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Adding 3D AR models to drone footage

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dylan Tucker
Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 18, 2016 at 3:25:51 pm

Hi all -

I've been shooting some drone footage for an property developer recently and it got me thinking; they have the 3d models floating about for their new houses. If I fly the drone over the site where it will be built (it's just a building site at the moment) I could add the 3d model through some fancy compositing.

My question is: what is the best way to do this? Whenever I google '3d' and 'drone' in the same search term I get back apps that will convert drone footage into 3d which is not what I want.

My guess would be I could place down some large markers as tracking points, and import the 3D model directly into after effects. Hopefully then it's just a matter of tracking it as if it's an augmented reality project.

Am I on the right track? Anyone done this or know of a sleek method or tutorial? Thanks!


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:00:21 pm

Ignore the fact that the footage was captured with a drone. How the footage was shot is fairly irrelevant; you need to track the camera. What 3d software do you plan to use? Do you have Element 3d, a full version of Cinema 4D, the Lite version of C4D? Etc.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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dylan Tucker
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 19, 2016 at 4:40:12 pm

Hi Michael, thanks for the reply.

No I don't, I was planning on just acquiring the 3D models produced by the separate firm and was hoping after effects had enough 3D capabilities. I'm guessing that i'm wrong?

Thanks again



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Michael Szalapski
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 19, 2016 at 6:24:22 pm

[dylan Tucker] "I was planning on just acquiring the 3D models produced by the separate firm and was hoping after effects had enough 3D capabilities. I'm guessing that i'm wrong?"

After Effects is not a 3d application.

However, it comes with Cinema 4D Lite which renders inside AE, so that should work just fine for what you're describing. You can link your C4D scene with your After Effects composition camera. This means that you can use AE's built-in camera tracker to place your models on the terrain.

That being said, you might consider getting the Element 3d plugin. For what you're doing, I suspect it will render much, much faster. There are some tutorials over at Video Copilot for placing models in a scene with Element 3d.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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dylan Tucker
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 20, 2016 at 10:36:55 am

Thanks again Michael. Since I have cinema 4d lite already I'll go down that route first.

In terms of my drone footage, do you think in general there would be enough tracking points? I'm worried that everything is so far away that I'd need to setup some sort of large markers on the ground, which then gets me wondering what I'd use!



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Eric Santiago
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 20, 2016 at 1:31:10 pm

[dylan Tucker] "In terms of my drone footage, do you think in general there would be enough tracking points?"

If there is major contrast then you should be fine.

Its a huge task what you are about to take on.

Ive done enough similar for all kinds of targets.

How much movement is there in the drone frames?


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dylan Tucker
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 20, 2016 at 1:34:22 pm

Huge task? Hmm don't like the sound of that!

It's a flyover of a forrest clearing actually, so basically a lot of trees! That's why I thought setting up some markers might be necessary!



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Michael Szalapski
Re: Adding 3D AR models to drone footage
on Oct 20, 2016 at 1:53:00 pm

Markers shouldn't be needed. The trees themselves should have enough contrast for AE's camera tracker to pick up detail. Again, without seeing an example of your shots, we're just guessing.

Although, it wouldn't take very long for you to just track a shot and plop a text layer in there or something to see how well it tracks. Be sure to follow some GOOD QUALITY tutorials on using the 3d camera tracker first though. :)

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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