Sunday, March 24, 2013

Facebook Page now online!

After some consideration, the Brainwheel Pictures Facebook page has finally been created. This page will be used to post concept art and other promotional images, while this blog will be used to explain the breakdowns of some of our more complex effects. This is also where I've posted the completed images which were covered in the last couple posts.

Tell your friends.

Brainwheel Pictures Facebook Page

I would also like to give a big thanks to everyone who's been reading and sharing this page. I really appreciate your support.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Whovian Jewelry

I'm very excited to finally be able to release these photos. I was recently contracted by an old work mate of mine to photograph her jewelry range. These are some of the photos we took as part of the contract. Annabel M Graham is a highly talented crafts-person, better known for her work with Whovian Jewellery. Please check out her website: (note: Images are (c) Annabel Graham 2013)

PART 2/3- VFX Breakdown "MR Fisher" - 21/03/13

This series might will probably be a lot shorter than the last one, as the second image repeated a lot of the techniques I used:

This image went the same as before. I took another stock image...
  ...then I cut out the character and positioned the 3D camera to fit...
...and rendered the necessary passes, comping them together in After Effects.
This one was pretty straightforward. By now, I was more accustomed to using a formula of levels, curves and masked photo filters on top of stock elements like sparks and smoke/fog, and reversing the holographic elements to fit the perspective.

In the previous composition, I created a unique looking explosion in Photoshop, by researching different stock images. The goal of any visual effects artist or storyteller is to show the audience something they may not have seen before, which was why I researched elements that might not be directly related to explosions, and comped those together. When I got a look that I wanted, I started to get ideas on how I might go about compositing elements like smoke and sparks, and different ways on how to create particle simulations for the explosion, and how it might interact with the 3D world around it.

I would also like to mention at this point that I'm considering moving this page to Facebook, in an attempt to reach more viewers. But this decision is strongly dependent on what's preferred by those who read this blog. Please leave a comment down below to have your say. What is being considered, is I would keep this blog to publish breakdowns of different projects, and the finished works on a Facebook page. Please let me know what you think.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

PART 1/3- VFX Breakdown "MR Fisher" - 18/03/13

Lately, I've been working on some Concept Art for key visual effects shots for the Space Jumper project I've been working on. In these shots, I focused on developing the look that MR Fisher would have, and how this character would fit on a digital set. This is how I went about it:
(Live Plate)

 My flatmate and I took some photos on a nearby Rugby field. Luckily, the weather was overcast, which makes softer shadows, making the images easier to manipulate.

Then, I cut out the background, and saved the image of me in a suit as a PNG image file. Saving objects in PNG format preserves the transparency layer, so it's good for compositing layers in post production. That's another reason why I'm compositing the concept art this way; so I can get a feel for how I'm going to layer these shots properly. Taking this image of myself in a suit, I match-moved a camera in the 3D factory scene, so that the background would fit to the actor.
(Wireframe Snapshot)

 Once I had the right camera position, I rendered a "beauty pass", three "occlusion passes" and a luminance depth layer, and composited these layers in After Effects.
(Beauty Pass Only)

Once I had a more blended image, I saved another image, and opened another 3D scene and attached this image to the camera. From here, I modeled a previs image of the holographic beam that comes from Fisher's hand, and saved this image off individually:
(Hologram previs Element)

Now that I had these visual elements, and stock images such as smoke and sparks, I began compositing these elements together. I used my individually rendered occlusion layers as masks, to color correct the runway, background and Fisher himself separately, as well as control the depth of field. I found it easier to color correct this image using layers that combined curves, color levels and photo filters on the runway, Fisher and the Background. I then topped it off by painting in the masks for the highlights, and adding elements in Photoshop such as interface information and lens flares.

And that is how I composited this image. While developing this art, I figured out techniques that I will use later in post production. I will post the completed images in a series when they're all finished.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

R&D: Water Keying

This is an idea I'm just playing with at the moment, but I've been trying something out with blue screen:

I was wondering what kind of effects I could make by keying blue water. I'm not sure what I'm going to get out of this, but I'm just going to film it to see what happens.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I couldn't sleep tonight. I guess it was a bit hot. So now I'm downstairs, sketching out an Idea I've got. I wanted to look into digital set extensions. Working with green screen has been something I've really wanted to try for a while now. An example of this is how it was used in the Hobbit:

A physical set, extended with digital elements. There have been a couple ways I thought I'd go about this. The first is to possibly rent out some cheap office space, clear it out for a few days and shoot some footage that way. Another way could be to plan, construct and film the set in a theater. Both are seemingly large logistical challenges in themselves, but I'm hoping with the right connections, things like this could be possible.

Well, my camomile tea's run out. Time to get some rest.


Monday, February 18, 2013

The new year

Hey guys, sorry for the long wait. There has been quite the transition from my old place to miramar, and now, with internet, I can continue to post regular blogs. I would like to keep it to a fortnightly post, including videos, photos and notes on the work I do, on my own and with friends.

First thing's first:

I was finally able to finish compositing the new showreel. It was only a matter of uploading it somewhere. I have decided to switch to vimeo, out of preference, really. I'm very eager to continue uploading videos on a much more regular basis. Watch this space...

I've also been very lucky enough to become involved with some very interesting projects. One of them includes something you might find interesting if you're into Doctor Who. And there are many more to come. Many of the things that are currently in production are still in the pre-production phase, and we look very forward to letting you in on it as soon as we can.

There is also now a Brainwheel Pictures page on the Big Idea. If you haven't heard of The Big Idea yet, you should definitely check it out:

Until next time, Thanks for reading


PS: another one of the cool things I've been able to do this month has been to raid my flatmate's makeup cabinet. Here's a short collection of what I've done with it: