Hey guys, this tutorial is a brief overview on how to use Maya to quickly create a position pass and normal pass to be used with the Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects. The process is pretty much the same as in my previous tutorials but this is dedicated to exporting the passes from Maya and the adjustments necessary after importing into After Effects.
On a side note, I’ve started setting up a Forum for any questions regarding Pixel Cloud, Scripts and even just general graphics talk! If you have any technical questions please feel free to post here and for my customers feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll get back to you! The forum is still in the beta stages but feel free to start using it!
The Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects is a powerful compositing tool that allows you to relight a 3D generated image, make 3D aware selections or displace the pixels in 3D space. Combine the use of a Position Pass and a Normal Pass with the power of After Effects’ 3D lights and cameras and change the lighting of your composited 3D graphics. This native plugin for After Effects can use the coordinate information from a Position Pass or depth map to generate a Pixel Cloud in 3D space. This Pixel Cloud can be viewed from all angles using AE’s own cameras. With a Normal Pass, the Pixel Cloud can be relit using After Effects’ own lights or using an image as an Image Based Light. There are a number of uses from 3D compositing to motion graphics! Find it at AEScripts.com!
Relighting with 32-bit passes
Use AE Lights and Cameras
Image Based Lighting
Alpha Lights for matte generation
Support for falloff in CS5.5 and above
Pixel Cloud generation with 8bpc to 32bpc
Lo-res Preview modes
Generating the position pass can be done in various 3D software packages. In Cinema 4D you may use the PointPosition C4D from AEScripts.com. There is also a tutorial for doing this here: http://youtu.be/yfoT7bxbBwo
For Maya, you may use the Point World output of a samplerInfo node connected to a surface shader and render an EXR using mental ray and the 32-bit framebuffer. There are also a variety of tutorials available.
For 3DS Max, you may add the XYZ Generator shader to the surface slot of a mental ray material. Set it’s Coordinate System to 3 and render to an EXR using the floating point framebuffer.
The Pixel Cloud plugin effect for After Effects has several nifty features including the ability to relight a 3D rendered scene using separate passes. With this feature, you can drastically change the light source, direction of light and mood of a scene as well as the specularity and reflections in an image. Here is a demo/tutorial of how this can be achieved in After Effects with the Pixel Cloud plugin!
A recent post on FXGuide regarding Pointcloud9, a European company that provides high quality 3D scanning services to the film industry, has me fascinated with how this technology is being used today. LIDAR is basically the process of using a laser to get the 3D information of an object or environment similar to the way desktop 3D scanners operate and it ties in perfectly with my previous Recreality post, about the future of cinema. These laser-based range finding cameras are ultra accurate. No Kinect hack here. Perhaps this is the way it will be done in the future? Incidentally, this technology was used 4 years ago for Radiohead’s House of Cards music video.
Yeah! After some soul searching, I’ve moved all the blog videos onto YouTube! Our YouTube channel is at TheBlurrypixel. Of course all the videos are still embedded in the posts so no need to go directly to the channel but I will be posting some bonus extra videos on there that may not be on the blog so show us your support and Subscribe!
Here is a video of some of the relighting features available with the Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects with a side by side comparison from the original footage to the Pixel Cloud effected footage. You can see the practical utility of not having to go back into the 3D process just to re-render a shot.
The voice track is from Shakespeare’s To be or not to be soliloquy from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s film Hamlet portrayed by David Tenant.
Sorry it’s been a while to provide updates but there’s been so many changes to the plugin so far. Wonderful Changes! We have continued providing more functionality for relighting and selective masking using AE lights. Lots of bugs were fixed and for the moment I am working on getting user guide and tutorial information together. One of which is the following demonstration video for some of the basic relighting uses for the plugin!
Fantastic news! I am close to releasing my Point Cloud tool plugin for After Effects. This effect will allow you to displace your 2D pixels into 3D space and it reacts to the 3D camera like a 3D layer. What can this do for you? It can help you visualize your composites better, where to place your cards in terms of position and scale. Plus there are lots of other uses to discover! Take a look at movie to see what I mean.
Fooling around with a few techniques. I spent about an hour on this animation using a photo to create a particle based lilly field. It’s an interesting style. Probably more for graphics and non-figurative motion work. I originally was trying for a conceptual music video feel. The kaleido is a probably a little ridiculous but the glow is marvelous. Not finished and so not successful but you’ve got to try something different everyday.
I’ve been exploring the use of Noise HLS to reduce banding in my H264 renders. It does a pretty good job compared to Add Grain which can be slow. You would normally see banding especially below the logo. This is greatly reduced with the use of Noise HLS. Something to think about. Hmm…