View Full Version : The Gift - VFX Challenge - johs

01 January 2003, 11:19 AM

Here is the links to the final clips:

Low quality (1,2 mb):

High quality (8 mb):


Wow, the challenge sure is a bit more extensive this time, but it will be cool to do some sci-fi / fantasy stuff.

I newer saw Heavy Metal, so I'm off to the video store.

01 January 2003, 11:31 AM
Good luck, Johs!

This is going to be an interesting challenge. A bit more complicated than the last one i guess. A couple of days ago i saw Blade II, some very cool vampire disintegration effects there.

01 January 2003, 11:56 AM
I have now seen the movie, and I know what it's all about, so I have a couple of ideas, witch i will try to describe here.

1: As the person reaches out for the orb, a couple ghost like arms grow out of the orb, and grabs the soul of the person, and starts to drag it out of the body and into the orb. As the soul leaves the body, the body decomposes.
I have made this sketch that tryes to show it. (me and photoshop are not wery good freinds)

2: As the person touches the orb, it sucks the person into the orb, like a black hole(it has a limited range that grows, but is verry powerful in that range). Sketch:

3: As the person grabs the orb, the person begins to roth into a nasty mass. No sketch of that.

I have not decidet yet, and I guess I will combine the effects, with each other, some variating glow effects, the size of the orb, and I'm trying to do some black light (or inversed light). I'm also thinking about making the orb itself, show somting inside (strange signs, faces, hands, etc.) or make some sort of pointy patteren on the outside.
And i stille have to find a "victem" to do the death scene, so nothing is sure yet.

01 January 2003, 12:12 PM
Wow sounds like a killer. Hope you will manage to make the "solegrabbing" sequence organic and not looking too CG. Im going to a VideoStore to find the video today. Hope they have it. Then ill start making storyboards tonight. Looking forward to see updates on this one.


01 January 2003, 05:37 PM
Hey Johs,

I'm think you could do a lot with the whispy arms coming out to reap the soul from the person... I could really see them start to come out, then take shape as arms and claws, then just scrape, and claw, swing, grabbing chunks at a time... or peacefully, :D

good stuff.

01 January 2003, 05:47 PM
Sounds very much like the idea of Final Fantasy where the orange spirits come out of their bodies when the humans die. If you didn''t think of this - it's a great place to start for reference!

01 January 2003, 06:53 PM
It 'sounds' similar to the soul effects of Final Fantasy, but its what you do with the effect... The idea of removing the soul from the body isn't an original idea that Final Fantasy created, they just adapted it for their story... we've seen it and read about it before. Its been in Greek mythology 'Harpies' were winged creatures who would hook beings soul's and carry them off to torture. The Grim Reaper, Vampire Mythology, other Folklore (check out The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer) and Mortal Kombat, :p

Its one of those things though, if your going to do something that we have all seen before, you need to do it with some unique style and make it really, really amazing! no pressure tho right? :surprised

01 January 2003, 04:22 PM
I didn't think of Final Fantasy when i thought of the hands-ghost thing, actualy it was more a scene form "The little mermaid" (disney edition) where a couple of ghost hands takes the voice out of Ariel's throat. But it is unfortuanely wery close to some of the effects in FF, so I have to be aware of that.

Anyway it's almost impossible to be complete original, you will always be inspired by somthing. still, I don't think the ghost hand + soul effect is used as manny times and as often as the clacical vampire death effect.

But i still havent decidet, the black hole thing would be the easy one, but still cool. It may be that the other one would be better, but there sure is a lot of work in it (especialy if I combine it with the rothing effect, I guess the body _has_ to disintegrate or disapear somehow), so i can't quite make up my mind.

01 January 2003, 10:44 AM
After reading in all the other treads, it seems that a lot of you have made long intro's in your synopses and storyboards. So my question is to all of you:
Do you plan to shoot the entire sequence, and make a little shortmovie, or will you only shoot the effect scene, and then use the synops/storyboard to explain the effect shot???

