Monday, November 29, 2010

Warping Surfaces in Action Tutorial

I talk a bit of shit on the mediocrity of flame tutorials, but Grant Kay's got a great one here and I can only imagine how many times this could have saved my ass in the past if I had known about it,


Kenny got me into the iphone game "trainyard" and after beating all the puzzles and bonus puzzles on the free version and unlocking the bonus puzzles on the paid version, I can say it's a very good game.

Basic puzzles: get the red train to the red station, and the green one to the green station, but it gets very complex when you have to merge and split trains into different colors and have them share tracks and not collide.

The reason I'm posting it here however, is because after all this obsession I realized today it's very similar to how I work with the flame. It's hard to fully explain unless you've played the game a lot (because I don't think the analogy really applies until you're doing 10+ star levels) but there's something to the iterative tweaking and breaking of the train tracks I find very similar to solving a complicated compositing problem.

so get it. the free version is called "trainyard express" and is plenty challenging to get started.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top 5 nodes for November

It's been a while and I just installed 2011 extension 1 today. It's a subtle release, but there is some fantastic new stuff.

5. Sapphire Lens Flare Track/TrackMask. Damn this thing is awesome. Using Action's multi-out for the comp, the lens flare locator and the occlusion mask make this guy lens flare magic. Still not as awesome as having sparks see the same channel editor as the rest of batch, but a reliable workaround.

4. Sapphire Lens Flare. Redundant? NO! Lately I've been using the basic lens flare to add nice washes of color over shots. It's a great way to sneak color into shots in a naturalistic manner. I like "california sun" with the rays setting dialed waaay back.

3. Blur. The new blur node. It's also the new defocus node, the new glow node and a ton of other cool stuff. A ton. There's a built in stabilizer for tracking the center of your blur, the ability to logic op the blurred image over itself for glows or other effects and you can weight the different colors (like in the Glow node) for some really quick pretty looking stuff.

2. Matte Edge. This is a new one for 2011 extension 1, but it's aaaawesome. It's a more complex version of the old edge node, with some more intelligent edge detection, the usual shrink erode and blur, but after that are two sweet new features, a luminance curve and a noise button. These are awesome for a number of reasons, but you should now be sticking these after every gmask you make with softness on it. Here is why:

Gmasks have a linear gradient, which appears abrupt when it hits black and white. I covered this in my post about the RGB blur. The two ways around this are blurring (good, but may spread out your edges too much) or flattening the 'curves' white and black tangents in a color correct (constricts edges a bit, and won't kill some of the polygonal artifacts that gmasks make). This node allows you to use both of those for an effect that is both soft and lovely AND rectify the issues of the other (blur kills polygon artifacting, but you can use much less of it since curves do most of the edge softening). Quite awesome.

The other problem with gmasks in a film (or video noise) world is that they're very inorganic. By being able to noise up the edge without affecting it overall your gmasks will sit in the scene better. Damn this is awesome. (see also sapphire "MatteOps", though it lacks the curve control)

1. Action. Holy shit are multiple outs more usable than I ever imagined.