interview with Franco Valenziano – VFX supervisor (Complete)

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Good morning Mr. Valenziano, could you please introduce yourself?
I am Franco Valenziano, a VFX Supervisor.
I have been working for years on visual effect in different areas: from advertising to television, from cinema to fiction, from general events to theme parks.

What does it mean to work as a VFX Supervisor?
The visual effect Supervisor is involved, or at least should be involved, in projects which contain digital interventions only in the preproduction phase. During the examination of the script with the production, he has to define which are the best technical solutions by mixing, if necessary, special effects (the ones made on the set) and visual effects (the digital effects made in postproduction phase). He discusses about the budget with the eventual VFX producer, follows the shooting phase on the set, which is important in order to have information about the set. For example, if you need to rebuild the camera movements, the lens used, the lighting, or if you need to check the numbers of the takes and the necessary interventions, he supervises all the postproduction work and coordinates the team until the final delivery, in which he confronts his work with the producer, the director, the video editor etc… This work surely requires technical skills, but also a good taste and devotion for image and cinematography, knowing the possible outcomes you can obtain by using different techniques.

You began to interconnect with the CGI world only in the 80s, so you have seen the special effects progression from the analogical to the digital: can you tell us what actually changed in the use of special effects or in the way of shooting films? What changed from the technical point of view?
My experience has always been digital, I am a computer expert, I started working by chance in a telecommunication company, where the majority of my friends were employed to program telephone software. As I wrote in my CV I loved drawing and as they wanted someone for the cad group, I was assigned to one of the first graphic workstations of that company, even before the Silicon Graphics.
So, we started developing codes in C or Pascal writing simple programs for two-dimensional drawing purposes in order to help engineers make printed circuit boards; then we discovered 3D libraries in those stations so we started using them too. This experience lead me to work for a little computer graphics company, the Eidos, it was 1985- 1986. We wanted to develop a 3D animation software, as we saw there were already some types of them around the world: Wavefront, an older one named RobertAbel; we worked with the University “Politecnico di Milano”, where they had just developed a rendering raytracing software. Under these circumstances I worked on the interface part, writing codes, but I was the only one able to use that software –obviously I wrote it myself- I knew which button should be pressed and which one should not. Later I started having fun drawing images with that software so I left the developing part for the production one, it was much more fun to use rather than write. Unfortunately that project was never completed. Later I kept working with the first digital post production company in Milan, where the digital effects were still limited to the 3D ones. There were the first compositing softwares, some concerning the workstation of Quantel (like Paintbox, Harry, etc…) in which the 3D PAL images were written on 1 inch type videotape. During the early 80s- 90s, we had a lot of fun, we were a small group of people working on these workstations because only a few companies could afford the investments in graphic hardware and software which cost hundreds millions liras. I remember we went to the SIGGRAPH in USA because the company had us sent there to attend courses and conferences and many associates never came back.
I got to know the special effects only on the cinematographic set, but I had never had any experiences in that field, I just want to make it clear.

So, when did you actually start working in the VFX effects field?
Firstly, I started working in the advertising sector. Then I managed to work for a movie in 2000s: Gabriele Salvatores called me to work on a film named DENTI, a strange story, quite hallucinated, where different visions came out as the main character started his trip…

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CINEMA AGING TECHNIQUES

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In the world of cinema one of the most widely used special effects, exciting for the audience, is that of aging. Seeing a young actor in his turn as an old version,within a few minutes in a movie, has always fascinated and intrigued viewers . This requires a very percise attention to details, therefore it is difficult to satisfy the public with this effect .

Often, when we talk about aging, is believed that is represented by wrinkles , but this isn’t the whole story. Wrinkles are only one of many aspects that come into play in the transformation that occurs in the human body due to ageing. Let’s review some of these aspects, paying particular attention to the delicate area of the face :

1.Change in form of bone and cartilage

When aging, bones and cartilage change their shape and thickness. This not only affects the appearance of the joints and spinal column and then changing the posture, but also has very obvious effects on the body part above the neck. In fact nose , ears, facial shape and head size are all factors that tend to swell with time, going  which radically transform features of the face.

