Earthquake - VFX Challenge - Astrofish

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  11 November 2002
Hi Knut & baby,
Glad you like it. It's just a test so still missing a lot of stuff.

Fasty: Have you managed to get it yet?

Knut: Yes, the road surface deformation is potentially an issue, but there's a few things that will help:

I'm probably going to crop the shot to focus more on the lower right anyway, so the road should look a bit more like its moving rather than just stretching, and less of the other side of the road will be in the shot anyway - so those cars won't matter.

The oncoming cars will be in the area where the road is least stretched, so they shouldn't be too badly affected.

If it still looks to bad, then I'll just make the cracks narrower - since the bulk of the hole comes from the segment that falls away. (No - it's not realistic, but hopefully it will look good!)

Camera shake will help hide some of this as well!

I was originally intending to have the cars swerving to avoid the cracks but given how much else I've still got to do to the shot, I'm probably just going to retime them so that they slow down and stop - except for the one that falls in of course...

Anyway, time for sleep...
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  11 November 2002
Yes I just got it! Looking GREAT! Can't wait to see more!
  11 November 2002
great work!! but in my point of view i would prefer the falling block to just fall a few feet instead of disapearing rom the it were to hit another layer under the road.....

but again


  11 November 2002
Glad you like it so far.

Yes, It would be more realistic if it just dropped a bit, but I quite like the idea of it opening up a gaping chasm... I might try it the other way as well, to see what it looks like.

Anyway, since when were effects films realistic!

Cheers - Steve
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  11 November 2002
Just thought I'd post a few observations/issues that I've made when processing my footage using the Sorensen 2 Codec..

Raw footage started as PAL DV.

I imported this into Icarus to stabilise it, as it had a small amount of camera shake on it, and saved the result out as raw JPG frames.

I then re-encoded the frames using the Sorensen 2 codec, with a keyframe every 10 frames. This produced stabilised footage in a MOV file.

Call this 'mov_in'.

I then used 'mov_in' as an animated background plate in C4D, with some CG elements over the top of it, and got C4D to render the results out again using Sorensen 2, this time with a keyframe every 25 frames, quality=high. Call this 'mov_c4d'.

Results 'movc4d' looked ok, EXCEPT that every tenth frame (i.e. corresponding to the keyframes in 'mov_in') was noticeably brighter than the other frames. Noticeable colour banding was also present in all frames.

As a comparison, I then tried loading 'mov_in' into After Effects 5.0, and rendering the output again as a Sorensen 2 file with keyframes every 25 frames, quality=hig (so basically just transcoding from Sorensen to Sorensen). Call the output 'mov_ae'.

In 'mov_ae', EVERY frame was overbright in the way that every tenth frame in 'mov_c4d' was.

I then repeated the C4D and AE tests but using the raw jpg image sequence as input (thankfully C4D supports this!), and the results were both fine.

Although C4D and AE produced different problems, both produced bad output through the Sorensen codec when the source footage was also Sorensen encoded. This suggests that the problem is with the codec rather than either of the apps.

Sorensen 2 seems to have problems when re-encoding footage that was decoded from a Sorensen 2 source.

Since the decoder and the encoder are completely seperate processes, I can only assume that the encoder produces artefacts in the images which the encoder is susceptible to.

Actually, the other possibility is that it is the Quicktime player that is at fault, although most of the work there is being done by the codec again.

In a different project I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out why in two identical compositions rendered from after effects (Soresen again as it happens), one of them seemed not to apply the gamma correct that I'd applied, and the other one did.

I spent ages cursing After Effects for not rendering the same as it was previewing. Then I noticed that although one movie was clearly darker than the other when viewed side by side in two quicktime windows, which one was darker depended upon _which order I opened them in_. In other words it was a playback problem, not a rendering problem.

One final comment, here's a tip for reducing file sizes whilst keeping decent quality:
It seems that you can push things a long way by setting keyframes to be very infrequent - at least when there's not much motion. It remains to be seen what adding camera shake does for the compression - depends how smart they are...

Anyone else have any comments on any of this?

Bye for now!
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
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  11 November 2002
Hey Steve - WOW!

Hey Steve - WOW!

Followed you over from the progressive thread on dvgarage and WOW! Really great work & thread.

It's been a really long time since I've been on these forums and they've really grown.

Look forward to seeing more as it progresses.