01 January 2003, 04:38 PM
I'm not making a complete short, but more like a scene from a short. Maybe somebody running, high cutting rythm, having a face of wraith and greed, then approaches the orb and disintegrates. Only 20-30 second maybe shorter. Since i have little experience in making dramatic film, i have no idea how the result is going to be. Have to wait and see.

01 January 2003, 07:46 PM
I am not sure yet about what i'll do...but i think that if i make a short movie...i won't show it on the challenge as what matters the most are the 5 seconds of effects.

So i think i'll stick to the seconds where my actor grabs the orb and the 5 secs of the effect

01 January 2003, 08:03 PM

i would like to know how the orthographics pics of my actor should be taken if you have any idea.

what background
with or without flash?
and what views of the cator should i take?
- Front and back of course but the sides also?

Thanx in advance :)

01 January 2003, 08:59 PM
I would shoot the actor in the same enviroment, at the same place, from the same spot, as the video is shot. That way the lighting should match ok.
-And then again, shoot it with and without flash, with the same background as in the scene and on a clean background...... etc. Shoot anything that can be useful. Also take pictures of the actor in neutral CG pose, from all angels. I would also take a highres picture of the actor in the pose, and position, where i plan to make the switch, betwen real actor, and the CG actor.
You can (almost) never get to much source material

01 January 2003, 09:32 PM
if you are referring to the Orthos for modeling... then you should try to shoot it with the longest lens you have... to minimize perspective distortion.


01 January 2003, 09:57 PM
...all i have is my little Fuji Fil Finepix 2600z ... :hmm:

I guess the pics will be distorted then...unless i take them at Hi RES from a far distance???

What do you think?

01 January 2003, 10:31 PM
My first test of the evil orb Lok Nar: ( (3.5 mb sorenson3)

This isn't the final look, but feel free to give it a coment.

01 January 2003, 11:53 PM
Very nice! How did you get the volumetric lighting? (I am pretty new to Maya.. need all the help I can get).

PS yes your explanation is pretty much what I was saying about YUV - thanks for the link - very interesting!

01 January 2003, 01:52 AM
Nice start, but i think it look more like a round "blob" than a round and, maybe hard, orb. Like all the shifting elements that makes it come alive.

01 January 2003, 07:09 PM
Hey johs, good looking orb, the outside of the orb is really cool ;). Maybe you are going to leave it this way... but to me it looks more like a cloudy surface, maybe not the kind of crystal ball look you have in the movie, it's my opinion of course, but i would keep this cloudy aspect plus having a green crystal ball in the center...

...but mine will never look as good as your :D hehehe

Now show us your next test :wavey:


P.S: If you have links to anything useful for the VFX challenges or just VFX and compositing please post it on the thread i created for this use :) and share your knowledge :D thanx :D

01 January 2003, 01:49 PM
The lighting is not made in maya. The orb was rendered out from maya with a flat shader (surface shader), and then the glow was made in post (high contrast + radial blur).

Knut and CobraX:
Yes, the ball is to blobby, cloudy, and not well enough deffined. But I don't think of the evil orb as a crystal ball, not when it's "active". I think it can change size and apearence when it wishes (but it still has to be round and green), and I dont think it's made of any material at all, so sometimes it's phycical and sometimes it's only visibel. It has it's own mood, always evil, but difrent kinds of evil.:)

I have thought of the rules for the effect, and found that my ghost hand thing, dosn't folow the rules, since it isn't a disintegration effect. So I have to think of somthing difrent. My plan now, is to make some green breath/smoke/cloud stuff, and then somhow turn the actor into black dust. All I have to do now, is figure how to do it, then do it, and then i'm done. :)

btw. CobraX. I don't know any tutorials that will be particular useful here, I can only recomend the book witch I have mentiond in the tutorials tread. It's a great book on how compositing really works.

