The actual start of Mango-production is getting closer and closer and time is flying.
Since we have an awesome script now and even some great concept-art we can really start to think about HOW we are going to make things happen, technically. I mean, camera-tracking good and fine, but how will we, for example, do the makeup? Can we afford some actual makeup arists, who will turn our actors in some jawdropping vfx characters, covered with gore, blood, bolts, cables, jelly or whatever is required?
Or can we do that all digitally?
The basic idea for digtal makeup is easy, as long as you do not think about it too long. Just have a digital double, track the head, body, limbs or whatever, apply the textures, props or clothes to that digital version of your actor and composite it over the actual footage of your actor. Here’s an example:
This was not too hard to do, but it was a perfect situation:
Enough markers, ok lighting, lots of perspective shift, no fast movements, everything quite in focus, not too far away. And most importantly: No deformation! As soon as the markers move and deform in relation to each other you can forget about doing object tracking.
But think about a real filming situation:
The actors talk, move their face, raise their eyebrows, scream, laugh, jump, run, do sudden and quick movements, have long hair hanging in their face etc. etc.
All this will make a proper object-track impossible. The markers in the footage would be all blurry or totally invisible. There would be not enough information about perspective and movement. The grid of markers would deform.
So in this case we cannot rely on object-tracking, but would have to do planar tracking, as described in this article.
They used the popular tracking software Mocha from Imagineer Systems with a technique called planar tracking. Basically you can track a whole region of your footage, even if it deforms. You don’t need to use any markers, as long as that region has some more or less distinct features. That allows you to easily apply patches with textures on your footage that smoothly follows your actors face and movements. It also makes all sorts of rotoscoping much easier. By the way, let’s not mention that rotoscoping is a whole new area for much needed developement as well… ;)
Unfortunately we don’t have that kind of planar tracking yet, even though our awesome libmv developer Keir Mierle has something in the pipeline called “affine tracking”, which might help in this case. So with some luck we can do digital makeup without object-tracking too. And we really need it!
Now we have a question for you guys: How do YOU do digital makeup? How do YOU do marker removal? We are sure you have some nifty techniques as well, so if you have some ideas you want to share with us, we would be very open for that! After all, this is an open movie, so we would be glad to open up discussion and development for these kind of techniques too, since as far as we know there have not been *that* many attempts to do things like digital makeup in blender before. Or have there?
To open up the discussion, we have created a wiki page where you can post and discuss techniques and ideas. Please feel free to contribute!