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Testing Motion Blur Processing and Animated Cameras

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I've been getting back to work on machinima in the source engine and I decided to test a few new effects I've learned. All of what you see here is very much a work in progress, the animations, motion blur processing, models and sounds. I'm hoping to improve and polish all these elements. I'm very interested in hearing you're suggestions or ideas for improvements in all aspects of this video.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80c71HWPjpQ

 

(Also does embedding work on this forum? None of the codes I know work for embedding youtube videos here.)

 

Motion Blur Processing:

 

This was accomplished using the same process that Ross Scott uses in his Civil Protection and Freeman's Mind series. Basically this method involves filming the footage at 180 frames per second in the source engine and then running it through the MVTools plugin using this script:

 

LoadPlugin("C:\Program Files (x86)\AviSynth 2.5\plugins\mvtools.dll")
source = avisource("sidepass1 180fps.avi").assumeFPS(180).ConvertToYV12()
backward_vectors = source.MVAnalyse(isb = true, truemotion=true)
forward_vectors = source.MVAnalyse(isb = false, truemotion=true)
return source.MVFlowBlur(backward_vectors, forward_vectors, blur=100).TemporalSoften(2,255,255,255,2).selectevery(6,1)

 

This uses the high frame rate video to work out motion vectors for areas of the image and then blurs them based on their speed. Unfortunately in some of the high speed shots in this video you can see that there is no blurring, I think this is because there is too much movement in that part of the screen and the tool is unable to keep track of the movement because it's sample size is too small and so the movement goes out of it's range. I'm guessing that capturing the video at an even higher framerate might fix these issues but i'm wondering if there is another way around the problem.

 

To be honest I know very little about AVISynth scripting and using the MVTools plugin and I am appealing to anyone with previous experience to offer advice to help me improve the effects shown here. I should also mention that this was made using MVTools version 1, I know there is a newer version available but i was unable to get my script to work when using it.

 

Animated Camera:

 

The animated camera path was created in Softimage and put into the Dodge Charger model as a simple animated attachment point. I then parented a normal garry's mod camera entity to the attachment point and the animation plays out thereby moving the camera with it. This is mainly just an experiment but it will be useful for my future films which involve high speed chase sequences.

 

Dodge Charger:

 

If you want the model you can download it here:

 

?t=dll&id=121149

 

or as part of my vehicle pack SVN of Garry's Mod: http://svn2.assembla.com/svn/mastersmiscmodels

 

More information here: http://www.facepunch.com/threads/918163-Master-Chris-s-Vehicle-Pack

 

The sounds you hear in this video are still WIP but the final versions will replace the current sound effects in the next update to my pack.

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Nice work on the car pack. I've been browsing through the facepunch thread but haven't had enough time to check it all out. Can those cars be used in Hammer? I took a Ford Mustang from another car pack and imported it into Hammer but it has no wheels so I have to fake something out for my machinima. So, you wouldn't happen to have a '66-'69 convertible Mustang in your pack that can be used in Hammer?

Little Freemans - Episodes 1-5

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCD714E092FC2A2A1

Malf Hockery - Episodes 1-5

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Nice work on the car pack. I've been browsing through the facepunch thread but haven't had enough time to check it all out. Can those cars be used in Hammer? I took a Ford Mustang from another car pack and imported it into Hammer but it has no wheels so I have to fake something out for my machinima. So, you wouldn't happen to have a '66-'69 convertible Mustang in your pack that can be used in Hammer?

No sorry, no mustangs yet. But yeah if you want to use the vehicles for yourself then I'd love to see what you can do, just don't decompile them without my permission. In fact if you need any modifications then just ask me to do it, I can't guarantee when exactly I'll be able to do it but I'll try to get it to you as soon as I can.

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I don't need to decompile anything and I don't know how to anyway. I just need a custom model vehicle that works in Hammer but I think I can fake my way out of this one. Maybe I'll use some of your models in the future. Nice work

Little Freemans - Episodes 1-5

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCD714E092FC2A2A1

Malf Hockery - Episodes 1-5

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Wow, man. That looks super sweet smooth. I wish more people used as much detail as you do. I don't seem to notice any faults it it, though. It looks like it blurred everything that was high-speed to me.

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I remember you sending me this video a while back or something similar. Yeah, that's the same script I made for Civil Protection. I really didn't notice the visual artifacts you're talking about, everything that was moving seemed to be blurring. You can always increase the framerate if you think it's not being sampled enough. If you want to get crazy, try 360 fps then put your divisor by 12 instead of 6. I think Source will go to at least to 999fps, I would try multiples of 30. 180 just seemed like the magic balance between size and noticeable effects to me. If a scene is really fast motion you might want higher.

