Composition Techniques – Fjölnir Kvaran

The projects below are works I did for an internship with ExpoTees and the projects I made for my Masters during the course of the VFX MA course at Teesside University.

Internship Project

For my internship through Teesside University with ExpoTees I created a disintegration effect of a 3D logo which I created using the ExpoTees London logo as a reference, to make sure I got the font correct.
During the compositing stage of the project I did a test of reversing the effect to see the results it would give and I found it very interesting and felt it fit the effect, also by forming the logo with the reversed disintegration effect the simulation is more interesting from start to finish.
During a meeting with my supervisor over the course of the project we agreed it would look good if the textures would have a weathered steel effect since I was doing the internship through Teesside University located in Middlesbrough UK which used to be a major exporter of steel a few decades ago.

Below are sample images from production of the project.



Deep Composition

The Deep Composition project was the biggest project I made with all elements created by me in Houdini, except for the trees. They were brought in from SpeedTree with various adjustments made beforehand and I applied wind effect to them using the Wind Wizard Tool inside SpeedTree.

The elements used in the scene

Grass: The grass utilizes the Hair/Fur shelf tool which I applied to a plane which I had morphed with a mountain node, to make sure I did not have a completely flat terrain, I adjusted the colours of the grass to light and dark green. Then I adjusted the blades of the grass, width and form of into grass blades. Then I applied a wind force to the geometry to make it move.

Wisps/Flames: To get the wisp effect I applied the Pyro Candle onto a sphere and coloured it blue as well as made sure the flame height was set really low. For added effect I created an energy ball within the candle to serve as the “core” of the wisps.  

Fog: I wanted the fog to appear on the heavier side, as a layer on top of the grass. I created a box which covered the entire grass plane and applied a cloud volume to it.

Trees: To save time during production I used a template pine tree from SpeedTree. I adjusted the length and number of branches and repositioned them, to make sure I was not using a direct copy of the template tree from within SpeedTree. I then simulated a subtle wind effect on the trees using the Wind Wizard tool and I managed to import the trees with the wind effect into Houdini.


Camera tracking – Crag in Park

While walking through the park looking for shots to use for my camera tracking project I had the idea for the project.
The idea was that I would be sitting on a bench when suddenly everything would shake and as I look around there would be a Crag, “TestGeometry_Crag” from Houdini, standing on the path and slam his hammer into the ground.


I tracked the footage in NukeX, creating a representation of the size and scope of the footage in 3D then I exported the scene from NukeX and imported it into Houdini, which included the footage being projected from a camera allowing me to use that camera to accurately place the Crag in the environment. Then I created a sunlight and placed it at the same angle as the sun was shining from in the footage and added a shadow matte material onto the ground plane which caught the shadow from the Crag to better integrate him into the scene.

Back in NukeX I composited a green screen dust explosion and transformed it so it would erupt in the exact location where the Crag slammed his hammer into the ground. Finally, I did some colour correcting and grading and added a camera shock node and placed it at the moment the tremor at the start would take place and at the moment of impact where the Crag slams his hammer into the ground.


Camera tracking – Garden Gnome

Camera tracking project containing a Garden Gnome which breaks apart from the heat.


I filmed the scene by focusing on a spot in the garden where the gnome would be and tracked the footage in NukeX. Then by using the markers, which represented the size and scope of the scene in 3D, in Houdini I applied a shadow matte material onto a grid and a box which I placed along the edge of the flowerbed behind the gnome. The box also functioned as a collision object to stop the pieces from falling into the flowerbed for added realism.


Copycat – Computer Learning Rotoscoping

Copycat is a new node in Nuke which is a computer learning technique which enabled me to rotoscope only 6 frames out of 120 and let the computer handle the rest.
It took me approximately 3 hours to rotoscope the frames that I used in the scene, afterwards it took the program approximately 10 hours to create the final result for all 120 frames.


The Copycat node works in such a way that it copies sequence specific effects such as the garbage matte I made from 6 select frames in a 5 second sequence which contains 120 frames in total. The network trains by replicating this effect on the rest of the sequence. By using rotoscoping I created the garbage mattes which is a common compositing task, but it can be very time consuming and using machine learning can save you a lot of time and effort.

It is important to take into account the contrast between the subject and background and shape of the rotoscoped object and to create various rotoscoped frames which vary in those aspects to better train the program.

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