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Water Battle Tutorial

Posted: Wed, 7th Dec 2005, 1:13am

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Force: 2900 | Joined: 30th Nov 2004 | Posts: 637

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Compositing for a water movie.

This tut was sparked by a question in a thread on FXhome where I was asking for some green screening help. The idea here is to create a composite where a ship creates a ripple on the sea. The reason to do this is because when you are compositing your CG and real footage should be interacting with each other as nothing screams GREEN SCEEN like some lame footage super imposed over looped stock footage. My example will be stop motion, because that is what I do, but you should be able to apply the the principles to your live action projects or maybe it will spark some great ideas for something completely different.

This is the clip I created while making this tut:

My tools are: Chromanator, Effect Labs, Bryce 4 (bad CG program, don't really recommend it), and a 1.5 mega pixel still cam.

The first thing is to shoot your real shot, don't build a real shot around some stock footage, it really shows in the final project (and I have seen some really bad stuff like that in the cinema). Remember kids Ed Wood used tons of stock footage in his films as was named worst director of all time.

Once you have shot the real thing create a sprite of it and add it into your CG scene(in Bryce you'll need to add it as a 2-D object and also add an alpha of it).

Get it to look basically how it will look in the final shot, the water should be reflecting it.

Once you have it in the scene you will need to render it twice, once without the spirit visible and once with it in the scene.

Now on my computer it takes an hour or so for a 7 sec animation at 15 fps (my standard for LEGO stop motion, it would be 24 if I was dong clay) at 640x360. So there is quite a bit of data crunching. After you have both of those rendered use the clean plate to paint out the sprite using Chromanator.

Now we add the ship to the mix. You should try to add a rocking motion that matches the waves so it looks as if your original 'practical' model is interacting with your CG environment. An interesting thing to note is the ship composite was shot on black which was keyed out by hand, it looks better then most of the green screen test I have shot, blends better with the background, hopefully I when I get the use of all my lights (some are being used on my real project and I won't be buggered to move them) I will be able to light my screen properly and get a good key.

Now you have CG footage with a ship reflection but no ship. Now add the ship footage and try to make sure it matches that CG reflection. Now if this was for a project rather then a tutorial I would have taken the time to ad CG lights in the scene for every time the cannons go off to add further the realism of the composite.

I don't really know why I made this tut, it can't be very useful to many people, I guess it’s just a pure act of optimism hoping that someone will make water movie with large sea battles, I guess I can dream.
Posted: Wed, 7th Dec 2005, 3:07am

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Force: 2199 | Joined: 9th Aug 2005 | Posts: 855

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its a good tutorial for what it tries to accomplish, and may be very helpful to people.

I dont have bryce, so i cant try it out, but it does look good, and thank you for this "act of optimism".

just one tip: add some more grey and some more transparency to your water, it looks way too blue. the color of water usually refects that of the sky ( and the sky is really never as blue as it is in this movie clip either).

thanks for this tute, and make some more if you can biggrin .


PS nice reflection of the boat on the water! It really looks good!
Posted: Wed, 7th Dec 2005, 4:00am

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Force: 2900 | Joined: 30th Nov 2004 | Posts: 637

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Thanks, clear blue skys render faster becouse the water does not have to reflect clouds, as I was only making a tutoral I did not see a reson for my computer to spend any more time rendering then it needed. I'm sure other programs can do the water just as well, bryce is quite bad for modeling which is why I don't recomend it, but it does a passable job on outdoor stuff.

(although I only made this as a tutoral I would like to make a water movie sometime but won't promise one)