2. Loss of muscle tonicity

When aging, the muscle mass decreases and this is true both for the body and for the dozens of facial muscles . And so aging consequently empties and lowers most of the areas of the face such as cheeks, eyelids and chin .

3. Loss of elasticity and thickening

After bones, cartilage and muscles there is the skin that  when it’s the time, breaks down into dermis and epidermis. The dermis, the most inner layer, consists of elastin and collagen. These substances progressively diminish as the time goes by, causing a wrinkled skin that falls. The epidermis is instead mostly outer layer and is made up of billions of cell layers, which are renewed every three weeks. With age advancing this renewal slows down causing a thickening which results in an uneven grained, flaky skin, with large pores.

4. Complexion and brown spots

The loss of micro and macro nutrients due to the age makes skin visibly extinguished wiht uneven coloring. In addition, the accumulation of hours of sun exposure and metabolic problems cause the onset of typical dark spots of old skin.

Taking all these aspects into consideration is easy to see that making a character old is absolutely not a simple task to do. We must therefore arm ourselves with art and specific techniques. In the world of cinema the most  disparate techniques have been devised to make this a credible and spectacular effect. A prime example is given to us from the horror movie director and creator of cinematic effects, Mario Bava. His films were in black and white, and his technical advantage on this system was to use colors like red and blue on the actors faces. Then he used mutiple lights of the same colors had  used in the make-up, to make visible or invisible the facial areas rigged to appear wrinkled.

Nowadays, thanks to the experience of make-up techniques established for decades, and with the help of digital, we can admire true works of art of transformation. We take as examples the movies The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Mr Nobody . We chose these two films because they represent to us masterpieces and because they require a detailed analysis of digital and material techniques of aging.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

In this movie David Fincher tells us the curious case of Benjamin, born old but rejuvenated with the passage of time. To achieve this transformation has been used both digital techniques that make-up. Indeed, for the first 52 minutes of the film, when Benjamin is very old, his face was completely computer-generated. For what comes after, has been used techniques of material aging applied to the protagonist Bread Pitt .
This dual approach , as well as winning the well-deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup, amazed and fascinated the public for the duration of the film, coming gradually from a very old to a vigorous young Benjamin.

Mr Nobody

Suppose , for the production of a film , to decide how to ageing an actor of more than eighty years. The most obvious choice would be to take another actor to play  the old version of the protagonist. There are not obvious and simple choices for the director Van Dormael , nor are those of its subject Nebo Nobody . Jarred Leto in fact, that as the title role, has undergone hours of make -up to make such a radical transformation happen. Indeed we can talk about additive sculpture seeing the amazing results.

Our Technique

We made a mask for the face to mimic wrinkles. This mask is optimum for a zonal aging, for example around the eyes. The ingredients are Aloe and Brewer’s Yeast. These are very economic ( a mask costs about 5 cents ) and affordable. Further these components are also good for the skin, after applying the mask the resualts are visible after like 5 minutes , and are easily washable with just water.

 

TIME MACHINE

  • RENATO ANGELONE
  • FEDERICA FERRO
  • SHOYA MOOSAVI

 

A World in Miniature

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The use of miniatures has fulfilled an extremely important role into the history of cinema and more in general of Motion pictures.

This special effect has permitted the achievement of convincing results from the very beginning, leading to the production of amazing movies.

With the passage of time, and the combination of different techniques, the use of miniatures and scale models reached astounding results and it seems almost impossible that they were made with those methods.

With today’s advancements in movie industry, anything imagined can be created for a film with digital effects, but the use of miniatures still gives the filmmaker an arsenal of tools that keeps sequences and shots convincingly real and engaging.

