View Full Version : The Gift - VFX Challenge - Maniax & Manuel M

01 January 2003, 10:10 PM

Here comes the clip:

Quicktime 320*240, 8.6 Mb (

DIVX 5.03 720*576, 2.0 Mb kB (

It was really a challenge. We never did anything comparable to these shots before and we learned so much.

Good Luck to the other participants.

Moritz and Manuel


Hello everyone. We`re also joining this months challenge. As we have teamed up, we will also do two special fx shots.

We`ve recently timed out a first animatic, which you can download here:


We will shoot our footage on friday, 31st. Due to time-restrictions, we plan, to finish everything within 2 weeks.

We`re looking forward to this challenge. Good luck to everyone

Moritz and Manuel

01 January 2003, 01:47 AM
Looks promising. You are doing it in full indoor lightning, no dark place to hide cg effects in? if you pull that of, you are gaining a star in my notebook. hehe

01 January 2003, 08:50 AM
hmm... I think you guys over at the German Film School have been on some kind of talent induced skill enhancing artistry steroid... you have been cranking out some great work... kudos!

Glad to have you 2 in this challenge... you will keep minions like me on my toes!


01 January 2003, 08:07 PM
hehe :) cool animatic guys!

Are you going to use this "orb" thing for the final shot?

01 January 2003, 01:26 AM
knut: no indoor lighting. this was just to figure out, the timing and how to shoot it (we will change the camera positions. a second storyboard/animatic is on it`s way)

cogliostros: ;-) thanks. yes - we are permanently on steroids...

cobrax: it would be funny. some months ago, these silly gyrotwisters were somehow "en vogue" at our filmschool. but right now, noone is interested in them anymore. we just grabbed one, because we were searching for a round object as a stand-in for what will later be the orb.

we`re currently concentrating on planning the shooting next friday. we`ve already found a nice actress and two make-up artists, who will turn this cute girl into a monster ;-)
but the most important thing, we have to concentrate on, right now, is to optimize camera positions and to decide, how exactly the process of desintegration should look like and how, we can create this effect with our abilities.

any suggestions would be fine

bye manuel

i have also uploaded a section on my webpage concerning this months challenge. please have a look... (

01 January 2003, 02:32 AM
Looking great Manuel!

I cant wait to see the location you guys are going to shoot at!


01 January 2003, 03:18 PM
thanks sheep factory. we`re going to shoot in a bluescreen studio, so we will be very flexible. i think, this will be the best solution.the problem is: i want to achieve a mad max-like atmosphere, while moritz wants the sequence to be more futuristic - we will have a decision on this today. we have thought of shooting outdoors (the same location, as in my "heat of madness" video), but it`s very cold outside at the moment and there is not too much light.
cu manuel

01 January 2003, 06:04 PM

today, we`ve prepared the studio for the shooting tomorrow.

01 January 2003, 07:37 PM
The studio you are using looks very nice. Beats the hell out of the blue bed sheet I strung across my living room for a school project a few years back. :)

Have you ever had the oppertunity to compare keying from a bluescreen to keying with the green? For DV some people swear that green is better while others say it doesn't matter. Just thought you might have an opinion since you have access to both.

01 January 2003, 07:51 PM
thanks arioch. we`re usually always using a bluescreen in association with a digibeta camera, which works fine. i also think, keying a green orb in front of a greenscreen could become difficult ;-)

02 February 2003, 12:42 AM
today, we filmed our footage ( (1 MB divx 5.02 avi)

...and some more pics.

our set

3d-face-scans of our actress
the merged mesh in maya
some pics, which we shot for reference
we`ll start modelling on sunday

02 February 2003, 12:46 AM
:bounce: <-- I never use these symbols, Promising!
What hardware did u use to scan her face?

02 February 2003, 12:58 AM

we used a minolta vivid 700 3d-laser-scanner.

minolta (

bye manuel

02 February 2003, 01:10 AM
well shoot! nice that you have the facilties and equipment, its looking like your shot has a lot of potential so far, good job. And that actress? god damn hot!

I shot my footage as well and will get a quick time up later tonight...


02 February 2003, 07:09 AM
-wow- u guys are so well set up!!
my money is on u guys just for the fact that u seem to know what ur doin the most! lol

is the equipment urs or from ur college or...

im jealous!


