Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Project: Video Scavenger Hunt

Hello Students,

Your next assignment will be graded on your ability to accomplish 20 specific technical shots or techniques and how creative you can be within those constraints while creating a video project. Minimum video length 2 minute, 4-5 minutes max. We will discuss all these techniques and how to accomplish them in class. You will also be graded on time management, working in teams effectively and ability to meet the deadlines.

Teams will be chosen by picking numbers. Teamwork is crucial on this project, every one must participate and contribute to the final project. You will work in teams of 4.

Teams will shoot footage and share among each other, each team member will produce their own final edit of the project for grading.

20 Video Production Techniques
Video Project Specifications:
1 Page proposal/pitch must be approved before production can begin.

Production Schedule:
Oct 31st - Proposal Due
Nov 3rd - Script, Storyboard or Shot List Due
Nov 10th - Preliminary Shooting Complete
Nov 12th - Rough Cut Edit Due
Nov 17th - Final Editing Complete

Format: The final format of the video is your choice, it could be a music video, action video, narrative or experimental. You could even make an instructional video about these video production techniques. If you make a music video the lyrical content must be appropriate and not explicit.

Grading: For full credit your video project must contain one example of the 20 shots listed below. Camera work should be smooth and steady. Editing should be well timed and without edit glitches or gaps. Must have titles and tails. All deadlines listed above must be met on time.

Note: Each team member must take turns shooting and acting. Outside actors or camera operators allowed. Teams may help each other for difficult shots. All project storyboard/scripts/shot lists must be approved by me before production can begin.

Each team member is responsible for editing their own final version of the video, no group efforts with editing.

A shotlist and storyboard must be created and the final video must contain 1 example each of the shots or effects listed below:

1. Silhouette Shot - actor or actors must be silhouetted against a background

2. Green Screen Shot - actor or actors shot against green screen, background must be keyed out and replaced with background still image or video

3. Single Source LighCloseup - actor or actors shot closeup with single light source for high contrast

4. Shadow Shot - camera shows shadow only, can pan up to actor after, or show interaction between two characters through shadow only

5. Twins - use static camera and split screen effect to show actor and a "double"

6. Window Illusion - overlay semi-transparent video over actor or actors to simulate window reflection

7. Frame Within A Frame - look for environments or architecture that "frames" your actor or actors

8. Background Slide - use a sideways camera movement to give the impression that the background is moving behind your actor or actors

9. Handheld Dolly Shot - follow the action with a handheld shot, must use a tripod as a counterweight to reduce camera shake, change camera height during shot

10. Fall Away - camera walks backwards from actor or actors

11. Walk In - shot begins on actor 1, in the foreground or background actor 2 steps into frame

12. Camera Flow - shot begins with Handheld Dolly Shot following actor 1 walking to the right, actor 2 passes in foreground going in opposite direction and camera changes direction to follow actor 2. This change in direction can happen 2-3 times

13. Spin Shot - camera spins around actor or actors 360 degrees

14. Motionless Camera - camera is tripod mounted, focus on motion in scene, all actor or actors must be moving. extras can help add energy to a scene

15. Whip Cut - camera quickly sweeps away from scene, edit is made to seem like camera ends on a second scene, also called a sweep cut

16. Slow Motion - Video source is slowed down by 75%. slowing down any more can be done but render time is increased. Ask me how to do extreme slow motion with Adobe After Effects.

17. Pass Through Wall - Camera moves up to wall, fades to second shot inside moving towards center of room. Can also be pass through window, pass through keyhole etc...

18. Extreme Angle - camera angle has extreme foreshortening or perspective

19. Saturated Color Background - actor or actors are shot against a background of mostly a single vivid color, such as a brightly colored wall, green grass, etc...

20. Textured Background - actor or actors shot against textured background, brick wall, fence posts, tree bark, ivy etc...

Extra information about these shots can be researched online... have fun!

- Mr. W

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Introduction to Editing Video

Hello Students,

Today we will begin our introduction to video editing with Adobe Premiere. You will be editing pre-shot footage to create a fun and compelling promotional tourism spot for the city of San Francisco.

Imagine yourself in the Directors Seat... it's time to make your vision happen!