In this short documentary we will analyze the history of this important effect and we will discover how has been employed in his different versions.

Enjoy!

 

 

Symbol Machine

Valentina Valle
Enrique Valido Moure
Lorenzo Secchi
Francesco Cretti

How to: create a real ghost

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How to create a real ghost

In this tutorial we’re going to see the easiest way for doing a simple and nice effect, making disappear the charachter under the sheet, in order to give the illusion to see a real ghost.

First of all, here what do you need:

  • a sheet (possibly as long as possible, in order to cover all the person),
  • a camera (it’s not required a good quality), you can also use a phone camera as long as you can fix it in a stable way,
  • a tripod,
  • a wide angle lens (I used a 12-24),
  • Adobe After Effects

Are you ready to start shooting?

well,but before to introduce your characters is very important to record the set without them, in order to use it later as a background.

Keep the tripod where you did the background shooting and keep on shooting with the characters.

So, lets go to After Effects!

now you can start the post production, creating two layer, one for the background and one for the main clip.

After that, create a mask with the pen instrument, and then activate the clock and modify for each frame, the dimension and the position of the mask, subtracting the character under the sheet movement.

Lastly, you can add a camera in order to simulate a movement that helps to hide the effects and for the same reason, if you are willing to lose quality, you can also export the clip in worse resolution (I exported in 960×540).

 

Enjoy!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Jairo Sánchez

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Jairo Sanchez 1Image No. 1

Jairo Sánchez Velandia is a Colombian 3D artist who actually work on the Video Games industry, his career started when he decided to study Multimedia Engineering (2006), it was a new career in his hometown, but he realized it wasn’t what he liked the most because it was focused on programming and he’d prefer the visual and artistic area such a 3d modeling and applying textures for video games. Because of this, he went to study in Orlando (Florida). He arrived to the Full Sail University, where he studied Art For Video Games, he studied for about two years and worked in different academic projects. Once he graduated, he went to Los Angeles, California, where the biggest video games industries headquarters are. In this place, he started making different course at the Gnomon School of Visual effects, where the teachers worked not only giving classes, but also worked at the industry, because of this he was able to getting contacts and knowing important people of this area.

Jairo started modeling in 3D some characters and props, which are chairs, desks and different objects used on a video game, and texturized them. With this he started his portfolio, always focused on the Blizzard style because he always wanted to work there. Jairo showed his work as a demo real on an event where recruiters of different companies went to the university searching for new talents. After this, he started with an entry level job on the Carbine Studios at Aliso Viejo, California where he started working on the game Wild Star. On his job as an entry level, he had to do a bit of everything such as 3D models, textures, some things of animation and fixing bugs, which are errors that need to be fixed before the deadline of any job.

While he was working at Carbine Studios he was also focused on his desire of working at Blizzard, and he worked on his free time on models and ideas for his portfolio with the cartoony style for presenting them to the Blizzard company.

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Later in 2014, he went to the annual event prepared by Blizzard called Blizzcon, this event lasts two days and lets people know the new games, talk to the filmmakers, artists, programmers, designers and animators; there are also conferences and it’s a good place for networking a knowing what’s going on in the real industry. On this event, Sánchez talked to the Art Director of Blizzard and made the contact for sending his portfolio. After some days he was called by the Art Director who offered him a job on the Star Craft and Heroes of Stone game, he took the job and he is working there from the two last years.

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Image No. 3

How was your experience at Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games and Animation?

At the beginning, I planned to just stay at California for around two weeks. I visited the campus and finally decided to stay for a whole year enrolled in different courses -always focused on the graphics and visuals, I am not the programmer kind of person. The school offers courses in almost everything you could look for: animation, texturing, composition, modeling, sculpting as well, it is possible to assist to monthly conferences that they organise with specialised guests that go there and talk with you. The school also has software workshops and if I was far, it was possible to access at whatever hour I want to the online library.