02 February 2003, 12:34 AM
hey great... i wonder if u could do a face scan for me aswell/(very exiting)
please give the adress i will send me freinds head!!,its worth to see the results:)..just kidding

keep up the exciting work

02 February 2003, 06:17 PM
Promissing :thumbsup:

02 February 2003, 12:14 AM
Wow very nice. I tink the skeleton arm is a nice touch! And was that outfit the model's own??!?

Interestingly I shot some very similar setups today on a borrowed DV camera (will post tomorrow if I can get it onto my damn machine!) ie. a low angle to pick up the Orb and a 3/4 view of the destruction sequence.

Two problems I had though were auto-focus - and even more annoyingly auto-exposure - will lock these off next time. Plus I liek the way your actor did slow deliberate movements - much better for rotoscoping (which I fear will be a nightmare anyway). I tried shooting with tracking markers - I do't know if this will help or be a pain to paint out though.

Bluescreen seems a good way to go - especially with the cold weatehr at the moment! Are you planning on using a completely 3D background (looks pretty futuristic) or matching the camera on a real location? I guess 3D would be easier to match but take longer to model.

02 February 2003, 01:16 AM
thanks for your replies:

alim: we`re using our filmschool`s equipment.

rendermaniac: why trackingmarkers? are you planning to matchmove your shot. it was supposed to be a locked camera shot. i also thought about shooting with a freehand camera and than matchmoving the sperate shots, but in my opinion, the effect is hard enough to create with a locked camera.
yeah - turning of auto-focus and auto-exposure would have been better. Bluescreen seems a good way to go - especially with the cold weatehr at the moment!
quite funny, that you mention the low temperatures, because it was also very cold in the studio. and we shot from 9 in the morning untill 6 in the evening. that was a hard time for christina, our actress. she was wearing the costume the whole day (yes it was her own outfit)
the background will be some kind of abandonned temple, but with futuristic elements in it. (moritz had this idea and he has told me about a role playing game called shadowrun, which inspired him)

what are your experiences with keying dv material? is it hard to key, because of compression artifacts?

cu manuel

02 February 2003, 06:29 PM
Nice start, and the sexy chick in leather is a good choice. :love: Just curious, what was the purpose of covering the left part of the frame with your hand in the last shot? I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the backround and the effect, you've done some really cool work I've seen on your website. :beer:

02 February 2003, 06:49 PM
we simply wanted to hide a light source, which would have caused a lens flare.
i`ve already keyed the first three scenes. the first of them was a lot of rotoscoping work.
moritz has already started modelling the girl in xsi, but he will son switch to maya and then we will start setting up the character.
bye manuel

02 February 2003, 02:57 PM
long time no update, because i had to finish another project. but now, i can concentrate on the vfxchallenge and i will post updates, frequently.

i`m responsible for the shot, where the green plasma attacks her arm. we took some photos for reference:

today, i`ll texture her arm and start modelling a second, damaged arm. we will then blend between these two arms in compositing.

btw: does anyone remember the url to this cool arm setup with multiple joints, constrained to each other in order to get more realistic dformations ? (don`t really know, how to describe)

02 February 2003, 03:22 PM
Hi Manuel

that sound like the Gnomon one by my Alvarez which you can find here:

Looks like a pretty good setup.

By the way would it be possible to give some tips on modelling? I am not a modeller by any stretch of the imagination, but have started looking at patch modelling (hey if its character modelling already may as well make things as difficult as possible :) as it is meant to better to animate - is this the way you do it? How do you start building up geometry? (especially for the face as I don't have a laser scanner ;)

My money is on you guys finishing first at the moment - fitting this in with work is killing me!


