Project 3: Compositing Animating Assets

May 4, 2019

On Saturday, we filmed the footage for this project. This project is gonna include camera tracking and I chose to do a pan for the camera movement. It was an overcast day, even raining for a bit, which makes the shadow look very soft. Recreating the lighting to match the plate is going to be a challenge, but I'm also excited to try it as I have had strong shadows for all my other projects in this course.






May 7, 2019

Today I worked on getting the camera tracking right, making the lid animation and making a first version of the mask that will include the interior of the box. The camera tracking gave some trouble as the perspective change is almost unnoticeable in the plate, but tracking it as rotation only and checking undistort helped a lot to get the tracking as accurate as possible. I also used the roto node to mask out the water of the fountain moving in the at the top. 


To make the lid, I modeled the it in maya and used the first frame of the plate to project on the geometry as perspective from the render camera using a surface shader. I later created a texture reference of the object, so that the texture would stick to the lid when it's opening.

The mask was made in a different render layer with the box geometry in it. The box was later assigned different surface shaders to it: one red for the lid, one green for the bottom part of the box and one blue for the inside of the box that will be visible when it opens. This mask is later shuffled in nuke to the color of the area we need mask.


May 8, 2019

Today, I fixed the perspective of the box so the inside would fit better when composited in the background plate. I also cleaned the edge of the box in the background plate that is seen when the lid opens. I used to rotos to accomplish this. The first is the roto of an area of the background transformed and shaped to hide the unwanted edge. There were different ways of dealing with the edge, some of which do not require nuke, but since the plate has the movement of the water in the background I found this way was the best to deal with issue. The second roto is used to articulate the space between the lid and the actual box instead of seeing the original plate. I used a used a constant and rotoed a section and later merged on top of the plate and before the lid layers. 


May 12, 2019

Over the weekend, I focused on getting the box modeled properly so the perspective would match better. I also modeled the hinges of the box to get a preview of what the box will look like in the future when all the elements are added.

May 15, 2019

For today's class, I rendered a first beauty pass of the animation on a separate render layer and composited on top of the layers that I already had. The animation is completely procedural and was made using Houdini by Karol Lu. Karol has also let me use her files so I can make some changes to the original animation in order to make it fit better inside the box. Thanks to this first pass, I know what changes the animation needs so it looks more integrated in the plate. The gears are going too fast, so I will have to go back into Houdini and change the speed. I also noticed that the far side of the waves are not rising as high as the other side, which dulls the wavy effect, so I will also have to change that in Houdini.  


May 19, 2019

After changing the animation, I started to texture the box and the animation. To get a wood texture as close as possible to the one in the original box, I decided to create my own seamless texture from a close-up photo I took of the box using Photoshop.


Once the texture was done, I went to apply them to the geometry in Maya. However, I soon realised that the alembics of the animation I had exported from Houdini couldn't be UVed in Maya. That caused me to go back to Houdini to UV all the geometry procedurally and export all the alembics again. Instead of exporting the whole animation in one alembic file, like I did for the first animation pass, I realised that it would be easier to texture the animation if I divided into sections and exported them separately. While I worked on the UVs in Houdini, I also found out that if the UV node is applied after the animation nodes, the UVs will also move around in the UV space. I had never seen before animated UVs, but it makes sense for them to behave that way when you think about how Houdini is a node-based system. The solution to this problem was obviously simple: just add the UV node before the animation nodes are applied. However, for one of the sections of the animation, the waves specifically, the animation was being applied through points before the actual geometry is created. I spend a lot of time trying to find a solution with the help of the internet and I finally found one that I think is worth mentioning here in case someone needs it in the future. The trick is to add a time shift node to the animated section after the UV node. The time shift freezes the animation and the UVs in the frame of your choice. Then you copy the uv attribute from the time shift into the animated geometry so it replaces the moving one.


May 26, 2019

The past week has been full of changes in the project. In order to make the plate more interesting, I was recommended to color correct it. I decided to make it look more blue as if to evoke the ocean represented in the box animation.


I had initially thought about making the animation match the wood color of the box, but then decided to add some color to the fish and the boat. While texturing, I also realised that the upper hinges looked really flat and didn't get much reflection of the surrounding HDR. That made me create two different render layers to cheat the reflection. I also decided to erase the latch from the box as the one I had modeled wasn't giving me the result I wanted and would have ruined the integration.


The added color red to the boat and the empty space to the right of the box made the composition look awkward and I was suggested to add another object to make the composition more interesting. Going with the sea theme, I decided to add a sea star model from the website The star went through a lot of shaders and different positions until the final result down below.


Lastly, we have the sphere match I used as reference for this project.