In 2013 I was working at "Starz Studios" in South Wales in the city of Swansea as a VFX Editors Assistant. Here we filmed and managed all the shots that required VFX work applied from Virtual Makeup to Set Extensions. Preping plates and Layout cameras for either producers to present to studios in London and contractors to convey their ideas.
In addition to this I was apart of a team that created parts of Italian cities Florence, Rome and the Vatican. There was a new proposal in how to generate the models in great authentic detail in geometry and texture. Red Epic Cameras were used to film all interiors of famous buildings. They were also taken on drones and flown around all exterior of these buildings up close to see the details in the statues and paintings.
Client : BBC World, Pixomondo
Feature : DaVinci's Demons (released 2013)
This footage that was captured was then camera tracked and imported into the software called "PhotoScan". PhotoScan used these series of images that were correlated with each other to generate a textured geometry of everything that appeared in each frame.
It was my responsibility to go through the edit of each sequence, determine the difficulty levels, and decide which shots would be most fitting for my team members and how long it would take them to then provide production with bids for each shot. Then I was able to direct everyone to the master scene for each artist to matchmove their shots into and ensure that everyone completed the work on time.
In some sequences even with the aid of a master scene, there would be some shots that I would have to flag that may require a different approach, such as manual animation of the cameras or additional geometry being created to aid a camera track. Fortunately we had on set TSD (Total Station Data) and three witness cameras, which proved most helpful in knowing where cameras began and where cameras ended in 3D space on the LIDAR scan.
In some instances a camera’s solve would have to be the last step in matchmoving a camera as there would be no point of reference to go from, e.g. underwater shots in a water tank. Here the camera was underwater and sees Mowgli jump into the water and swims up to the surface. The environment is entirely blue and the camera appears to be freely moving – there were no points to track in these shots. The three witness cameras and additional references photos helped model the water tank and allowed the roto animation of Mowgli to be completed as he was visible from these points of view. The camera could then be manually animated and aligned to the Roto Animation of the 3D Mowgli.
Roto animation was needed for solving water simulation and fur interaction with Baloo the bear. Once we had the roto animation that aligned with the three witness cameras we were then able to align and animate the underwater camera in Maya using Mowgli’s movements and the brief back edge of the water tank as the point of reference.
As Disney’s “The Jungle Book” was a stereo film I was introduced to new tools in Nuke to check for key stoning or warping of the plates and had to make stereo QC checks for each shot. These tools showed if the cones were staying in the same place in the left and right eye depending on the convergence of the z-depth region you would focus on.
Matchmoving in stereo was interesting and raised new issues that I had not yet come across such as animated inter-ocular distances. These issues would sometimes arise on the simplest shots and can surprise everybody when they
have not been recorded properly. I loved such challenges of investigation, working out what is the problem and working as a team to find the best way to fix it; whether it is a movement of a set piece throwing off the TSD alignment, misplaced information, or poor visibility. I loved seeing how different members of my team drew from
different experiences to help overcome the challenges.
I know I would not have been able to complete some of these shots was it not for the supervision of Jon Miller (MPC Supervisor) sharing his wisdom of fantastic techniques and his guidance in allowing me to tackle such difficulties. I have learned a great deal from Jon Miller and would love the opportunity to work with him again.