I’ve been running into situations where I need some extra padding around my Blender renders, but I need my focal length and distance from the subject to stay the same. Although you can crop your renders by pressing Shift+B and dragging (press Shift+B again and select outside the frame to remove), you can only crop within the frame, which doesn’t help at all.
If you adjust the sensor size under the Camera settings, you can easily add margin around your carefully setup frame. Just keep in mind that the resolution will stay the same, so if you double the sensor size, you’ll want to double the resolution as well.
Since a lot of the next episode of Hendstrom will take place in virtual sets, I’m experimenting with using HDRI for matching our lighting setups between actor and environment. Also I’ve always wanted to learn how to use a mirror ball to capture lighting information, because I’m terrible at 3d lighting.
Finding a Mirror Ball
Stainless Steel Gazing Ball from Amazon - it’s very hard to find a reflective ball made specifically for VFX, but “gazing balls” are more commonly available, and seem to be widely accepted as usable. I bought a 6″ stainless steel one – it seems to be a good size, and has a hole underneath that could be used for mounting. There are a few imperfections in the sphere on the one I received, but for a $20 item intended to be used in your garden they’re relatively forgivable. Also while it may be good at capturing light information, it is not light (0.8lb), so don’t drop it on your toes when you’re wearing sandals.
Making the HDRI Image
You’ll want to position the ball pretty close to where your 3d object will be (I need to mount mine, currently it’s just sitting the desk). Setup a tripod and use the Magic Lantern HDR feature to take photos at the full range of exposures. Then you’ll want to use Photoshop (if you don’t have it, consider getting an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription) to combine the files using File > Automate > Merge to HDR Pro. This will allow you to generate a 32 bit HDR image in a spherical format.
It’s important to remember to crop the photo right up against the edges of the ball, so that Blender Cycles will be able to interpret it correctly later. Then just save it as a “Radiance” format .hdr file. I took this one (28mb) on my desk (feel free to use when you need that “messy” environment look).
I had wanted to use Polar Coordinates filter to convert it into a rectangular format (so that I could retouch the image), but it turns out Photoshop won’t allow you to use that filter on 32 bit images. Since I don’t want to be working in only 8 bits (which I think would defeat the purpose of HDR) and I don’t know how to work around it without more expensive software, for now I’m just keeping it in a spherical format.
I’m a backer of the Digispark kickstarter project (who isn’t?), because I wanted a cheap, $10 start to programming Arduinos. Of course once I’d pledged for the Arduino, I noticed all the nice extras they were offering, and it became a $30 start to programming Arduinos. Then I realized I’d have to wait two entire months for it to arrive, and just bought an Arduino Uno in the meantime, for another $20. So ends my guide to programming Arduinos on the cheap.
With this Arduino Uno, I’ve been experimenting with receiving and sending IR signals, to control my TV, air conditioner, etc., and I found the excellent IRRemote library by Ken Shirriff.
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Sometimes you have a shot where you want to attach a background to a tracking marker, but there isn’t one tracking marker that remains in view the entire time. While I’m not sure this is the best way to deal with that problem, here’s what worked for me (using After Effects CS6).
You can now use SendTo (version 1.1.1) to send clips from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects CS5/5.5/6, as well as Motion!
Here’s how it works: export your FCPX project as .fcpxml, drag it onto the app, and select the clip you want to send. Then click “Send To” to setup a composition preset with in/out, duration, frame rate and resolution in Motion or After Effects. It’s a great way to save time setting up compositions, and get right to work on grading, effects, etc.
Hendstrom is a fantasy web series that I started working on in January with my wife Kierstyn King, and my two sisters, Hannah and Amanda King. We’d been wanting to produce something with a fantasy spin for a while, but we kept putting it off because we couldn’t come up with a story.
Hendstrom is our attempt to stop procrastinating and start practicing the craft with the resources that we have. We came up with the script for the first episode in a limited amount of time, to help us actually get something down on paper. From there we made props, costumes, did some color and effects tests, and started shooting. Once we had some footage to work with, we started to edit, grade, and add the effects as we went along. We’re currently working on finishing the edit for the first episode, getting started on the score (we used Garageband on the iPad for the trailer), and writing the dialog for episode two.
Our inspiration for the project came from two places – Jonathan Coulton, on the Nerdist podcast -
If you’re ever stuck creatively, make it your goal to create something that is bad and worthless. Because as you start doing it, you’ll realize you’re actually making something good.
We’d been waiting to come up with the perfect premise – but all the time we were waiting was time spent not practicing the rest of the process. That was our second inspiration – Ira Glass in this video on storytelling – the gist of it is, lots of practice is important. While we were shooting videos on a regular basis, it wasn’t narrative content, and we felt like there were quite a few things we weren’t practicing at all (that was true – we discovered exciting things like shot lists during the course of shooting).
Updated to 1.1.1 – send clips to After Effects CS5.5 as well as Motion!
Now available on the Mac App Store!
Updated to 0.9.3 – timing fixes, Snow Leopard support, and compound clips.
Updated to 0.9.2 – fixes issues with clips that have timecode.
I love Final Cut Pro X, but there are still a few features missing. I wanted to be able to send edited clips from my FCPX timeline into Motion 5, without having to setup the project, lookup the in and out points, and replicate that in Motion. So I made an app that lets you send a clip from Final Cut to Motion.
Just export your project as .fcpxml (File > Export XML), drag it onto the dock icon, select the clip you’d like to export, and it’ll create and open a new Motion project, setup with the right length, clip, and frame rate. It’s not perfect, but it saves a lot of time setting up projects and copying information by hand.
You can now purchase it on the Mac App Store for $10 (US only).
Thanks so much to everyone who helped me beta test it! Feel free to continue using the beta version – although the App Store version contains several UI improvements, and is the one we’ll be updating and officially supporting.
Follow @eyechartapps on twitter for updates!
I wanted a “credits logo” to show off projects that were shot on a DSLR, sort of like the Edited on Final Cut logotype. There didn’t seem to be any available, so I thought it’d be fun to make one. Here’s what I came up with –
Download the logos with or without the text here – feel free to use them!
If you have a Canon 5d Mark II, then you probably already have a 50mm lens that you use frequently. If you instead have a DSLR with an ASP-C instead of a full frame sensor (like the Canon t3i or 7D), you may be unsure about getting one. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is very affordable for it’s speed (compare to the 35mm f/2.0 at $376), but with the 1.6x crop factor on ASP-C cameras, it’s actually an 80mm lens, not a 50mm.
I’ve been using the 18-55mm kit lens on my Canon t3i for about a year, but finally decided to buy the 50mm f/1.8. After using it for a few weeks, here are the pros and cons I’ve seen as of yet.
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