Stupid n00b question about 3D models

Ya, so, like most of us I'm using some free 3D models I've gotten from various sources, and few if any of them come with textures.  I'm no slouch with the Photoshops so I can skin them if required, but I'm used to gamer/modding communities where you get the whole package.  Generally speaking, what's a good way to prep these kinds of models for use in Hitfilm?  Can/should they be used without textures?  Do I need to skin them all by hand?  Is there something else I'm overlooking?


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Lots of "it depends" in there.

    The main thing you're overlooking is if the models are already UV unwrapped. UV unwrapping is the term for assigning the coordinates to the model so that it knows where the image maps go on the model. If the model isn't UV unwrapped, you won't be able to add textures at all because, well, the computer won't know where to put them. UV unwrapping is an art of it's own. Of course one can use Blender (or other program) to UV unwrap if needed.

    Once UV unwrapping is done, then you can go paint your image maps, then go back to the 3D program and make certain everything is correct. At this point you can import to Hitfilm. Put the textures in the same folder as the model and Hitfilm should see them. If you put the textures in a different folder from the model you'll have to re-link everything.

    Can they be used without textures? That's a maybe. Depends on the model. Does it look good without textures?

    Some models might use procedural textures--these will likely not be read by Hitfilm. Hitfilm supports 3DS, OBJ, and LWO models. The model specs have certain material definitions, and these are what Hitfilm reads. However, procedural textures are usually defined by the 3D software and may contain data outside of the base model spec. Effectively the procedural texture is a plug-in that Hitfilm doesn't have, therefore it's ignored. This can also be an issue if downloading a model built for a third-party renderer (Like, say, V-ray). Again, the third-party rendering engine is a plug in with features outside the base model spec that Hitfilm won't read. (And before Wishlisting things like procedural textures and V-Ray or Cycles support, those are proprietary and would involve license fees--raising the price of Hitfilm.)

    So if you import a model and find large parts of it are all-black or something, check and see if it was made for something like Vray or Cycles, etc. That's the issue right there. Anything made for a "default" or "scanline" renderer will have no issues.

    Workflow: First, have you seen these tutorials?

    From here on out, I assume you have, so i don't have to define everything. :-)

    Ok, my recommended workflow is different from what Simon shows here. Setting up models takes a long time, so don't bring a model into an active project to set it up. Then work these steps.

    1: Import model and set up animation groups, if any. (Note, you can right-click geometry groups and rename them. If you're setting up a tire as an animation group, and it's named "Cylinder 5" or something stupid, rename it "FL Tire," or something smart.

    2: Skip materials and go to the Advanced Tab. Here adjust anchor point setting and scale.

    3: Commit to the import, bring the model into Hitfilm and drag it to a composite shot. Add a light and rotate the model to make sure all it's geometry is good. At this point SAVE THE COMPOSITE SHOT! (I save it in the same folder as the model....)

    IMPORTANT! Animation groups (and their names), anchor points and master scale can only be set on initial import--Materials can be changed at any time. Therefore it's smarter to set groups, scale and anchor point first and check how the model looks in a comp shot before getting into materials. It sucks to spend an hour doing materials then realize you missed an animation group or set incorrect scale and have to start again... And, by saving this model out as a composite shot, it's now ready for import into any future project....

    4: You can do materials at any point, We'll assume you do those now. Material notes: Hitfilm's lights seem to be very "Bright." Look at the diffuse and specular colors for your model. If either of these are set to 255,255,255 white, then change it. A model will look better in Hitfilm with a Diffuse color of 128,128,128 than 255, 255, 255 every time... Same with Specular color. In general any color or tone assigned to diffuse/specular probably shouldn't go above a value of 200 or so. Also, make certain the model has an "Ambient Color" assigned. Just last night I couldn't figure out why my ambient lights weren't affecting a model--oh, because it's ambient color was black!

    Simon's tutorials won't cover bump and normal maps. Those were added in HF4P.

    Simon's tutorials only cover "Phong" material settings. Cook-Torrance is new to HF4P and is it's own ball of wax. I'm not going into that in detail at this time.

