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Old June 9th, 2011, 02:56 PM   #1
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Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

Im looking to create CGI guns, swords etc. for an upcoming short film. Is there an easy way to create them to integrate with live action footage? What software could I use to go about doing this?
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Old June 9th, 2011, 09:20 PM   #2
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

Hi Lee,
"Is there an easy way to create them to integrate with live action footage?"
I'm afraid the answer depends on what you mean by 'easy'. If you mean is there a program which has weapons that you can drag and drop onto your footage and it all works the answer is no. In order to do what you want you would have to learn a 3D program and you would then need to create the weapons, match the movement and lighting, scale etc. to the footage and then composit them into your footage, it's quite a complex process. You also need to shoot your footage with some knowledge of what you technically require to be able to composit successfully.
This might give you some idea of the 3D programs around:
VIDEO COPILOT | Professional After Effects Tutorials, Plug-ins & Pre-Keyed Stock Footage • View topic - Industry Applications: A (Semi)-Complete Guide
but be aware that it's a steep learning curve.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 09:44 AM   #3
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

Thankyou,

yes I've posted on several message boards and there seems to be no easy way to do this.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 10:54 AM   #4
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

Try googling "lightsaber rotoscoping tutorial" and you'll get a little bit of a taste of what you're in for. Even trying to put realistic muzzle flashes on prop guns is not very simple.
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Old June 12th, 2011, 10:40 PM   #5
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tamer View Post
Im looking to create CGI guns, swords etc. for an upcoming short film. Is there an easy way to create them to integrate with live action footage? What software could I use to go about doing this?
3D Max. You don't need to create them either. There are many people selling models and textures (some of them are free) on the internet.

If you buy the new Maya, you can even composite these 3D CGI elements with your footage and tweak them to perfection.

If 3D software isn't your thing, and your shots are static, then you can create these images in Photoshop and composite them. Hope this helps.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:54 AM   #6
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

If you're on a tight budget and want to try 3D animation, you could download Blender3D for free. It's not quite as easy or versatile as the commercial 3d packages, but the price is right.

blender.org - Home

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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:58 AM   #7
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

I think it would be far easier to make up real models of what you are thinking of and have the actors wave them about. Doing it as CGI would be challenging.One problem you will run into is that when someone brandishes a sword for example, the shape and mass of the sword influences the way they can move it. As it moves around it also catches the light and reflects stuff.

Of course if you want to learn 3D and you have from $1k to $4k for the software and six to twelve months to spend on learning it, have at it.

All things considered it might be easier to do a motion capture session and use it to drive models of the actors holding the weapons and do it all in CGI. This is far from easy, just probably easier than compositing the weapons into the clip.

Don't get me wrong - CGI is fascinating - I love working with it, but I think what you have in mind is maybe a bit unrealistic.

Re software - Lightwave may be about the most economical of the credible packages. Maya and CInema 4D are superb, but be prepared to pay over $3k. 3dsMax is used for a lot of video games - I think it's in the same $ ballpark

Syntheyes is a remarkably capable tracking program for the price and within limits is capable of doing reasonable motion capture (need multiple cameras though). You might look into PFTrack as well.

Edit - Just saw Ken's post - yes Blender is surprisingly capable and as he said, it's free. I've tried it but somehow always found it a bit more quirky than I was comfortable with. I really liked Maya but they required you to buy a support package for $100 or so a month if you wanted to be able to upgrade it so I would up with Cinema 4D and Lightwave. Along with Syntheyes.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 11:31 AM   #8
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

By the way, the reference by Gregory to having to design the action to fit what will be composited is very very true, If possible you don't want the CGI pieces to pass in back of anything in the clip because the whole art of mixing CGI with footage is the art of fakery, If the CGI object is composited on top of the footage it will be in front of everything in the footage - the footage after all is just 2D.

Tracking programs figure out where points in the footage would lie in 3D space based on camera (or other) movement so it can figure out the camera path. But the footage is still on a plane behind the CGI object - sort of like doing Green Screen - if something in the footage were supposed to pass in front of the talent it would be a bit of a challenge to say the least. It CAN be done but it is real work to make it look right.

Hope this helps
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Old October 18th, 2015, 03:43 AM   #9
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

I also have been looking for an easier way to put weapons in my short film. I watch Film Riot and they make CGI seem so easy that I was ready to purchase Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. Just about every film has CGI in it. I do know it will take me at least 6 months to learn. Deep down I knew it was going to be a steep learning curve but I just didn't want to believe it until I read what Arnie and Jim said. I don't care what the software cost I just don't want to get so frustrated I give up on it. Has anyone heard about Hitfilm Pro? Thanks
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Old October 20th, 2015, 05:25 PM   #10
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Re: Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

Check out videocopilot.net. The guy has some great tutorials including some with bloodspouts/gunshots. It's a bit more following along, so I never found it "learning" personally, but I suppose we all learn in different ways.

Since you seem to have more of a specific need, just checking out some of the tutorials is worth learning the basics, but ultimately I think you might rather look at purchasing some of the effects if he's selling them. It'd save you loads of time in learning this all. Good luck.
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