Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 004


This issue is all about animation curves and their many forms. It's also filled with shameless plugs for tools I created years ago (and still update / maintain to this day) to solve common problems I was constantly facing. I hope they help you too!

There is a bunch of information on the web about random noise functions. A few years ago I wrapped some up into the bm_NoiseGen gizmo as an easy way to create any type of curve imaginable. I'll usually use this to modulate fire-light AOV passes, create blinking lights in matte paintings, etc.

David Emeny has a good resource on his website that outlines the math behind these different curves. More-recently, he has created a super cool tool to automatically add animation to any knob in Nuke, called Animation Maker. Makes adding more complex animation much easier!

I created this tool specifically to handle data that's output from the CurveTool.

For example, in a shot with constantly varying light that I need to match, I would run the CurveTool's 'Avg Intensities' mode to automatically generate a curve that matches what's happening in my shot. This data is useful as-is if you want a Constant node to roughly match the values in your shot, but you have to manipulate the data for it to be useful when working with CG renders.

That's where this gizmo comes in! You can copy the CurveTool's data into the gizmo's Animation Curve knob, tell the gizmo what the minimum and maximum values are, and then remap them to a new minimum and maximum value (0 and 1 in this case). This allows you grade any AOV to any value, and use your new remapped animation curve in the Mix knob to sync up your changes with the lighting variation in the plate!

Click here to download bm_CurveRemapper!

For the next version of this gizmo, I'm working on a way to automate finding the CurveTool's minimum and maximum values. If you would like to be notified about updates to this gizmo, or any others I have made, you can sign up here.

Working on Gravity at Rising Sun Pictures presented a bunch of really interesting challenges on some seriously cool space shots. We handled the space station re-entry sequence at the end of the film which involved a lot of subtle camera movement and turbulent buffeting. This encouraged the team to look for reference of cameras shaking in different situations, which quickly led us to the conclusion that Nuke's built-in CameraShake gizmo barely does the essentials, and ultimately isn't very good...

We found that camera shake in the real world can be broken down into three distinct parts:
  • Float -- Large scale handheld-like movement
  • Shake -- What we usually associate Camera Shake as
  • Jitter -- Small sub-frame vibrations that produce some really interesting, streaky & squiggly motion blur
Because Nuke's Transform nodes concatenate, we could implement our findings as expressions in three different Transform nodes, and it all worked whilst only filtering our image once. Although it wasn't the most elegant solution...

A couple years down the track, I encountered a need for this solution again, and decided it would be handy to wrap up a more-elegant iteration of the idea into a gizmo. This gizmo combines all three parts into one expression whilst still maintaining control over the individual elements, and also shakes the centre-point of the transform (especially on the jitter) to create some really nice, natural-looking motionblur whilst the camera shakes!

Click here to download bm_CameraShake!

I recently came across this video by Peter Nowell demonstrating how computers calculate bezier curves. Pretty interesting stuff!

Click here to watch!

Bladerunner is up for the VFX Oscar this year -- this breakdown clearly demonstrates why! Great work to those who were involved.

Click here to watch!

One last thing.

I hope you've been enjoying receiving this newsletter! In order to deliver the most relevant tools, techniques and knowledge to your inbox, it would be a huge help if you could please update your profile. This will ensure I'm sharing the most relevant content with you going forward!

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