Compositing 3D models into your Star Wars film

published on July 20, 2020

It's the return of the Jedi! I'm so ashamed of that one In our 3D camera tracking tutorial we asked you if you wanted to see how to composite the AT-ST AST And it turns out that you did So, at your request, let's jump into this tutorial and figure out how to conquer the galaxy Here in Hitfilm we have a composite shot open and scene prepped First stage in compositing our 3D model is of course importing the model itself Head to the import tab and in the arrow beside it, we’ll need to import 3D model Find your ATST model, wherever it may be hiding,

And select OK The properties window will open, and here is where we’ll set up our materials and how the model will respond to lights within the scene If it's not open already, open the materials tab and let's link these properties to image files Along with the model, you'll also have a material folder of which contains all these images, each named after their respective fields Diffuse defines the color and pattern of the object The surface's shininess and highlight color is through the specular map While the

Normals is used for faking depth and the lighting of bumps and dents, giving the model texture Once imported, leave the values alone apart from Specular color We can add a little extra shine by changing the color from black to a dark grey, as the brighter the color, the more shiny it's going to be The illumination model tab gives us two options; Phong is more suitable for plastics with a single specular highlight, while Cook-Torrance is more suitable for metals with a rougher

Surface that distributes the light less evenly, so we’ll go ahead and use Cook-Torrance, as it also provides some material presets for the fresnel I set mine to Platinum, but this is just personal preference The last settings aren’t changed much apart from Roughness dialled to 10% and the refraction amount set to 5% Just in case you don’t have it set already, head over to the Advanced options and set the Method to From File & Auto-smoothing

Once imported, we can drag this into the composite shot and if you’ve followed our 3D-tracking tutorial Shameless plug right here If you haven't already checked out our 3D camera tracking tutorial, it'll bring you up to speed on adding your animation file into the scene and also getting a ground plane set with your camera So pause this, go check it out, get yourself set up and come back and join us when you're ready I'll wait Welcome back I missed you a little bit Let's jump into it

It's time for super fun comping Open the dropdown for the Model and enter the Materials We’re going to need an Environment map in order to help the color of this model match the scene When we shot this, we actually took a 360 photo of the beach we used To incorporate it we first start by importing it into the timeline, ideally as the bottom layer and with the visibility turned off Then setting the map to use layer Though if you're importing into a different scene and are unable to do this, you can select

Use Composite Shot We're also going to need cast shadows enabled Go to the new layer icons and create a new light I'll first move this one into a position that recreates our sunlight In order to help guide into position, I'll set the view type to free With an active camera, top layer and side view Then when set into position, switch the type to directional This will emit a light in a single direction, so best suited to sunlight I'll then duplicate this light as we need some bounce from the sky

I'll reposition this until it appears above the model Once in position I'll open the properties and shift the color to a light sky blue, dialling this down to about 20% intensity Last light we'll need is another bounce from the sand It is very rare that surface wouldn't have some sort of light so let's go for as real as we can get Like before, duplicate this light and reposition until it appears below the model this time, changing the color to the same as your surface Then I dialled this one down to 10% so it

Wouldn't be too strong To keep things tidy, give these lights a rename by pressing F2 on the keyboard, maybe even selecting a color It's almost there now but the big giveaway is that it's missing a shadow and this AT-ST is not a Force ghost Create a new plane from the new layer tab, give this the name Shadow Catcher And be sure to make it white That part's important Place this under our model layer and activate the dimension icon and set it to 3D We're going to rotate this the same direction as our surface and usually

You'd rotate this about 90 degrees on the x axis, but as my model was on a small slope I'll be shifting this a few degrees less Now rotate it to our ground plane, we'll want to cover the area as much as we can Reposition and scale over the area that we'll be working with You'll notice this area is already reacting with the lights within our scene As this is just the catcher, we'll need to turn these off Go into the material properties of the layer and turn off illumination To cast a shadow,

I'm going to make a separate light, one made from a duplication of the sun This is to add more highlights to the model and control the shadow's properties without modifying what I already had in my setup so far I'll rename this layer shadow light then head into the settings and turn on cast shadows Now reposition this light until we have the correct shadow direction, then dial the intensity down if needed You can also diffuse the shadows if your lighting isn't as strong as it is in our scene

Finally, head into the layer properties of our catcher and set the blend mode to multiply We now have the lighting recreated All we need now are a few effects on our model to solidify it into the scene First up, curves We can get this from the color correction tools but I can set this to my favorites by using the star icon Which I recommend to you guys too, especially if they're effects that you use a lot What we're finally going to do is alter the shadows and highlights to match the other

Folks in our scene In this case, that also includes raising some of the blues in our shadows Next up, light wrap This is going to help sell it into the scene by blurring the edges slightly with our background I'll set the source layer to our footage and have this one be quite strong to start with, keeping the radius very small but with an opacity of about 05 And if you hadn't guessed, we're going to duplicate this effect This time having a larger radius, but halving the opacity, changing the blend mode to screen

This time This is due to it being slightly off in the distance and having a softer blend Light wrap is looking good, though our model is quite sharp You could use a blur and this would work just as well, though lately I've been using a pair of angle blurs, one set to an angle of 0 with a length of 2 and a duplicated copy at 90 degrees with double the length, followed by a standard sharpening effect This is to simulate the camera's sensor and how it would actually be capturing the image A subtle detail but I quite like it

What do you guys think? Do you prefer the standard blur or angle blurs? Let us know in the comment section down below Last effect for the AT-ST is a touch of film noise Based around ten percent to help it blend into the scene that little bit more Don't forget to also switch on motion blur before you render, and of course, roto out the actors Shooting into the light is a great way to help blend the 3D model, especially as it helps hide the imperfections Even more so, if you can then add a blend from our free

Radius preset pack to add an extra punch Thanks for watching Again, this tutorial was requested by you, so if there is other things that you want to learn, tell us and we'll make a tutorial out of it You're technically our bosses Oh And if you use these techniques in your projects, send them our way, let us know about it You can email it to us at [email protected] or tag us on Instagram We're actually doing some really cool stuff over there right now so you should probably go follow We really want to see what you take away from these

Tutorials So let us know Subscribe to see if your requested tutorials come up in future videos and be sure to ring the bell to be notified See you next time and as always, may the force be with you

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