Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Restructuring the Workflow

Still working on the aforementioned animation sequence; its looking pretty good. There's a special effect involved now, a lit torch weilded by the Monster. I'm using Panopticum Fire in After Effects and tackling it by producing the shots in layers.

The couple of days ago I decided that the storage space issue needed to be resolved before things went too much farther. I've been producing by taking the PSD frame files from Poser and converting them into uncompressed AVIs. These resultant files are huge, and add to that the fact that I'm producing four versions of the movie (left eye, right eye, anaglyph, interlaced). I am working with an 80GB storage drive and the space available was no longer efficient.

So, I did some investigation and decided to recompress the footage with a lossless video codec - in this case Huffyuv. In the process, I took a look at the completed footage and did some more tweaking. I've never been happy with the look of the opening scene of the film, as it looks very Poser-ish. It takes place during broad daylight and there's no room for any mood lighting. Everything is very bright and sterile.

But not anymore. I went back and color corrected the hell out of not only the opening scene, but also a couple of other sequences later in the film, brining them more in line with the lighting schemes present in surrounding scenes.

Now that I have the left and right eye video files at a more manageable level, I've been re-evaluating the post-production 3D process as well. My original idea was to produce four different versions of each shot, but give them all the same name and store them in seperate folders. I would edit the left eye version in Premiere Pro, then export the finished movie directly to DVD compliant MPEG 2. Following that, I would load the anaglyph version - since the clips bear the same name, all the edits would be kept intact - and render that out, and so on.

After doing some tests with some After Effects plugins (including one made just for this purpose, called 3D Glasses), my new strategy is to have only two versions of the movie on my HD at any given time, the right and left eye versions. Once the edit is finished, I'll create full Huffyuv encoded right & left streams and combine them in After Effects. From there I can produce both anaglyph and interlaced composite MPEG 2 files for DVD distribution.
I'm also leaning towards Windows Media 9 for all video downloads and trailers that will eventually be available from this site.

The biggest downside I've seen this week is my inability to get an anaglyph version of the movie that will work well on NTSC television sets. All test versions produced work extremely well on a computer monitor, but end up producing a substantial amount of ghosting when played back on a TV. Hopefully, the anaglyph will test well on a front projection system. But right now it seems like the optimal way to see the movie in 3D on your TV is via the field sequential shutterglass version, and on your computer via the anaglyph version.