Matte Painting Projection pt2

Hi all,

As promised in part 1, here is part 2 of the matte painting projection post.

I recently finished two shots for a client that needed scenes of New York city circa 1927. This is not a literal rendition of NY city, the buildings are in all the wrong places.. but this was meant to be a more romantic idea of NY back then! Both shots centered around the Chrysler building, of which will be live action and/or 3D in the final work. The shots I’m showing here are all pre-composited. I delivered the entire Maya scene files to the client with all of the sourceimages as they were able to render out the passed they needed.

They are also night scenes which makes them a little hard to see, sorry..

The 3D models were provided by the client which I used as is, or modified as needed. The main animated camera was also provided by the client. The second shot still has a lot of jitter due to the tracking of the live action that had yet to be smoothed out which explains why the camera feels a little weird. There was no art direction on these shots other than the client’s brief.

I did all of this using Maya. I assume there is a similar, if not more efficient approach in other 3D apps. Nuke however may make the approach through Maya obsolete! One other thing to mention, I’ve taken the Model to Painting approach. Some people paint first then build a rough model to match the painting. The technique outlined below works either way.

Anyway, so the steps go something like this:

1. I set up the basic composition and placement of the buildings within the scene except for the Chrysler building.

2. Render/Play the shot and look for parallax shifting between the fg buildings and mg, bg buildings.

3. Place PROJECTION camera/s so as to get the best coverage of the model relative to the MAIN animated camera.

4. Render out hi-res still/s of the model/s. This can be flat shaded or GI, up to you.

5. Paint the render/s in Photoshop as you want them to look. I usually label the images with info, version number etc. These notes wont appear on the model, don’t worry. Do NOT crop the image! If it’s a pixel out from the original still render, it wont line up with the model when you project it back again.

6. Project those painted images back through the same PROJECTION camera/s and assign that new LAMBERT shader (as INCANDESCENCE) onto the original model.

Make sure you select PERSPECTIVE under Proj Type. Under the Camera Attributes section, Link to Camera – This is the original camera you used to render the model. Name that PROJ camera something obvious like – Bldg_5_PROJ or PROJ_cam_A.

7. Render scene and you’re done!

Click here to see the final animation on my Youtube page.

What I’ve outlined here is fairly simplistic. I had 7 Projection cameras on this shot, for a total of 10 shaders assigned to various buildings and one bg cyc.

Here are two more images for the buildings on the right of camera.

And here is the video of shot 1. The fg building with the TIMES sign was also done using the same projection techniques. The ‘flat’ appearance of the windows in the Chrysler building would not cut it for a final feature, but this was for a test to help pitch a project and the final part of the Chrysler building as seen in this shot is to be replaced with live action.

Click here to see the NY shot 1.
These shots are pre-composited and the gamma is a little up on the youtube vids. I’ll see if I cant adjust at some point.

Anyway, I hope that helps demystify the matte painting projection process in Maya a little. Let me know if I’ve only confused you even further!!

3 comments

  1. As a blog reader, I am always on the lookout for reads that are both appealing and pleasing to digest and I must say your blog passed my criteria. Many thanks for the wonderful content you have created! Will be coming back soon!

  2. Richard Cave says:

    Really learned loads from this series. Never noticed the bridge in the advert might be because I was distracted by the actresses. Its a really powerful technique. I have been experimenting with projection in C4d and I am having lots of fun with it.

    Many thanks for a inspirational and informative post

    Rich

    • Ankaris says:

      Hey Mate.. How you feeling? So you’ve watched every ep of Neighbors and now you’re scrapping the bottom of the barrel!! Glad you got something out of it. Yeah the bridge and train/carriages too. I was too busy to pay attention to the actresses sliding down that big slide on set that day.. it was windy too!! 😉

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