01 January 2003, 02:54 PM
Originally posted by johs
All I have to do now, is figure how to do it, then do it, and then i'm done. :)

Good plan ;)

02 February 2003, 07:09 PM
I have made almost nothing since my last post. I have had some problems with the actor and other things, so I have not shot any footage yet. All I have made is some minor changes to the Orb, and im considering to start all over.
But IF I ever get anything done, I think I will try and make the story inspired by the intro (and ending) to Hellraiser (the "what's your pleasure" scene). only here it's a looser/junkie/bum who has the orb, in a pile of junk.
For the effect itself, I wil try and make somthing like the scene with mafia boss from heavy metal. When the victem touches the orb, I will make some gloving edges, and then the wictem colapses to the ground, and get sucked into the orb.

btw. there is minor updates in this directory on my web server

02 February 2003, 10:34 AM
I have now at last shot some footage, so I am ready to start the production. I have only shot one clip, so there wil be no introduction, it will only be the effects shot.

This is a frame from the footage I shot.

And this is a mix of some of the photos I will use to make the texture for the cg charecter.

02 February 2003, 10:43 AM
Here is the clip I'm going to use, in half res. (5.6 MB Sorenson3)

02 February 2003, 03:39 PM
The clip looks good Johs, I that you or a friend? The part at the end when he's about to crack up is funny, I did the same thing when shooting mine.

The shot looks very clean, what camera did you use? Also what software will you be using to extract him from the greenscreen?

02 February 2003, 04:47 PM
Going for someone with no hair (no offence meant to your actor) is a really good idea. It's difficult not falling over when you are disntergrating - especially when it is onto concrete ;)

02 February 2003, 10:07 PM
No I'm not the person who's about to get disintegrated in the clip, that's what freinds are for :)
I wasn't planing on using this guy, but he was perfect because of the nice haircut. He also wore glases, but I remembered to remove those.

The shot is a lot more grainy than you can see in the small clip, but it's good enough. I shot it a couple of times with two diffrent cameras, to see if there were anything difrent in the quality.
I dont rember the name of the cameras I used, but I wil write down the names when I get to school tomorow.

I will use Shake to all the compositing and Maya to the 3D stuff.
Because everything was done in a hurry, I don't think keying will be enough here, so I guess it has to be suplied with a bit of rotoscoping (for the feet). Then because I couldn't find a good location, I will have to make some sort of 3D enviroment. And ofcourse I didn't measure anything on the set, so everything wil be made on the feeling.

02 February 2003, 08:05 AM
Here is the technical facts for the cameras.
The video was shot a couple of times with two difrent cameras. First with a Sony DXC-D30P, and second with a Sony DSR-200P. the clip I'm going to use is from the second camera.

02 February 2003, 12:19 PM
just one little suggestion. When you lit the green screen make sure it is 3 f-stops up then your character and eposure set on your camera. When I use lightmeter I use 200iso 60. or 24 frames.

02 February 2003, 09:19 AM
wow johs, u got a pretty clean image there (i am jealous :P)

really looking forward to what ur gonna do with ur footage!

hopw about updates on the actual effect? (not that im one to talk lol!)


02 February 2003, 03:39 AM
Thanks for the tip, regarding the lighting, but the footage is shot, and reshooting is not an option, so this footage is the one. But thanks anyway :)

I have been on vacation, so I have only worked on the project today. I have made some keying tests on the footage, and it seems to work fine. I have also started to model the charecter, and I hope I will finish that soon.

02 February 2003, 03:59 PM
Just wanted to show that I'm not sleping

02 February 2003, 04:23 PM
Lookin good.

It looks like you are at about the same stage as me. We are all going to have a real tough time finishing this thing by the 28th.

Best of luck though.

02 February 2003, 05:16 PM
That was modelled quickly. Would it be possible to post a wireframe to get a few ideas how you created it?

02 February 2003, 06:11 PM
Sure, here:

The legs and the rest of the body is NURBS, and the head is a polly object (using poly proxy mode)

02 February 2003, 03:04 AM
This is as far as i go today. I have some problems with the top of the pants, I can't figure out how to finish them, so I'll sleep on it. And the hands has to be made also before go on to the charecter setup. (I hate to make hands). If I have to have any chances to finish this on time, I have to finish the dude before the weekend is over.

