Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SoulburnScripts Updated Aug 12th 2014

Max script update:

Updated a ton of older scripts:

soulburnAssetLoader (SAL): Added a wizard to install max objects / material as assets. This is currently very basic, but there will be more features added soon. Now when importing Materials will ignore any helpers inside the imported max file. Align now works properly with groups. Fixed an error that would occur if you had more than 20 categories. Added ability to always have your light assets visible in your view, invisible, or just accept whatever the setting is in your saved maxfile (the default).
cameraMapGeminiRenderer: Fixed a bug where it wouldn't read your Defaults properly. Also, you'd have problems running the script if certain defaults were set in the render dialog. That's now been fixed.
objectPainter: Disposed of a gc() that was interfering with undo. However, now it's possible that painting using the option "Paint On All Scene Objects?" may be slightly more unstable. Use with caution.
subdivisionManager: Added OpenSubdiv Support.
subdivisionAutomator: Added OpenSubdiv Support.
modifySubdivIters: Added OpenSubdiv Support.

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/soulburnscripts/soulburnscripts.htm

Thanks to everyone for your support.

Soulburn 3D Education Page Updated Aug 12th 2014

3ds Max 2015 Ext 1 now has OpenSubdiv Support. Here's two videos I did to show off the new feature. Say goodbye to Turbosmooth, and now enter a world of proper creasing and complete compatibility with other major 3d apps.

Exploring OpenSubdiv in 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Alien Mothership For "Inc"

As promised, here's an Alien Mothership from "Inc", which was the original inspiration for doing my Epic Starship gumroad video tutorial.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Soulburn 3D Education Page Updated Aug 4th 2014

Designing An Epic Starship Part 3: Detailing The Upper Level

40 min video, $2
Designing An Epic Starship Part 3 Detailing The Upper Level Video (FastSpring, accepts Credit Card and Paypal)
Designing An Epic Starship Part 3 Detailing The Upper Level Video (Gumroad, accepts Credit Card only)

This multi-part tutorial discusses designing an epic starship in Photoshop, starting with the silhouette, then moving on to refining the shape, and ending in detailing. While the final results look dimensional, 90% of the work is actually done in 2d in photoshop, achieving 3d looking results with only the most minor 3d work involved. Part 3 focuses on detailing the Upper Level of the ship, and then final tweaks to get the final starship design.

If you haven't bought any of this three parter, you can also buy the Parts 1, 2 and 3 bundle (for $5, $1 off the price of buying the parts separately) here...

Designing An Epic Starship Parts 1, 2 and 3 Videos (FastSpring, accepts Credit Card and Paypal)
Designing An Epic Starship Parts 1, 2 and 3 Videos (Gumroad, accepts Credit Card only)

Next will be a bit of a gumroad break, and back to some free tutorials for a bit. Thanks everyone for your support!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Camera Lens Packages for CG

A short little article on Camera Lens Packages for CG:

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_education/lens_package/lens_package.htm


When doing a live action film shoot, you buy or rent your camera (usually rent), and then you choose a set of lenses that you intend to shoot on. This set is usually referred to as a "Lens Package" (I've also heard it referred to as a "Lens Kit"). While you could potentially use an unlimited number of lenses, in general, you'll find a Director or Director of Photography will tend to favor a small subset of lenses, in some cases, and entire film might be shot using only 3-4 lenses.

How does this affect us in CG? Well, in CG, you can change your lens to whatever you want. This gives you great power, but it also can break consistency. Like in live action, maybe every time there's a closeup on a character, the director chooses their goto 35mm lens. In CG, every closeup might have a completely different focal length, which means your character starts to look weird because every shot their face is distorted in a slightly different way. So I highly recommend, if you're doing a CG film, to make yourself a lens package, a small set of lenses you'll be using for your virtual shoot. It will not only guarantee more consistency (like how many films color grade a sequence to have a consistent color scheme), but it will also more closely emulate the way a real live action shoot is done. So if you're trying to emulate a live action feel, best to emulate some of their techniques as well, and give your virtual camera the same constraints the live action camera has.

Lets talk about a simple lens package, which might consist of a wide angle lens (lets say 35mm), a telephoto (lets say 100mm), and a 50mm, which is approx the same as what the human eye sees. Wide Angle lenses tend to distort your subject, bulging things close to camera, and there tends to be more apparent distance between your foreground and background objects. Telephoto lenses tend to flatten out space, decreasing the apparent distance between foreground and background objects. But more on this topic in a different tutorial. From the perspective of Lens Packages, having at least these 3 types of lenses would let you achieve a number of different types of shots and stay very consistent.

If you want to bring things to the next level and use a more reality accurate camera in cg, different lenses also tend to have different apertures which is marked in f-stops. So a specific lens may only allow for a limited number of f-stops. The aperture controls how much light enters the camera (so how bright the image will be) as well as the depth of field (how blurry the background is). Again, more detailed discussion of aperture should probably have its own tutorial since its a complex topic. But for a true lens package, you should limit yourself not just to specific focal lengths but each focal length should be limited in terms of aperture. You can find this information out by looking up real world lenses and see what sort of aperture they tend to have.

For extra bonus points, each lens would also have a specific distortion, for example, wide angle lenses tend to have some degree of barrel distortion, and some telephoto lenses tend to have pincushion distortion. But not all cg cameras allow you to modify the distortion on the lens.

Talking to some experts, I found out that many of my favorite films from the late 70s, early 80s were shot on Panavision cameras. And here's a basic lens package frequently used for those cameras: 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 55mm, 75mm, 100mm. These are all fixed lenses (Prime Lenses) BTW, which means they only have one focal length. You can of course throw a zoom lens into the mix, which will give you multiple focal lengths, like say a 36-82mm lens. Although many films from that era didn't use zooms, and used Fixed Lenses only. For at least some info on what your favorite films were shot with (although lens focal lengths are not included), feel free to check out http://shotonwhat.com/.

The standard 3dsmax camera actually has a lens package built in to the tool. So you have a preset number of lenses, or you can adjust the focal length above to be whatever you want. I wish there was a simple way to customize this lens package, as it would make things way easier.

Knowing what lens package was used on a film can also help you if you're a VFX person. Knowing what lenses were used for what shots makes it far easier to replicate these real world cameras in the virtual world (which is the process of matchmoving). And if you're adding some full CG shots to the film, it's best to stick with similar lenses to the ones used for the live action shoot, to help blend your completely virtual shots with the practical shots.

So next time you're doing a short CG film, and you've done a little research into wide angle and telephoto lenses, and in what situation to use them, consider going one step further and make yourself a 5-10 lens "package" of specific focal lengths, and stick to using those lenses for your virtual shoot, only deviating if absolutely necessary. Or to go one step further, have each lens have a specific focal length, specific aperture range, and a specific type of lens distortion.

Unless of course the goal is to make something not of this world, in which case all bets are off :)