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Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke

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Daniel Burrell
Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:50:38 pm

A couple of questions, but both have to do with the same setup. I have a simple clip, it has 2 logos and 5 round graphics on the screen with a voiceover behind it. What I am trying to do is a very simple 3d composite where the camera slightly rotates around the elements, just to make it more interesting while the voiceover is talking.

I have gotten my clips into a composite in action, and I Have moved my background back in the 3d space and curved it so I can rotate the camera and not see the edges. What I am having trouble with is adding shadows, and possibly extruding the images to give them a 3d look. I read a couple of things that indicated that extruding a graphic may not be possible, but if anybody knows how and could instruct me or point me towards a tutorial, i would appreciate it. The second thing is adding shadows to my logos and graphics. I just can't seem to get it to work. When I add the node, I don't even know if i'm adding it to the right place in action. When I add it to the axis node of the graphic that I am working with, nothing happens. My biggest struggle is that I can't seem to find any good tutorials for using action. There are some decent ones for ConnectFX, but nothing notable for action, beyond the basic one. So, it seems like a really basic question, but how do I add a shadow to an object in Action? Also, is it possible to extrude a 2d object?

Thanks,

Daniel Burrell


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 24, 2013 at 11:26:24 pm

It is not possible to extrude an image in Action. You can create a FONT with the element and import that and map the image to it. If it is a simple geom shape like a box or circle you can try and use an imported Geom. as well.

As far as shadows. Action links objects to objects. So the Axis controls the Image and the Image feeds the Shadow. I assume you are using the Shadow node and not the Shadow Cast Node. The Shadow Cast is used with lights and will create proper 3D space shadows based on lighting.

For simple shadows you can use the shadow node and attach it to the Image you want to have a shadow.

In Node Prefs... for Action make sure your Buffer is set to Shadow Mix. And then just make sure you z-sort is right when you position your objects. When done, just press Z-sort in the priority menu.

Press LOCK on the Shadow properties to have the shadow lock transparency with the image.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 12:03:44 am

I got everything except for the z-sort, I am not seeing the priority menu. Also, how would I go about blurring the shadow? I am not seeing an option for that.

On a side note, thank you so much for all of your help. I have been working with smoke off and on for a few months, and I am really wanting to become proficient with it by the end of the year. I think you have responded to most of the questions that I have asked in the past, and you have always been very quick to respond and very helpful. You have been a lifesaver on many occasions. So, just wanted to say thanks.


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 12:06:22 am

Priority menu should be the last button on the left of the UI... at the bottom. You can blur a shadow by blurring it a the MEDIA level in the Media list. "Shadow" column

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 12:27:40 am

Oh.. and your welcome.. my pleasure. I was new once too. :)

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 4:17:36 pm

Okay, i'm about 95% finished, but I have one logo where it looks like the shadow is cropping it, there is a hard edge on the shadow that is very noticeable when I blur the shadow. The logo is an oval, and the left and right edges are flat. It also has words underneath it, and those have a hard edge on the shadow as well. The original file is cropped to the very edge of the logo, so do I need to remake the file with room around it, or is there a way to give it more room from Action?

Here is a screenshot of the logo in Action with the cropped shadow.



Also, is there a way to hear my reference audio when I'm in action, or would that not even be accurate because it won't play back the video in real time due to rendering, etc?


Also, in reference to my earlier question about extruding a logo, I know that photoshop will do that, will smoke accept 3d files from Photoshop, or do you know if photoshop will export in a file that smoke accepts?

Thanks

Daniel Burrell


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 5:05:27 pm

The shadow crop is because the layers in Action are raster based and the shadow is being cropped because it hits the raster when blurred.

You can select the image in the media list... then drag up both the Source Front and the Source Matte for the layer in to the schematic.

use the MIMIC link (shift W) and link the axis of the two together so that when you move one the other follows.

Scale the image back 50%. then go back to the original axis/image in the schematic and scale it back up the same. You have basically precomped the layer smaller within it's raster and now your shadow has room to blur.

There are other ways to do this... you can do it before the image enter the Action input node by using 2D transform after the logo in CFX and before Action and then set the output size to something larger. this will scale the raster up before it hits action.

I looked at PS CS6.. the 3D is kind of cool Never used it. It appears that you can export a .obj which smoke will import, but my tests didn't work and nothing was imported. In fact the .obj file from PS was blank except the .mtl line. So a bug or i'm not doing it right. But if it did work.. that would be cool,

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 5:45:33 pm

I got it to work using the second method, through connectFX, but wanted to clarify something. When I tried the first method, I could never drag anything from the media list into the Action schematic. It would either drag and select other items, or do nothing at all.


