Sunday, January 6, 2013


I've turned on ads.  Considering I average about seven or eight hits a month, we'll call this more of a casual interest thing than an attempt at profiting off my goofy flame tips.

Random Tips!

1. The two parts of the tracker are the area to search for (solid box) and the area to search in (dotted box)  The only reason to make the dotted box large is if your image is moving fast.  If it's not, shrink that right down--you can even make it smaller than your solid box area.  Often making both boxes smaller is the trick to getting a good track.

2. The exposure node has a cool trick for dropping the contrast to any color you want:  pick the color you want (let's say 50% red, 18% green and 72% blue) and enter those values into the "pivot" section of the node.  Now with "proportional" on, wind down your contrast and it'll pull towards that color.  I've been using it to knock back shadows on skin tones lately.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stylize Node

While I have yet to find a reason to use it professionally, the results that the presets give are outstanding.

In a nutshell, it will give you what you always wanted Photoshop's "make it look like a painting/drawing/newspaper" plugins to give you.

Really really outstanding stuff, and if I was running a one-man flame show I would be attempting to blast out as many ads that use the basic presets as possible. Great looking jobs in three days or less!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Round Tripping with Color Balancing

I got involved in an interesting conversation on flame-news, the result of which is I have a few tips on how to balance footage and get it back to it's unbalanced state to film out or hand back to whoever gave it to you.

The easiest, and probably best way is with the histogram in the Color Corrector:
(note: all balancing and work done in 16 bit Float--if you work in 12 or 8 bit you run a risk of clipping out detail if you are not careful)

Set your black and white points on the R,G, and B to balance your image by sampling an area for blacks, and entering those values into the IN on the black levels, then sampling an area for whites and doing the same with the IN on the white levels.

to un-balance to the original put the IN values into the OUT values and reset the IN's back to 0 and 1 respectively.

Using Gain and Offset (separately) in Color Correctors:
--Use only the master controls (no highlights/mids/shadows) and use only gain and offset.
--Make two CC nodes if you're going to use both Gain and Offset. Have the Gain CC come first.
--Balance your shot
--At the tail of your batch tree add two more CC's to invert the Offset and Gain--in that order.

To unbalance use inverse of the upstream offset on the downstream one and use the 100/gain*100 math/expression to get your inverted gain values and your image will be back to where it was.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advice Series 02

"Computers are a black hole into which we throw time." - Dennis Hlynsky.

There's a number of ways to interpret this. The main point I've taken away is if you don't have to do something in a computer you should avoid the computer. If you can shoot an element or use a clever editorial trick in lieu of a complex morph, then do it. VFX asks a lot of people and many times we miss the forest for the trees, feeling it necessary to show everything, because we can. Think about how much time you will spend with a computer and think of alternate ways to accomplish the same goal.

Advice Series: 01

"Remember to blink." - Ryan Lesser.

Ryan told this to my 1st CG class back in 1998, and while I learned a lot from Ryan, nothing comes back more than that phrase. Staring at computer screens encourages a lack of blinking in humans and after a while your eyes will dry out. So remember to blink.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Grab Individual Channels out of an EXR

Pretty easy actually, if somewhat hidden:

In the gateway, double click on the "Multi" icon and it'll crack open your EXR and allow you to just grab the passes you want.

My new favorite pass: the point depth pass--it's like having three depth passes.

Also of note: Ctrl Up and Ctrl Down will flick through your EXR layers in a Gateway Import.  Also works for Actions with multiple outputs.