  11 November 2002
Astro: I am a bit suprised that you compressed the original videoplate before you processed it with effects. To me that sounds like a very bad idea. When i captured my DV footage i immidiately converted it to uncompressed quicktime. (i.e. took it into an editing app and exported it with the quicktime "none" setting.) This ensures that you want have any artifacts or reduction in quality when you render animation or filters ontop of it. Only when the video are completly finished you reduce the size and compress it with the soerenson codec. Ofcourse working with uncompressed video generates large files (5 sek. PAL = ca 290 mb), but that it what you will have to deal with when working with TV. Any codec that use a none lossless compression method produces artifacts in the video. The quicktime "animation" codec reduces size without making artifacts (lossless compression).

This was an information bulletin from the caribbian snowman.
  11 November 2002
Hi Jon,
Thanks for the praise, I must be doing something right!

I've just had a quick look around your website, impressive stuff.

I liked the fact that in your 'profile' page you showed some of your early stuff - I particularly liked the light-sabre clip!

I shall be watching your tutorial videos tonight (if my crusty old modem is up to the job of downloading them).

And then I'd better do some more work on this earthquake...
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  11 November 2002
Hi Knut,
Yes, you're right. I wondered if anyone was going to comment on that!

Basically, the only reason I was recompressing the footage before applying effects was that I was just playing around with the Sorensen codec, and I wasn't too fussed about getting the best image quality - I was more interested in learning a bit about the codec.

Since I'd noticed these issues with Sorensen re-encoding Sorensen, I thought I'd share the information anyway.

For the project, I'm currently using uncompressed individual frames generated from Icarus, which in turn was fed with the raw DV footage.

Uncompressed individual frames are particularly useful (compared with a movie format) because it makes it easy to grab individual frames from the footage and pull them into a paint package, for selective combining together into clean plates for example.

As you say, disk space tends to vanish at an alarming rate.

I think I might be buying myself yet another drive soon...

(Hard drive makers must love digital video!)
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  11 November 2002
Quote: Originally posted by astrofish
(Hard drive makers must love digital video!)

Agreed, just come to think of when/if everyone changes to HD 720P (One of the presets in Photoshop) Each second will be ca 66 mb of data (At 25 fps). Thats almost 4 GB a minute! I bet IBM or other HDD producers would like that to happen.

anyway, that was a bit off topic.

Still image sequence is gold. The stage in the process i am at now, i have hardly used video at all, just a still from it as background for my preparations; cloning, extending etc. Going to add theese elements to the video with grain when i get to that stage (soon). And i will render everyting from max in a numbered .tif sequence for most flexibility when comping (might have to rerender a few frames wich have errors or things like that).

Last edited by Knut : 11 November 2002 at 02:01 PM.
  11 November 2002
I need to go to sleep in a minute, so I haven't got time to properly explain what I've been doing at the moment.

Heres a link to a low frame rate clip of what I've got so far.

test 21st Nov (128k)

I'm fairly pleased with the edges of the cracks in terms of detail - although they are too dark at the moment, they'll need colour matching.

What I'm not happy with at the moment is the reveal of the damage. The crack is too wide open as soon as it appears, and the 'leading edge' of the crack is too clean...

Anyway, I'll try to post some more details of how I've been approaching things over the weekend.
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Last edited by astrofish : 11 November 2002 at 12:47 AM.
  11 November 2002
Hey Steve, really nice progress.

There's a really easy cheat that will add tons to the realism...

camera shake


sound fx

zoom in a tad, and add a noise, jitter or shake to the camera when the split begins and most people (other than yourself or those who have seen the WIP) will ever figure out how you captured the footage.

lookin good!

Best regards,
  11 November 2002
Cool man! how are you going to put this animation to a higher frame rate ?

I my opinion the road should not fall and disapear..maybe just fall then that it's not at the same level anymore...and maybe with an angle too..

Otherwise, i love it..the camera skae and some blur-noise would definitely bring some realism to it

Keep on rollin' baby!

  11 November 2002
Hi Jon and CobraX,
Yes, I'm going to add camera shake and add blur (static and motion) - haven't got around to them yet...

(There's still the traffic to add as well).

This is only rendered at low frame rate to keep the file size down as it is a WIP. The main project is actually 25 FPS (captured from PAL DV, then deinterlaced).

The part of the road that falls away _does_ rotate already. The lighting on it doesn't change though, which is something else I need to add. Maybe I need to give it more rotation as well.
fusionThing 1.0 and other C4D plugins at, including FREE geometry checker!
Personal site at
  11 November 2002
What a great thread! Full credit to you Astrofish, you've taught me and I'm sure alot of others alot already, and it looks fantastic! Can't wait to see more!
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