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 5:49:07 pm

I may not have been clear.. typing while rendering.. :)

select the layer in the media list then do to the Action Node bin and drag up the source front and source matte nodes.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 6:10:02 pm

Okay, this should be my last question of the day. I forgot to add dissolves to these items in the timeline when I positioned them, before I created a composite with them. Is there a way to add that to them now, or do I need to work with keyframes and transparency? I tried to do it from the timing window in Action, but I wasn't able to.


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 25, 2013 at 6:20:29 pm

The dissolves won't convert into CFX. so you have to do it with transparency keyframes.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:03:35 pm

I am putting together a second composite in the same program that I was working on before, same setup, just different graphics. I followed the same steps that you laid out earlier, and everything worked great, but my shadows won't blur. (To blur them I am going into the media list and blurring them there) Any idea why they aren't blurring?


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:19:39 pm

Check your Z Sort in the Priority menu.. A screen shot of the schematic in Action would help. Do you se the shadow at all and it just doesn;t blur, you you dont even see the shadow? Try pulling the main image Axis up a little in Z.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:31:26 pm

I can see the shadow, it just won't blur. I just realized that every time I go back to the media list, the shadow column has reset to 5. I have set the shadows to 15 twice, and it appears that every time I leave the media list, it resets. These are different from the others that I was working on as they are full screen graphics that I have scaled down (fliers, screenshots, etc.). There are no graphics with alpha. When I select the media in the media list, to the left, it shows me the thumbnail, and below it says Matte off. I don't think that has anything to do with it, but I may be wrong. Either way, I can see the shadow, it is positioned behind and to the lower right of the images, it just will not blur.

Here is a screenshot



Thanks,

Daniel Burrell


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 29, 2013 at 10:33:47 pm

Once again you are hitting the raster of the image...so the shadow can expand and blur. If you add a 2D transform node before allot the images and expand the canvas size... That should work.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 30, 2013 at 12:37:21 am

When I do that, it scales the video within the box that it's in, meaning the box on the screen doesn't grow, but the video within that box scales up, but the video itself never gets any bigger, it just zooms in on the video, so the video is getting cropped within that box. If I scale down, I have a smaller video clip inside a black box, and the black box has the shadow coming off of it (Still not blurred). Again, this is a mixture of video clips and pictures, and it is doing the same thing with both. I did the exact sames stepes with this one as I did with the last one, but it's not behaving at all like the last one did.


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Jul 30, 2013 at 1:06:35 am

OK... On each clip.. since there is no alpha channel you can create one.
1. Click on the clip in CFX . in the UI that changes.. Select Activate Alpha.. the default is WHite.
2. Now pipe the Front and Matte into the Front and Matte inputs of the 2D Transform node.
3. In 2D Transform .. Change the canvass resolution to custom and increase the size. This will add black to the edge of the image. If you hit F4 2x you wil toggle the front and matte result. You should see that the matt matches the fill.
4. Pipe the front and matte into your Action media input.... Make sure matte is active int he media list.
Now you should be good to go. Blur away.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Daniel Burrell
Re: Extrude 2D Objects, and Shadows in Smoke
on Aug 1, 2013 at 6:37:23 pm

The project that has been causing me all of the shadow problems is finally finished. I can't thank you enough for the time that you took to answer my questions, you were definitely a lifesaver. I know the stuff that I was doing was basic in the grand scheme of things, but i am no longer intimidated by smoke, and that's a big milestone for me, so thank you again for helping me along the way.

Since I am starting from such a low level of knowledge about smoke, I am planning on doing a blog of the things that I'm learning, with answers to some of these really basic but not necessarily simple to answer problems that I'm running in to. That's something that I haven't really found much of, but I figure there's plenty of people like me out there that are dealing with the same issues, especially with the price reduction and making the software more widely affordable. This will help me solidify the knowledge in my on mind, and also hopefully help others as well.

One of my struggles with smoke, as you have probably realized from assisting me, is that because I am self taught, and because I have primarily edited in final cut and motion, there are a lot of terms that I'm not comfortable with or really knowledgeable about. I've never really had to deal much with alpha channels, or raster based graphics. I know that I've used them, but it's never caused me problems in those programs the way that it has in Smoke. I think I have a good enough grasp of them now, at least in relation to the things that I have been doing, but I Was wondering if once I get those blogs finished, if you might be willing to read over them and help me make sure that I am not giving misinformation. If so, you can e-mail me at Daniel@lightproductions.com to give me the best way to send those to you.

Again, I really appreciate all of your help. I plan on learning a lot in the next few months, my goal is to be very proficient with smoke by the end of the year, so hopefully I will be able to pay it forward soon. Thanks.

Daniel


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