02 February 2003, 05:49 AM
lookin good johs! id guess that u, digiman & i are in the same boat at the moment! good luck to you to finish it, i think its gonna be a very busy week coming...

btw, where/how did u learn maya? u have a very efficient technique...


02 February 2003, 03:28 PM
Wow. a lot more than I expected :) Thanks a lot johs. I hope you do get something done - personally I have stalled a bit at the modelling stage.


02 February 2003, 01:56 AM
Very nice Johs. I'm sure this is going to be a good application for the 1st prize. Looking forward to see more of the effect.

02 February 2003, 03:25 AM
I'm afraid I have to disapoint you. Verry little is going the way it should, so I don't know how complete the result will be. Some of my worst problems is: lousy planning, I don't have a background, I can't texture my charecter proberly because of crappy footage and refference fotos (and it was even discussed in my own tread, embaresing!!!!), and the actor falls to quickley to the ground to skip the CG charecter completly.
I don't know what's comming out of this, but i don't think I'll give up yet.

03 March 2003, 12:03 AM
I must admit that I gave up last thirsday, so I haven't done anything at all in the weekend (exept make me a new avatar :) ). But I have now had some rest and I'm back in buissnes :D
At the moment I'm animating my charecter and I have discoverd that my charecter was build way to fat, and that it dosn't match very well at all when it's moving, so it's quite dificult to get it matched good.
I have changed the look of the Orb a bit, but i have some problems with the shader, but they will hopefully be solved later.
I havn't begun on the particle effech at all yet, but that will come when I'm done animating the carecter. I plan to make two kinds of particles. One kind witch is a "spiritual" smoke, and an other kind witch is the leftovers of the body falling apart. that will be fun to do, but also a little dificult. Luckily I have some days off from school this week, so I hope to get a satisfyring resut.
But now, back to the keyframes.

03 March 2003, 12:56 PM
Matchmoving preview:

03 March 2003, 01:59 PM
Very nice!

03 March 2003, 04:16 PM
I just found out that the clip i was animating after was not the same size as the original videoclip. It was scaled a littele bit smaler in the width, so now I understand better why I thought I had made my charecter way to fat. I first saw it when i tried to match the CG to the real footage, so now I have to start over again (or tweak it heavely).

So that's a thing to watch out for.

03 March 2003, 10:00 PM
What did you shoot your reference images with? If it wasn't the video camera then you might have square pixels for your photos which would be wider than the video. (using PAL).

03 March 2003, 10:51 PM
Yes I shot the reference photos with a normal digital camera. and that was ok.
I just had to set my imageplanes to fit to resulution gate in stead of some-other-sort-of-gate, and then they had the correct proportions.

And here is one of the ingredients to the body effect:

03 March 2003, 11:26 PM
btw. I'm in desperat need of an enviroment or a fitting background. The only thing I have in the scene besides the charecter and the orb, is the stand for the orb. I have thoght of just making some dark "somthing", like a big very dark room. But thats plan B, I would prefere some sort of real enviroment, and and I'm ready to go for a picture of some sort. Do any of you know where to find anything that could be useful?

03 March 2003, 11:36 PM
I like the start you have going on the effect. For backgrounds there are some nice Hi-rez images at

03 March 2003, 11:43 PM
That model looks really good. I'm right now beating myself for not plan my shot at all. Don't have any good reference for the modeling of the Digital Double. But i'll see what i can come up with before the deadline.

BTW here are a picture from my basement you can use.
The Picture (

It's really not any special, maybe if you CC it and project it onto some primiteve geometry you might get something out of it.


03 March 2003, 11:48 PM
very nice ,i like it very much.:bounce:

03 March 2003, 12:18 AM
Thanks very much.

I'm also in a problematic face at the moment. My actor falls to fast, I don't have much time to to do the effect, and he acts to slowly to do an agressive effect. So I'll start beating myself too, for not directing the actor proberly. :D

There are some nice pictures in the galary, especialy in the mechanics section, and thats a pretty sweet basement you have got there Knut, I'll see if I can use it to anything.

