BAFTA Video: David Vickery: Visual Effects Mini Masterclass (Batman, Potter)

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Old 12 December 2012   #1
BAFTA Video: David Vickery: Visual Effects Mini Masterclass (Batman, Potter)

David Vickery: Visual Effects Mini Masterclass


The visual effects supervisor on The Dark Knight discusses the process and challenges of creating effects, and his work on specific scenes in Harry Potter and Cloverfield.

http://guru.bafta.org/david-vickery-visual-effects-mini-masterclass
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Old 12 December 2012   #2
Very informative video.


But I wonder... At a show the level of Harry Potter.... How can one still encounter that basic problem where you pass Matchmove Data and you find the scales are wrong?

I mean, granting DNEG, Rising Sun, and Tippett all work in Maya... isn't it as simple as the VFX Supe of Harry Potter telling the supes in other shops: "OK. We should all agree on one file transport pipeline at the beginning of this project so that you move the data around all three of you and it's always the same."?

(Note: Vickery says the other shops worked in different scale... He didn't say the SOFTWARE in the different shops used different scale.. So I think the detail isn't complete... But I'm still surprised at how little was done to stamp out this kind of issue at the beginning of the collaboration.)

On a related note, don't VFX shops have an Association or Standardization group like in other industries? Standards help reduce these kinds of problems. It happens in car manufacturing and in other industries.. so why not in VFX?
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Old 12 December 2012   #3
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: Very informative video.


But I wonder... At a show the level of Harry Potter.... How can one still encounter that basic problem where you pass Matchmove Data and you find the scales are wrong?

I mean, granting DNEG, Rising Sun, and Tippett all work in Maya... isn't it as simple as the VFX Supe of Harry Potter telling the supes in other shops: "OK. We should all agree on one file transport pipeline at the beginning of this project so that you move the data around all three of you and it's always the same."?

(Note: Vickery says the other shops worked in different scale... He didn't say the SOFTWARE in the different shops used different scale.. So I think the detail isn't complete... But I'm still surprised at how little was done to stamp out this kind of issue at the beginning of the collaboration.)

On a related note, don't VFX shops have an Association or Standardization group like in other industries? Standards help reduce these kinds of problems. It happens in car manufacturing and in other industries.. so why not in VFX?


The software will use whatever scale has been set for the internal pipeline in each respective shop - there is no default setting. Matchmove toolsets might share common software packages - Boujou, PFTrack etc - but they're often one of the most heavily customised parts of the pipeline. For example, Dneg uses a proprietary package called dnPhotofit along with a lot of other stuff. The most common standard is "cm for feet" where one Maya unit (defined as a centimetre by the makers of Maya) is arbitrarily redefined as one foot or roughly 1/30 scale. This helps to keep the overall size of the Maya environment manageable. However, some really big scenes might need to be worked on at even smaller scales - we had that challenge with the opening of Potter 6 in which the camera travelled around 5 miles during the opening animation in one continuous take whilst seeing objects both close up and at very great distance - the Dark Mark cloudscape was worked on at a different scale to the cityscape. I think we may have even gone to yet another scale for the ride down Diagon Alley.

However, the main reason why there is no consensus amongst VFX vendors on scale, file formats, software packages, maths libraries or indeed anything else is that we all hate each other :-)

Last edited by dneg : 12 December 2012 at 08:02 PM.
 
Old 12 December 2012   #4
Originally Posted by dneg: The software will use whatever scale has been set for the internal pipeline in each respective shop - there is no default setting. Matchmove toolsets might share common software packages - Boujou, PFTrack etc - but they're often one of the most heavily customised parts of the pipeline. For example, Dneg uses a proprietary package called dnPhotofit along with a lot of other stuff. The most common standard is "cm for feet" where one Maya unit (defined as a centimetre by the makers of Maya) is arbitrarily redefined as one foot or roughly 1/30 scale. This helps to keep the overall size of the Maya environment manageable. However, some really big scenes might need to be worked on at even smaller scales - we had that challenge with the opening of Potter 6 in which the camera travelled around 5 miles during the opening animation in one continuous take whilst seeing objects both close up and at very great distance - the Dark Mark cloudscape was worked on at a different scale to the cityscape. I think we may have even gone to yet another scale for the ride down Diagon Alley.

However, the main reason why there is no consensus amongst VFX vendors on scale, file formats, software packages, maths libraries or indeed anything else is that we all hate each other :-)


It is very informative though to learn that there is such a thing as "miniaturization" in CG. It was something I was thinking about when Tamas of Digic brought up the subject of UNSC Infinity being 5 km long and my first thought was that there should be logic where you make something in smaller scale to make it more feasible because after all... that's how they made STAR WARS back in the 70's. If they made the Death Star to scale, they'd never finish.

OK.. I understand now, so it's a combination of working in different scales required by the task and different scale calculations caused by customized software. While Vickery didn't state it, I would imagine that such scale issues are caught at a fairly early stage even if not discussed at the table. For sure, during animatic trials and tele-cons there will at least be a moment where 2 of 3 VFX houses will see animatic and say: "Ok.. that's the wrong scale". And if you catch it at that stage (as long as it's not finished renders) then it's not that big a problem.

However, if we think of this like an Engineering or Manufacturing enterprise, at some point it would be easier to agree on certain standards and white-papers that define sizes, and how to deal with scale. There's Engineering standards for example that ensures Valves and Pumps bought in India or Germany are exactly the same measurement so you can fit pipes and valves together even if you bought them in different places. It saves cost, improves business and makes life easier.

We should think about adopting things like these.. even if VFX houses would all still hate each other. :P
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Old 12 December 2012   #5
Originally Posted by dneg: However, the main reason why there is no consensus amongst VFX vendors on scale, file formats, software packages, maths libraries or indeed anything else is that we all hate each other :-)

lol, I can vouch for that.

Joking aside though, many of the VFX vendors do try and standardise on a scale ratio. And often that ratio can be the same between studios, but as Paul as mentioned one size doesn't always fit all.

I've chatting to some of my colleagues in the other ADSK divisions, about different scale values and its very common problem, even though some industries do have set standards. It's amazing how metric<>imperial and US<>Europe conversions still trip people up, even now from time to time.
 
Old 01 January 2013   #6
Didn't the Mars Climate Orbiter have that kind of problem too (what units are we working in?)

and think.. those people work for NASA
so what hope for a poor vfx person, who hates other other company
 
Old 01 January 2013   #7
Well if others jump into the pit, it doesn't serve all of us well to jump into the pit as well.

As for "Hate" we all know the answer to that:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6XicBBN1l4#t=1m02s



But really, again, I think there's commercial merit to standardization, then again I'm a "factory man" so I tend to think standardization solves all problems.

Also, because from experience... When we are planning workflows we go through "Infrastructure Review", and we always try to nail the common denominator.... I personally don't like deviations, so every file transfer was tested. In particular, for my last project, we were wary of transfers between Blender and Apple Cut Pro and then back to AVIDEMUX, and we tested this with sample film leader clips even before the first 3D model was done.

But I realize the issue described by Vickery runs deeper than that. Again, in my view these scale units should be as standard as piping treads for fittings and valves. If there is to be competition, let it be with features... not with measurements.

The same Standards can be used in-house at VFX houses so that they can also make sure their tools are "to-standard". That improves the ability for all houses to work together.

As the economics of working in this industry become more difficult. We must work harder to ensure work can flow smoothly.
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 01 January 2013 at 11:49 PM.
 
Old 01 January 2013   #8
Thanks, nice interview
 
Old 01 January 2013   #9
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