VFX for Guerrilla Filmmakers: New 4-week course!



  • @Triem23 I tried the particle simulator for human disintegration.

    This technique could disintegrate a building easily as well.  All at once or top down. The concrete debris particle texture would be ideal. To do something like a car we would need some metal debris type texture.



  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @NormanPCN I dig how you properly set up the ground plane so the chunks lie there for the rest of the scene. Nice thing about the particle sim--if you wanted to take the time to get fancy you could line up a few deflector cubes and do a more violent explosion getting him to bounce off the truck, walls, etc. 

    Remember the particle sim can load images, video clip and 3D models as particle textures, so adding a metallic texture could be done. 

  • @NormanPCN wow really taking that idea to the next level, looking sweet. I need a few more hours to play with stuff like that and right now I've spend all my VFX time budget that my good wife allows (i.e. getting the looks when disapearing for hours in the evening. ;(

  • edited March 2016

    @Triem23 I did think about using mobile emitters and have them "splat" when they hit the ground floor plane and the particles die. The splat could use a texture that can be morphed with caustics to look liquidy. But I kinda liked the chunks on the ground look.

    I also thought about some blood splatter effect but the car is such a complex shape it would likely take a lot of planes to get the blood splats to look reasonable.

    I did try a more powerful explosion. I did not setup any deflectors for my test. That is a good idea. The problem I found was that I don't have any particle textures that look like good body parts. The stronger explosion spreads them out on the ground so you can see some of them separated. Having them all in a heap hides that the bits are not even remotely like human parts.

    I used the "numbers" particle texture. An odd choice but when lying in a heap they looked more like random shapes in a heap than anything else Hitfilm had ready to use.

  • edited March 2016

    @SimonKJones can I ask, did you guys use mocha to track the footage in the final exercise or was it a point tracker?

    I ask because I would like to do the whole process start to finish including tracking as I have pro 4


  • edited March 2016

    "I would like to do the whole process start to finish including tracking as I have pro 4"

    If you want to use Hitfilm mocha to try a track then just do it. Who cares what they used for the example project.

    Before shooting my mouth off, I did a mocha solve.

    I tracked the front and side surface of the wherehouse. I tracked the ground in between the two barrels. I made sure to get the bottom of the two orange cones. Probably not needed but I I tracked the "Uni" portion of the container. That got me a 97% camera solve. Large parallax change. For the ground plane I did try an unlinked track as well as a linked track due to the amount of ground that comes into camera view. I'm not sure about the ramifications of that with regards to a camera solve. The solve was good (percentage wise). @AxelWilkinson did a TUT on an unlinked mocha solve but that was with a simple tripod pan.

    The surfaces come into Hitfilm with five points. The corners and center. To make things easy for me I just ignored the surfaces I used for a camera solve and tracked misc small surfaces for the points where I might want to attach something to. e.g. A barrel. You still get five points but you can ignore/delete all but the center point.

    The scale factor of the imported points is curious but you can figure it out and adjust. Also the points, at least the corners, are a part of the surface so there might be rotation/orientation values in the point. 

    I'm no mocha expert. I've watched a few tutorials in the past and this is the first time I've used mocha for a camera solve. Only the second time I've ever used mocha. Go for it with reckless abandon and have fun!

    Given the 3D points provided in the example project and how they are named I don't think mocha was used.

  •  I asked the question because I wanted to know the answer, not because I have any aversion to using mocha. I have used it a few times already but given I also have a point tracker I wanted to try and replicate what was used as closely as possible. Like you @NormanPCN I assume they used a different tracker but points can be deleted and renamed. In fact probably should be renamed most of the time so I think it was a pretty fair question. At no point did I say I wasn't going to try it in mocha , in fact I may well do both when I have time. I simply wanted to know what to original was done with.

  • DreamArchitect I asked in the class about that as well and Simon responded with "mocha HitFilm does indeed include the camera solver for creating a camera track. mocha's approach is slightly different to traditional 'point cloud' camera trackers, though. You won't necessarily get a cloud of points representing the scene in 3D space like in this project. Instead, mocha tends to work more relatively, and relies on your specifying which parts of the shot you want data on."

