51 Combustion Tricks and tutorials

Depth of Field with Maya IFF filesPelle Johnsen2006-03-05
Free Quicktime Tutorials from AutodeskJack Pfeiffer2005-07-08
Support up to 3GB of RAM under WindowsJack Pfeiffer2005-04-27
Clip Speed Changes in CombustionJack Pfeiffer2004-08-30
LUTs Expained: Background and three free tutorialsJack Pfeiffer2004-06-03
Grading using a LUTPeter Webb2004-05-21
combustion : More Particle Sources & Browserjack pfeiffer2004-04-07
Combustion: Simulate 5D CleanDazMan2004-03-31
Combustion: Using Compound Alpha Arithmeticluc julien2004-03-26
Combustion: Global VariablesChris Williamson2004-03-26
combustion: Video Output to a MonitorJack Pfeiffer2004-03-25
combustion: Getting a Good Key from DVChris Williamson2004-03-17
Combustion: swirly cloudsJason Dreggs2004-03-16
Combustion: Simulate 3D position on operatorsChris Williamson2004-03-09
combustion: Scaling ExpressionsChris Williamson2004-03-04
Combustion Audio PlaybackJack Pfeiffer2004-03-01
Getting the most out of combustionMike Seymour2004-02-19
Combustion tracking and AE users in CombustionMike Seymour2004-02-19
Tracking/alignment using NegativeMike Seymour2004-02-17
Combustion Resource Page: Free Tuts, Tips, Help UPDATED for 2004Jack Pfeiffer2004-01-29
How to Reset Combustion to NormalJack Pfeiffer2004-01-27
Combustion ExpressionsJR Arnarson2003-10-28
Painting mattes in Combustion like FlameMarios Theodosi2003-09-07
More Particles for CombustionJack Pfeiffer2003-08-08
How to Use Native PhotoShop Plug-Ins in CombustionJack Pfeiffer2003-08-08
Getting Print Quality out of CombustionJack Pfeiffer2003-08-07
Combustion (Win) and DV/1394 FilesJack Pfeiffer2003-07-04
Working with Maya Files in CombustionJack Pfeiffer2003-07-04
combustion: Network Render / BackBurnerJack Pfeiffer2003-06-30
How to work with Images from MAYA in Combustion . .Jack Pfeiffer2003-06-06
Hot Tips on Pulling a Good Chroma Key. . . . .Jack Pfeiffer2003-05-26
Combustion: Steps to Four Corner Pinning / Four Corner TrackingJack Pfeiffer2003-05-07
Combustion: Steps for creating lights & shadows.Jack Pfeiffer2003-05-07
C v2.1 & Floating Menus Tip/TrickJack Pfeiffer2003-04-11
Field Order Reference List for all VideoJack Pfeiffer2003-02-06
Combustion: How to make realistic rainJack Pfeiffer2003-01-09
Combustion: Hardware GuideJack Pfeiffer2002-09-02
Using Combustion v2 Particles.Jack Pfeiffer2002-08-29
Combustion: Tutorial SummariesJack Pfeiffer2002-07-09
Combustion: Using RLA or PRF filesJack Pfeiffer2002-06-27
Combustion: All about Blur TypesJack Pfeiffer2002-06-05
Combustion - Using .rla/.prf files: A Reference GuideJack Pfeiffer2002-05-30
Combustion: How to Optimize your RAM PlayerJack Pfeiffer2002-05-27
Combustion: Plug-ins hintsJack Pfeiffer2002-05-27
Combustion: All about those darn CODECSJack Pfieffer2002-05-27
Combustion: Quick setting of Layers in 3D Space.Jack Pfeffier2002-05-27
Combustion: Quick settings for new Lights/shadowsJack Pfeiffer2002-05-27
Combustion: Working with ProxiesMarc Morissette2002-04-01
Combustion: Creating Soft Edged ShadowsChris Byron2000-10-08
Combustion: Using Null ObjectsChris Byron2000-10-08

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4 NUKE Tricks to save time on your workflow


