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Old September 16th, 2007, 05:13 PM   #1
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putting a sign on the side of a vehicle

Hi, I want to put a sign on the side of a vehicle which will be driving around. Having it signwritten will cost a lot so i was wondering if this can be done in post?

Does anyone know what sofware would be used for this and what i would have to watch out for when I shot the sequence?

many thanks
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Old September 16th, 2007, 05:21 PM   #2
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It can be done in post, but it isn't easy, and could get very hard if you were to have complex shots.

Keep the camera stationary, and keep the vehicle stationary. Except... you probably can't do either of those things.
Mostly, then, try to make the side of the truck move slowly, with minimal 3D movement (panning, driving straight, etc., are fine; turning around a corner with the camera watching, the camera moving around the car, etc. would be tough.)

For actually doing it:
1. Track the motion of the truck. I'd suggest having something there in the first place to track. Put, at least, 4 points on each of the corners of the 'sign'.
Since it IS a 2D surface, you might be able to get away with 2D tracking with a corner pinning technique. But you might also need to use 3D tracking if the motion got very complex. That's why I suggested basic motion above.
2. Place your graphic based on the track.
3. Rotoscope anyone/anything in front of the sign out of the way. (Duplicate the original layer, place the sign between, the add parts of anyone/anything back in on top if they cross the sign.)
4. Integrate with the video-- reflections, noise, colors, blur, etc. This can be tough. Especially for reflections, you'll need to figure out some creative solutions. A matte (dull) sign would be a big help with that.

The fewer shots the better, and the less motion the better. It's possible to put it in there with any amount of motion/shots, but it will become increasingly more difficult, and quickly.

A shakey camera is a really bad idea, unless you know someone who is good with 3D tracking.


As for software, you'll need some sort of compositing app. After Effects, Shake, Fusion, Combustion, etc. All of them can do this.
If you do get into complex 3D motion, a 3D app (maya, max, etc.) might help, though may not be needed, and boujou, icarus, syntheyes or other 3D motion tracker would be a big help.


Take a look at this reel for some idea of how it's done:
http://www.urbanviz.com/
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Old September 16th, 2007, 06:19 PM   #3
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You could regret trying to do this in post. Find a creative solution to make a real sign. This is no time to learn compositing. Tracking the vehicle is the easy part. The hard part is matching the existing footage. I suppose it depends on what your expectations are, but if you want seamless CGI you might find it to be a challenging tasks. Assuming you are not going to do it yourself, I recommend you consult your compositor while drawing your storyboards.
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Old September 16th, 2007, 11:42 PM   #4
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Good point. I meant to mention that.
Tracking is not necessarily the easiest part, and certainly not easy. But, yes, matching is very tough. (But depends on the shots.)

I'd suggest learning construction before learning VFX in this case.

You'd be paying a VFX artist a lot more than that to do the work, if you can't/don't figure it out yourself.
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Old September 17th, 2007, 01:40 AM   #5
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Sometimes the easiest solution to what may be become a problematic and difficult VFX shot is not to do a VFX shot and shoot it practically. This is one of those times. Good Luck.
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Old September 17th, 2007, 08:56 AM   #6
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Oh, sorry for misleading you. That isn't my reel. I found that browsing some posts at vfxtalk.com, and it applies to the question, so I thought a visual would be a helpful example.
The original thread is here:
http://www.vfxtalk.com/forum/composi...el-t11372.html

(Though you were right about fxphd, it seems.)
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Old September 17th, 2007, 01:39 PM   #7
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Hmm my mistake. I didn't read carefully. A nice reel nonetheless.
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Old September 18th, 2007, 05:46 PM   #8
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If the vehicle is turning and moving so it's oblique to the camera you'll open up a whole 'nuther can of worms because, uness the sign is painted on the flat side of a truck body, as the truck or car (worse) becomes oblique the curved shape of the vehicle becomes more apparent and the sign would have to deform appropriately to look like it was painted on the (curved) surface.

If the vehicle is passing straight across the field of view of the camera you have some odds of success, but if not - it won't be easy!

All in all it's not impossible, but not easy unless it's a really simple pass in front of the camera. I noticed in the referenced show reel that the graffiti etc was layed onto planar surfaces.

By the way, if you want to try the motion tracking route, Syntheyes is quite good and very reasonably priced. Learning curve is non-trivial.

Any chance you could get one of those flexible magnetic sheets and make a sign out of it with paint, or letter templates, or even with letters or a whole sign printed with an inkjet? And then just slap it on the vehicle?
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Old September 18th, 2007, 05:54 PM   #9
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Figure out some way to physically place the sign, if you can, unless it's a relatively simple type of shot. With changes in angle, perspective, lighting, and things moving between the camera and the vehicle, that's potentially a lot of match-moving (probably using a specialized tool like Boujou/Monet/PFTrack), 3D compositing, and rotoscoping, in no particular order of hair-pullingness.

Last edited by K. Tessman; September 19th, 2007 at 09:17 AM.
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Old September 18th, 2007, 07:10 PM   #10
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Consider that if the reason for not doing a real sign is that you don't think it would look real enough, it will look much worse with VFX for the same amount of effort.
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Old September 18th, 2007, 09:55 PM   #11
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I've been thinking about it some more and I think that if (IF!!!) I were to attempt something like this in Cinema 4D with Body Paint or Lightwave or Maya etc I wouldn't really have to model the whole car, just the panel where the sign would go, and maybe, just maybe, I could get away with a rough approximation of the curvature of the door panel on which I wanted to put the signage.

So maybe not quite as hard as I was thinking - but still damned hard. If I were a Hollywood producer with millions to spend, I know there are people who could do it and do it well.

So I'm convinced it's possible, but I wouldn't attempt it personally and I wouldn't advise anyone who isn't 100% fluent in CGI and compositing and match moving to even think about it.

Find a way to stick a sign on the vehicle if at all possible.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #12
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It's absolutely possible. Just VERY hard. Much harder than making it in real life.

As for the modelling, that's the least of your concerns. A rough approximation will be fine and go unnoticed. Even a flat image might do depending on the vehicle.

Problems will come from tracking then matching.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 12:23 PM   #13
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What about having a cheap version of the sign printed at Kinko's (for example) and then magnet it to the vehicle (you can use those business card magnets or 8x10 magnet sheets from the office store), that will give you something to use in post - you can clean it up, clean the edgest/brighten/etc -- but all the basic physicals of it will be there in the shot for you to use. I think that would take a lot of the post time and issues out.

Just an idea.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 07:11 PM   #14
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of course a lot of this depends on the shot itself but -corner pinch- comes to mind.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 05:29 PM   #15
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thank you for all your replies. i ddnt realise there would be so much to doing it in post. i think the magnetic option sounds the easiest as it wouldnt danage the van.
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