Archive for November, 2013

Footage Recovery of tapeless cameras

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

panic-button

Losing footage shot on tapeless cameras is a nightmare. Read this, and sleep in peace

This article will give you some basics to recover your lost footage.

In most cases, any information on a computer / chips can be recovered, even with hardware or software malfunctions. The data in a typical computer system is normally stored on one or more hard drives, and this magnetic information is available after a crash, if the right tools and techniques are applied in a timely fashion.

To know more read ahead :

Dos

Prepare the Team

It is important to win the entire team. Tapeless is not just a technological change but a shift in the work culture.

Plan the workflow

Remember that editing systems and software systems in general weren’t designed to be compatible. Given the fact these systems are yet emerging processes, plan your workflow early with a post house or hire company.

Update the cameras, systems and the software versions

Often we find the edit system s not updated to handle the new tapeless format or recording card. Some older version edit systems need some codecs to make them compatible with the cameras in use. Some cameras need the most recent firmware updates to be able to use the newer recording cards. Some older models may not be compatible with newer cards, so be sure to check your camera’s compatibility. Some of the old EX3 cameras cannot record in the 32 GB cards.

Load the cards in the correct direction

Be careful when loading cards into the camera. We have seen people jam cards into the camera upside down and backwards. This generally results in damage to camera contacts and the card.

Backup your recordings periodically. 

While shooting on location, please keep 2 HDD ready as ideally one should make 2 backups at the end of the day after the shoot. While one back up would be used for post production the 2nd back up should be kept away at some safe place to be used only as an emergency.

Initialize the hard disk

As footage is recorded and deleted over time, hard disk fragmentation occurs. This reduces performance and one should initialize the hard disk. When you initialize the hard disk, all recordings will be erased. Before doing so, be sure to back up important recordings somewhere.

Keep a Back up incharge

Using digital recording has prompted the emergence of an important new crew member: the digital imaging technician or the backup incharge. The idea of having a person responsible would ensure that no data is compromised as well as data is safely backed up.

Invest in good memory card readers

Good memory card readers can mean the difference between a quick, easy and reliable download and a slow, difficult one. Spend a little more and get a decent memory card reader. Cheaper readers may wear out earlier than those with quality made components.

Archiving systems

Please plan beforehand the nomenclature systems of the recording cards, HDD etc. Work out a library system that ensures you only keep what you need. Some people we know use some sort of digital memory card wallet. The filled card is turned over in my wallet so the back is facing up, that way, they know not to use this card again until it is downloaded and reformatted. Something this simple method can keep you from copying over a full card!

Do give time for transfers

Tapeless footage transfers faster than real time but it does take time so allow for transfers, uploads etc.

Donts

No Vibrations & Strong Impacts

Don’t subject the camcorder to vibrations or strong impacts, especially while the HDD access indicator is on during playback/recording and after recording. Also, continuous vibration to the camcorder may stop recording and playback. When using a shoulder strap, do not allow the camcorder to swing and hit an object.

Don’t compromise the rushes or personal information

When you delete movies or initialize the hard disk or memory card, only the file allocation table is altered and stored data is not physically erased. So a geek may be able to restore the data and pirate your footage. While giving the camcorder to another person, initialize the hard disk, fill up the hard disk with unimportant recordings, for example, by recording inside a dark place such as in a box, and then initialize the hard disk again. This makes recovering the original recordings very difficult. When you dispose of the camcorder or memory card, prevent the leakage of private data by physically damaging the hard disk or cards.

Do not disconnect the power source during operation

Do not disconnect the power source while the HDD access indicator is on or flashing. When the HDD access indicator is on or flashing, data is being written on the hard disk. Disconnecting the power source or turning off the camcorder may result in hard disk damage or permanent data loss.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Use the camcorder within its operating temperature range. If the camcorder’s temperature becomes too hot or too cold, recording/playback may stop in order to prevent hard disk damage.

Avoid very high altitudes

Do not turn on the power in places with low atmospheric pressure, such as at altitudes higher than 3,000 m. It may cause hard disk damage.

Do not over complicate

Do not overcomplicate tapeless by mixing different acquisition formats in the same media. Keep it simple

Don’t shoot extra

People tend to shoot much more as the media can be re used. However Overshoots on file-based media will soak up editing time.

Do not open the memory card doors while the light blinks

Do not open the memory card door and remove it while images are being written to it. This would most commonly happen after shooting a burst of good footage. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to want to change your cards quickly. Every camera has some sort of warning you should heed. By disconnecting a card from its power source, you can cause file structure failure.

