View Full Version : FXWARS! Tesla - WGerick - VFXSHOT

03-05-2009, 11:04 PM
Hi there,

this month sounds like a lot of fun, so I'm in. Hopefully, I'll finish in time.

My background story:

After Teslas death the US government took all of his documents and kept them secret. But during the end of the war, the germans intercepted a secret message and got hold of the plans for a teleportation system invented by Tesla. This system enables humans to travel instantly from one place to another by the use of two tesla coils.

The shot:

You will see a abandoned alley in a military complex with two tesla coils on each side. They will fire up and the flashes will start to shapen the outline of a person. Then the person will appear and walk out of the light and into the alley. The tesla coils will then power down.

I hope it will be sunny on the weekend, because I need a lot of light for my camera... ;)

03-06-2009, 02:25 AM
This sounds very interesting. Easy to visualize. Good luck with the shoot.

03-08-2009, 01:40 PM
Thaks Terry!

I started modelling the tesla coils. I'm going for a second world war kinda design. Everything is supposed to look quite rotten and rusty...

Here is a first texture test:

I haven't found the final location for shooting the background plate. This place would do, but I think, there is too much stuff lying aroud. So I'll keep looking...

I hope you like it!

03-08-2009, 02:09 PM
Looks very nice. Keep rockin!

03-09-2009, 02:57 PM
Great idea for the tesla coil. Solid modeling and texturing so far. Good luck with the camera matching!

03-09-2009, 06:02 PM
Thanks guys! I really appreciate it!

Today the sun finally came out, so I went out to shot my bgnd-plate. Nothing too fancy so far, just a first attempt to see if the day to night conversion is working. The mattes for the sky are not animated yet. After the first cut I added a simple fade out onto the person, well me ;), to check the alignment for the transition effect. I will need to color correct the face and the hand separatly, because they are blown out. But I don't think this will be too much of a problem, because I'll add a lot of flashes and glow effects in that scene.

Next up is the tweaking of the night effect and tracking the beginning and end.

I would love to hear some oppinions on the night effects. I could go on forever tweaking the colors, so I could need a fresh impression... Thanks a lot!!



03-09-2009, 06:26 PM
Looking pretty good so far. I think that the tonal range is about right for a day to night effect, but my eye is wanting to see a little bit of blue tint over everything. Not too much, just a hint.

In that context, I don't think that your face or hands would really look too blown out... I think they're just looking too yellow right now, not overbright. In fact, in most day for night effects, highlights are still pretty hot.

Best of luck,


03-10-2009, 07:18 PM
Thanks for the tip, Trey. You are right, the hand and head are way too yellow. I will fix that later on. For now, I just wanted to see, if the day to night conversion is working at all. And I think, it will work out just fine.

So no reshoot for me, but rather some camera tracking. That handheld camera move required a lot of manual tweaking, but here is the first scene:

There is some minor sliding, but it shouldn't be too noticably, I hope. What do you think?

03-10-2009, 11:21 PM
And the second scene:

03-11-2009, 10:14 AM
Tracking for the second scene is dead-on. I noticed a little jitter and slide in the first one, but I think with motion blur you'll be fine except for when it slows down right before the end (after the shake smooths out). That slide is the only one I think you'll see once everything's married together.

Great camera matching on both!


03-11-2009, 06:11 PM
Thx, Trey. Here is an update for the first scene:

I'll stabilize the shots later on, after everything is comped in. For now, I'll finish the day for night look.

03-11-2009, 10:04 PM
Here are the final night shots:

[click thumbs] ( ( (

03-11-2009, 11:58 PM
Composites and day for night are looking fantastic now. Can't wait to see the final piece.


03-12-2009, 12:01 PM
Looking very good. Keep up the good job. Waiting for your final entry :)

03-13-2009, 05:10 PM
Thanks guys! It's gonna be a fun ride... ;)

The texturing is finished. I didn't tweak it too much, since most of it will be in the dark and only visible for a few seconds, when the flashes appear.

03-13-2009, 07:19 PM
Here is a first test of the Tesla coils in the shot. No lighting, shadows or color matching. It's just a position and scale test.

I hope you like it!

[click thumb] (

03-13-2009, 08:00 PM
Oh god. I start to picture it now. Awesome work:bowdown:

03-14-2009, 01:52 AM
Thanks a lot, Karel!

Here is a first test of the Tesla effect. Nothing tweaked yet and those shiny flying saucers are just position dummies for the tesla coil. It's just about the level of control of the general movement within the 3D-2D environment. (

03-17-2009, 02:25 AM
Hi folks,

another update! Still needs a lot of tweaking and additional elements, but I think, it's getting closer... I finally got the light streaks speed and motion the way I want.

I will add a lot more lightnings, which will start building the outline of the character. Also all the secondary lighting and the reflections needs to be done. On the machines and the environment, which will get tricky.

[click thumb] (

03-18-2009, 03:06 PM
Okay the first scene is almost finished. The secondary lighting on the machine and the environment is still missing completely, and will take some time to do. I will also add some more highlights on the tesla coils. But the overall effect is finished and I'm quite satisfied.