02 February 2003, 03:34 PM
thanks for the link, rendermaniac.
that`s, how i would normally setup an arm, but i can remember a tutorial, which explained an advanced setup for the forearm, where you had multiple joints, as it is in nature.

look at these images. these bones are labelled "elle und speiche" (don`t know, how they`re called in english)

for modelling, i normally use the cps script ( and boxmodelling.
but due to time constraints, my base for her arm was the XSI primitive female mesh. i just made it fit to our actress` proportions.

cu, manuel

02 February 2003, 07:25 PM
have a look here

the girl look nice but why she fall so inflexible :) (is the leather suit too tight)

02 February 2003, 09:08 PM
I rember Chris Landreth (the man who made "The End" and "Bingo") did some clever thinges with a double skeleton, but it was somthing I saw at a master class at 3D featival, so I only have some poor notes from that.
Perhaps someone (perhaps mr. Landreth himself) have written it down to a toturial. The master class were called "Difficult body parts", so perhaps that wil be a good search string.

02 February 2003, 09:15 PM
This has some quite useful information too...

02 February 2003, 05:00 PM
small update:
textured and rigged the arm. any advice for rotoscoping?

2 avis

test1 (
this is a maya playblast

test2 (
and the first test-composit in combustion (just to make sure, Im not completely the wrong direction)
as you can see, i have to work a lot on the motion of the arm

02 February 2003, 09:24 AM
looking very pro guys, u have me well impressed :D

did u have any issues with the matte roto work with the blue screen? u guys have a very clean image...

any advice for 3d roto? frame by frame! lol its grueling, i know, but hang in there, u seem to be on the right track!


02 February 2003, 09:47 PM
Coming along nicely! How are those fingers set-up? Finger tips as handles? I'd like to see how you have the handles set-up.

Keep it coming!

03 March 2003, 06:10 PM
first update since a long time. for the last weeks,i had to learn for my diploma. i`m very happy about the extended deadline and confident in getting everything done just until friday.

this is a short mood-test, on how the scene will look like. i also tracked a cg-arm onto her body. it`s not anatomically correct around the hand-region, but that`s because i used xsi`s primitive women as a guide (should be happy, i did not use xsi`s default primitive ear). i will hide it under a green glow.

now i have only 2 things to do left:

-add fog and depth of field to the background.
-make cool desintegration effect on her arm ;-)

there`s still a lot of work to do.

here comes the clip (make sure, you have divx 5.03 installed):

mood-test (

03 March 2003, 06:33 PM
Wow, looks great. The background is very nice and sets the mood well.

03 March 2003, 11:48 PM
Yep, that is gold!

Very nice indeed. One minor thing, the Orb seems to miss a highlight from behind left. It's quite powerful in the girls face, so it would probably light the Orb too.

This is going to be sweer! Weta next for you guys ;)

03 March 2003, 11:55 PM
Looks great, and good keying

Have you changed the animation on the arm? The hand dosn't really folow the orb's rotation towards the end anymore, but in one of your earlyer test's the hand folowed the last rotation better.

03 March 2003, 01:20 AM
@Knut: i`ll fix this later, if i still have the time. but for now, i`ll have to fight with some ugly motion-blur artifacts. everytime you need it the least, your software gets buggy :thumbsdow .

@johs: your comment about "good keying" actually made me smile, because it was just two or three clicks. but scene 1 (this is scene 2) kept me busy, rotoscoping for at least3 or 4 days, due to a badly lit bluescreen.

you`re right. i changed the animation a bit. i used an fk setup for the arm and rotoscoping this short nearly scene drove me insane. i needed 3 tries, in order to get a satiesfying result.

@Arioch: this compliment goes to my dear friend alex, who does the backgrounds for us. it`s a rendering with a lot of retouches in ps.

hope to create all necessary layers tomorrow and to finish compositing on thursday.

03 March 2003, 11:02 PM
just a short update, in order to keep you informed.

there is still plenty of work, to be done, such as adding glows and plasma beams, but i hope, to get my shot finished tonight.

03 March 2003, 01:21 AM
This looks very pro! Looking forward to the movie!

03 March 2003, 04:42 AM
wowza! love how the shots turned out!

can we see some more of the background? it looks very interesting too... matte painting?

good luck!

03 March 2003, 03:52 PM
:eek: :eek: :eek: :love:

03 March 2003, 05:03 PM
thats great &very nice matching...:thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 05:38 PM
Post the animation!
You only have 6 hours!
With this entry you can win!

03 March 2003, 08:31 PM
Here comes the clip:

Quicktime 320*240, 8.0 MB (

DIVX 5.03 720*576, 2.0 MB (

It was really a challenge. We never did anything comparable to these shots before and we learned so much.