Do not push the Camera batteries

Never push your camera’s batteries to their maximum. It increases the possibility that the battery will run out of power just as you are taking an image. You risk losing images due to this power failure or worse, file structure damage to the whole card.

 

A beginner’s guide to VFX and Animation – Simplfied

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

The success of Krish3 makes India smile. The VFX quality in the movie did not make us look away in shame. We stood up to the international studios.

The success of Krish may spur more VFx films in this genre. It may also open doors to VFX producers in India. we may soon see mushrooming of visual effects schools & animation schools all over India. Many students will start seeing VFX as a career option

Animation was treated a great career prospect awhile back, till it lost its sheen. Krish 3 may just get that sheen back. Presented here a beginner’s guide to VFX & Animation

Animation & VFX Industry growth figures (as per FICCI reports)

Year

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

growth %

20

31

22

20

33

Average %

25

These growth figures clearly indicate that there is little doubt of the fantastic growth potential in animation.  Before you take the plunge here is beginner’s guide.

The essentials for becoming an animator is understanding colours, movements and being creative. Just knowing softwares would hardly make you a great animator. It is essential that you are able to put in long hours and ready to experiment. Its about working in a team.

Contrary to the laym,an’s understanding, graphic designing is more for web based work and not so important in VFX.

The different areas of animation are as under

  • MODELLING
  • RIGGING /  TECHNICAL RIGGING
  • ANIMATOR
  • LIGHTING
  • COMPOSITOR
  • MATT PAINTER

Everybody may not specialise in all these areas but should have understanding of all the different areas.

  1. 1.       MODELLING

This modelling happens on computers.

It includes 2 things

BG modeling      (background modeling or anything that’s lnot live in a frame)

Character modeling        (all live stuff- could be aliens, humans, animals etc)

Two legged characters are called Bipeds

4 legged characters are called quadrupeds

Modelers available aplenty

Ratio of requirement

10 animators : 2 modellers

2.       RIGGING /  TECHNICAL RIGGING

A rigger typically needs programming skills. He should be technical and should understand softwares

His main job is to give movement to the character’s body parts developed by the modeler. For eg if a man is shown with the hand moving. The modeler will make the man and the rigger will give the arm movement as advised by the animator.

The technical rigger looks in to the nuances of the movement of hair, fur etc

3.       ANIMATOR

He decides the on the character’s movement(animation). He advises the rigger on what type of movement would be in play. He obviously advises the modeler on the what needs to be modeled

He should understand acting and should be able to imagine and portray the finer nuances of each movement.

In short he decides on the screenplay in the literal sense. Like how the tiger would prowl, or the man would slip, etc

4.       LIGHTING

He is the cameraman of the animation project. Ie he would decide on the falling shadows, the reflections, where the source of light would be etc.

Being a good photographer would be a big plus.

He would normally know softwares like 3d max, Maya etc. he would also be well versed with plug ins like V ray, Mental ray etc.

5.       Compositor

He would be the person layering or superimposing. He would need knowledge of rotoscopy and BG preparation

He would need any eye for detail, understand colours, chroma keying, removing blue screen etc.

Knowledge of editing and direction would be a plus.

Normally one becomes a compositor after 3 to 4 years of experience. They would normally be wellversed with softwares like

COMBUSTION, (layer based)

FUSION, (Node based)

SHAKE (Node based)

6.       MATTE  PAINTING

This person would require :

Good painting and drawing skills.

Good photography skills essential

Cel animators make good MATT painters provided they are willing to learn computers

Knowing photoshop would be a plus

Different softwares

We have already mentioned earlier that knowing softwares alone does not make a good animator. Secondly softwares keep upgrading. Everybody cannot know all softwares.

There are many softewares but we’ll take a few here :

MAYA – more for human modeling

3 D Max – more for particle based animation ie fie debris, petals flying, butter fly moving etc

Flash – better for 2D -  cel animation people use this better

For the sake of understanding

Once the script comes in

The animator becomes the director and decides on how the script would unfold on screen with all the finer nuances.

He calls in

the modeler to create the BG and the characters

the rigger to give the characters movement

the technical rigger to give movements to the finer nuances

The lighting person to give the right shading as well as match the existing lighting in case of compositing.

The matt painter would be the art director to decide the textures of the characters and create the background which could be palaces, hills etc.

This gives you a very basic idea and would give you a pathway for deciding your career move.

We repeat, being a good animator would entails skills of colours, patience, teamwork, and imagination. All the best.

Written by Tejash Shah of Accord Equips with inputs from Prem Lohana of VFX and Apurva Shah of Pixar. (Date : Jun 2012)