Backyard Visual Effects
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Backyard Visual Effects

Brian Timothy Myers
by bmyers91 on 30 May 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

In these clips I've posted, are some of what I believe to be my best works so far. Many hours were spent on these videos for this labor of love and I'm very pleased with the results. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did making them. Thank you so much for your consideration.

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I've always been a huge fan of Stars Wars, so naturally, I had a thought on what it would be like if that universe collided with our own. This project was more challenging than I initially anticipated. My workflow began with taking my footage into Blender and making a 3-D track and virtual camera. From there, I downloaded some free 3-D models of different helicopters and a few Star Wars ships. After animating my scene, I then began to add texture and materials to my models. I used fairly simple shaders and played with the roughness maps to get a more realistic surface on each craft. An HDR photo was used and tweaked for lighting on the models in an attempt to match the original footage lighting as much as possible.  After rendering my scene with an Alpha channel and hold out planes to produce shadows, I then took it into After Effects to composite with the original footage. I noticed after rotoscoping my foreground, that my background ship wasn't behaving as it should since it was working off the motion track of the entire video. To fix this problem with the change in depth, I isolated the sky and did a separate motion track to incorporate the movement of the background ship. In After Effects, I added some motion blur and adjusted the tint and grain of my assets to better match the original video. For the background ship, I lowered the opacity of that layer to simulate some atmosphere to make it appear like it belongs in the sky. There were definitely set backs, but overall I'm satisfied with this project. 

The Pandemic Defense System, guaranteed to protect you and yours from that nasty virus...and everything else that dares step on your property. For this project, my workflow consisted of 3-D tracking my footage in Blender, grabbing a couple assets, then modeling the container and pole. Animation of this scene took longer than I would have liked, but it was necessary as I wanted the gun and pole to move robotically and bounce as if it were actually attached to hydraulics. For the basketball, I did a physics simulation for a couple bounces and tried to time things the best I could. The smoke was done with a particle smoke simulation. From there, I added texture and material. The gun itself proved difficult to UV unwrap, even when assisted by Blender's UV Smart Unwrap. For the container, I wanted the color and texture to match the driveway as much as possible to produce an element of surprise when the gun pops up. After adding an HDR and building some shadow catcher planes to get the shadows exactly right, I rendered out my scene with an alpha channel. From there I took it into after effects to overlay on the original footage. The container lid still stood out at the beginning of the video so I masked out the lid and dropped the opacity of the layer until right before the lid was opening and then spiked the opacity back to 100 percent to have the initial camouflage effect I wanted. In, hindsight, I would have just taken a frame from the original footage, cropped a piece of the driveway and use it as a photo texture for the top of the lid. After some tint and film matching in After Effects, I took it into Premiere to add some basic audio clips and it was good to go. 

This was by far my most challenging little short I did. It was a test in making a digital matte/virtual set that an actor could walk through. Unfortunately for everyone watching, the actor ended up being me as it does all too often. This was challenging in the sense that I wasn't working with a green screen as I didn't have one big enough to fill this wider angle shot. Yes, rotoscoping would raise it's ugly head yet again. The workflow for this one was 3-D tracking the original footage in Blender, no tracking points were put on me as to not confuse the track. From there I started building. Building buildings if you will, modeling the scene behind me was a long process, in hindsight I would have grabbed some building assets that were already modeled like I did with the buildings in the very back to streamline the process for everything. I grabbed some assets for the pallets and various dumpsters and began the process of texturing and materializing. From there, I added an HDRI to match lighting. Then I rendered out the scene and took it into After Effects. Frame by frame, I cut myself out into the foreground until I was satisfied. At this point, I was thinking how much easier this would have been to have a green screen and be able to pull a key to make rotoscoping an easier process along the way, and to produce better results. If you look closely at the top of my head and surrounding jacket areas, the rotoscope will dance a bit as it's not perfect. It's the only thing I'm not completely happy about with this project. After all of that, I added an animorphic lens flare to help blend the two pieces together and, well, it's pretty. I did final compositing in Davinci Resolve for color grading and noise reduction.


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