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just me

2D becomes 3D and meets 3D CG

Macross World Convention was this past weekend: Cosplay Pictures from Macross World Con. It was bigger and more fun than I expected. I also expected Sirian's singing to easily win the Macross Idol competition, but Jet had an awesome space fishing lesson.

Which had me in a bit of a Macross Mood, which got me to finally finishing Japan Expo USA cosplay pictures. Most notably a bit of a project that I got inspired to do as a side effect of SIGGRAPH. I decided to do an experiment with making an HDRI lightprobe environment map for compositing a CG mech into cosplay photo. Perfect for Macross, since the mechs are relatively small (next to something like an Eva). The end result is:

I didn't make the model, I found it among free Sketchup models from someone in Japan: VF-25 GERWALK Sketchup. I did adjust the textures, mostly or more shininess, and made a few geometry adjustments, since Blender's renderer tend to incorrectly calculate normals on small triangles.

I downloaded the model early July, and did some tests with readily available lightprobes from Open Footage:


I also did some experiments making light probes with a mirror ball. That's the technique I used for this photo. Here's one of the source images:

The reflection in a sphere almost covers 360 degrees so a single HDR photo of a mirror ball can serve as a lightprobe. The single image doesn't work quite as well for reflections, so I merged images from three directions using Hugin to make the final lightprobe. It doesn't look great by itself as a panorama, but it does yield good looking CG reflections:

With the working light probe it was just a matter of compositing the images. It should be simple, except I ran into some problems getting the shadows to look right, so I had to do some extra work to get that more correct. I also wanted to sell the effect more be making sure the halo from the light affected the area of the image with the mech. And the mech light on the mech itself should have a bit of halo. So, that yeilded this mess of compositor nodes:

Which made this happen:

Even though variable fighters are somewhat small for mechs, they are pretty large, and I didn't leave quite enough space in the photo. I'll have to plan things out better next time. I'm not quite content with the result, but I think it's not bad for a first time doing this for something other than a random test image.