Digital visual effects and compositing pdf


vi Digital Visual Effects & Compositing. Contents. Foreword xv. Introduction xvii. Chapter One Film and Video Primer Boot Camp for VFX. 3. Intro to the Motion. Advanced Visual Effects Techniques reallusion iclone, 3DXchange, and Mocap Plugin. Sometimes innovation catches you off-guard. One day, you. Review PDF [digital] Visual Effects and Compositing, ^^pdf free download [digital] Visual Effects and Compositing, ^^read online free [digital].

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Digital Visual Effects And Compositing Pdf

Get Instant Access to [Digital] Visual Effects And Compositing By Jon Gress # cbcde1 EBOOK EPUB. KINDLE PDF. Read Download Online. In this latest book in the critically-acclaimed [digital] series from New Riders, List Price: $; Includes EPUB, MOBI, and PDF; About eBook Formats Building on this strong foundation of compositing and visual effects. In 3D, anything can be created, from props and digital prosthetics to entire sets and even full 3D worlds. Jon Gress shows you how it works in.

Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man, The Lord of the Ringsthese are the kinds of movies that people think of when the subject of special effects comes up. The blue Navi of the planet Pandora, ying atop giant winged beasts; the diminutive Alice tumbling into a 3D wonderland; a superhero in an iron suit; wizards and Orcs battling for Middle-earthin these story situations, lmmakers use visual effects to open doors onto imaginary lands and characters. Indeed, common wisdom holds that special effects take movies far away from realistic characters, situations, and locations. According to our customary way of thinking about cinema, this dichotomy in lm, between the real and the fantastic, is nothing new. The progenitors of cinema included Auguste and Louis Lumire, who lmed actualities, slices of life that were portraits of everyday events, and Georges Mlis, a magician who made movies about fabulous trips to the moon or to the bottom of the sea.

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Be the first to like this. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Questions of photographic truth are relevant to documentary in ways they are not for ction lm, and issues of indexical meaning have a different inection in documentary than they do in ction.

Documentary is an assertive mode. It states to viewers thatsome situation or event exists. Fiction does not inherently do so. Some of the attributes of indexical meaning that I examine with regard to visual effects would provide an insufcient basis for the photographic veridicality that one often looks for in documentary.

In this book I am strictly concerned with cinema in a narrative and mainly a ctional mode. The reader will have noticed by now that I am avoiding the term special effects. For reasons that I explain, it makes little sense to write or talk about special effects in contemporary lm. Except in a limited sense, the era of special effects is over. The industry continues to use the term, but it now designates mechanical and practical effects, such as explosions or stunts involving car wrecks.

Everything else is known as visual effects. The rst Academy Awards ceremony bestowed an honorary plaque to Wings for its ying sequences, honoring what were then termed Best Engineering Effects. From to , the industry awarded Oscars in a Special Effects category that also included sound effects. The term special was dropped in , making the category Visual Effects. In popular parlance people continue to use the old terminology of special effects, but visual effects operate more broadly and can be understood as creating the kind of fantasy characters and situations that special effects once designated, as well as performing numerous other roles and functions beyond this.

Thus the distinction between the terms is nontrivial; they designate different historical periods.

In one period, visual effects were special because they were regarded as tricks supplementing live-action cinematographyset extensions achieved with hanging miniatures or matte paintings, live actors married with stop-motion puppetry via matte-and-counter-matte systems.

Optical printers in that era were within the province of post-production, blending footage of visual elements that had already been photographed and usually exhibiting a generational loss of image quality in the composites. In todays era, digital effects are not solely a post-production endeavor, and visual effects can blend seamlessly with live action so that clear boundaries between the domains often do not exist.

The title character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a visual effect as well as a live actors performance. The same is true of the Navi in Avatar. Virtual environments found in Changeling , Master and Commander , and Zodiac are indistinguishable from real locations.

On Avatar, James Cameron directed his actors as their digital characters in the digital environments of Pandora.

As with the dichotomy of Lumire and Mlis, the disjunction proposed by special effectsthat effects stand apart from the normative body of live-action lmingdoes not characterize contemporary lm.

Visual effects are coextensive with narrative lm, and digital tools have made them more expressive, persuasive, and immersive.