Part 1 - Learning Adobe Premiere:
  • Launch Adobe Premiere
  • Watch videos 1 through 13 in the "Learning Premiere Pro" section of the Adobe TV website
  • Practice the steps that you can as you watch the videos
  • Find a sample video file to practice editing, color correction, outputting, etc...
  • If you can watch all 13 videos you are on your way to being a video editing pro! When complete watch the other videos in that section to learn how to process and distribute your movie files

Part 2 - Editing a Promotional Tourism Video for the City of San Francisco

Project Concept: The City of San Francisco has hired you to edit a promotional tourism video. They have provided you pre-shot footage and your job is to make it sing! Your commercial will play on local television stations coast to coast, so it should have universal appeal. Your commercial should promote the unique sights that the city has to offer.
  • Your final video file should be exactly 30 seconds long
  • Use music that fits the energy of your video
  • Edit your video cuts to be timed with the music
  • There should be an edit in the video footage every 2 to 5 seconds
  • Make sure your sequence settings in Premiere match the specifications of your source video
  • Use color correction to enhance the footage
  • Use video transitions to keep the video compelling and interesting, but be careful not to overuse them or repeat them too many times
  • Create text titles to create a "call to action" at the end of your video, something like "Visit beautiful San Francisco today!"
  • Add 3 seconds of blank video to the beginning and end of the video before exporting with your in and out markers
  • Have fun!

- Mr.Wilson

Monday, October 20, 2014

Experiment With Maya Physics

Hello Students, 
Your next project is an exploration of Maya Physics. Maya uses a soft/rigid body system and different fields that can modify the interactions of these simulated objects, these fields are things like gravity and wind.... 

Maya Physics Experiment:
Your assignment is to follow the simple tutorial below, then create a fun physics experiment and then render it. Don't get too elaborate or your computer will take weeks to complete the calculations in your simulation. Use all the skills you have developed up to now to set up your 3D file with a proper project folder, render settings, materials, image based lighting etc....

Part 1: Basic Physics Simulation

  1. Launch maya and make a new file
  2. Give your timeline at least 500 frames and zoom out the timeline so all frames are visible in the timeline
  3. Create a cube and shape it into a flat  surface like a table
  4. Create another cube, along with a sphere and a third shape of your choice
  5. Arrange the new shapes in a column that is positioned over your first flat table shape that you made
  6. Select the table shape and press down on the spacebar to bring up your marking menu, select "Soft/Rigid Bodies" and choose "Create Passive Rigid Body"
  7. Now Select the column of objects, the cube, sphere and third object of your choice and then press the spacebar to bring up your marking menu again and choose "Soft/Rigid Bodies" and select "Create Active Rigid Body"
  8. With your 3 objects still selected go back to your marking menu... this time select "Fields" and choose "Gravity"
  9. Press the play button to see your objects fall from the gravity and bounce on the tabletop
  10. Congratulations! You just made a physics simulation in 3D!

Part 2: Make Something Awesome
With a little ingenuity and some basic knowledge you can make a really cool simulation, try using more shapes or different types of platforms and passive solid bodies for interesting results. You can give passive objects a pivot point so they spin when hit. You can add a few keyframes to an active rigid body to launch it in a certain direction.  Here are some ideas you can do with just basic knowledge:

  • Make a wheel or sphere roll down a ramp and into a jump
  • Make a wheel or sphere roll on a track
  • Make an obstacle course for a sphere to roll down
  • Make bowling pins and knock them down with a sphere
  • Make a brick wall and knock it over
  • Make a tower of bricks and blow it over with a wind field

Part 3: Render Your Simulation
  • Once your simulation is perfect make some materials for your objects, make some shiny, some glassy and some have a matte surface
  • Set up a project folder for this simulation file, make sure you create the file directory first then "set" the project to that new directory
  • Turn on Mental Ray and load up your best settings, use an image based lighting setup to add some good realism to your scene
  • Render your scene and turn it in as a video file to mad max when it is ready

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Use Set Up a Project for Rendering in MentalRay and use Image Based Lighting

Hello Students,
Image based lighting is a powerful method for adding realism to your 3D scene. Follow the instructions below to set your file up for image based lighting. You will need to have Mental Ray enabled for this to work in Maya.

Step 1: Load Mental Ray

  • Open up your Maya file and go to Window Menu / Settings and Preferences / Plug-in Manager
  • Scroll down in the Plug-In Manager and find Mayatomray.bundle then click load/auto-load and close

Plug-In manager in maya

Load Mayatomray.bundle to enable Mental Ray

Step 2: Set Up Your Project Folder

  • Go to File Menu / Project Window
  • Click New and Navigate to your Project Folder (you should have this already created)
  • Click Accept
  • Go to your project folder through the finder and confirm that the folder structure was created

Project Window in Maya

Your project directory should show all these folders and files
Step 3: Set Up Image Based Lighting

  • Search online for HDR Probe or go to this link and download an image probe that is suitable for your scene
  • Place your HDR Probe or Enviroball Image into the Source Images folder of your Maya Project Directory
  • In Maya open your Render Settings by going to Window Menu / Render Editors / Render Settings
  • Go to the Indirect Lighting tab and click the Create button next to Image Based Lighting
  • An Attributes Window will open for your Image Based Lightning node, click on the folder next to the File Name area and navigate to your Source Images folder and select your HDR Probe
  • In the same Attribute Window scroll down to Render Stats and uncheck the option for Primary Visibilty, this will make your Probe lighting show up in reflections but not in the background of your rendered images
  • Your should see an Envirosphere in your maya scene, create a test render to see it interacting in the reflections on your objects

HDR Probe courtesy of Paul Debevec

Maya's view window with an Image Based Lighting setup
3D Objects rendered with Image Based Lighting in Maya, no actual lights were used in this scene

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Match Moving with Maya

Hello Students,
Your next project is an exercise in Match Moving. You will shoot an appropriate video clip, use a program to analyze it for motion tracking data, then use that data to insert a 3D object into your scene seamlessly.