In Gnomon everyone is willing to help you. If you want an advice other students as well s teachers were willing to help you, but what I liked the most of this school was that the teachers were active members in the real industry, this means that it was a good cornerstone (as a student) to create connections.

With all these events the school constantly organised, I decided to participate in one of those where recruiters go by presenting my “Demo reel,” a short videoclip in which I showed my portfolio; different persons of different companies watched my work and I gave them my business cards, in that mini-fair I met my first contact in Carbine Studios.

Which are the principal areas that work together on the creation of the games?

In the company where I work, there are different teams where each member has its own “specialization” and each one is in charge of a specific job:

  1. In first place, there is the area of the concept artist, who makes the drawings and illustrations.
  2. We have also the artists who are in charge of all the visual part but they have also specific jobs such as:
  • Environmental artists: make trees, houses, backgrounds and the general environment of the world they are working in.
  • Prop artists: they make the chairs, beds, lamps and different objects depending of the game.
  • Weapon artist: they work on the weapons.
  • Character artists: are in charge of making the characters, armor, and creatures.
  • Effects artists: they get focused on developing different effects such as water, fire and magic.
  1. Another area is Programming one, those who work here are in charge of making the tools so that the visual part and the different dynamics of the game work as it is supposed. Depending on the game, there are many fields for programmers; if it is an online game, there are specific programmers working for it, also different ones for the game functions and for the game engine. The game engine it’s the program where we insert all the content done by the different artists and is all put together in a “giant 3D space”, is where the game’s universe is created and details are add.
  1. There are also Designers who work on the dynamics of how the game will be played, and the kind of game the market needs. For example, if it will be a FPS “First Person Shooter” such as Call of Duty or Halo where you only see the hands of the character and the rest of the screen it’s the scenario, or if it will be a MMORPG “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing game, such as World of Warcraft where you can completely see your character and all his movements. The designers also decide how much lives the character will have, how it will be the dynamic for passing from one level to other, and all about the game development.
  1. The Tec Art or rigging area is the one where we take the character modeled and we insert the armor so that the character can move.
  1. The animators create the movements of the characters and general animations of the scenes.
  1. The producers who are in charge of making sure that all the due dates are accomplish.
  1. The administrative area which I do not know in deep .

In which area of the described ones do you actually work? 

I work on the artistic area, with all the visual creations, we are called the 3D generalists and the team is conform by 9 member. We are not specialized on just doing one thing -as some people could imagine, but we must do all the process (Pipeline); starting from the design on 2D, then the 3D model, textures, the rigging, the animation, effects and finally inserting everything on the game engine, and well that what I have to do.

What is the difference between the way your team works and a normal pipeline process?

From the beginning of the concept everyone has a specific role in the making of the objects. The team is bigger than mine and every person get to be better in only one phase of the process, all of them decided together, however the work itself is made separately.

First, the character designer proposes, them the boss accepts and the in charged of the modeling starts working at the same time with whom got to make the texturing, after this the rigging, the animation (and its effects) and de dynamics are created by different professionals.

Which are the different types of video games you have worked with?

  • FPS: First Person Shooter like Halo
  • RTS: Real Time Strategy as Starcraft
  • Racing games: such as cars games
  • Adventures games: like Mario and Zelda
  • RPGS: Roll Playing Games, such as Final Fantasy and Dark Souls
  • Mmorp: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, such as Warcraft
  • Indie games: are the ones created by independent developers

On which Video Games have you worked?

  1. Wild Star on Carbine Studios.
  2. Star Craft 2 on Blizzard.
  3. The second part of Star Craft 2 (that is like a game into the game) on Blizzard.
  4. Some objects in World of Warcraft.
  5. I also made some academic projects at the university, one of them was flying simulator that was made for teaching 12 years old kids the history of aviation.


In your opinion, what is the difference between video games and animated movies effects? 