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Wow, man. That looks super sweet smooth. I wish more people used as much detail as you do. I don't seem to notice any faults it it, though. It looks like it blurred everything that was high-speed to me.

 

Thanks, the Dodge Charger model is one i've been working on for years now, sort of an on-off project that i've only recently put into the Source engine. The drivetrain and rear axle was by far the hardest part to animate, in fact to get it working properly as a vehicle I had to create a new animation method. The .qc and .smd model format has been criticised for it's lack of streamlining but it is amazingly versatile and it's that freedom which allowed me to add that detail to the model.

 

I remember you sending me this video a while back or something similar. Yeah, that's the same script I made for Civil Protection. I really didn't notice the visual artifacts you're talking about, everything that was moving seemed to be blurring. You can always increase the framerate if you think it's not being sampled enough. If you want to get crazy, try 360 fps then put your divisor by 12 instead of 6. I think Source will go to at least to 999fps, I would try multiples of 30. 180 just seemed like the magic balance between size and noticeable effects to me. If a scene is really fast motion you might want higher.

 

Hello Ross it's great to hear from you, it was actually this video which I sent you before:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sn9B-QHkcc That was filmed on my older computer and back then the rendering time was so long and the hard drive space taken by the extra frames was so large that I couldn't use the method in the final film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWYtH43RCFE I simply didn't have the resources to deal with it at the time.

 

As for this video I agree that the artifacts are pretty difficult to see and I probably am lettig my perfectionist streak get in the way of progress but if you watch in High Definition you can see that the ground isn't being blurred properly in the bottom right corner of the screen from 0:25 to 0:27 and the whole road from 0:28 to 0:33. In these areas the only blurring being provided is from the frame ghosting created by the TemporalSoften part of the script. I'm probably being far too critical but I will try rendering at 360fps for my next test video to see if that does help with removing these small artifacts. Another thing I've thought of would be to actually render for a final framerate of 24fps which is used by most film cameras, this is also the framerate which the official Valve promotional films are rendered at and i think it does give the footage a genuinely filmic appearance.

 

For the next test I'm probably going to focus on particle effects such as sparks and tire smoke and ways to co-ordinate them with the action. I've seen there are ways to trigger effects such as sounds and particle effects directly from model animations and i'm going to see if it's possible to get the effects to be triggered automatically when the vehicle is in a certain state. For example to throw sparks from the underside of the vehicle when it lands heavily from a jump. I will also continue to experiment with pre-animated camera paths.

 

For me the demo smoother is just so buggy and user unfriendly, plus it doesn't allow for camera paths to be 'parented' to a moving object like in this test video. I'm planning to perform most, if not all the camera work in Softimage XSI from now on and then export the camera paths as animation into the source engine so I can use either Garry's Mod camera entities or the hammer equivalent if i'm filming in Half life 2. Doing this just allows for so much more control and ease of use over the demo smoother and I urge you to try it for yourself. I just find that modifying the animation path is far easier in proper animation software than trying to do it entirely in the engine especially since you can properly edit the function curves and so you have a lot more control over the acceleration of the movement, not just the key points.

 

I learned the technique from watching work by another Machinima film maker called MaxOfS2D, you may have heard of him. In his example he uses 3D Studio Max but the method in Softimage XSI is exactly the same, although you may want to export the camera path as a separate model rather than as an attachment on an actor, it really depends on the requirements of the scene. Anyway here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muK6r58MYGI I'd recommend watching some of his finished work as it's very impressive.

 

Max has also started his own set of machinima guides, to be honest they probably have very little to teach you but he has discovered an interesting way to simulate full self shadowing on models and he also covers ways to modify the appearance and accuracy of env_projected_texture shadows: http://blog.maxofs2d.net/?page_id=419 I don't think these methods will work in the standard Episode 2 engine because the lighting bugs haven't been properly fixed yet but the Garry's Mod version of the engine does have support for multiple dynamic light sources.

 

Now that I think of it you mentioned in a blog post that you actually had to get help from a coder to fix the lighting in the episode 2 engine so you could complete 'The Tunnel', is this modifed version of the engine available to download anywhere?

 

Personally I can't wait for Valve to release their Source Filmmaker tools as it will help streamline the entire process of machinima in the source engine, I think that their recent replay update to Team Fortress 2 is definitely a step in the right direction and perhaps it shows that they are taking more of an interest in machinima made on their engine. What are your thoughts?

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