Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 063


This week's newsletter has an interview with one of the leading comp-based machine learning practitioners, a couple of technical Nuke tutorials, and an incredible lens reference to help you when compositing with anamorphic plates.

I also recently took part in an "Artist Spotlight" interview with Foundry, which went live a couple weeks ago. You can read it here.

Interview: Thiago Porto // VFX Supervisor, MPC New York.

Thiago Porto is a VFX Supervisor, and Senior Flame & Nuke Artist for MPC Advertising in New York. He is also one of the leading forces behind researching Machine Learning for 2D-based applications in our industry.

If you have ever considered investing time into learning more about ML, this interview is packed with resources to help you get started!
Click here to read my interview with Thiago Porto.

Relighting Real Footage in Nuke.

Last month, Alex Hanneman uploaded this great tutorial to show how you can relight plates in Nuke. Using the DepthGenerator node, you are able to generate depth, position and normals passes from your plate, and then use the Relight node in Nuke (as you would with your CG renders) to create new light sources.

This technique works best for shots with static subject matter & a lot of parallax. If you have a shot of a character or crowd moving about, you may have to find another approach, such as creating normals from luminance.
Click here to watch Alex's tutorial.

Quick Tip: Add accurate motion blur to your warps.

When warping, I always use ST Maps as the base, as they provide so much extra control. Nuke's built-in "MotionBlur" node, RSMB, and other nodes are available to generate motion blur from our warped input images, however, these nodes are generating new motion vectors, essentially making their best guess at where the pixels are travelling.

Wouldn't it be better to use our warp data to drive this instead?
Click here to learn how to generate motion vectors from warps.

The Ultimate Anamorphic Lens Reference.

If you ever need reference for any popular anamorphic lens, this website is worth a visit.

This page outlines the history and technology of anamorphic (which is required reading for any Compositor), and diving into the website provides a ton of useful information.

For example, if you know your plate was shot with a 50mm Zeiss lens and need to throw your CG out of focus, you can look at this chart and see exactly what bokeh shape the lens creates. If you're crafty, perhaps you can isolate the exact bokeh from the chart to use with your favourite defocus node in Nuke.

Maybe this shot needs a lens flare too, in which case you can check out this page, which shows a visual example of the exact flares each lens creates. It's incredibly handy to have when recreating flares using Optical Flares!

But that doesn't even scratch the surface. The Ultimate Lens Library lets you compare up to 4 different lenses side by side, with individual videos showing characteristics such as:
  • How the lens distorts an image, using a person and lens grids for examples.
  • How the lens breathes through a rack focus.
  • What flares look like when light shines on different parts of the lens (or goes out of frame).
I would highly recommend keeping this incredible resource in your back pocket.

Cheers to Dan Bigaj for the tip!
Click here to view The Ultimate Anamorphic Lens Reference website.
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Thanks to my Patreon Supporters.

This issue of Ben's Comp Newsletter is sponsored by Keegen Douglas.
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Thanks for reading!
This newsletter exists to encourage open communication and knowledge-sharing between the global Compositing community. 

My goal is to share the best gizmos, python scripts, workflow tips, and in-depth knowledge on compositing techniques, to help keep your toolset & skillset at the forefront of the VFX industry. I hope this newsletter keeps you prepared technically, creatively & mentally for any shot that passes through your hands.
- Ben McEwan