    I did try and do a Mocha solve got a 98% solve (wooohooo)  for the same footage and I did get results but as Simon pointed out the solve was more for a planar track and not any real depth to it.

  • edited March 2016

    So, technically, the tutorial used the method commonly referred to as 'cheating'.  :(

  • VFX "is" a cheat.  Magic is a cheat. 

    Why do you suppose the 'M" in ILM stands for magic?

  • edited March 2016

     To further this statement.  Most of video and film is a cheat.   Outside of the most stringent documentaries, everything else is an illusion.     For example elaborate sets are created in an urban warehouse in the dead of winter in 2016  to portray an old farm house in the summer of 1885.  It's all an illusion.

  • @Stargazer54 @BobDiMarzio You don't say? I'm shocked. :)

    What I mean was: this is a bit like some of the bait'n'switch tutorials of the past, where you cannot replicate the process (even given the time that was compressed) with the tools available, including mocha.

    A point tracker was used because mocha doesn't work like that and Simon said as much. So it would be useful to know what he did use to generate those points.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I think the tutorial needed 3D tracking and for beginner purposes it was better to get a point cloud for the students. Now, Hitfilm can import tracks from Pf Hoe and others. Mocha is a different option, but it requires more lateral thinking. 

    Besides all Fx, particularly camera solves are cheats. Point clouds are just that--relative data. It tracked how a bunch of dots moved. Mocha tracks rectangles. 

    Besides, if you don't have mocha, Blender can do camera solves, and @Marc_E di a three part tutorial on camera solves in Blender into Hitfilm. 

  • @Triem23 I agree completely and being that the class was based off of express where mocha doesn't exist. It wouldn't have been appropriate to teach a class with a bunch of 'students' using a version that does not offer the capability of a tracking system like that used be it Mocha, AE, or Nuke. Made more sense showing what was capable with 3d point tracking rather than delve into it without all users being able to replicate it. Those with Mocha, which can get similar results just requires a bit of different thinking of what to track, and those with other 3d point tracking software can view tutorials and then try and replicate what was done for that part of the class. Only problem I had as far as getting the same results with mocha was the distant background like clouds and mountains to paralax correctly. But I was rather happy with the course.

  • Apologies @Palacono.   I was just being a smart arse. ;)

    Agreed.  It would be nice to know the method for doing the track in Simon's exercise.

  • edited March 2016

    @Stargazer54 no worries. That's my default mode. :D

  • @Norman PCN all right! I like what you did; I have had my head stuck in HFP pretty much constantly lately and so haven't seen a whole lot of what other people have been doing but I did wonder if anyone else besides me was working on putting the other videos together into a coherent story! 

    I'm trying to include all of the videos they gave us; it just seemed like that was what they intended for us to figure out.

    When I have a little more time (yeah right!) I intend to go back through things at Future Learn and here to see what others have been doing with the class.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @NormanPCN @DrFnord I also am kinda trying to stitch together the shots in something vaguely resembling coherence, but it's backseat to another project. 

    I will say I am trying something with the cloning shot I didn't see anyone else do, but we'll see when I finish. Right now I only get one night a week to play with video. 

  • As I explained in week 4, tracking software is generally expensive, and often quite tricky to use. We didn't have time on the course to properly get into that side of things, but we did want to introduce students to the general concepts and provide a glimpse of how you can get a camera off a tripod.

    The output of point cloud trackers tends to be a bit more intuitive, especially for beginners, which is why we went that route. There's nothing bait and switchy about it - both Express and Pro can import 3D camera tracking data, which is exactly what we did.

    Opting for mocha wouldn't have been an ideal solution either, as it's only included with Pro or as a paid-for Express add-on, or as the more expensive full version. None of which are useful options given the context of the course. Remember that the course wasn't designed for HitFilm Pro users, but for complete beginners.

    The idea with week 4 was that it was unlikely that students would have the tools to do a 3D track at this point, but that we wanted to illustrate the benefits so that they were in an informed position by the end of the course to go and research further.

