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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas to All!

Here' greetings and well wishes for the season, to all of you fantastic people who have been following my blog and the random posts :)

I pray peace and joy to one and all, and all your families and friends.

This has been a year of change for me, and a big change at that. I moved from involving myself in training and full 3D animated episodic to doing full-time TV commercial production and local Singapore films. This is something I have never done.

The hours are something that I'm still trying to get used it. I have always respected people who have worked on TV commercials. now I have even more respect for them. They toil day and night and many times putting in many over-time hours to get their content out on time, and meeting high standards of expectation in terms of quality, and meeting client's requirements, all at the same time.

However working in a post-production facility also sharpens my "hacking" skills like never before. We constantly need to think on our feet and re-invent our workflows to get around obstacles, sometimes using different software working together, or sometimes using software in unconventional ways.

In the same period I was challenged to pick up Unity3D (I also took up coding in C#, that came with learning Unity). The company has also entrusted me with the responsibility of working with unconventional input devices and testing sensors to work with Unity too.

All in all I was stretched but I felt that I have accomplished a lot in many directions all at once.

I thank God for giving me an eventful year.

Here's to a better new year filled with meaning, and love for our fellow men. Lets make this world a better place, one smile at a time.

I pray God's peace and favour be with you.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Macdonald's Ebi TVC 2014

Here's a TV commercial I was part of. Most of the work I was involved in, were rotoscoping the girls out of their background on their original footage, and removing portions of clips visible under their hair accesories.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Jewl Changi Airport Brand Story

Here's a TV branding project that Iceberg Design undertook, and I was involved in.

My shots were just creating, laying out and rendering the coloured balls shots where lady touches her lips to the balls against the black background (0:29 - 0:30).

In the ending shot in the background where lines appear and form the final logo (1:09 - 1:15), I generated the lines and refined them under the art direction of the creative director.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

My Answer on Quora: What is the standard lens length in Maya 3D?

I chanced upon a question on Quora:

What is the standard lens length in Maya 3D?

I decided to answer that, and here is my reply. I hope it sheds some light to people wanting to know how to establish a relationship between camera settings in the real world and the virtual counterpart in Maya.


Indeed, many artists with no experience in photography will not be able to easily understand the relationships between focal length and sensor sizes / ratios.

Having worked in the "camera department" on Hollywood films, it has given me great insight into the relationships between the physical camera and the virtual one in Maya.

Maya does not make it easier. What we know in the VFX/Film world as "sensor size" / "film back" / "film format", is known in Maya as "Camera Aperture". This attribute is found in any Maya camera's shape node. In the attribute editor under the Film Back section you will see: Film Gate, Camera Aperture, Film Aspect Ratio, and Lens Squeeze Ratio.

Just like you said there is a relationship between focal length and the sensor size. 
Back in the Attribute Editor for the Maya camera, the way we get the correct sensor size or film format for our camera gate is to set the Film Gate attribute to "35mm Full Aperture". This is actually a preset that sets the "Camera Aperture" attribute to 0.980 x 0.735. 

From the Wikipedia page for Super 35 film formats of printed film strips, (4th para), I quote "If using 4-perf, the Super 35 camera aperture is 24.89 mm × 18.66 mm (0.980 in × 0.735 in)". 

That is exactly what Maya is giving us (in inches, which is frustrating, when we are describing 35mm in millimeters).

From the same Wiki article we also learn of the film dimensions of 35mm Academy format which is  21.95 mm × 16.00 mm (0.864 in × 0.630 in). That is what the Maya Film Gate preset gives us if we switch to 35mm Academy.

However, we are not limited to only the presets found in the Film Gate attributes. Knowing that Maya is just filling in measurement of the film back dimensions now enables us to input measurements from our own camera sensors even if their measurements are non-standard.

In this context, whatever focal length that you now set, will give you the actual framing of a real world camera with the same sensor size / film back. 

We do all these, to make sure that the numbers will all make sense: the dimensions of the sensor size and the focal length.

Moving forward, we are faced with 2 settings, and two different framings when you look at the viewport: one is our camera's film back / sensor ratio, and the render resolution. Maya gives us the flexibility to have both. 

However it becomes wildly confusing if we do not know what we are doing. Without guides we will never know what we are seeing in our viewport is what. Even when you render, you are only seeing framing of your render resolution, not the framing of your film gate.

To see both, this is my standard workflow, for all cameras I want to look through and eventually render:

In the Camera's attribute editor:
- set "Fit Resolution Gate" to "Overscan", 
under display options section 
- turn on "display film gate". This displays our film back /sensor boundary
- turn on "display resolution". This displays our rendering resolution boundary
- turn off "display gate mask"
- set "overscan" to 1.05

All these will make sure you see 2 boundary boxes, one with a solid line, and the other one, drawn with a dotted line. The dotted box defines the film gate / sensor bounds, and the solid box defines your rendering boundary, defining the resolution of your rendered.

I hope this helps.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Distance Between 2 Positions in 3D Space

The ability to find the distance between 2 points in 3D space is a really important function I need to use time and again.

I found this website that is really helpful with clear explanations on the use of the formula.


From the webpage I learnt the formula for the distance d between points A (expressed as Ax, Ay, Az) and B (expressed as Bx, By, Bz), would be expressed as such:

d = √  Ax-Bx2 + Ay-By2 + Az-Bz2  

I was going to use the distance function on an expression in Maya, so I had to write it with MEL commands:

vector $a = `xform -q -ws -a -rp "objA"`;
vector $b = `xform -q -ws -a -rp "objB"`;
// doing the additions and squaring first
$myDist = `pow ($a.x-$b.x) 2` + `pow ($a.y-$b.y) 2` + `pow ($a.z-$b.z) 2`; 
// applying the square root
$myDist = `sqrt $myDist`; 

I hope you it helps if you are looking for the same information.

Additional notes:
I am writing this a few days after my post because I found a more efficient way to represent the formula.

Instead of using the back ticks "`" for the pow and sqrt, I found that in Maya expressions we can use the equivalent of these commands. They are pow( ) and sqrt( ).

So the shortened single-line expression would be:
$myDist = sqrt(pow(($a.x-$b.x), 2) + pow(($a.y-$b.y),2) + pow(($a.z-$b.z),2))