Jan 28

The following is a run down of how we made a film in Turkey for a proposed seaport development. Most can be viewed through Vimeo in Full HD if preferred, just click on the Vimeo link in the bottom right corner of each video below.

Istanbul Seaport – Full Film

This film was done for a proposed development in Istanbul, Turkey, showing location, ideas, design and experience of the spaces within.

Directed by Nick Taylor of Squint Opera it shows a local fisherman encountering an ocean liner en route to the new seaport development which grows out of the water before his eyes, before he samples what this new island has to offer.

The team at Squint Opera include:
Lead 3D: James Shaw
3D Team: Steven Fayers, Dan Fells, Bruce Garnham, Nic Hamilton, Jack Hunter
Lead Compositing & Grading: Rory Lowe
Motion Graphics: Jack Hunter, James Merry

We experimented with many different aspects of animation in this sequence including using an alpha version of the Pheonix water simulator (seen in the aerial view of the development coming out the water and boats punching out the water in the apartment construction sequence).

It was made with 3DSMax, VRay, Pheonix, After Effects, NukeX and FinalCut.

Seaport Making of – Cruise Ship in the Harbour

This shot’s complexity came from the original footage more than anything. If shooting in Turkey you book a helicopter for a time, and that’s the time you go up regardless of weather. In UK at least you can postpone for when it’s not hazy, cloudy and/ or flat lighting.

So, Rory Lowe (our lead compositor) had some exciting challenges in the compositing (NukeX) stage trying to pull as much as possible out of the footage as you can see in the before and after wipes.

The footage was also horribly compressed from using the wrong codec (a comedy of errors), so things like sharpening had to be done very carefully to not enhance the compression artifacts, but instead the details within the artifact blocks.

The footage was tracked in NukeX and taken into 3DSMax where the camera height was matched to the helicopters altitude. This tracked camera was also used inside Nuke to replace the sky for something a bit more exciting.

In 3D the footage was projection mapped onto a ground plane to get any GI or reflection bounces correct for the ocean liner. This ground plane was a VRay matte object so the alpha was already ready to be pre-multiplied in NukeX. A similar HDRI was used to light from the same direction and match the original footage so any adjustments done in comp would be done to the shot as a whole, including 3D objects.

Lastly the wake was done simply as an animated texture on a plane of a boats wake from top view and included in the alpha. We rendered it with its own multimatte for separate colour control.

Seaport Making of – Fishing Boat into Port

This shot was taken from a pier to avoid camera movement and associated motion blur of pixels etc if stabilised.

The most tricky thing in the shot was again a compositing issue of blending the water seamlessly between real and CG. To do this the boat was rotoscoped frame by frame and composited over the CG. The water was then added back on another adjustable pass with animated blend zones with variable feathering. Finally the foreground CG (pier and rocks etc) was added over the top of this.

In CG the camera was matched by eye by matching horizon lines and rough heights off the water plane.

The boats were either bought or modelled and animated in 3DSMax with position and rotation lists with the second motion slot as noise. Once variables of noise looked good on one, this noise was copied to the others and the seed changed to get variation.

Background buildings and pier were all custom modelled. The rocks and trees had been recycled from other projects. The rocks in the foreground were multiscattered in place and a sea box added with VRay fog to match the colour and grade of the original footage water.

Lighting was done via Peter Guthries HDRI’s and a VRay sun to match the original footage.

Seaport Making of – Boulevard Tram

This shot started as more of a green screen shot where probably 75% was going to be footage and the rest CG. Several takes were taken on an existing boulevard and rotoscoped to blend together at compositionally opportune times. About 6 different passes were used from different takes.

We decided half way through though that the shot would be more effective if we moved everything to the right and exposed more of the CG boulevard to the left. The camera height was recorded off shooting and matched in CG and simply rotated and moved manually to get a better camera position, but still matched our paving split lines between CG and real.

All buildings were custom modelled off client requests only, no plans or sections were given as it had not been detailed down to this level. The tram was purchased and animated and 3D animated people added to bulk up the mid and background scene.

CG lighting was done to roughly match the real footage and final grade added to blend CG and footage together.

Seaport Making of – Waterfront

This was a relatively simple, but effective, scene with a couple of split lines between CG and real footage.

The original footage was taken from a building nearby and actors and bystanders were filmed. Alphas were taken from the CG elements and then blends customised in NukeX along logical paving and shadow cut lines. This were then feathered and graded into place.

Boats were bought and animated with noise and everything else was custom modelled for the scene. Subtle animations were added like the shifting piers, moving ropes and canopies, and even watery footprints for the CG character on the pier to the left.

There was a slight error with the camera height being too high in 3D so some of the CG people to the right appear too small. Did you spot it?


I hope you have enjoyed this run down and as always any questions feel free in the comments below!

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