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Ideas on how to project a video on a building?

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Stephen PickeringIdeas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:31:04 am

I posted this morning but it must not have made somehow...

I have been trying to create a somewhat realistic effect of a video being projected on the side of a building. I saw a car commercial last year which had images and video being projected in the background on walls and buildings as the car drove by. That is the effect I am looking for. I have played around with blending modes, 3d projection, light transmission, etc. and have come to a point that is acceptable but still not very good. I'm hoping someone can give me some pointers (even if it means starting from scratch using a different method.

I will post the link to my project in a followup (in case for some reason that is why my first post this morning was never published).



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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:55:35 pm

Hi Stephen -

I think you're on the right track. I think the key to getting it to look real lies in masking the video to the face of the building you want it on, then skewing the projected clip so that it looks as if it's actually on the face of the building. Corner pinning could accomplish this, as well as just putting the clip into 3D mode and adjusting it so that the clip is as close to the plane of the building face as possible, and softening the edges so that they fall off.

As far as looking right in lighting terms, I think blending modes is the way to go, and I'd go with Additive mode, which adds the pixel values of the clip to the pixel values of the building - this is much like what a light projecting on a building would do. You might have to adjust the brightness of the clip so that it looks right, but I think you're heading in the right direction. Lighten mode could work as well, but I generally prefer Additive when I've got a clip that's brighter than what I'm compositing it on.

Scale also comes into play. If I remember the type of commercial you're talking about (I've seen several over the last few years), the scale of the projection looks massive, way over the top in terms of reality. You could not project an image the way these images are projected. Thinking about it now, maybe that's what's looking wrong with your project so far - it's too real. Maybe over the top is what's needed for this. Good luck.

Joe Bourke
Creative Director / Multimedia Specialist
B&S Exhibits and Multimedia
bs-exhibits.com


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Stephen PickeringRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 4, 2010 at 2:34:13 pm

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your quick response. I'll take another look at it tonight after work and maybe get a clip online for some more help. I think scale was a huge part of it now that you mention it...

Thanks again,

Stephen



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Mark SuszkoRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 4, 2010 at 7:57:15 pm

I may be talking nonsense, since I'm out of practice... but what I would try for this is to build the scene, or at least the crucial parts of it, in a 3d CGI environment like Lightwave or Maya. Build the road, the buildings that are the target. Use mocap and tracking of the real car in the real environment as your guide. Build enough in CG that you can then composite the rest in AE.

The footage to be projected can be set up to act like a real projection that way, and it should naturally warp in the correct manner as it plays across 3D solids texture-mapped with photos from the real buildings. Certainly you can create a still photo to act like a lighting "gel" in Lightwave, and then project that onto surfaces. They do this with stained glass window effects in CGI church models and the like, all the time. The only difference here would be to do it with motion footage, though if it was perhaps a still image sequence of targa stills, you get the effect of both.

Or is that totally off base? You can tell me, I won't cry.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 4, 2010 at 8:07:08 pm

A faster method might be to just track 3-d solids in AE, scaled to and matched to the footage of the buildings, and use those to accept and warp the light projection apropriately. Make the solids invisible but set to accept light, and what's left, the projection more or less accurately bent by the way it hits the hidden geometry, could then be made to seem like it was actually on the real building, using the proper blending modes. Would work easier on a flat sided building rather than an old one with lots of surface detail like shutters, balconies, awnings, etc, bumping out off the planar surface of the side of the building. And how you treat the windows... reflect, or crop them out? Lots of options there. Dunno, I'm not an AE guy. Only other thing I could think of would be to assign flat solids and position one for each face of the building, then have them all somehow play matched footage with warps per-applied. Could you apply the projection as part of a texture map and parent it to a null that drags by keyfaming? Now this is making my head hurt to think about:-)


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Stephen PickeringRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:38:31 am

"The footage to be projected can be set up to act like a real projection that way, and it should naturally warp in the correct manner as it plays across 3D solids texture-mapped with photos from the real buildings. Certainly you can create a still photo to act like a lighting "gel" in Lightwave, and then project that onto surfaces. They do this with stained glass window effects in CGI church models and the like, all the time. The only difference here would be to do it with motion footage, though if it was perhaps a still image sequence of targa stills, you get the effect of both. "

That's a great idea but unfortunately my 3D skills are not adequate to accomplish this... I am able to project the image using "light transmission" in AE but I can't seem to get it to distort onto 3d elements.

As I type this I realize the 3D environment I was trying to use was created using Andrew Kramer's 3D projection tutorial (which created a 3d environment using solids but having an image mapped or "projected" to it. Since an image is already being projected that is probably why I cannot project my new image on top of it... I could try constructing a 3d environment in AE by just taking a photograph and chopping it up and using the actual photo (not solids with a photo being projected onto it) to create the actual 3D elements. With that said I fear this will get me in over my head and complicate the project more than I am able to handle...



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Mark SuszkoRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 5, 2010 at 6:23:29 pm

so there is a file already projecting onto your geometry? Why not just change that file source, then? With a single still or a targa sequence?


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Stephen PickeringRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 6, 2010 at 12:03:21 am

In the example from Video Copilot (the project I've been learning from) the image being projected onto the geometry is the wall photo. Without this photo it will be solid shapes. Though I suppose I could project the footage onto the flat image (no 3d) then pre-compose that composition to use as the source image file to project onto the 3d geometry... That might work.

Here is my first attempt (before I had posted on the forum).

http://reels.creativecow.net/film/projection-1



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Stephen PickeringRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:14:45 am

Thanks again for your input! I have not implemented any of your ideas yet but I'll take another look at the project tonight and see where I can work on it. I have uploaded the project file here http://drywaterentertainment.com/misc/projection.zip. It has some elements I was practicing with from Video Copilot. I will upload a short render in a little while.
Thanks again!
-Stephen



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Stephen PickeringRe: Ideas on how to project a video on a building?
by on Mar 5, 2010 at 1:52:09 pm

How do I go about getting out of "moderated mode"? I posted my video clip yesterday along with a link to my project file and neither are being published. I assume I am in moderated mode because I am pretty new to the forums...
Thanks,
Stephen



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