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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:35 AM   #1
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How did they do this?

Hello,

Can someone explain how the new HP Centrino Hands Commercial is done?
Especially the part where the actor appears to be holding paper or animations in their hands. Is it all special effects or a mixture of real objects and special effects? Btw, the commercial can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV54SymSGKk

Thanks,
Troy
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Old August 28th, 2006, 02:36 PM   #2
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The person's hands for this would be performed filmed empty and tracked in 3d (this is often done manually, but there is an increased use of "witness" cameras filming from aditional angles to help pinpoint the 3d position of things like finger tips throughout the shot).

Once the position of the hands & fingers were plotted in 3d, the remaining effects are added with various 3D/CGI applications.

In the instances where fingers cover some of the CGI effects, the finger masks would traced/painted manually, frame-by-frame (rotoscoping or "roto").
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Old September 25th, 2006, 12:33 AM   #3
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Hi Troy. While Nick's explanation is a technique that is often used for 3D graphic work, I'm not sure that it was employed for this commercial. You can check out the "Shaun White" commercial, and then a fake desktop appears at the end, with a "Video" folder. Double click the video folder and you'll find the "making of" video for the commercial. The link is:

www.hp.com/personal

It's my understanding that motion tracking is usually employed where the "actor" is going to be replaced by a CG character, or motion control data is recorded of camera movement so it can be used to integrate video/film footage with 3D graphics. For the former, the actor usually wears some kind of suit to plot their position in 3D computer space. Shaun obviously isn't wearing a suit for this commercial.

The shot is just a simple, straight on locked off shot. Programs like After Effects are very effective at making 2D imagery look like its three dimensional. My guess is that they first shot Shaun's hands doing the movement, then went into a program like After Effects and manipulated 2D layers in 3D space to make it look like he's holding things, pushing them around, etc. The concept is very similar to some of the ads that have graphics following people around, like Arby's, only expanded to a greater sophistication.

Last edited by Cal Johnson; September 25th, 2006 at 04:32 PM.
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Old September 25th, 2006, 02:09 PM   #4
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Hi Cal,
I think you might have "Nick" and "Troy" transposed there. ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal
My guess is that they first shot Shaun's hands doing the movement, then went into a program like After Effects and manipulated 2D layers in 3D space to make it look like he's holding things, pushing them around, etc.
While I think these graphics go a few steps beyond what would be traditionally done in AE alone, I a gree that the 3D manipulation was most likely a manual animation process .... this is what I ment when I posted "tracked in 3d (this is often done manually...". I did add the concept of increased use of witness cameras as software like Syntheyes and Moviemento are making this increasingly do-able off the shelf.

It's too bad the behind the scenes video stops short of getting into post prodcution. The best clue it offers is the frame setup in front of Shaun. If his hands moved primarily in the same plane as this frame, and the lens focal length and distance to the frame were carefully measured, it's pretty routine to calculate 3D coordinates for everything in frame without the use of extra angles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal Johnson
It's my understanding that motion tracking is usually employed where the "actor" is going to be replaced by a CG character, or motion control data is recorded of camera movement so it can be used to integrate video/film footage with 3D graphics. For the former, the actor usually wears some kind of suit to plot their position in 3D computer space. Shaun obviously isn't wearing a suit for this commercial.
Right. This is actually Motion Capture, which is a bit more extensive process than just 3D tracking (manual or automated).
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Old September 25th, 2006, 04:52 PM   #5
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"While I think these graphics go a few steps beyond what would be traditionally done in AE alone"

I don't know... I use After Effects an awful lot, and if you brought me this concept I just wouldn't see the need to "track in 3D". You have to remember that even if you can say "ok, his hand is at this point in z-space, then its here..." the video clip (his hands) is still going to be a 2D layer, and moving a CG graphic in z space is simply going to make it appear either in front of the video layer, or behind, at which point it would be obscured by the top video layer. All of the graphics use bend and distortion effects on 2D graphics, of which After Effects 7 Pro is completely capable. Careful masking along with moving the graphic in negative z-space would make it convincing that he was maniplating the graphic with his hands. I don't know if they even used After Effects for this project, however at NAB I watched STEAM put on a presentation of how they did the Discovery HD promo, and it had graphic manipulation just as sophisticated as the HP comercial.
As for the frame, I think the explanation is very simple. This commercial is all about his hands, and I'm sure the frame was being used as a guide so that his hands don't leave the shot or get to close to the edge.
After Effects 7 Pro has some VERY sophisticated plugins, and its pretty amazing what it's capable of doing.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #6
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http://www.hp.com/personalagain/us/en/making_hands.html