Nuke: Project managmentFlorian2004-07-15
Nuke: Launch Framecycler without loading framesSean Looper2004-06-16
Nuke: Script Drag n' DropWonko2004-01-28
Nuke: 'Sliding' Numeric Input FieldsWonko2004-01-28

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12 DIGITAL FUSION tips and tutorials

Day Sky: Latitude and Longitude CoordinatesMatt Leonard2007-02-19
Simulating liquid reflections with Digital Fusion 4.02Chris Maynard2003-07-27
DF: cloud/vapor displacementChris Maynard2003-07-02
Fluid simulation with displacements and grid warpChris Maynard2003-06-10
microthermal turbulence in fusion 4Chris Maynard2003-06-05
Digital Fusion: Color MatchingJason Kolodziejczak2003-01-29
Digital Fusion: Using the new Grid Warp toolJason Kolodziejczak2002-11-25
Digital Fusion: Type On TextJason Kolodziejczak2002-09-14
Digital Fusion: Color SuppressionJason Kolodziejczak2002-09-14
Digital Fusion: Creating FireworksJason Kolodziejczak2002-08-31
Digital Fusion: Pulling an UltrakeyJason Kolodziejczak2002-08-31
Digital Fusion: Tracking Tips Mike Seymour and Jason Kolodziejczak

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14 tutorials and tips for Discreet SHAKE artists!


Free Video tutorials for Smoke and Fire 7Alan Souza2005-07-27
Creating Borders on Text in the DVEBrian Mulligan2005-07-09
Using Excel as an Animation Tool for smoke/fireCE Raum2005-05-16
Creating a selects reel for Tape-to-Tape after the conformtim farrell2005-03-20
3/2 pulldown in 720P projectstim farrell2005-02-01
How to Make a Line Wipe TransitionMark Longchamps2004-11-04
The dAMerCE Raum2004-09-08
Smoke ShortcutsBrian Fox2004-03-11
fire: Easy End Credits With Single Frame Image FilesJesse Morrow2004-03-05
3 Basic Uses of Layer Re-Entry in Fire/SmokeTim Farrell2003-10-17
Fire/Smoke - Combining Mattes in DVETim Farrell2003-09-30
Fire Tiling HelperJef Huey2003-01-28
Using 3D geom to import and zoomkaren m boyle2002-08-02
fire - Control Multiple Surfaces/AxesScott Ellman

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108 FLINT FLAME and INFERNO Tips !