03 March 2003, 07:50 AM
lol u and i both left the environment till the very last :)

i liked the basement u had, it could look really creepy with some tweaking..

how about a combination of real and 3d backgrounds? it works well if u find a picture with elemsts u want to use and some you dont... or even a quick matte in photoshop?... at the resolution required, u could pull somethng quite convincing in minimal time and have it almost exactly how u want it too

good luck dude

03 March 2003, 01:25 AM
Well, I haven't really come to the background stuff yet, I'm just preparing. But it will be the last thing I do (if I have the time).

Here is my animation. It is a little rough and bumpy sometimes, but I think it will be ok when there are other things in the scene as well.

03 March 2003, 01:34 AM
Looks good, especially the dangling in the end.

03 March 2003, 01:36 AM
Wow that is so the force that helds him up at the end..really cool! Lokking forward to see more of the effect.

03 March 2003, 02:33 AM
Very nice animation :buttrock: - really like the face. Nice touch. Any idea how you are going to do the effect? Are you going to project a frame and stick it to the geometry for the texture?

03 March 2003, 07:46 AM
Thanks, Yes I'm going to mix it with other render passes as well, this green thing here, some particles, a projected texture layer, a dissolving mask, and some fake highlights and iluminating.

I'll show some more later today

03 March 2003, 08:30 AM

great animation!


03 March 2003, 10:56 AM
Thanks again. No time to talk. Here, light matching. sorry for the large images.

original plate:


If you lay the two pics on top of each other and switch betwen them, it's really easy to see the bad camera and geometry matching.

03 March 2003, 11:04 AM
Originally posted by johs

If you lay the two pics on top of each other and switch betwen them, it's really easy to see the bad camera and geometry matching.
Regardless, it's looking fantastic. :beer: I can't wait to see the final, this is really progressing.

03 March 2003, 10:00 PM
Well, here it is:

Low quality quicktime (1,2 mb)

High quality quicktime (8 mb)

It didn't turn out as I had hoped, but it was fun, and I think I will try and make some more out of it later.
Btw. There isn't anything from the original footage in this shot at all. The only real thing in the scene, is the photo witch was providet by Knut, thank you very much for that Knut.

And then I had some friends, who lend me some computer power today. If they hadn't don that, I wouldn't be abele to deliver anything at all now, so manny thanks for that too.

03 March 2003, 10:13 PM
Nice animation and FX!

03 March 2003, 12:09 AM
:buttrock: :eek: :buttrock: :eek: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is amazing! Very realistic CG! I love the animation, and the death scene is outstanding!

very, very cool!


03 March 2003, 12:23 AM
Great Job Johs! :thumbsup:

The huge hand cast shadow on the wall, and the swooping up of your actor... sweet!

man, its a bitch going from live actors to cg ones... :hmm: but I think you shot is matched very clean, I'd love to see you go from the live action later!


03 March 2003, 03:02 AM
I thought the hand shadow was a nice touch too. Really nice animation!

03 March 2003, 03:28 AM
Ah did not notice the hand the first time, cool. Hey, it's my basement, cool. It's so cool. I think you have done a great job animating the guy, would have been nice though, to see the transition from the liveplate.

03 March 2003, 03:17 PM
Thank you guys, yes it would have been nice to do the transition, but I didn't shoot the plate with any sort of highligths on the actor. Then I tried to match animate the dude in the beginning, and I thought that I could render a highlight layer and then composit it on top of the actor, to fake the iluminating from the orb. But that didn't turn out well at all. My CG charecter was almost imposibel to get matched to the actor from the plate, in the start of the shot. The Camera didn't match proberly, the proportions didn't match proberly, and some of the joints were not in the right places either, so it was too crappy to lay the highligts on top of the real footage.

Anyway here is a 4 plate clip where you can see the matching and compare for your self. (15 mb):

03 March 2003, 05:17 PM
Very impressive.. :thumbsup: love that 4 plate thingy too .. pfffeew, how you must have struggled..

03 March 2003, 05:09 AM
wow johs! u pulled off a really cool clip!

i agree on the hand shadow being really interesting, it added a lot i think!

i liked the animation too, alas, next time for the live action eh?

good luck for the votes!


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