View Full Version : Film set notes for XSI

01 January 2007, 08:55 AM
Hi all!
I'll be going on set for the first time next week to watch acouple of scenes being shot for a new TV series I'll be doing several fully 3D characters for. What notes do you need to take down on set to help you when you start to texture, light and render your character? I've been reading some books which suggest taking notes on what 'lens' they shoot with, the lighting used (maybe even use a light probe to get HDRI's), what type of film stock they use...I'm so confused! How will this help me when I'm working on my character in XSI?
Is it meant to help with compositing? I'm a total noob, I'm not from a film background so most of this stuff is new to me. So, if you have any suggestions for things I should take note of on set and how to use them in XSI I would love to hear it!

01 January 2007, 10:26 AM
- Lens focale on every shot
- Filmback or film support ( 35mm, 16mm, video ?, DV ? )
- Put some marker for trackiing prupose.
- Take mesurement
- Take pictures of the set.
- Take textures pictures without any flash. Try to have no shadow.
- Mark the placement of the light.
- Get the Light Temperature.
- FSTOP on every shoot ( for DOF )
- Shoot Grid with every Lens ( to get lens distortion )

Prepare your sheet before the set.
Recharge all your battery :)

And good luck

mr Bob
01 January 2007, 09:01 PM
If your from a vendor , my first port of call would be the VFX supervisor for the show.......


01 January 2007, 01:37 AM
Thanks for the detailed post Saturn! A few questions:
- Could you send me a pdf example of the "sheet" you were talking about? Pretty please! :thumbsup:
- What is "Lens focale"? Also, I'm thinking that I won't be on set for every single shot so is there a way to find out this lens focale is after everything has been shot? Is the lens focale recorded on some sheet somewhere by the cameraman?
- Is "film back" the film stock used?
- What do i use to get the "light tempreture" and how is this important for use in XSI?
- How do I get the readings for the FSTOP? And also is there any way to find out this info after the shots have been locked off?
- What is "shoot grid"? Is it getting the camera to get a shot of a gridded peice of paper? Again, how could I use this in XSI? Sounds more like something that the compositor would use...

To mr Bob; My VFX supervisor (my boss) is as clueless as me in regards to what notes need to be taken! This is the first time my work (which is a small business) has taken on the task of 3D character animation and head replacements. My boss has basically told me go and research what notes need to be taken down on set for help with character animation, lighting, rendering, etc.

01 January 2007, 09:55 AM
I recently had to do a similar thing(first shoot, learning as I went) so my advice doesn't come from someone as experienced as the first two posters but it might help seeing as you're in a similar position. I'm also assuming that the client isn't after ILM quality and that everything is on the lower budget side of things.

Getting a shot of a matte white ball on the set once all the lighting is set up, can be a quick and easy way of helping to match light intensities, colours and shadows in XSI.

Try to get some clean plates. ie once the camera is setup get shots without the actors

Camera movement will generally make your life more difficult because you have to start tracking things, so if you can minimise it without pissing off the director/client or significantly lowering the quality thats probably a good thing.(although, if you're only having track the actors heads anyway its less of an issue)

Be careful of little things that could cause issues later on, for example if you were having to completely replace out an actress' head from the top of the neck up, make sure she doesn't have long flowing hair over her shoulders.

Anything "in front" of your cg elements will have to be masked out if your cg elements pass behind them. ie if you can avoid having the characters pass behind some live action leaves its probably a good thing because masking out the leaves could be time consuming.(it may end up being easier to use cg foreground elements if needed)

After re-reading your original post I realize these suggestions aren't all exactly what your question was about but if you guys are responsible for all the 3d and compositing getting this stuff right can save more headaches than not having a perfect hdri reflection map from the set.

If what you're doing is lower budget stuff for Pal res, I think the most important of Saturn's suggestions would be:
- Put some markers for trackiing purposes.
- Take measurements
- Mark the placement of the lights.

You should be able to ask the camera man to take the notes on the FSTOP, lenses etc.

Thats about all I can think of for now, but take my advice with grain of salt.


mr Bob
01 January 2007, 11:03 AM
To mr Bob; My VFX supervisor (my boss) is as clueless as me in regards to what notes need to be taken! This is the first time my work (which is a small business) has taken on the task of 3D character animation and head replacements. My boss has basically told me go and research what notes need to be taken down on set for help with character animation, lighting, rendering, etc.

The shows VFX supervisor not your companies. All I can say is heaven help you if your vfx supervisor is clueless .....

01 January 2007, 02:13 AM
Wow, thanks for the help Sam! Glad you survived your first shoot! :)
Sorry, I wasn't awfully clear on what type of head replacement I would be doing. What I will be doing is replacing the head on a worm one of the cast will be holding onto. They want the worm's head to lazly look around and them focus on the actor holding it. The idea was to have the worm prop with tracking markers around the "head" so I could track it and replace it with the 3D worm head in post.
B, my VFX supervisor is my companies VFX supervisor, that's how small this production is! LOL He knows what to do on-set, it's just that he's never really had to do shoot stuff for 3D characters before. He know's about tracking markers and stuff, just not exactly sure what data to capture on set for 3D work.

01 January 2007, 09:01 PM
In addition to the white ball, it would be good to shoot an 18% gray one as well. If you want reflection/lighting information for HDRI from set take multiple exposures from a reflective ball as well. Google the web for more information.

Also tell the people on set you're going to do all this and that it will take !!TIME!!
Aldo be sure that nobody changes anything after the shoot is done, or they will tear the set down before you did your thing. Oh... and when sooting for HDRI get rid of everybody on set, I've had problems with this afterwards creating HDRI's.

Hope this helps too,


01 January 2007, 10:39 PM
Thanks for that rob, I didn't even think about clearing the set to take photos for HDRI's! I'll keep that in mind!

01 January 2007, 11:52 AM
good luck and tell us about your experiences after the shoot :)

p.s. have a look at I can remember some nice tips on trackers and supervising a vfx shoot.

mr Bob
01 January 2007, 08:21 AM
I would be interested aswell , does your company have a web site as I would like to see your work


01 January 2007, 11:39 PM
Sure Bob, I work for a small company called Whiz Digital and we are based in Perth, Western Australia. Our website is
I see that you are also from Australia, could you post your companies website too?:)
BTW looks like the TV series that I need to do all this VFX on set notes for is going to fold, so I did all that research for nothing! Oh well, at least I learned alot and I'm sure it'll come in hand some day!

01 January 2007, 11:51 PM
That's too bad... but hopefully your question has and will help others as well... Best of luck.

mr Bob
01 January 2007, 09:36 AM


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