Logic ops hotkeyJoao Mineiro
Blur-based D.O.F. cheat for ActionJoel Pilger
3D Beams with ProjectorsMike Galbavy2006-05-22
lookat Expression Mnemonicjake parker2006-05-02
Export Image Hotkeys to Make Multiple Exports EasierJake Parker2006-03-24
Fine Tune X-Y Image ScalingJake Parker2006-02-20
3D 'Trapcode' Strokes in ActionJohn Montgomery2006-01-29
Radial blur in ActionLewis Saunders2005-10-31
Outputting 10bit in batchJeff Heusser2005-10-02
Extended Bicubic grid sizerJeff Heusser2005-09-20
Cool new icons or 'skins' for Flame/FlintRob Wright2005-09-17
Creating Dotted and Dashed LinesDavid Casey2005-06-28
3D tracking in action: Part 2 - Automatic 3D tracksMike Seymour2004-12-20
3D tracking in action: Part 1 - Manual 3D TracksJake Parker2004-12-10
Additive surface in actionSinan Vural2004-11-05
Volumetric Light SetupJeff Heusser2004-07-28
Directional blur by using simple expressionTon2004-06-22
12 bit goodness in an 8 bit worldXavier Bourque2004-06-15
Unsharp Mask in FFIMike Seymour2004-06-08
Polar Coordinates Tutorial - Part 2Mike Seymour2004-05-24
Roto strategies in FFIMike Seymour2004-05-20
Finding the Camera's Position TutorialPeter Webb2004-05-08
Blend modes for sky replacementSinan Vural2004-04-19
flame: Turn off Filtering to Keep Action Images SharpSimon Scott2004-03-28
flame: multi-res archivingJohn Montgomery2004-03-28
inferno: Clean up/Fix Less Framessimon scott2004-03-26
Flame: Camera Zoom StabilizationAlan Fairlie2004-03-22
laser sight beamBill Shearman2004-03-16
Fake Ground Shadows for 3D ObjectsMike Roy2004-03-12
flame: Take Control of BiLinear OffsetsSimon Scott2004-03-06
flame: Who's using my framestore?Sebastian Sylwan2004-03-03
Flame: How to get a fresh action nodeLeo lovera2004-03-02
55/85: broadcast monitor focus tipJohn Montgomery2004-01-30
55/85: scan mode tutorialJohn Montgomery2004-01-30
Mixed Res: Jet Fly By - Tutorial QuicktimeMike Seymour2003-10-23
Dynamic Modification of a Bilinear with 4 point trackingTim Farrell2003-08-07
New Maya to Inferno, Inferno to Maya mel scriptsTom Tiller2003-07-30
Poor Man's MosaicKuban Altan2003-07-01
Camera & Action in batchtoby2003-06-02
Adjusting garbage mattes in scene contextRichard Lyons2003-03-05
Using Projectors to Achieve Camera DistortionMike Seymour2003-03-04
v5/8 Gotchas (Updated 3/4/03)John Montgomery2003-02-16
Intro to Batch - QuickTime TutorialJohn Montgomery2003-02-14
Working with library changes in 5/8Jeff Heusser2003-02-12
Edit Bilinear Offsets While Viewing ResultJohn Montgomery2003-02-09
Using built-in shapes in KeyerJeff Heusser2003-02-04
Viewing all Clips on Reel w/o ExitingLi-May2003-01-13
Flame SkinsAreito Echevarria2002-10-11
Cartoon Shader in InfernoDanny Yoon2002-10-11
deinterlace and field mergegeoffroy2002-09-27
flame hack: Pin Cushion Particle SetupDanny Yoon2002-08-30
Pulling a key on MiniDVMark Curtis2002-08-09
animating to audio in actionMichael Yoon2002-08-02
Batch HTML Status PageJohn Montgomery2002-07-12
3D Text blur and shadow without expressionsTom Tiller2002-07-09
SPECIAL REPORT: Modular Keyer TutorialMike Seymour2002-06-28
Blur Trick - split focusMike Seymour2002-05-29
Blur 3D Text in Action Using Source NodesJohn Montgomery2002-05-21
Hungry Pirhanas - Multi Select Expressions & LookAtElfi Bernt2002-04-20
Quick guide to new stuff in 4.6 / 7.6fxguide team2002-04-05
Creating Jitter using ExpressionsHenry Birdseye2002-03-28
3D Studio Max Model & Texture Import into ActionElfi Berrnt2002-03-26
More Particle TipsMagno Urbano2002-03-26
Re-writing the header on an archive tapeWally Rodriguez2002-03-26
Selective color correction using the KeyerJesse Morrow2002-03-26
Graphing Functions - LifetimeI in functionsAlex Ortoll2002-03-26
Pre-Comping into Source NodesBob Thagard2002-03-26
Reflection Texture Maps in Action using ParticlesJake Parker2002-03-26
Batch Scripts - Cell Phone/Pager notificationJohn Montgomery & Mike Seymour2002-03-26
Poor Man's ExpressionsEric Schaecter2002-03-26
Slipping Clips in Action with ExpressionsHenry Birdseye2002-03-26
Stupid FFI TricksMke Seymour2002-03-26
Selective color correction using the Color WarperJeff Heusser2002-03-26
Simulating Technicolor using BatchButch Seibert2002-03-26
SPECIAL REPORT: Particle Functions OverviewJohn Montgomery2002-03-24
SPECIAL REPORT: Expressions TutorialJohn Montgomery2002-03-22
Video Archive Space EstimationRich Bobo2000-11-30
Bilinear OffsetsSimon Scott, Chris Staves2000-08-31
Modular Keyer TipsMike Seymour, Daniel Pettigrew2000-06-19
Grid Makingflame-news, Nicholas Gervay2000-05-25
Building a Monitor WallScott Ellman2000-05-18
Page Turn in Action Using a Deform NodeAlex Ortoll, Martin Helie2000-05-18
Keyboard Shortcut to Drag a Frame Out of a ClipSimon Scott2000-04-04
Heat Distortion using ParticlesBob Thagard2000-03-03
Additive Mix in Action with Transparency and MasksJeff Heusser2000-03-03
Day for NightJim Redden2000-03-03
Simulate Z MotionWally Rodriguez2000-03-03
Photoshop Screen Using BatchAlex Ortoll2000-03-02
Edge FlashingMark Holmes, Jon Baxter2000-03-02
Optical MixSteve Scott2000-03-02
Ultimatte tipsJeff Heusser2000-03-02
Combining Two Mattes via Source Nodesflame-news posting2000-03-02
Tracking Two Moving ImagesSteve Scott2000-03-02
Darken and Lighten Brush in PaintBeak2000-02-18
Blood StainsScott Ellman2000-02-18
Motion Blur on Still ObjectsJeff Heusser2000-01-01
Outline Text Using ActionKuban Altan, Jake Parker1999-12-27
Color Correct a Clip in a Soft EditSimon Scott1999-12-20
Output Clip to Record TCUdi Edni1999-12-20
Digital Wrinkle CreamPascal Bertram1999-12-16
Separating RGB in ActionHenry Birdseye1999-11-29
Alternate Chroma Key MethodScott Ellman1999-11-17
Using Matte Source Nodes to Help Clean and Edge in a CompPeter Koczera1999-10-21
Simple Vapor Particle SystemPeter Webb1999-10-21
Scanline look via interlaceAlan Latteri1999-10-12
Avid Time StrobeFred Ruckel and Mark Intravartolo1999-10-09
Compositing tipsEric Schaechter1999-09-27
BetacamSP Dropout FixKuban Altan1999-09-24


