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Lee Tamer

Easiest way to create CGI weapons?

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Im looking to create CGI guns, swords etc. for an upcoming short film. Is there an easy way to create them to integrate with live action footage? What software could I use to go about doing this?

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I want to replace a limb with a gun i.e. Evil Dead or Grindhouse. Or a sword like in Terminator 2. Is this possible?

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Time-consuming frame-by-frame animation matching CG to plate action with pixel accuracy,

then lighting and compositing CG, again, to match the plate. Done all the time by

experienced CG artists.

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Just to clarify my previous statement a little more...

there's a common misconception that CG software does all the work for you.

All we need to do is push the right button. While the software is impressive,

even high-end packages like Maya and Houdini just don't work that way.

They're great big toolboxes that give you CG equivalents of hammers, screwdrivers,

pliers, maybe some jazzy things like table saws and milling machines.

 

You want a fancy weapon attached to the elbow of a live-action character?

Sorry, there's no software on earth that can do it. You need an artist who

knows how to use the tools.

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So the simple answer is no, unless I hire an experienced VFX artist? I'm starting to see why movies spend so much on CGI and VFX

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Honestly; it would be much easier/cheaper to do weapons, for the most part and especially those which any person interacts with (holds ect) as props. Some spray paint, time, and planning and you can make effective cool things. To replace a limb, you'd design something to go over the hand/arm and be held by the actor... pretty simple in fact.

 

You could model it in clay, make a mold, pour in some foam, for example, and hollow out the center for the arm to go in. Then cover in resin to keep it strong-ish (look for one safe for the foam you use), and airbrush. You can also reuse the mold for more if needed (i'd make 3 to start...)

 

If you need a moving part for that, then you can CGI just, let's say, the teeth on the saw moving, in theory.

 

I've never done that before, but that's how I'd start working on it, and see whether or not it'll work (make something simple first, like a block to put his hand in or something...)

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Hey, it wasn't my intention to discourage you. More than one CG artist began their career

at precisely the point you're at now. If you're motivated, start learning it.

 

For this project, do what Adrian suggested. Build the best-looking prop weapon you can.

Do some screen tests with it to refine the look.

 

Then rotoscope in the death ray. This will still involve the challenge of animation,

but it will be far less daunting than modeling, animating, tracking, lighting and

compositing the entire rig.

 

Again, you can experiment with the ray; blur, color, pulsation, lighting bolt fx, whatever.

Comping it in will be relatively easy.

 

This approach has been used countless times in countless movies, so it can definitely

give you good results.

 

Unless you're independently wealthy, know now that making movies will constantly challenge your

resourcefulness, your skills, your knowledge.

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After Effects is a pretty good all-rounder and is quite capable of doing what's mentioned above. Excellent tutorials are available free - look at videocopilot.net, where there's step-by-step guides on a huge range of basic compositing tasks.

 

That should whet your appetite.

 

P

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+1 on After Effects. Very glad I did the videocopilot "let me play around with it" thing. Has come in helpful on many an industrial video when clients have questions.

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I know after effects allows you to do compositing and match moving. But how would I go about creating the actual weapons? Would I use Maya?

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Maya is an industry standard of sorts yes - it ranges from lower to higher production value standards, you wouldn't be wasting any time learning it (it is a huge program)... You also need a compositing program, After effects is another industry standard, although as you get higher and higher in the chain of production value you'll more node based comps like Nuke, Flame, hardware acceleration etc.. and then in house coders working on specific extensions to these programs - that neck of the woods is where a lot of these programs came from in the first place. Look into Boujou, PFtrack for the matchmoving 'movers'

 

I think Maya now comes with matchmover and toxic (a comp program) - so thats probably a good and cheaper way in than going for all the separate company offerings (autodesk world dominationrolleyes.gif)

 

Start reading Cinefex, they leave out a heap of info purposefully so you might be swimming for a while, but occasionally you can put things together and learn - certainly much better than having not read it ;)

Edited by Chris Millar

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To do what your wanting to do with actual 3d weapons you'd need to (in as short and simple of explanation of the process as possible)... model the weapons, prepare for texturing by UVing them, texture paint them and then shade them. Once that's done you've got to matchmove the camera shot and once the camera track is done you need to match-animate the weapons (this part is a fairly tricky and labour-intensive stage) to the action within the scene. Once that is done you can start lighting and rendering the weapons so you can composite them within the shot.

 

Hopefully that gives you a starting point if you wish to go that route.

 

It'd be cheaper and easier to build or source the weapons for real than it would otherwise. Doing muzzle flashes and laser fire effects is a much simplier process than actually having actors carrying around CG weapons, and isn't going to put you off using VFX later on.

 

Consider that... most of the weapons in Star Wars were existing guns with bits and pieces added to them and that in Terminator 2 they used practical props for the most part, CG was only used sparingly to acheive certain effects (and where they did use CG they planned ahead quite extensively - more so than is done today).

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I think even now this might be over my head

 

It might be today - but just start learning so it wont be tomorrow.

 

All this amazing stuff is just a bunch of committed people working hard, no reason you cant do the same. Sometimes it takes a very special mind to invent a lot of these processes, but those people wont have gotten anywhere with thier invention without the conduit of everyone elses hard work in applying those inventions creatively.

 

Pick up Maya and AE - steep learning curve but you have to start somewhere ;)

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It might be today - but just start learning so it wont be tomorrow.

 

All this amazing stuff is just a bunch of committed people working hard, no reason you cant do the same. Sometimes it takes a very special mind to invent a lot of these processes, but those people wont have gotten anywhere with thier invention without the conduit of everyone elses hard work in applying those inventions creatively.

 

Pick up Maya and AE - steep learning curve but you have to start somewhere ;)

 

I already have AE, I'll have to look into Maya

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The list of tasks that I gave you was less to persuade you but rather give you a starting point. First thing to do would be to find reference of the weapon you want to make (or design your own) and then start by looking up information on the following keywords on google - 3D, modelling, weapons, props, basics, polygon, maya, studio max (aka 3ds), blender.

 

Start simple and work your way up.

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Most of my work is 3D and VFX and I get "how do I start" questions often. For a no money approach, download blender and go to turbosquid to download a weapon model to play around with. Theres enough tutorials out there to get you started.

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