Principally, the difference is the budget, not just in terms of money but in terms of quality for the performance of every part of the production. For movies, the render has to be done just one time, once the film is completed, there is no need of going back to render. On the other hand, for video games specially those played online, the computer have to render all the time because it is played on real time. So, the fact is that for the video games you have to achieve a high quality product with less resources, so every object placed on the game engine could be rendered without spending lots of time and servers capacity.

What is the harder part of your job?

Needing to know a bit of everything, as I explained before it is hard, but it is also interesting because I can learn lots of things about areas in which I am not so strong and in this way I may get better.

Which is the area in which you think you are better prepared?

Applying textures and color is what I like the most and I feel it is the skill I have trained the most.

How you prepare yourself for improve your skills?

Working on the real industry, I realize that we truly learn the most of the career when we are really working, needing to achieve goals and deadlines and having to improve so that your work can be really taken into account. What I have learned in Blizzard I could not have learned it in any other place, been here have helped me to learn not only from my experience, also from the experts that have been working for much more years than me, I  ask them for advice, see their work and learn about it.

Could you talk us about your creation method when developing the Pipeline?

The process for any games is like this:

  1. Create the 2D concept art, starting with a drawing and in this way you have the idea of how the model will be.
  2. Start the 3D modeling, where softwares like Autodesk Maya or 3Ds Max are my best allies.
  3. Texturize and apply colors.
  4. Import the final model to the game engine where you add lights, more details and make the final render of the models.


In which Pipeline phase could you be better at?

The one thing I like the most but I know I am not the best is the illustration phase, where the design and enlightenment is done. Even though I am aware it is something hard to me, I make it when I have to, I give the best of me and I try to learn new things every day. On the other hand, an area that challenges me is the rigging, because I do not have enough tools due to the fact that it requires of too much programming techniques and it is not so artistic, and I am more related to the visual and artistic field.

What kind of 3D models you do the most?

It depends on the game we are working for. For example, last year one of my colleagues and I modelled all the creatures and characters for a game. Currently we need some buildings, so that is what I am working on. But what I like the most is creating different characters and their typologies.

How is the design process and the election of the definitive arts?

Normally, if the team have a Concept Artist, this person is the one in charge of developing the design proposals to the Elite Artist who approveS the best option. Finally, they pass the illustration to us, the 3D artists. If the team does not have a concept artist’s proposal, we as generalists are also in charge of making design proposals and after the approval we also develop them indeed.

How much time have you been working on the last video game?

Two years, since 2014, because a game has been released, it does not mean that the complete project is over. The first version of Star Craft was launched in the 1998 and the second version on the 2010, which is the one I am working with. The thing is that after finishing a game we develop the expansions, this is an extra content that lets gamers continue playing and that the game does not vanish in thin air, we produce new expansions every year (or sometimes two)  with new stories and levels.

We also continue working on the games because on the online versions players report problems, so the programmers start working to fix them  with a “patch”, which is a type of upgrade available to download.

What part of your job do you like the most?

My favorite part is the Illustration, everything that has to do with painting, textures, and using Photoshop. I also like Concept Art (the most I produce), but I enjoy the most illustrating because even though it is not my great strength I liked it so much because it is possible to tell stories with drawings and designs, you can get closer to the person who is playing the video game; in the concept art it is more about the “how” an object or a character has to look in the scene.

Jairo Dánchez 10

Image No. 4

How do you evaluate your own job?

While I am working, my method for evaluating my process is to insert the proto-model into the game engine. In this way, I can see how does the character will act into the scene and I can fix and improve things while I am on the process.

In order to get close to Sánchez’s style and way of understanding the Pipeline, he told us his creative process as shown in the following images. Checking his portfolio we chose a piece he made for World of Warcraft, from this moment we were asking him about the ax the orc is holding on this right hand.

Jairo Sanchez 7
Image No. 5

What was your main inspiration when starting this piece?