Match Moving Project:
In cinematography, Match Moving is a technique that is widely used to insert both 2d and 3d computer generated images into live action footage. This ensures that the inserted CGI has the correct position, scale and orientation relative to the live action motion. This is also described as motion tracking or camera solving. The technology is essentially an automated method for rotoscoping (adding CGI to live action frame by frame)  and photogrammetry (creating accurate measurements from photographic imagery).

For this project you will need to shoot a short piece of video to use but make sure you shoot video footage that can be easily analyzed and is appropriate for the visual effect you are trying to create. You will then use Autodesk's Match Mover program to track points in your video, Match Mover can then export a Maya file, open that file and you will see an animated camera to use for setting up your 3D objects. Render out the 3D layer and merge it with your original video with Adobe After Effects. Follow the steps below but have a plan of action before you begin for best results.

Step 1: Shoot Your Video
Before you shoot your video you need to have a plan of action, what visual effect are you trying to create? This technique works best when the camera motion is not too frantic, camera should be steady and smooth, and the scene should have good points for the tracking software to use. With this technique you can create things like a ufo or spaceship flying overhead, or add an element to a scene such as adding a coffee cup to a desk or table. Sometimes this method is used to add a text title into a scene which has a cool 3D effect. Whatever you concept is make sure you plan it before shooting your video. Make sure your clip isn't too long, 10 to 30 seconds is plenty, the longer the video clip the more 3D rendering must be completed, which can be time consuming.

Step 2: Prep Video For Tracking

  • Open After Effects and import your video
  • Create a composition for your video that matches the video resolution (720x1080, etc)
  • Trim your video with the in and out markers
  • Select Make Movie from the Composition menu
  • In the Render Queue change the Output Module setting to PNG Sequence
  • Click the file name next to "Output To:" and create a new file called "video_seq" in your project folder, this way your image sequence is in a folder by itself when exported
  • Click the Render button and check the results, you should now have a PNG file sequence of your video, this is what the motion tracking software needs to complete the analysis
  • Save your AE file to your work folder for use later

Maya Match Mover analyzing an image sequence

Step 3: Create Your Motion Track

  • Open your Applications Folder and locate the Autodesk Folder, open it and Launch the Match Mover program
  • From the File Menu choose "Load Sequence" and navigate the program to your "video_seq" folder. Double click on the first image in your sequence and it will load into the program timeline
  • From the 2D tracking menu choose Automatic Tracking and click Run, the program will now create tracking points and analyze your sequence frame by frame, this can take 2-10 minutes
  • Green track lines are good tracks, yellow are fair to poor track points and red are bad track points. If you have too many yellow and red tracks your video isn't good enough, try reshooting and make sure there are distinct points in your scene for the tracking software, remake your sequence and try again
  • If your track is good you will see mostly green and some yellow tracks, play the track back to make sure it looks good
  • Under the File Menu choose Export, select Maya as the file format and export the file to your work folder  
Virtual tracked camera view in Maya, green lines are tracking points

Step 4: Create 3D Scene with Tracked Camera
  • Open your Maya file that you exported from Match Mover. 
  • In your view window click on Panels, then Perspective and select rzCamera1... this should change your view to your tracked camera
  • Click the play button to see it move, if you have too many tracking points you can turn off their visibility by selecting Show in the view panel and deselecting "locators"
  • Add a 3D object to your scene, something simple just to test placement, click the render button to see the results. Create a few more objects or model your spaceship, coffee cup or 3D type that you want to use in your scene
  • Do a few test renders to make sure it looks good, when you are ready to render set up your rendering options(window/render editors/render settings) and create your 3D project directory(file/set project) in your work folder. Render your 3D frames, make sure to set the Image plane of rzCamera1 to a display mode of "none" before rendering

Step 5: Merge 3D and Live Action Together
  • Open up your AE file that you saved earlier
  • Import your newly rendered 3D image sequence into AE
  • Add your 3D sequence on top of your video 
  • Click the RAM Preview button to see your animation
  • Consider any enhancements you can make such as depth of field effect, color matching, masking, etc. 
  • Render out an MP4 video of your project and turn it into Mad Max when complete!