Tracking, Keying and Layout. Workflow Demo.

by - 2012/07/11 36 Comments Compositing, Production

Here’s a little timelapse of the general workflow for our keying shots.

First we track the camera and save that as a blendfile. From that file we generate a new file that is then used as base for masking and keying. The tracking markers can often be re-used as a way to mask out stuff from the footage.

The cleaned footage is then saved as 4k openEXR files with premultiplied alpha channel.
A third blendfile is created as a base for that layout, swapping the footage for the clean plates and setting up the final shot dimensions (1920×800). That file is then handed over to the person that is then doing the layout for it. The scene layout for this scene was originally done by Andy.
Usually after the main composite is done I fix some alpha-blending issues that cannot be solved in the pre-key outside the main composite.

The key that you see here is still a little but too harsh on the one side of the head, but for the demo I didn’t want to tweak it too long.

Masking in Blender

by - 2012/06/05 36 Comments Production

This is a first demo of the current status of the masking tools in Blender, that are currently being developed. Since we need it desperately for the work on Mango, we are all very happy to be able to use these tools.

But be aware that the development is still in progress, so you can expect some changes and improvements.
These tools have been merged to the main development version of Blender, so if you want to use them, either build trunk (SVN), or go to and download the latest version there.

Thanks to Sergey Sharybin, Pete Larabell and Campbell Barton for their work!


by - 2012/05/05 20 Comments Production, Random

Today was the first day of production in the greenscreen studio at No filming yet, but building the sets for the first day of shooting on monday. Romke brought in his awesome stuff, 2 truck loads full of assets, props and sets. The team had some really hard work to do today!

The studio is super great, with a giant greenscreen, a white limbo, separate rooms, and first floor for catering. The guys from even put a Blender logo at the door! :)

Result: random video with lots of green pixels. Plus some Russian punk from “Green Team”.

The Drill of Death. Mango Weapons Workshop.

by - 2012/05/05 14 Comments Production

Last week we had a lot of fun producing various props for the movie, for example an assault rifle and grenades for Barley, hand gun tracking devices for the scientists, an eye patch for the captain and some other things. It was great fun to take a break from sitting in front of the computer and instead going out, hunting for props, assembling stuff and doing some real physical work.

Jeremy made us a kick-ass assault rifle out of a bunch of plastic nerf guns!

Prop Hunting

by - 2012/05/01 18 Comments Production

After having decided the locations to shoot on we now have to get our props ready for shooting next week.

We need guns, grenades, weird old tech stuff, buttons, cables and old crap. Well, everything you always need in a post-apocalyptic weird scifi story!
A good place for that is the famous freemarket in the Vondelpark, that takes place each year on Queensday. This year the Amsterdammers where really lucky to get the only day with beautiful weather, blue sky and warm sun for Queensday. So yesterday whole Amsterdam plus thousands of tourists was getting out, dressing orange, getting drunk and dancing on the street. And so where we! Well, not exactly, but at least we got out to go to the Vondelpark, where there is the traditional freemarket where kids and people sell their old stuff. Perfect place to get all kinds of old crap that we can use in the movie, for example old Super8 projectors, typewriters, grenade-belts, toy walkie-talkies etc.

Today Ian, Jeremy and Kjartan went to the toy store to buy nerf guns, that are now being disassembled and put together to form the badass hero rifle for our sniper Barley!

And if you happen to live around here and have a closet full of scifi stuff, grenades, rifles, or other interesting stuff, you can take a picture of it and post it here. We might need it! :)

Blender 2.63 Splashscreen

by - 2012/04/27 20 Comments Artwork

For the upcoming Blender release 2.63 the Mango team worked hard to produce a splashscreen. We tested various concepts, as well as different techniques. It was a good exercise to take the tests to the next level and produce a “final-ish” image, that would also look good in the movie.

Both scenes still heavily rely on Blender Internal, in particular for the volumetric effects. The main renders come right out of Cycles, but halos and smoke could only be achieved by linking the scene to Blender internal, in a new scene, with it’s own setup of render layers and passes. As you can imagine that makes everything a bit complicated, since you work with different scenes, juggling around layers, passes and baked smoke files. The interactive preview capabilities of Cycles have been of great help and the speed and quality of the engine is improving almost on a daily basis! We are very excited to work with such great tools.

Grab the latest release of Blender here:

Here are the node setups for both scenes:

More Location Scouting

by - 2012/04/27 13 Comments Production

On the quest for the locations of the movie we visited 2 great places in Amsterdam: the old energy museum and the tower of the Oude Kerk. Unfortunately the energy museum was closed officially, and all the cool electricity machinery that we expected to find there has been moved to a different place:
But the place was still great!  Would have been the perfect location to shoot many scenes of our movie. Unfortunately we didn’t get the permission to film there.

The most breathtaking view so far was the visit to the tower of the Oude Kerk. Beautiful overview of Amsterdam!

For one hour we also got the chance to get the whole church just for us, exclusively! We got home with hundreds of reference pictures…