My main inspiration sources were the game’s story, the brief or the description that the Design team gave to me, and the former versions of the game. They are the three things I always take into account to start working. Nowadays, I work in the video games’ extensions, reason why I analyze the former background.

In this case, the reference I had was simply the orc, that’s how I started. The goal was to make a weapon for that character. So, I questioned myself: How is the character’s personality? In which moments would it appear? What materials composed its armor? I realized that the orc had chains and his armor had kind of lava or some matter that seem like fire, with that data I chose the color palette for the axe.

Jairo sanchez 6.jpgImage No. 6

What role does the 2D Concept Art has on your work?

It is the most tangible result of the first phase of the creative process that must respond to the character’s attributes and of course, the game. I always present the Concept Art as an illustration made in Photoshop. Considering the possibilities this software gives me to edit images and play with different color. It is my reference to fully design the axe. Getting to know the character I am designing for is the pillar of my job, but only with the concept I am able to propose the object, in this case a weapon.

Jairo Sanchez 5.jpg

Image No. 7

How did you create this Concept Art?

This process starts sketching a lot; I draw different forms without any detail. I just delineate silhouettes that let me imagine the shape of what I will finally end up with. As mentioned before, I get focus only in the form not the details in order to accelerate the process. After having a lot of small and very basic drawings, outlines and silhouettes -up to twenty or more, I select the most complete design. The next thing I do is to render it. I start painting it in Photoshop, one of the most useful tools in this industry.

For example, the “816 Tris” that is near the axe (Image No. 7) means the weapon’s budget. In other words, it is a very cheap creation. On top (Image No. 7) there is the axe as a mesh, it is a 3D wireframe made with Autodesk Maya. Finally, on the right corner of the image the texture is named as “512×512” which means the object resolution.

What does it mean the “Tris” budget?

In order to animate a character (previously modeled) it is important to work with clean surfaces that reduces the spent time correcting the polygons on a specific mesh. Using tris means that the model will have less mistakes in the surface and the smoothness in the render construction. The motors present in the graphic card memories that use the 3d modeling software reduce all information to triangles.

Sometimes you should use the lowest quantity of polygons to safe memory and be sure I am not working “in vane;” if I spent so much time making very detailed forms -and adding triangles to my mesh- I would be losing my time because may be nobody is going to be aware of the changes while playing the game.

For animate a model sometimes I sculpt a fast model and then I produce a new one with higher resolution (more tris) in which I improved the texture and some details I could not fixed in the previous one. To achieve this I had to learn very well the UVs’ mapping process, otherwise the texturing part would not get okay in neither the concept art model nor the dynamics.

What is the most common process you use to create a texture?

The textures are often super-rare, this ax (the metal part) is wrapped around the 3D model. To do this I located the skin of the object as if it were a plane (made in Photoshop) and then connect the texture to the model.

A three-dimensional model cannot be painted at once, it is necessary to use the UVs; this means that we have to take the three-dimensional model, exploded it into pieces and place it in a space from 0 to 1, so called. In that space you arrange the pieces according to the size of the object, considering biggest part that the player is going to see -in this case I am talking about the metal head, this means I need more resolution at the top than at the bottom of the weapon. The ax head will be seen more because is bigger, so I first grab the head and I unwrapped the UVs, converting a figure from 3D to 2D, and like this I get to organize the pieces within that space from 0 to 1 (512×512) which is the resolution needed for the object.

The 3d model and UVs are created in 3ds Max and Maya. Once you have those, you send them to Photoshop or 3D Code and start to paint the drawings. It is like the guide that tells you where it has to be each of the parts with their respective material to go back to the modeling software and connect the object with the textures. All the models are saved in .targa, we do not use .jpeg because of the quality standards we work with.

Normally, I make the texture and I load it to the Max material, where I connect the image with the material and this one at the same time with the model.

