Can anyone tell me how to do this..... at

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Old January 29th, 2010, 09:02 PM   #1
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Can anyone tell me how to do this.....

Hi Guys, I havent noticed many posts to do with 3DS Max, but I presume some of you use it.
Does anyone know the workflow for Making 3d text in Max and inserting it into a video scene.
I'll expand. I have footage of a panning city skyline, I want to put some huge text on top of the buildings as the camera pans past.
Ive gotten as far as applying the footage to a 16x9 plane created in Max
then creating the text and placing it in position,
This is where it gets a bit sticky. The only way I can see to do it is to keyframe x, y and z position and rotation for every frame :(
Are there motion trackers in Max?
Is there a better way to approach it?
Any help would be much appreciated, even a point to a tutorial.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 12:36 AM   #2
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1) I use Cinema 4D and not Max, but this shouldn't much affect the basic how to

2) I don't fool with text, but have inserted 3D CGI objects into a few clips - I'm not so great at it but it works.

If the buildings are moving (or hopefully if the camera is moving) then you'll need to track the clip. I use something called Syntheyes - it's about the lowest cost "real" tracking software out there and it's used by more high end outfits than you might think - alternative software from Imagineer or Pixel Farm or Boujou etc can get really expensive (I think Pixel Farm has a lower end tracker called PF Hoe that isn't too pricey if I remember right.)

Lots of tutorials on Syntheyes around. Some on their web site and they have a forum that gets a lot of responses from Russ Andersson who's the developer of the software. He usually shows up at NAB if you're going to be there and he's also always at Siggraph (in LA this year I think)

A superb resource for this kind of stuff is

They offer some really great courses and the instructors answer questions on their forums. I think a 3 month registration is $330 and this gets you 3 elective courses and a background fundamentals course.

It also gets you access to their VPN license server so you can download and run a lot of really top notch software like PFTrack that would cost several $k for a license

Only restriction is that the VPN license server is only for use for educational purposes meaning that you can't use it to do commercial work - but building a demo reel for yourself is OK.

Having said all that, if the camera move is only a pan on a fixed tripod, then tracking becomes more problematic as there are no parallax shifts, which tracking depends on to get 3D information. Nevertheless, all is not lost and you might get useful results. If the clip is something like a helicopter fly-by you should be in great shape to get a good track.

These packages all basically export a 3D point cloud for the trackers and a camera path whcih you have to import into your 3D package of choice.

By the way, Maxon has some really good tutorials on using Syntheyes with C4D on their Cineversity site - can't remember if these are free or if you have to sign up with them and pay something. I don't know if any of the Max sites have anything similar but I wouldn't be surprised.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 01:09 PM   #3
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Thanks for getting back, was beginning to think I was a forum leper.
Im downloading a trial of Syntheyes now. Is it similar to the motion trackers in After effects?
Reading about it, it doesnt seem too like hand held shots, I suppose none of the trackers do, just depends which one copes the best.
I recently added some objects to a music video that was shot with a 4k Red camera, big production stuff, and it was all hand held, not a tripod anywhere all day. I guess hand held doesnt automatically mean amateur.
thanks again for the info, ill post back how it goes.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 08:48 PM   #4
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I don't know that much really about the AE trackers, but I think they're really at heart mostly 2D - So this will give me an incentive to dig into them a bit and maybe I can prove myself wrong. But I think I'm not really wrong.

I've seen some suggestions that one not stabilize footage before tracking in Syntheyes, rather, it is better to track , then apply Syntheyes stabilization to the tracked clip. Can't remember where I saw that but I'll try to find it. As I recall, the software is clever enough to update/adjust the tracks when it stabilizes a tracked clip. Or maybe there's an additional step where you specifically tell it to do the update.

For DV I always fly my GL2 on a Merlin, so footage isn't too wobbly even though I'm far from a super steadicam user. My JVC 110 is too heavy for the Merlin, but I've gotten smooth shots by mounting it on the hood of my Land Rover - yeah, I know, a 5000 pound "dolly" isn't too generally useful. Does look impressive as all get out though!

Re being a forum leper - I think it's mostly a case of most of the users not being into using the footage for matchmoving, CG etc, although there are a couple of folks around who really do know a lot about it.

Let me know how it works out.
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Old February 10th, 2010, 11:52 PM   #5
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3ds Max user chiming in here. 3ds Max does have a camera tracker built in, but I'd follow Jim's advice and look at something like Syntheyes. Max's tracker was incredibly frustrating for me, and it's been several years since I've used it. For the projects I did use it on, you needed to have control points in your video for the software to track. For my scenes, I had tiny balls of florescent yellow putty in various places. In order for the tracker to work properly, you had to have a minimum of 6 control points. 4 of them had to make up one plane, and the other 2 making a second plane perpendicular to the first. The points in your scene had to be numbered, and the distances between them had to be measured. The actual tracking can be done automatically, but unless your video is spot-on with well defined tracking markers, you're going to be spending a lot of time manually tracking. All I can say is that it's incredibly time consuming and VERY tedious. Mind numbingly tedious! If not done properly, your 3D element will stick out like a sore thumb because it will appear to slip and slide during the shot.

Oh, and Jim, you're correct about After Effects trackers. They are strictly 2D. AE also has some limitations that other 2D tracking programs don't, which is one reason you can get some cool plugins like Mocha.
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