While I will have occasion to discuss visual effects during the analog era, this book is not a history of effects technologies. It concentrates on the period from the mids to the present. In , Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Tron showed audiences and other lmmakers the contributions that digital imaging could make to narrative, and a transformation in lm production and its expressive capabilities soon followed, as digital imaging tools permeated all phases of lmmaking.

Since then, much of the writing on the transition from analog to digital imaging has sounded an anxious tone, posing crises of form and function and meaning. By eroding the indexical basis of photography in its photo-chemical mode , digital images are said to undermine the reality status of cinematic images, rendering viewers doubtful about the credibility of all cinematic images.

As a result, some observers report a techno-nostalgia for the older analog forms, apparent in the use of digital elements to emulate such photographic features as motion blur, grain, and the response curves characteristic of particular lm stocks. My account strikes a different tone, however. I do not believe that the transition from analog methods of imaging to digital ones represents a break either stylistically or epistemologically. Instead, I emphasize the ways that visual effects in narrative lm maintain a continuity of design structures and formal functions from the analog era to the digital one.

Digital visual effects build on stylistic traditions established by lm- i n t r o d u c t i o n : b e y o n d s p e c ta c l e makers in earlier generations even while providing new and more powerful tools to accomplish these ends.

[digital] Visual Effects and Compositing: 3D for VFX

This latter point is most important. In the analog era, optical printers provided a way of joining image elements which themselves remained unchanged. The printers merely photographed them on top of one another as layers. Digital visual effects are composited as layers, but all components of every layer are susceptible to being changed and tweaked, whether they are a live-action element or a computer-created one. Thus at the point of compositing and rendering, the image layers are innitely adjustable.

This makes it possible to exactly match the lighting on live actors and digital sets and to have organic and synthetic components interact convincingly. The perceptual cues that optical printing could never exactly replicate across image layers are easily nessed in a digital composite. Digital composites thereby achieve much higher levels of perceptual realism than optical printing could ever attain.

I explore the expressive possibilities that digital tools have given lmmakers and explicate these with reference to what could be accomplished using analog methods. Chapter 1 provides some necessary background, tracing the history of computer graphics and its intersection with motion pictures.

Ivan Sutherlands development of the Sketchpad graphical user interface, the transition from vector to raster graphics, the design of early 8- and bit paint systems, algorithms for modeling and texturing objects in computer space, and the migration of computer graphics engineers from the New York Institute of Technology to Lucasfilmthese developments furnish the prehistory for understanding what digital imaging brought to the movies.

Art and science intersected; the computer scientists who wrote the algorithms were also artists interested in exploring the imagination and taking a mathematical route into wonderland.

After a slow debut, in spite of being showcased in such prominent lms as The Abyss and Terminator 2 , digital effects came of age in Jurassic Park , the lm that, more than any other, sped their adoption throughout the industry.

Jurassic Park conjoins analog and digital effects technologies.

The dinosaurs are portrayed using a blend of animatronic models, old-fashioned manin-a-monster-suit theatrics, and digital animation. The latter generated the lms extraordinary buzz of publicity and intrigued audiences with cinemas enduring promise to show viewers things they hadnt seen before.

Compared with the animatronics and the suited performers, the digital dinosaurs are more supple, their movements more complex and nuanced, and they interact with the live actors in more active and spatially convincing ways. They give different and often better performances as digital characters than as an digital visual effects in cinema animatronic or an actor-in-a-suit.

I explore these differences as a means of explicating some of the expressive possibilities that the new toolset offered lmmakers. The credibility of the lms effects enabled Steven Spielberg to linger on effects shots that in earlier generations of lm would have been much briefer. In previous eras, lmmakers often needed to cut away from effects images lest viewers have a chance to study them at length and in ways that revealed the seams.

The relative seamlessness of digital effects images made possible an expansion of screen time devoted to fantastical elements. This capability raised anew the enduring issues in cinema involving the relation of spectacle and narrative, and I explore the place of digital imaging in a cinema of attractions.

Chapter 2 examines digital methods of lighting and color and the ways these have changed production processes and the role of the cinematographer. Compared with optical printing, digital compositing offers ner-grade controls over image elements, and many adjustments of light and color can be performed during a multipass render. Spider Man 2 and King Kong furnish illuminating examples. Digital lighting may use local or global illumination approaches, and the aesthetic functions of digital light are assessed through a discussion of the ways that Pixar artists illuminated food in Ratatouille In the photochemical era, Hazeltine printing lights enabled filmmakers to fine-tune color levels, but digital intermediates today provide expanded methods of color control and have taken cinematography much closer to painting, as well as transformed the cinematographers role in production.