A lot of it is done with a 3D app like Maya/3DS/Lightwave.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 10:13 AM   #7
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Awesome! Thanks for the link!
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Old October 6th, 2006, 10:07 PM   #8
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Cool Shaughan, so do you know which app they actually used? I mean, Maya, 3DS and Lightwave are all quite different, especially Lightwave. Seems from the video they are working with grids representing flat layers in 3D, a bit of an over-kill for a 3D app like Maya.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 03:47 PM   #9
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Nice. Thanks for the video link. As a side note I was surprised how they recorded the audio in a plain room with no sort of acoustic tuning. Not to mention that he is standing in front of a window (ouch...we usually throw blankets or use egg cartons if we don't have any foam...to cut down on the bounce you get from windows). You can see the guy putting the lav. on Shaun and then I guess they used the boom pole mike to get the ambient sound and mix the 2 together. The audio came out really well given the location where they were at. A+ to the audio guys they definitely know their stuff.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 03:37 PM   #10
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Hello Everyone,

I haven't been to this thread in a while, but you all did some great investigating on this one. All of the info. is great (especially the link)!!! I have AE 7, but would like to invest in a good 3D app. Did anyone ever figure out what's the most bang for the buck between maya, 3DS, and lightwave for creating 3D model effects like the ones in the commercial?

Thanks,
Troy
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 10:36 PM   #11
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Personally I think you'll get your best bang for the buck with lightwave.
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Old November 3rd, 2006, 01:13 PM   #12
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Well, just so everyone understands, I'm not trying to start an argument here. When I watch the video, what I'm seeing is a manipulation of what are essentially 2D images in 3D space. So basically its like holding up a piece of paper, but then bending it so that the viewer can see the paper image has depth. After Effects 7 is perfectly capable of this type of manipulation. If wanted to model a car or a skateboard, or something like that, and see that it has depth and is indeed a 3D model, then, no, After Effects can't do that. But if you want to have the effect of a flag waving in the breeze, or a picture that bends, or sweepy light things that seem to surround objects, then sure, After Effects can do that stuff for you. You don't need a dedicated 3D program to do that. So Troy, I'd suggest you look at the 3D capabilities of After Effects more closely. I have used Maya, Animation Master and Carrara, all of which have pluses and minuses, but I'd say that 3D Studio Max is probably your best bet. Be aware that 3D software is DEEP, and really a full committment unto itself.
On the flip side, I created a 3D Earth in both Carrara and Animation Master. I did the same thing in After Effects using the "spherize" plug-in, and it looks every bit as good and convincing as the 3D apps versions.
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Old November 3rd, 2006, 02:15 PM   #13
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Personally, I think one of the best bang-for-the-buck 3D apps around is XSI.

As far as AE vs 3D for Cal,
I think that you're generally correct for about 90% of the effects in the ad series.
There are a few effects shown specifically in the Making Of video above that were just plain easier to do in 3D than AE.
Namely, the 3D shirt (responding to touch), the 3D table cloth (with cloth dynamics) and the treasure chest doors (which were indeed 3D models).

The music display did look like something that could have been just as do-able in AE than a 3D app.
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Old November 3rd, 2006, 02:22 PM   #14
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Thanks Cal. I'm still getting use to AE7, and certainly don't know all of it's 3D capabilities. If I can do this in AE7 then that would definitely save me some time and $$$$ :-) I will check out some of the tuts on the cow.

Troy
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Old November 3rd, 2006, 02:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Jushchyshyn
Personally, I think one of the best bang-for-the-buck 3D apps around is XSI.

As far as AE vs 3D for Cal,
I think that you're generally correct for about 90% of the effects in the ad series.
There are a few effects shown specifically in the Making Of video above that were just plain easier to do in 3D than AE.
Namely, the 3D shirt (responding to touch), the 3D table cloth (with cloth dynamics) and the treasure chest doors (which were indeed 3D models).

The music display did look like something that could have been just as do-able in AE than a 3D app.

Hi Nick,

How would you go about doing the music display? Is that a screen capture from a music program or something else? Btw, I agree about the 3D programs and some of the effects.

Troy
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