    Ok, the image above--the left model was rendered in Hitfilm 3 Pro (the "phong" shader). Not that it looks good, but it also looks smooth and glossy. The image on the right is rendered in HF4P with Cook Torrance. The same texture for the diffuse texture is also used as a bump map and the Roughness has been turned up. Instead of a polished stone look we now have a much rougher stone. "Roughness" in Cook-Torrance spreads and softens specular highlights as would happen on a rougher surface. Fresnel deals with how different wavelengths of light bound differently at different angles of incidence--in short, the fresnel values are RGB values that represent a color cast to a spec highlight as the angle of incidence moves away from straight on. Other settings you can easily figure out with experiementation.

    Also remember to set properties on the Materials tab of the model's layer. Turn on Shadow Cast/Receive and Ambient Occlusion Cast/Receive at the least. Reflections if needed.

    Save your Composite Shot again.

    5: Assuming animation groups (or a multi part model) look at the "models" tab in the model layer. Note each group has it's own transform controls. Also note each group can be parented to it's own point. This wasn't in HF2U so Simon doesn't talk about it, but this is important. It means you can build animation rigs for models... Let's say you're doing an airplane with propellers and flaps. The props can be left alone--they don't need their own points. The flaps... maybe you want to drag a point to where the flap sits and parent them up. Then, if you want to animate the flaps, you can just adjust it's point rather than dig into the model layer.

    So, figure out where you want/need points and rig them up. I suggest a master point for the model then parenting all other points to the model itself. Also, rig any "effects" points now. Example--a TIE fighter would have four "effects points," left/right engine and left/right cannon.

    Let's also pre-animate. Example--a prop plane. Go ahead and animate the prop rotation now.

    Save the Composite Shot again.

    6: Put an effects stack on your model layer as shown in Simon's Realistic Compositing Tutorial. You'll want Curves, Light Wrap and Blur (set to 1px 1 iteration) at least.

    Save the Composite Shot again.

    7: Consider creating an all-black and all-white variant of your model. In this case you're duplicating the geometry and stripping out all texture maps then setting the diffuse, specular, emissive and ambient colors to pure white/black. There is a possibility you'll need one of these later for several reasons I won't get into now. Also, this tutorial:

    This is the time to set up any "overlay" models like Simon did here.

    Drag the black, white and overlay models into the comp shot and parent any of their groups to the same points as the main model.

    Save the Composite Shot again.

    8: Everything you did just took an hour. Celebrate your being smart with saving this as a preset in a Composite Shot by taking a short break and enjoying the refreshment of your choice!

    9: Open your animation project and import your Composite Shot knowing that all this tedious setup crap need never be done again.

    Final note--I started a tutorial on this in HF2U. Then HF3P came out. I had redone the tutorial, then HF4P came out... Then life happened and I haven't had as much Hitfilm time in 2016. I need to re-do the tutorial again, but the previous iterations were already an hour...

  • edited July 2016

    Sorry, I probably should have clarified that I already know how to use models in Hitfilm, and that I know how to do UV mapping - I'm an ex-game developer and OpenGL programmer.  I've watched all of those tutorials and have successfully used models in Hitfilm already (there's one in the opening shot of DOWNFALL).  I was just wondering if I was basically stuck texturing everything myself or if there was a reason no one bothers to skin their models.  Good to have all that in one spot for anyone lurking, though! 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hey, you said "n00b," so... ;-)

    With free models... A lot of those are build by hobbyists and/or students and are being posted online because why the hell not? In these cases, perhaps since it was a class or learning project the artist didn't yet know how to texture or didn't have time to meet class deadline. Obviously I speculate, but the only accurate answer I can give to "why didn't those people texture before upload?" is "ask them.":D

    .A lot of free models are terrible builds and often require cleanup in another 3D program for use. Caveat Emptor and all that.

    Even with experience the basic "Yo, rig and texture your stuff and save as a Composite Shot" steps get overlooked a lot. It's a good thing to go over since I am a believer in "build once, reuse forever." :-)

  • edited August 2016


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