The impact of digital intermediates is assessed through discussion of the color design in Flags of Our Fathers and other films.

I assess the results of their experiments in relation to issues of image resolution in analog and digital eras. Using digital light and color, lmmakers have created alternative optical domains to camera-reality as established in traditional methods of celluloid-based imaging. Chapter 3 analyzes modes of performance in the digital realm.

Enduring anxieties about synthespians replacing real actors have tended to obscure the ways that digital imaging provides expanded opportunities for actors to play types of characters and to inhabit situations and environments that were i n t r o d u c t i o n : b e y o n d s p e c ta c l e foreclosed to them in the analog era. Actors may be present in a digital world in three ways.

They can be composited with digital animation. They can give a performance that is motion captured and turned into digital animation. And, third, the animator who creates a digital character performs as an actor.

Also discussed in this chapter is the persistent phenomenon of the uncanny valleythe unease in viewers provoked by failures of photorealism in digital characters. Film scholars have tended to discuss the uncanny in terms of Freuds essay and associated psychoanalytic concepts. Marker-based motion-capture systems do not generate enough facial data to satisfy this deep-level, hard-wired impulse in viewers. The digital faces generated using such methods have been found wanting.


Chapter 4 examines digital visual environmentssets, locations, and landscapesand the ways these can be orchestrated to convey narrative meaning. Digital environments blend such disparate image sources as live action and animation, still and moving photographic images, paintings in 2D and 3D, and objects modeled in computer space and textured with photographic or painted details.

Fashioning screen environments is the work of production design, employing a blend of miniature models, full- and partial-scale sets, matte paintings, real locations, and other sources for image compositing such as rear-screen projection during the classical studio era or front-screen projection in more recent years. In that period, the studio backlot furnished sets, streets, props, and locales needed for simulating story situations.

These substituted for on-location lming. The digital era has established several areas of continuity with existing traditions of production design.

[digital] Visual Effects and Compositing

The digital backlot today sees computer-designed environments substituting for on-location lming and is a clear successor to the studio-crafted locales of previous decades. Miniatures and matte paintings remain essential ingredients of production design, although today miniatures may be previsualized in digital terms before construction. Matte paintings exist in 2D, 2D, and 3D formats, depending on whether they are planar, a texture wrapping on digital geometry, or painted and animated digital visual effects in cinema additions to a fully dimensional digital environment.

The chapter explores the areas of continuity and convergence between production design in the analog and digital eras. Case studies include comparison of the methods used to create nautical environments in two adventure lms about naval warfare, The Sea Hawk and Master and Commander Both are dry-dock movies, shot in the studio and not on location at sea, and the differences in their ability to create a virtual environment on screen tell us much about the expressive capabilities of the analog and digital tools used in creating them.

A continuing theme across the chapters is the idea that the digital toolbox affords lmmakers ways of crafting more persuasive and convincing effects, blending live action and synthetic image elements into scenes that have greater perceptual credibility than what optical printing in the analog era permitted. Thus digital effects are more sensually immersive than their analog counterparts; lighting is organic and consistent across the layers of an image blend, and scene action can be staged with much greater Z-axis articulation than in the analog era, when the image planes on which live action, miniatures, and stop-motion puppetry were lmed remained visibly separate.

Chapter 5 explores the immersive appeals of digital effects, not by the familiar route of connecting them to notions of spectacle or spectacular entertainment, but in terms of the ways that digital tools expand the amount of visual information that can be obtained and then manipulated inside the image. I show how methods of photogrammetry, image-based lighting, and HDRi high dynamic range images create new forms of indexicality within cinema. Image-based lighting, for example, enables lmmakers to light a digital environment or character with the same light sources and values as found in a real location or set with live actors.

It provides a means of bridging the two domains, an ongoing requisite of effects work. The shift from planar cinema, with its image projected onto a at viewing surface, to stereoscopic cinema represents a signicant move toward greater visual immersion for the viewer. Although stereoscopic cinema has existed in one form or another from the inception of the medium, celluloid lm provided a awed basis on which to construct it, and stereoscopy never established itself as an accepted feature of popular lm.

