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January 12, 2012

Going Nuclear

I little while ago I was watching a few training vids, brushing up on my VFX techniques for some up-coming work later this year, when I had an epiphany that it was time I learnt compositing!

I have always thought compositing is a whole art in itself and the artists who do this have the hardest job of all, so I have avoided learning it this far in my career. But now felt like it was the time to man-up and get on with it. Partly because the compositors Nick knew were always snowed under, partly because I thought it would benefit my career and partly because I was just massively curious on how it all worked.

I started out using Autodesk Composite, but didn’t get on with it very well and couldn’t find much support. So after some research I decide the Foundry’s Nuke was the one to learn, as used by Weta, ILM and many others. And I have to say I love it, simple to use but very, very, powerful and there is a lot of support and learning materials out there.

So after lots of studying and experiments, here is my first attempt at compositing:

As you can hopefully tell this is much better than the original composite done in Photoshop. In hind sight this probably wasn’t the easiest one to start with, as I had to pull two mattes for each actor (core and edge) and even use some rotoscoping in places. I also had to do a fair bit of spill suppression to get rid of the green on the edges and reflections. To bring the CG into Nuke I rendered it to an openEXR file (one single file that contains all of the separate passes), then split this open again and individually adjusted each pass. To better match the CG to the plate I softened the edges, added depth of field with a z-depth pass and graded it. I also added a slight grain and light wrap.

I still feel this shot needs some work on it, and when I get the original images (instead of the JPEG's I had to use), I should be able to make it better yet. I think I’ll come back to it after I’ve done the rest though.

Right then, I guess I’d better get on and make the desks and composite the rest of the shots...

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