or tips. :P anyways, yeah. Thats about it i suppose

Steve
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