Saturday, October 11, 2008


I went to take some footage near my house. I wanted to create a meteor crashing on a road. I saw this tutorial done by Andrew Kramer from Video Copilot and I was very inspired. He created it using 3ds max, and I decided to challenge myself my doing it in Maya instead.

So currently, I am still at the very beginning phase. I tracked the footage in bojou - apparently I have to re-track it because it wasn't tracked properly for some reason. I created the crater in Maya, textured it with a photograph of asphalt I took and rendered it without lighting it. I took it into Fusion and tried to composite one frame and see how it matches up with the background footage - and this is where I realised that I have to re-track the footage and make adjustments to my crater geometry. For now, I painted out unnecessary stuff and made the final scene. Of course it's not complete.

Raw footage

Crater created in Maya

Final composite created in Fusion

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I recently created this explosion in 3d Studio MAX by following a tutorial by Andrew Kramer from VideoCopilot. Amazing guy he is.

Well anyway, just to briefly describe my process - the basic method was particle instancing. I created 3 big debris pieces and 1 small dirt pieces and used particle instancing to emit these pieces of geometry that I created. I created a bump texture in 3Ds max itself. I did not know where I was going with the explosion - all I knew that I wanted to show the massive scale of the explosion, thus I made it slow motion by rendering it out at 100 fps instead of the usual 25. The rendering time was a killer - almost 2 full days, mostly because of the skylight casting realistic shadows. I rendered it out in two passes - the beauty pass and the z-depth pass. So here's what the beauty pass looked like:

Hardly any color information. However, I brought the rendered sequence into Fusion and added a gradient background and used a speedSix plug-in to simulate an explosion. This plugin is just supposed to give out light rays but after modifying it a little bit, I managed to get a slightly explosive look.

Then I went onto creating the source of the explosion - the meteorite, and timed it up so that the explosion happened at the correct timing.

I was quite happy that I managed to turn something with only grayscale values to something with slightly more color.

Below is the final version. Please rate and comment on it. Thank you!

Enjoy! =)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fire Hydrant Complete

I have finally, finally completed my fire hydrant visual effects shot after working on it for more than a month. Here are the details:

- Shot with Panasonic DV Camera
- Matchmoved using boujou
- Fire Hydrant modeled and textured in Maya
- Rendered 6 passes through Maya's mental ray
- Composited in Nuke

The matchmoving isn't very accurate though. I should have used trackers during the shooting phase. Oh well. Enjoy! =)

YouTube Update

I have added some clips on my YouTube account.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lighting Issues

I am having a lot of problems lighting my interior set. I added materials and textures to my models. I set up a directional light as my sunlight and an area light as my photon emitter. But for some reason, it doesn't work. No matter how much I increase the photon value, the render still remains dark. Then I decided to take off the sunlight and use two area lights, one for emission and one for sunlight. Still did not work. Don't understand why. Having a bad day already and this is making it worse.

So what I did was used one area light as both sunlight and photon emitter and placed it behind the two windows and stretched it to fit the size of the two windows. Well, here's the render but it's still screwed up as you can see:

I don't understand why there is so much light between the two windows when the area light is behind the windows and is set to caste raytrace shadows. I decided to change the position of the light and went onto to doing a night scene.

For this, I modeled a light bulb and added a point light to it. I made sure that the bulb was set to not receive or cast any shadows in the scene so that the light can pass through it. I used this point light as my photon emitter also. However, when I tried to render, the photon emission went about a quarter way before it got hung there. I tried reducing the photon energy, yet the problem persisted. I even changed the point light to an area light, yet it didn't work. Very frustrating. So I just decided to use Final Gather to render the image and see what it looks like.

No, I'm still not happy with it. There is hardly any indirect illumination. Very frustrating and bad day, so I decided to close down Maya and continue working on it tomorrow.

Interior Lighting - Beginning Phase

This would be my first time properly lighting a scene with Global Illumination with the proper theory of mental ray understood.

I added in curtains and windows and a flower vase with a few tulips on the on coffee table. I made a texture in Photoshop for the vase. Once I was happy with the modeling, I decided to get into lighting. Well, as expected, nothing went right the first time. Maya crashed on me, the lights did not give me any shadows, no GI seen even though everything was activated. Well, after fixing the normals of a few pieces of geometry, things started to work. So here's the first and very very extremely rough render:

There's only one light source - an area light behind the windows, which is giving direct and well as indirect illumination to the scene. However, some of the photons are screwing up as you can see between the two windows. I have no idea why this is happening. I was trying to get rid of it but failed to do so - so much so that I got a headache and decided to quit Maya and write this post of progress. Tomorow, I'll try fixing this issue as well do the following:

- add a glass material to the coffee table top
- add a chrome material to the table legs and the lamp body
- add wood texture to the painting frame
- make curtains translucent
- add texture to the sofa sets and the flower pot

As for now, I'll go to sleep. Been working for approximately 4 hours straight on this scene. More later.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Interior Modeling

So this week, I've been doing a lot of R&D on lighting. The key thing to making believable visual effects is lighting. So I decided to go really in-depth into it and discover what mental ray for Maya can offer. I researched on Global Illumination and a little bit of final gather and certain mental ray features.

Well, to put my R&D into practice, I decided to do a little bit of interior modeling. I looked up some reference for sofa and created my own version. After that, I made the coffee table and the lamp purely out of my own imagination. I added the paint effects tree for the flower pot and added a painting frame on the ceiling.

I'm not finished yet actually. I still plan to add windows and curtains on the wall and other details such as the wire cord of the lamp, flower pot on the coffee table, cushions, etc. After I'm done with the modeling, I plan to texture my set and light and render it through mental ray using GI.

As for my hydrant - haiz, it's darn slow. It's still rendering. Shall post up the final clip when it's done.