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Tips and tricks of mixing CGI with live footage


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Hello There,

I am new here. And i wanted to have my first discussion about what are tips and tricks and best practices that the pros use to blend in CGI and vfx with live footage. I mean it may seem like an easy challenge but I've seen all kinds of people messing things out every once and a while. Even big studios often fail.
P.S. I may use this information in my dissertation extend with some further research. 
Thanks in advance. 

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Proper lighting first : you need to take HDRI pictures onset during the shot of your footage, then rework them to have a proper correspondance of colors (using things like mcbeth chart etc.). Those HDRI can then be used to light your scene (Image Based Lighting). That already helps a lot with integration.

Materials : you need to have good material references and build nice shaders to mimic real world materials (if that’s the purpose : sometimes you want weird/unatural/scifi things to be integrated :-)

Then in compositing, you have to tweak all of that to blend things as the director wants.

In few lines that’s hard to tell you more : there so much parameters to makes things works, and so many different situations that will make solutions unique to one shot...

I recommend you to look at some LookDev and Compositing courses on fxphd.com They are really great and taught by professionals :







Edited by StepbyStepVFX
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I guess it is not explicitely told like in your question, but this is what lots of people have in mind behind their very technical questions in the lighting / rendering / shading sections.

By the way, it is not very software specific : making good HRDI is done through Photoshop / Nuke / Panopro / PtGui etc.

And Houdini is usually not used as the goto software for compositing, although is has strong capabilities in that domain. Big VFX houses use Nuke, or Fusion.

And last but not least : you’ll see that apart from RDB, explosions, fluids, Houdini is also very used by motion graphist, which has other requirements than photoreal images and integration.

So indeed, you won’t find many topics directly mentionning intagration of CG into real footage on that forum, but if you have specific / technical questions relating to that, there are many professional that can answer (I am just a hobbyist), specially if these are technical Houdini questions :-) 

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Re number of replies, your question isn't tips and tricks, it broadly covers entire departments and careers of CG artists. Integration is largely the domain of compositors but upstream a small army of people are dedicated to making it happen, from the on-set sup to the texture and materials artist to 3D artist to the compositor. Take a look at The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Brinkmann and the VES Handbook of Visual Effects by VES. Great references. And there's a British Film Industry Visual Effects Foundations ebook running around that has a concise descriptioin of the skills involved.

Edited by kev2
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