Digital stereoscopic projection solved the key problems that beset celluloid, and today 3D cinema is a ourishing medium. It is also potentially the most far-reaching of the digital effects technologies examined in this book because, properly used, it elicits a different aesthetic conguration of the medium. Shooting and editing for stereoscopy requires a distinct approach from lmmakers to what is needed in planar cinema.

The chapter concludes by examining the aesthetics of stereoscopic cinema. Filmmakers have been manipulating images for more than a century, and in this respect little in cinema has changed. Although I use the terms CG and CGI for computer-generated and computer-generated images because these have become standard descriptors, they remain very poor designators.

Computer-generated implies that a computer created the image, which clearly is a false condition. Computers carry out the tasks they are given, and images are crafted as always by users, many of whom are disciplined and keenly imaginative artists. When I use the term CG, therefore, it should not be taken as a descriptor of coldly manipulative, soulless, mechanical imaging processes, which is one of the contexts in which digital imaging is sometimes understood.

DIGITAL VISUAL EFFECTS IN | Computer Graphics | Computer Generated Imagery

My intent is not to practice extensive critical exegesis of themes in movies that employ digital effects. Much ne work is being done in that regard. Kristen Whissels account of the use of Massive software to generate hordes of thousands in movies such as The Lord of the Rings, Troy , and I, Robot is a compelling interpretation of this visual trope.

While I engage in an extensive amount of aesthetic analysis in this book, I am less interested in extrapolating social or psychological themes from groups of movies that employ visual effects than in providing an account of what lmmakers are doing, what toolsets they have available, how these relate to earlier traditions of visual effects, and how the era of digital imaging in cinema connects with and departs from the photochemical medium that has been the traditional format.

My work is thus a formalist and aesthetic and theoretical analysis of imaging tools rather than an exegesis of macroscopic thematic issues.

What the digital era has altered and brought forth in new forms are imaging tools. A rst task for scholars is to contemplate these tools, understand them, and connect them with lmmaking across the century and beyond, during which moviemakers have crafted synthetic image blends to stand in for worlds, characters, and story situations. James Cameron described his efforts on Avatar as the seduction of reality, meaning that he wanted to create an experience so detailed and textured that audiences could surrender completely to it.

This seduction is not predicated upon an impulse to betray or abandon reality but rather to beguile it so as to draw close, study and emulate it, and even transcend it. Examining cinemas landscapes through the digital 10 digital visual effects in cinema looking glass shows us the mediums enduring characteristics, its continuing strengths and its appeals and challenges to some of our orthodox assumptions of what cinema is.

Numbers have transformed and enlivened pictures. Digital methods bridge the analog era while taking viewers to new thresholds of optical experience. The themes enunciated by digital effects movies are perhaps less important in drawing viewers to them than are the new optical domains on display.

These new visual designs are the subject of this book, along with a fans speculations about their appeal.

CHAPTER 1 The digital era in cinema challenges our understanding of the medium and not simply because of the shift to electronics from celluloid. It challenges us to think anew about the nature of realism in cinema and about the conjunction between art and science, as these domains collaborate in the design and use of technologies that make possible the creation of a new class of images, ones that have a transformative effect on existing media and offer viewers opportunities to enter new optical domains.

As Barbara Maria Stafford points out, visual technologies are tools for transformation and revelation [and] expand human consciousness. As Scott Bukatman notes, The special effects of contemporary cinema are. Digital visual effects come to us by way of the phenakistiscope.

Nothing ever happens for the rst time in lm history, and we can learn about contemporary imaging modes by keeping in mind the bridge between art and science that gave birth to the movies. This will enable us to chart a different investigative direction into digital cinema than more familiar ones that equate visual effects with the provision of spectacle and that regard effects as being mostly incompatible with realism.

Before taking up these topics, I offer in this chapter some necessary historical and theoretical background. I begin by examining the arrival of cinemas digital era by tracing the development of computer graphics and their application to cinema, paying particular attention to the achievements 11 digital visual effects in cinema Visual effects often are equated with eye-popping spectacle, but digital tools have enlarged domains in which effects operate and have enabled lmmakers to achieve greater levels of realism in representing a world on screen.

The Mask , New Line Cinema. Frame enlargement. I then explore the union of art and science in cinemas prehistory and its relevance for understanding digital visual effects as more than spectacle.

