Sunday, 22 April 2012

My messy Kitchen....HDRI

We recently got a 4.5mm fisheye lens (for APS-C) in the studio for getting HDRI information when we are out and about on shoots/location.  Creating HDR/lightprobes this way has many advantages both cost wise and practically.  
Spheron cameras are in my opinion - the most overrated, slow and overpriced pieces of crap that people think you have to use to create an HDRI. 
OK, its somewhat automated and accurate - but its slow and its a big bit of kit to drag around and you almost dare not touch it because it cost so much. You can get just as good results with a DSLR and a fisheye.
Lets think back to the early days of high dynamic range light probes.  They worked and most were done by taking photographs of a polished chrome ball, ball bearing or in my case....a crappy Christmas decoration ball. As long as you captured the light intensity - it was fine.

Being able to use 180 fish-eye lenses, unwrapping them and stitching them together in 15 mins with something like PTGui is awesome.  Plus you are shooting RAW on the DSLR - so you can get HUGE resolution and detail. I shot 6 sets of 7 ev exposures on a Canon 550d.

Here's an HDRI of my messy kitchen that you can download and use for whatever you like.

The 3k map you should use for reflections and the small convolution map you should use in the skylight/dome-light slot for optimised light sampling and faster renders.

Heres a simple test render of some good ol' teapots using this HDR

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

More to Watch

The second of four idents we made at the studio, commissioned by DixonBaxi.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Pocket Anamorphic

A couple years back i managed to get hold of a couple 16mm anamorphic projection lenses off Ebay. You can still find them on there - but now that EVERYONE wants to strap one to the front of their DSLR - ebay sellers have gotten smart....well...greedy.....and the prices are often rather insane. I got hold of a Sankor 16c and a Kowa for about $60 each. Now they are often starting at $500 or more! But i digress....

So recently ive found some spare time again and realised that these things also fit rather well to the front of my old Sanyo Xacti 1010. The Xacti range is probably (in my opinion) one of the most under-rated consumer, HD camera ranges - with a pretty decent sensor size and on the later Xacti 2000 model...FULL HD 60p! Ok...its compressed at a crappy 24mbps - but the image quality was still pretty awesome. I went to Japan a while ago and wondered about with one - those videos can be seen here and here

So ive stepped back from the DSLR for a while and put the anamorphics on the front of the Xacti via a step-up ring (ebay) and a lens clamp (ebay). Even with the Sankor clamped of the front - its still pretty much a pocket sized camera....but with anamorphic scope and those tasty little lens flares pop up from time to time.
Definitely the lightest and literally pocket-able 'run and gun' rig Ive played with for a while.

Xacti 1010 = £200
Sankor anamorphic lens = £80
stepup rings/adapter = £20

A fun setup for not much overhead. Of course - the results on a DSLR are superior in countless ways, but i just wanted a pocket setup solution.
Heres some pics and stills from some rather boring footage in the kitchen.

Friday, 6 April 2012

End User Event

Co-director Arvid and myself will be showing up at EUE (End User Event) in Utrecht, Netherlands this year to talk about recent VFX projects such as SWARM and WATCH. Il be going over some of the processes and techniques that were developed to not compromise on quality but saved render/production time in order to meet the tiny schedules. A number of custom shaders and scripts were also developed to handle the large data sets and colour retargeting.

EUE has been described as Siggraph in a pub, with your mates and no commercial stuff.

Il see you there.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

RealFlow tutorial for 3DTotal magazine

A written tutorial and accompanying video with source files I created for Aprils edition of 3Dtotal magazine is out from today.
Its a beginner/intermediate exercise on how to get some geometry over into Realflow and get some cool fluid behavior happening quickly.
I also go over some psuedo fluid options within 3DSmax.