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View Full Version : What does compositing truly entail in terms of manpower and resources?


hokoyo
05-19-2005, 08:46 AM
Greetings people. I am in need of help, a lot. Please excuse my total ignorance in this field, but I have been tasked with putting together a proposal budget for a CG animated feature, and my experience lies with writing and directing, not the CG process. So my questions are as follows.
1)What are the main functions of a compositer? I know they join all the separate rendered layers together, but beyond that do they generate visual effects at this stage or is that a different department? Do they deal with lighting at all or is that it's own department? Do they deal with color grading at all? Just how wide does the term 'compositing' stretch?

2) How labour intensive is the compositing process? If we have 20 animators for example, how many people would we need on compositing. I guess that would depend on the content, so assume we're producing something like Ice Age, with a few more effects and larger number of characters.

3) What is Inferno? And why is it so expensive? Can you get away with producing very high quality compositing using other software?

As I write these questions my head is reeling, so I think I'll stop there and see where this leads. There's a lot more I need to know, but if anyone could help me on any of this to start with it would be much appreciated and I will give you a happy smily icon in my next post!

Aruna
05-19-2005, 09:52 PM
1)What are the main functions of a compositer?

What is a Digital Compositor (http://www.meyemind.com/vfxlog/archives/2005/01/digital_composi_1.html).

I know they join all the separate rendered layers together, but beyond that do they generate visual effects at this stage or is that a different department? Do they deal with lighting at all or is that it's own department? Do they deal with color grading at all? Just how wide does the term 'compositing' stretch?
Depending on the facility, compositors can do varied things.

At a film studio they would primarily be responsible for assembling the computer generated images to put onto film. They would be responsible for making sure no error are apparent in a given shot. FX, animation, and lighting is usually done by their separate departments. Color grading is usually the task of the film department.

At a commercial house, compositors work on higher end compositing machines (iQ, eQ, flame, inferno,etc) and typically do a lot more integration that their film counterparts, often needing to light, animate, and comp everything themselves. Often there could be a dedicated 3D department which handles more elaborate scenes and lighting.


2) How labour intensive is the compositing process? If we have 20 animators for example, how many people would we need on compositing. I guess that would depend on the content, so assume we're producing something like Ice Age, with a few more effects and larger number of characters.

It all depends on your number of shots and content of those shots, and the elaborate-ness of the characters and environment. Compositors generally number less than the animation department, but are usually on equal footing with the 3D (lighting and rendering) department. For Ice Age, IIRC, the compositing crew there numbered less than 10. But of course they had less integration to do with live action elements than say, a show like Star Wars.

3) What is Inferno?

Differences between flame, flint, inferno (http://www.vfxtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=762).
Discreet home page for Inferno (http://www4.discreet.com/inferno/)

And why is it so expensive?

Because it's very fast and you can do pretty much anything in it, including fx animation, lighting, painting, tracking, matchmoving, etc.

Can you get away with producing very high quality compositing using other software?

Of course.. High quality imagery can be created from any compositing package, just some quicker than others. It all depends on the artist behind the mouse.

hokoyo
05-20-2005, 07:44 AM
Superb! Thankyou for the detalied reply, the proverbial surface has now been scratched and I can start to dig a bit deeper into all of this.


Just to re-ask/re-clarify. The main title of this forum page is "compositing and visual effects". Working purely on a large scale animation project would compositing and visual effects be different departments or do the two disciplines overlap? Or is it down to who you have on your team and their ability to multi-task? So far in my crew breakdown I have estimated 8 compositors and 5 special effects animators. There will be 20 animators, so does this sound like overkill? There will be separate people for lighting, rendering, modeling, rigging etc.

Thanks.

Aruna
05-20-2005, 04:17 PM
Superb! Thankyou for the detalied reply, the proverbial surface has now been scratched and I can start to dig a bit deeper into all of this.


Just to re-ask/re-clarify. The main title of this forum page is "compositing and visual effects". Working purely on a large scale animation project would compositing and visual effects be different departments or do the two disciplines overlap? Or is it down to who you have on your team and their ability to multi-task? So far in my crew breakdown I have estimated 8 compositors and 5 special effects animators. There will be 20 animators, so does this sound like overkill? There will be separate people for lighting, rendering, modeling, rigging etc.

Thanks.

I'm not sure of how large your animation project is, it all depends on what's involved, so I can't say whether it's overkill or not! A production manager would be able to accurately gauge personnel requirements. 20 animators on a feature film seems like too little, especially if it's a full length CG film like Ice-Age, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Shrek, etc. Take a look at the credits for those films, and you can see how many different types of artists worked on them. Sorry I can't break it down further, I'm not in the production side, just the technical, artist, comp side. :) However, just from judging from previous companies, start with what you think is right, and 'hire and fire' depending on your budget and time constraints. From an artist point of view, I'd rather hire than fire, because if you're in a small community, you might need that artist again!

Visual effects comprises of a whole array of talent and disciplines.. From compositing, special effects (pyrotechnics, explosions), motion control, onset creation, concept design, puppetry, miniatures, and so forth. Computer animation could be considered a part of visual effects, but it's semantics at this point because the two disciplines overlap so often. Animators animate creatures which TDs light, which compositors comp into a live action environment. And sometimes animation isn't part of visual effects at all, in games it's not, and in some cases, short films like Geri's Game, For The Birds, and Bunny, animations takes a front seat over visual effects, because that's the focus of the film.

I hope I haven't confused you more! It's a huge (but small) field.

suradtaylor
05-20-2005, 08:36 PM
....Can you get away with producing very high quality compositing using other software?

I think so, however your natural contsrain will always be "Time" and "Budget". This link might provide some insights on what can be achieved with PC base softwares. Like Aruna said, Its more about the artist behind the mouse.

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/casestudies/aviator/

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