  • @SimonKJones I fully understand why you did it the way you did, but the (still) unanswered question is: What software did you use for the point tracking? Because if it's worth buying, I'd use it instead of mocha.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Palacono didn't we do a thread you were involved in a couple of months ago about different point trackers? Of course there's Cs6. Blender can do it (noted above). Syntheyes is a subscription, starting at $700 for the initial license with a couple hundred bucks a year in renewals, and PFTrack is $1700.

  • edited March 2016

    @Triem23 Sure I know there are others. Cost is an issue for a 'feature'. Still thinking about CS6 at $149, as that's certainly the best value. Had some slightly improved successes with Voodoo, although it's still cranky and still not sure if it's getting mangled on output or Hitfilm's not liking it's 'version' of a Maya Camera that screws things up that look perfect within it.

    But, surely asking what was used in the tutorial is a valid question? Was it easy to use? Can it be recommended? Is FXHome silently brewing it's own little mini point tracker that we might see in a future update? Please let that one be: Yes. :)

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @Triem23 Syntheyes has dropped prices quite a bit. Syntheyes Intro which only handles up to 1920 x 1080 and has some advanced features disabled is $299.00  with a $75.00 renewal. Syntheyes Pro is $499.00 with a $125.00 renewal for a single seat. $699.00 now gets you a floating license and has a $175.00 renewal. 

    The "renewal" is a support renewal so you don;t have to pay it to keep the software working you just won't get any technical support or upgrades until you  pay up.

    If you're going to be working with a lot of different packages Syntheyes supports more than anything else I know of and is pretty much the budget priced value option as far as trackers go.


    They're also doing planar tracking and texture extraction in the Pro version but as of right now I don't think Syntheyes exports any of that in a way HitFilm can use. Historically the developer has been pretty responsive to adding support for applications so I'm pretty sure if enough people asked he would add a HitFilm specific exporter.

  • Mocha is pretty easy to use once you understand how it works. The tutorials on the Imagineer site are extensive, and well made, great for learning the software a little at a time. For some things, point tracking might be easier, but I find Mocha to be easier to use than it seemed at first once I started understanding it.


  • The track was done in Boujou, but SynthEyes is generally a good option these days as Aladdin points out. Any of the point cloud trackers are going to give you a similar result with that particular shot from the MOOC.

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited March 2016

    @SimonKJones ; Thanks for the update!

    Just checked a couple of prices online and I'm happy to stick with Mocha on HF. 

    If I ever ring out everything I can do with Mocha, then its time to look at the Pro version or SynthEyes.    ($10K for Boujou - Yikes!)

  • > Just checked a couple of prices online and I'm happy to stick with Mocha on HF. 

    I just came here to say that, given the price points of all of those tracking packages, the fact that we even get a version of Mocha with Hitfilm is an astounding bargain. 

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited March 2016

    There is VooCAT for 99 € which is basically a commercial version of Voodoo (free for non-commercial use). There's also a free Personal Learning Edition of 3D Equalizer and as mentioned several times now Blender has tracking and there's tutorials and scripts for a Blender to HitFilm workflow. There's plenty of free options but if you need something that works really well with a lot of different packages that you can use commercially then Syntheyes ranks very high. Even though it's more expensive than HitFilm it's downright cheap compared to its competition.

  • Euros?  I'm in 'Murica, we don't do that funny money thing around here.   Seriously tho, that's like $120 just for tracking.  HF3 Pro is a little over double that for a fully-fledged editor and powerful FX engine, to boot.

    Blender?  I assume you mean the open-source 3D package?  I've used it in the past so unless it got an absolutely radical UI overhaul in the last five or six years it's simply not a program I would consider using.

    All I'm saying is, HitFilm's a huge amount of stuff for the price.  Not that the other options aren't good, great, or better.  Just that what you get, and what you get it for, can't really be beat IMHO.  YMMV.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @SteveKarstensen Are you a 'Murican or a 'Murican't?  ;)

    Personally I think HitFilm Pro is a great value! I have worked with other trackers "just because" but Mocha serves my needs just fine. However there are some people who just don't like Mocha at all and would prefer something completely different. The cheapest commercial package out there as far as I know is VooCAT and while it works that doesn't automatically mean it's a good value. It might be but I haven't felt the need to purchase it and find out the hard way and if I was going to spend more money I'd save up for Syntheyes or Mocha Pro 


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