What do you think? I could really need a fresh view on the scene... ;)

[click picture for flv] (

03-18-2009, 03:57 PM
nice. the one on the rightseems still slightly bright all around (instead of just light coming from the electrical centered in the middle). good wip though, i wanna see it finished:wavey:

03-18-2009, 07:02 PM
I really like how the lightning is shaping up in yours. It's tuned really well! Probably the best arcs I've seen in the challenge so far.

I think there's something off with the brightness though (as mentioned above)... it's not marrying to the scene as well as it could... maybe flicker a pool of bounce light on the ground?

Keep it up!

03-18-2009, 07:33 PM
Thanks guys!

I darkened the background and the tesla coils a little bit more, so the contrast to the lightning effects is stronger. The scene is working much better now.

As I said, the lighting from the lightnings on the machine and the environment are missing completely. Right now I'm rendering some additional lighting and shadow passes. But they won't be finished until tomorrow. Then I will also add the light on the ground. Hopefully this will be the last thing for this scene. But I guess not! ;)

Still a lot to do...

03-20-2009, 12:29 AM
Here is an update for the first scene. I will call it finished for now. There are still some things, I would like to tweak, but time is running short. I will start working on the second scene now and hopefully finish everything in time.

I finally added the lighting for the environment and the machine. What do you think?

[click picture for flv] (

03-20-2009, 06:22 AM
Your work looks absolutely stunning. People like you are the ones who make me want to learn CG.

How did you make those electric bolts flying around?

Are you planning to add any sound? I just imagine the violent and loud crack sounds when these lightning streaks are colliding together :D

03-20-2009, 01:31 PM
That's coming together nicely.

03-20-2009, 05:04 PM
Is the lightning done in post?

03-20-2009, 06:42 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys! I'm glad you like it.

All the bolts are completely done in post. There are two kinds of bolts. The ones travelling over the ground and building the outline of the person are the "ZapTo"-plugIn from sapphire. All the others are "PlasmaBolts" from the SpeedSix-PlugIns.

I basically use three kinds of system:

The bolts traveling between the tesla coils have their start and end point hooked up to the 2D-position of different 3D-locators. After tracking the shot and positining the tesla coils, I added several 3D-trackers at important points in the scene. These points are driving all the origins of the bolts.
I also added an expression to drive the brightness of the bolts between the coils. That way they will fade in and out when they switch their position.

The bolts without endpoints are also PlasmaBolts. They are masked halfway through. Their endpoint is positioned out of screen and is not moving. That way, the endpoint will not be influenced by the shaking of the camera.

The "ZapTo"-bolts take an image's luminance or alpha as input. The bolts are then drawn to the area of high luminance or opaque alpha.

I hope, I'm making sense... ;)

03-20-2009, 06:51 PM
Also, a small update for today. Rotoing is finished! Some small errors, but it will work, I think.

[click picture for flv] (

03-25-2009, 11:18 PM
Hi there,

long time no update, but that second scene really gave me a headache. Well, it didn't turn out the way I thought it would... ;) But there is still a third scene, that needs to be done, so I have to move on.

Here is an update. Right now, there are only lightnings in the scene, that shape the person. There will be more in the final version. It's all not yet finished, but almost. I really don't know what to think of it...

[click thumb] (

03-26-2009, 04:53 AM
I just spent a bit of time getting caught up on your wip. It really is shaping up to be a very interesting entry. Good luck at getting that 3rd shot finished.

03-26-2009, 10:55 AM
Thanks Terry! I hope everything works out.

Here is a more tweaked version. I'm still not satisfied with the effect on the head. But tracking it is not an option at this point. And I doubt the result would be too good. Anyway...

[click thumb] (

03-28-2009, 12:40 AM
I alsmost finished the second scene. There is still one lightning going crazy, but the rest is okay. Still some minor tweaks to do...

I hope you like it.

[click thumb] (

03-28-2009, 08:05 AM

That's looking really fantastic. Can't wait to see the finished piece!


03-28-2009, 10:49 AM
This is looking very good, Nice comp aswell.

03-29-2009, 10:02 AM
Thanks guys!

Here is the finished second scene. I tweaked the lightning and also added another lighting pass for the ground light. The scene is a little bit more dramatic now...

[click thumb] (

03-29-2009, 11:10 PM
Here is a first version of the last scene. Still a lot to tweak, especially the lighting and shadows. Also several lightnings are still missing. Right now I tried using several keyers to isolate me, which is not working too good. Maybe I will roto the person if I find the time.

What do you think? I hope the overall flow of the scenes is working...

[click thumb] (

03-31-2009, 05:40 PM
Okay, here it goes: My final entry!



Unfortunately the mp4 files, and therefore the youtube versions, have a slight gamma shift.

click thumb for video - mov, PAL, ~70 MB (

04-01-2009, 12:40 AM
Gratz on getting a great sequence done on-time!

BTW, your final day for night tweaks look utterly convincing to me. I'm quite impressed.


04-01-2009, 04:27 AM
I watched your final and really liked it. Original idea.

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