The material has some slots where you can connect the images with. This model is called a “Defeat map” which contains the one of the color, there is also the “Speck map” which is about the brightness of each particular model. So we have two types of textures, one is the color and the second one is the glossiness. For example, you know that a piece of fabric or wood will be less brighter than a metal piece, so although the color has highlights, it doesn’t have as much as the glossiness.

What is essential for you when modeling?

For modeling there will be always needed the Scripts and Hopkins.

The scripts are types of codes that enable people like me to work faster. For example, when working in 3ds Max watching all the tools you have at your disposal is very confusing, so what you want to have is a window to show you all the buttons and commands that you have used in that specific window among the whole project. To open it you have to make a code that allows you to see it. It is a helping tool that is used often; programs come in a standard an common version, sometimes we cannnot even handle them, so what the company do is to build numerous codes and scripts to make the program easier to create our game.

If we want to put the models in our Engine Game then programmers make a button for that, in this way you don’t have to do a lot of steps but simply by pressing that button you will obtain what your are looking for, the model will be taken and placed directly into the engine game, “the game world”, rather than doing it by hand; it is faster and more efficient. There are scripts for 3D modelling, I rather than starting from a cube and start moving the vertices, the scripts helps me to start with another default form.

What do you do for animate the video game objects, characters or clothes?

After the rigging is done you start doing the last changes to the model. However, during the whole process after the art concept I do have to make different tests in order to prove if the model is doing well inside the game engine platform, every single change I made is a new moment in which I am expected to test and correct the visuals that are not working.

How much programs do you work with?

I use lots of programs, but depending on what I am working on I decide which one can give me the best tools for making what I need on each specific project.

Finally, we asked Jairo if he could describe in few words some concepts we were going to ask him for. So, we told him a concept and he quickly answered the main characteristics he thought represented the specific concept, like shown next:

PIPELINE

Brainstorming.
Concept Art.
Modeling.
Uving.
Texturing.
Engine Import.
Final Art.

TEXTURING

Blocking out colors.
Material difinitions.
Painting datails.

CONCEPT ART

Thumbnails.
Blue Prints.
Sketches.
Illustrations.

SOFTWARE

3D packages: Autodesk 3DS Max and Maya.
Photoshop.
Game Engine.

INTERVIEW MADE BY: “Plus 2″  Maria Camila Botía Bocanegra & Juliana Oñate Berrocal

*Images presented in this note were download from JAIRO SÁNCHEZ PORTFOLIO: http://sansajairo.blogspot.com/

How To: Piano Plays By Itself VFX

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Hello!
In this HOW TO video you can see a pretty cool visual effect with the piano which plays by itself (or rather pretends of doing it). Of course you can also get some useful information and advices how to do it in very easy way and without necessity to have any exceptionally expensive devices.

To do it well you will need:
– a camera,
– a camera stand,
– your piano,
– a thin stick, white thread with transparent scotch tape or any other object to move piano’s keys (in a less visible way possible)*,
– Adobe After Effects installed on your computer.

Steps to do:
1. Filming the piano (with and without moving keys),
2. Register the audio layer of the ambient sounds and music,
3. Post-production:
– separating and organizing layers,
– masking keys in movement,
– synchronization of the keys and sounds,

Before starting it would be great to understand first how does it work? Remember to be prepared well at the beginning – it will help you a lot as during filming as during the post-production. What’s more you will save a lot of time.
The whole secret is the work in editing based on many layers putted together and the masking. In a few words: you will need a background video with the piano (without moving keys) and above you should use another layers but this time with keys in movement. All what you have to do is to mask keys separately and then synchronize their presence and speed movement with the real sounds of the song. If you have not an acoustic piano I mean – if you can’t move the keys from the inside (without touching them) by moving internal parts like strings and hummers, you will need a little visible object (what is written above) to move single keys from the outside. In post-production it will be necessary to play with doubles layers of keys to cover unwanted object which is touching them.
Watch the video and learn to do it by yourself. 😉

Author: The MultiTasker (Mateusz Polek)