Camera Instancer Script!

Camera Instancer

The Camera Instancer script is now available from AEScripts.com! Get it now! Camera Instancer will create a camera that instances the active camera from another composition. You can then cut and paste this camera into any other composition. The modifications that you make to the active camera in the first composition will be duplicated in the second composition. Even if you change the active camera!

Check out the demo/tutorial below!

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Fixing 32bpc Aliasing in After Effects

Fixing 32 bpc Aliasing

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you guys. A lot of goings ons in the Graphics world as of late. To get back into the swing of things I’m posting this tutorial on Fixing 32bpc Aliasing. Working in 32bpc has its advantages as well as gotchas you’ve got to watch out for. Sometimes aliasing or jagginess can enter into your composition when using colors that go beyond 1.0 in the channel values. *Watch the tutorial below.

*I apologize in advance for the occasional sound issue.

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Duplicate with Connections Script Updated!

The Duplicate with Connections script has been updated and be downloaded at AEScripts + AEplugins. This update adds an option to use the property index instead of the property name. This can be useful in which multiple properties may have the same name and therefore can confuse the expressions engine. I understand this could be of help with those of you using expressions in Element.

In other news, I have to apologize for the lack of communication for a while. It’s been a busy few months at work and with a new baby at home! But I’ve got a video tutorial I am working on and an update for the Pixel Cloud plugin as well as a brand new plugin on the horizon!

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Maya Export Position and Normal Pass to Pixel Cloud Tutorial

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 support@blurrypixel.com I’ll get back to you! The forum is still in the beta stages but feel free to start using it!

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Introducing Pixel Cloud!

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!

Features:
Relighting with 32-bit passes
Use AE Lights and Cameras
Diffuse
Specularity
Image Based Lighting
Reflection
Alpha Lights for matte generation
Support for falloff in CS5.5 and above
Pixel Cloud generation with 8bpc to 32bpc
3D Displacement
Pixel Texturing
Lo-res Preview modes
Multiprocessor compatible

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.

More tutorials coming soon!

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Pixel Cloud Relight Demo Coming!

The upcoming Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects can be used to relight a source image affecting the diffuse and specular properties. Coming soon I’ll be posting a revealing demo of how easy it is to take a static image from a 3D package and use Pixel Cloud and After Effects’ own 3D lights to create a dynamic and believable composite with moving lights, shadows, and reflections. Here’s an end product of what it will look like!

3D model courtesy of Stanford 3D Model Repository

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Tutorial: Learning at the Playground

At school there were always teachers who in all honesty were experts in their field simply because they knew 10% more about it than 10% of the students they were teaching. But if I took the chance to look beyond my own “pretentiousness”, I would find there was always something invaluable to learn from them. It may not be what I was expecting and it may be completely different than what I was studying, but it was always beneficial and always unexpected. And that’s what learning is about, right?

So here is my first tutorial on Blurrypixel using an often overlooked particle effect in After Effects, Particle Playground. Which takes a bit of effort to learn compared to the plethora of turnkey particle generators out there, but I think it’s a good start for a tutorial since it encapsulates so much of digital compositing. So even though you might be saying, “I can make this effect happen in Particular in 5 minutes,” keep in mind there’s always another 90% out there.

It’s a video tutorial. I hope you find it invaluable. Please let me know how I did and if you have any tips or corrections please leave a note. I want to get better! So watch my first tutorial and let’s Learn at the Playground!

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What is Relighting?

What is Relighting for After Effects?

For After Effects and compositing in general, relighting is the process of changing the perceived shading of an already rendered 3D image. This includes the diffuse shading and specularity of the 3D image. One could drastically change the perceived position of the sun or whether an object is shiny or not. In other compositing packages this may also include cast shadows.

Relighting is actually a commonplace process in many node-based compositing packages like Nuke. Until recently, this was not possible within After Effects. The fact that After Effects had a 2GB memory limitation as well as limited support for 32bit footage certainly limited its capability to relight a shot.

32bit images can take up a lot of memory and processing power. Take your heaviest comp and turn on 32bit. Your comp may take up all your memory and most of the effects aren’t 32bit ready making your output simply 8bit images with a decimal point on the end. Imagine relighting a 4K video in CS4. You couldn’t and the process would still be very sluggish on CS5 but the possibility is there. And that’s what Pixel Cloud will do. Extend that potential. And make that opportunity available.

The truth is, After Effects was never meant for this type of compositing. Node-based solutions filled a market that AE simply could not. But CS5 and above is changing all that. 64bit and no memory limitation means that After Effects is just beginning to compete in a market of film-quality compositing and special effects. After Effects and Premiere can help open up a world that is filling with digital filmmakers. Technology just continues to become more powerful and even cheaper.

After Effects has a bit of ways to go in order to become a compositing standard. It could still be faster. It should have stronger tools for customizing workflow or at least more education on the scripting interface. And why not create a more node-like interface for the flowchart for the many users who come from a 3D background? But for the price, a regular production cycle, pages of tutorial information and legions of users, CS5 already is the de facto standard.

Passes

To light a scene, you basically need 3 bits of information from the 3D package. The position of the surface and the direction that the surface is pointing. Lastly you will need the camera information which was used to render the scene in the first place. This would be the camera position, direction and focal length. The light information is provided by the compositing program.

The position information is rendered into a position pass. Some people call it a “P” pass but I prefer position pass. The surface direction is provided by the normal pass. The position pass takes the x,y,z coordinates of the points being rendered and saves them in a 32bit image as r,g,b color information. The normal pass takes the vector coordinates of the normals of those points and saves them the same way. The images have to be 32bit as these images can handle floating point values greater than 255 and can even be negative. These values also have to be in the same coordinate system. In other words, if the position pass is in camera coordinates then the normal pass must also be in camera coordinates.

Given these 2 passes and the camera, the compositing program can then use a bit of trigonometry and some fancy mathematics to simulate what the lighting would be at those corresponding screen coordinates with any given light.

Why would you do all this when you could simply go back into your 3D software and re-render the scene? Because that could mean hours of rendering and since compositing is generally much faster than re-rendering, if you could just fix it during compositing why not try that? By rendering extra passes during the rendering stage you could end up saving yourself tons of time instead of wasting hours trying to make sure the sun’s highlights are on the right side or your character’s nose is shiny enough.

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Relight with Pixel Cloud

I’m excited to say that there will indeed be relighting functionality built into the Point Cloud plugin. Still in Beta, I’m happy to show off a little bit of what this relighting capability can do for your workflow! I’m still looking for a couple of beta testers who are serious and will be committed to helping me bring this plugin to release. In particular, I’m looking for Windows CS4 and CS5 After Effects users who use 3DSM and/or Maya and will be able to help me provide animated examples of relighting 3D renders in an After Effects workflow. You should be familiar enough to provide a workflow for generating position as well as normal passes. Please reply to betaprogram@blurrypixel.com.

 

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Beta Testers Wanted!

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The Point Cloud plugin has moved into the Beta stage and us nearing release! Update: Thanks for all the responses! We currently have enough testers now!

I’m looking for a few good beta testers to help me QA the current build. Broadcast, film After Effects compositors integrating 3D applications in their workflow. Maya, Cinema 4D and 3DS Max. Your help is wanted! Please write to betaprogram@blurrypixel.com for more information.

Update: Thanks for all the responses! We currently have enough testers now!

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