I conclude by examining the complexity of viewer response to pictorial illusion in ways that inect the construction of visual effects. The period saw a burgeoning interest among academics and industry professionals in engineering, electronics, and computer science to extend the computers capabilities, using them to draw, paint, model solid objects, and even make lms. As many of the algorithms and procedures basic to computer imaging were developed, the available computer memory and its prohibitive cost meant that implementing these breakthroughs in a high-resolution medium like cinema remained years away.

Computational power, however, was not the only constraint. The behavior of natural phenomena needed research and study from the standpoint of computer modeling. As a SIGGRAPH roundtable on the simulation of natural phenomena noted, Most items in nature, trees, clouds, re and comets being some examples, have not been displayed realistically in computer graphics. Previous attempts at realism have dealt with the appearance of the surfaces being modeled, in terms of their illumination or relief.

However, it appears that natural phenomena will require more research into the fundamental way things occur in nature, and in terms of computer graphics, their representation will build on previous work, but will still require new modeling techniques.

The high cost of computing and such lack of understanding of the intricacies of the picture-generating software that would be needed for an effective computer graphics system impeded progress. Thus it is in the early s that computer graphics and feature lmmaking begin to intersect in major and substantial ways, although Hollywood was slow to adopt digital imagery in this period.

By contrast, computer-generated imagery was more plentiful on broadcast television, where it appeared in advertising and as corporate logos. Corporate advertising budgets could afford the cost-per-minute expenditures that made short CGI effects feasible; Hollywood as yet could not. Moreover, lm was more unforgiving of digital artifacts than the low-resolution medium of television. Digitally animated artwork graced the opening of Entertainment Tonight in and ABCs Winter Olympics coverage the following year, and ying logos appeared on the nightly network newscasts and broadcasts of National Football League games.

Army during World War II for use in ballistics research. Military contracting provided a powerful incentive for the initial research on digital 14 digital visual effects in cinema computing. The Whirlwind, developed for the U. Navy in and adopted in a later version by the Air Force in its SAGE air defense program, was the rst digital computer that displayed real-time graphics on an oscilloscope screen.

Data entry was interactive. Using a light pen, Air Force personnel could input instructions to the computer to track specic aircraft, making it the rst interactive computer graphics system. Although the initial developments in high-power computing occurred in a military and industrial context, the potential to use computers for aesthetic ends swiftly emerged.

As programming languages such as FORTRAN and BASIC enabled computers to perform an increasing variety of tasks, artists as well as mathematicians and engineers were drawn to the idea of creating graphics via computer. Charles Csuri, a computer scientist at Ohio State University, predicted that art and science would draw closer together. The frontiers of knowledge in computer research offer a glimpse into the future role of the artist.

The computer, which handles fantastic amounts of data for processing, brings the artist close to the scientist. Both can now use the same disciplines and knowledge in different ways. Bell Labs developed a computer animation system in and used it to produce lms by avant-garde lmmaker Stan VanDerBeek.

John Whitney, another cinema artist, embraced digital imaging. After making a series of experimental lms in the s, Whitney began to build what he termed mechanical drawing machines, assembled from discarded military hardware, to create and photograph abstract patterns of motion. In he rebuilt an army surplus mechanical nondigital computer that had been used in an anti-aircraft gun system so that he could use it to control a camera thus taking a major step along the path to motion-control cinematography.

He used it to mechanically orbit a strip of lm negative displaying the number and lmed these orbits frame by frame, graphically transforming the numbers into abstract shapes and creating streaks of colored light in a lm entitled Catalog Whitney believed that computers offered a revolution in the visual arts, the possibility of creating a liquid architecture, one in which computer manipulation of motion patterns could enable him to nd visual equivalents through the looking gl ass 15 for the dynamic harmonic structures of music.

He wrote about this objective in his book Digital Harmony, where he observed that the graphic domain enabled by computers would be of historic proportions. Before us lies an optical domain which may prove to be quite as vast as the historic world of music.

The introduction of photographythe new medium of the last centuryhelped to drive painting away from representation, but it did not drive out painting. What the new creative computer medium will do to all of the art formspainting, writing, dance, music, moviesshould be exciting to observe. It employed a graphical user interface GUI and a light pen to enable simple line drawing on a cathode ray tube.

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