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Natural/Hand-held camera path app

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Ben Ferns
Natural/Hand-held camera path app
on Mar 13, 2018 at 4:54:11 am

Hey all, I wanted to do a quick check if there would be any interest in a tool I built to solve a problem. Basically I needed a handheld-style camera shot with a particular motion around an object, and hand-animating the path would have been too laborious. Instead I wrote an app that let me physically make the camera motion I wanted with a smartphone, and export it as keyframes.

This worked better than filming the shot and trying to extract a camera track, as it was faster to iterate on, I could use more dramatic movements, and I didn't need to worry about feature points being in frame. It's centimeter-accurate and I have the camera on-screen so its possible to use real-world framing/scale cues.

The app is in a real rough state currently (I'm manually extracting the takes, running a script on my PC to convert them etc) but if theres interest I was thinking of polishing it up so it can handle multiple takes easily and upload the tracks to a site so you can just download and import them directly.

So I guess the question is; have you had a job where this tool would have come in handy? And would you have paid to save the time & effort of doing it manually? (I'm also thinking it could be used for object motion too, but for now I think camera motion is the most obvious). If I do build it properly, I'll be looking for potential beta-testers if anyones interested (iOS only to begin with).


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Steve Bentley
Re: Natural/Hand-held camera path app
on Mar 16, 2018 at 3:48:00 am

The key here is to mimic what the big boys do - have the smart phone show the view through the camera on the phone screen itself (even in wire cage!). This system is all the rage in Hollywood now (pretty much any CG-heavy film after Avatar uses this technique.)
I'm not sure if it saves hours and hours or not. In theory it does but the possibilities it opens up, you find your self working on the moves longer because its so intuitive and pleasurable, and you can get it just so, where before you repeated the phrase -"that's good enough".
I don't know of a commercially available solution for C4D in this field so I would imagine its a marketable project.



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Ben Ferns
Re: Natural/Hand-held camera path app
on Mar 18, 2018 at 11:10:25 pm

Yeah that would be a great feature - I've been thinking of ways to emulate that context without getting into writing a crazy video streaming plugin for every 3d package.

To start with I was thinking of just allowing people to drop reference points (e.g. cubes) as its quick and easy. A fuller-fledged alternative might be to allow people to import models directly into the app. Of course a multi-million poly scene would perform like crap on a mobile device, but hopefully users would be able to strip them back a bit first.

Is this something you'd consider using yourself, or do you have a current workflow for natural camera moves you're happy with?


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Steve Bentley
Re: Natural/Hand-held camera path app
on Mar 19, 2018 at 5:04:36 am

Well we're pretty used to exporting nulls and lights and cams to AE these days so it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to do the same to an app that would let you move about in that world in real time and then send that motion data back to the main C4D file.
But and its a big but, where we really find this kind of app sings is when you have all your performance animation done and then you are just playing cameraman. I don't know how you would get enough data playing that you could see a character (or 2 or 5) "acting" so that you could react to that performance as cameraman.
Don't get me wrong, I'd use this kind of thing a hundred times a day and pay for the privilege, and someone is going to make one sooner or later (if we'd had the time we would have created something already).
It should be tablet capable too as you get more control with a bigger object to tilt (fewer round off errors and more accurate angles)



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