Stephane Harnois1999-09-21


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7 tips for on-set Tracking



Several tracking tips to keep in mind the next time you supervise on set.
Tip Number 1 - Try Using Yellow Markers on Green

On green screen - use yellow markers and separate the components separately for tracking and keying. On the left, you can see what the full color rgb image looks like. Note that if you use the green channel only (middle image), the markers are easily keyed and you avoid time consuming marker removal. The red channel provides a great high contrast image for tracking.


Tip Number 2 - Use Newspaper as Pattern for 3D Tracks

Newspaper makes an excellent tracking pattern for 3D trackers. If you have a large green screen set, lay down newspaper away from the keying area and the non repeating - highly detailed patterns of the news paper will track really well.


Tip Number 3 - Marker Placement for 3D Tracks

If you are filming a greenscreen, it is important to not just have markers on the same flat greenscreen background, markers need to be at different distances from the camera for a good 3D solution.


Tip Number 4 - Round Adhesive Labels

Good premade tracking marks are as close as your nearest Office Depot or other office supply store. Avery makes a variety of colored dot stickers in a variety of sizes. Their web site shows a large variety of sizes and colors and don't take up much room in your travel bag.


Tip Number 5 - Keep the Greenscreen in Focus When it Makes Sense

For compositors, this is a pretty obvious tip. Sure, there are times when this isn't a steadfast rule and the lens choice requires a soft-focus background. But we mention it here because you might be surprised how many times this isn't simply basic procedure on set. It never hurts to mention it on a technical call, especially if you're not going to be on set for the supervision. The first time you get back some footage with all the tracking marks way out of focus and you don't need it that way, you'll remember to mention this

Tip Number 6 - Special Case - TV and monitor screens

One area that people tend to "over mark" is when shooting TV and monitor screens. Often the best comp can be done by shooting with the unit just turned off instead of covering the tube with blue or green screen. This let's you get realistic reflections that you can kiss back in to make the comp better. You can usually pull tracks off of the corners easily or off some detail in the case. If tracking marks are put on the face of the screen, and you are trying to keep the reflections, removing the marks can be tedious.