Good Luck to the other participants and many thanks for your support.

Moritz and Manuel

03 March 2003, 08:36 PM
Please post it.
The piece so far looks really polished.
You still have 4 hours!

03 March 2003, 11:19 PM
One hour to go!

03 March 2003, 12:48 AM
ok. thank you roberto. your countdown made me work like a maniac. but for now i`m finished - yes !!!

currently uploading final version:
the gift - final entry: Manuel M & Maniax (
(8 MB Quicktime, 320*240)

higher-res divx version will follow.

also, many thanks to my friend alex, for helping us with his superb mattepainting-skills...

03 March 2003, 01:01 AM
Thanks Manuel M.
You entry is really good and it would have been a crime for it not to be posted.

Good luck on the voting!


03 March 2003, 01:12 AM
And please verify the entries.

03 March 2003, 01:13 AM

You guys rock, the look and feel of your shot is awesome, the effect is clean, great stuff bastards!!! :annoyed:

LOL, j.k, great job guys...

Note to self - Next time hire a beautiful brunette in sexy tight leather get-up and a kick ass matte-painter!

Addendum: If the beautiful brunette is also the matte-painter, Marry Her! :drool:

P.S. Maybe I should have teamed up! :cool:

03 March 2003, 01:17 AM
I wanna see. The quicktime is just 800kb when i get it and it is corrupted.

03 March 2003, 01:22 AM
i know. i`m trying to upload, but the server connection stops after 40 % - everytime. the divx should work. but it`s not the latest version, including the last shot - sigh.

must be due to our slow school-network. i`m getting home now, trying to upload from my pc.

i guess you must be patient for a short while, and i hope, i will not become disqualified :shrug:

03 March 2003, 01:57 AM
That`s it: No Problems with uploading the files from home.

divx 5.03 / 2.074kb (

quicktime / 8.693kb (
please make sure you`ve downloaded the final version. check file-sizes. sorry for the inconvinience...

03 March 2003, 02:33 AM
you probably had problems uploading because of everyone else trying to download it at the same time ;)

Looks extremely nice. I especially like the way you have done some colour correction and added a little grain to give it a cinematic look.

Very, very nice!

03 March 2003, 02:38 AM
It's really well done. You guys and girls have done a fantastic job with your entry. I could absolutely see this as a trailer for the film: Heavy Metal - Live action remake by Peter Jackson and the crew from German Film School.


03 March 2003, 03:41 AM
Verify the divx entry.
Play it all the way to the end.

03 March 2003, 12:12 PM

i`m so sorry about not working files, but in this case, i think it might not play properly on your computer, because it`s a divx 5.03 encoded file.

@rendermaniac: that could be an explanation.

today, i`ll take some time and watch all other entries.

03 March 2003, 03:36 PM
Well done Maniax & Manuel M, you have a nice look in your clip, and it fits nicely together .:thumbsup:
Hope you will join in again next time

03 March 2003, 05:02 AM
well done guys!!

u really did a great shot and look very pro!

i love the end shot where she falls over and the myst in the bg

it all goes to show what u can achieve with a professional technique

well done again!


03 March 2003, 06:58 AM
Great work on the animation, compositing, and lighting! The one major prob I see is this: If my arm were disintegrating slowly, and I am watching it creep up towards my body, and it seems like it's melting away at my flesh, would I remain so calm, or suffer no pain? I would be screaming and writhing in least for the sake of matchmoving and compositing she would at least show stress in her face! Other than that it's very cool!

03 March 2003, 01:59 PM

you`re absolutely right. we never met our actress before the shooting, only saw a few pics of her. her focus is on classical theatre stuff. when she was standing in front of the bluescreen, we soon realized, that it was very hard for her to imagine, how to act believable.

04 April 2003, 10:35 AM

05 May 2003, 02:29 AM
That looks wicked! The actress is super fine to. Which Is Always A Big Plus. :)

I want that 3D scanner, but the cheapest one I could find was $21,000.00 US

A little out of my budget. Almost out of my tax bracket. :cool:
Nevertheless I think it's fantastic.:thumbsup: great job!:applause:

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