Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Major Project: Re-filming Live Action Footage

Now that the majority of my shots are rendered, I need to go back into Maya and experiment with re-filming my live action footage. I think I have most of what I need in regards to that, although I need to film my own video of jello since right now I've been using a clip I found online.

First I created a simple polygon plane in Maya, then connected a shader (it varies depending on the test) then plugged in a projection node into the colour so I could project my footage onto the plane. My first test I used a surface shader, so it did not require any lights. I then animated the camera but made sure that the projection always filled the screen. These tests I'm only uploading as YouTube videos since they are quite long and will not upload as GIFS.

I liked how this looked and I then went to see what else I could do to make it feel '3D'. I experimented with different lights so there would be very subtle highlighting on the plane. I tried using just a directional light as well as adding several area lights. Both of these tests I experiment with flickering the light. I found with the directional light, it just looked like the whole shot was flashing since that one light was illuminating the entire scene. With the area lights, only one of three lights would flicker, preventing the entire scene from going dark.

I also experimented in After Effects using lights as well as other effects such as animating vignettes. I experimented with both spot lights and point lights. I found the spot light particularly difficult to control and I preferred the point light out of the two. However, one perk of doing it this way is that render times remain lower...the more lights I add in Maya the slower the renders will be (1 second per frame without lights vs 30 seconds with 3 area lights).

After seeing the previous five results, I think I liked #3 (Maya area lights) the most. I decided to return to this scene and adjust the position and scale of the area lights. I also wanted to try adding a vignette to the footage prior to bringing it into Maya - so the vignette effect is part of the projection. I hope that this will help further separate the projection screen from the viewer. This is currently rendering and the results will be posted tomorrow.


  1. Yep, I think these more spatial effects really lift this found footage. You'll need to conceptualise your camera/focus/vignetting approaches here too - so ensure the camera movement isn't just decorative but purposeful and subjective where necessary. You know... there's probably a version of this project where you take your Maya rendered scenes and put them back into Maya and then do this same technique to them! (That's not an instruction btw!)

    1. Okay I'll keep that in mind - I think when I begin working on shots that include specific subjects I'll be able to focus the camera movements and effects more. Perhaps one of those shots would be good to work on next rather than this one which is more abstract.