Obviously you will have to use some judgement on each shot. If someone with frizzy hair is going to linger in front of the monitor you may prefer to cover the face with blue or green material and add tracking marks. This will result in you not getting any real reflections, but general reflections can be faked easily.

One thing you DON'T want to do is let them feed a color generator to the monitor - "look it's blue" ... this is a frequent production thought and one that rarely works well, if at all.

Also check carefully thru the viewfinder for what is actually being reflected to make sure it is what you want and is not the camera, some lights and a crew member. Reflections can be hard to see on video assist.
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Intro to matching real lighting with CGI



Matching lighting which is part of a photographed background is a staple art of Technical Directors and FX artists. It is an art more than a science. Below Andrew Whitehurst (see: Charile & the Choc. Factory fxg podcast) presents some basic thinking and principles to tackle such an assignment. This technique uses no raytracing, no Global Illumination and no HDRI. This is because in real-world production it can be prohibitively time consuming to render using these more advanced techniques. The majority of FX shots you see in film are produced using nothing more sophisticated than depth-map shadows and reflection and environment maps.

The majority of FX shots you see in film are produced using nothing more sophisticated than depth-map shadows and reflection and environment maps.

OK, so how do we tackle this problem? Well the first thing to do is have a good look at your background plate. For this shot I had been asked to add an CG aircraft taking off to a photographed backplate. I had been given no reference images and no tracking data. I duplicated the shot's camera move by hand in Maya and I animated the aircraft to the CG camera move. Once this was done It was time to look at the plate and extract the information I would need to light the CG elements in the shot.


Scene Black
Film and video seldom represent true black in their images. In this plate the circled area is scene black i.e. it is in total shadow. However, looking at the pixel values shows that the average shadowed pixel is roughly R=30, G=29, B=32. Therefore I should not let any element of my CG lighting become darker than that, as it will stand out when it is composited. To achieve this I add an ambient light to the scene.


The Ambient Pass
Here is a render showing the ambient light's contribution to the scene. This is as dark as the CG elements will get. This was achieved with one ambient light tinted to match the slightly blueish cast of the shadows in the background plate.

Key Light Direction
As I had been given no reference for this scene it was necessary to estimate the light direction from objects present in the photographed plate. This water fountain's shadows gave a good indication of the angle and intensity of the key light and I was able to set my CG light to match this angle.

Key Light Colour
This area of wall which is actually only just off-white indicates that the key light should be an orange/pinkish colour. It is always a good idea to find an object in direct light in your backplate which is close to white as this will give you your cue as to what colouration should be given to the keylight.


The Keylight Pass
Here is the render of the key light's contribution to the scene. Its intensity, direction and colour are all derived from looking at the background plate. Now all that's left to do is add the fill light to the scene.


The Fill Light Pass
Adding the fill lights is a bit of a black art. There is no rule of thumb on this other than that they are generally a similar colour to the ground or walls in a scene (they represent bounced light after all) and that generally they are placed in the opposite direction to the key light. Using the backplate as reference, keep adding fill light till the ratio between light and shade looks similar to the photographic backdrop.

The Complete Render
Once all ambient, key and fill light passes are combined they look like this. All that now remains is to composite these elements with the background plate and to add any effects passes, like particles for example, to complete the shot.



The Finished Shot
By adding some noise to the CG elements, blurring their edges and tweaking the values of the colour balance and contrast etc. the final composite can be produced. Rendering all the passes as separate elements gives your more control over your final image in comp. By this I mean you can increase or decrease the amount of key or fill by tweaking the individual layers rather than having to render the whole sequence again from scratch. This sequence also has a particle pass rendered from the exhausts which was also used as a matte to add some heat haze to the background plate.

This is not an exhaustive guide to matching real lighting by any stretch of the imagination but I hope it gives you some methods and strategies for tackling this complex problem. This was a pretty simple example, there are no contact shadows nor reflective surfaces with elements in the background plate for example which would complicate matters, but none the less it's a real-world example of how I tackled one pretty simple shot for a film.
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