- How MPC used 3DE4 on Alien: Covenant
Who are you and what is your position at MPC? My name is Kabir Verma and I am the Global Head of Matchmove and Rotoanim at MPC Film. Can you give a brief summary of your career and outstanding projects you have been working on? I started my career in 2008 as a Matchmove and Rotoanim artist at Rhythm and Hues, India. Later I progressed to become a Lead and worked on projects including Life of Pi, The Seventh Son and 300 Rise of an Empire. I then moved to MPC in 2014. At MPC I got the opportunity to supervise Matchmove and rotoanim work for The Jungle Book, The Martian, Exodus, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner 2049. I became the head of department here in 2016. I have also worked as a Set Data wrangler on The Jungle book and on the forthcoming Lion King movie.
When did you first get in touch with 3DEqualizer? 3DE is our primary matchmoving and motion tracking software. We use it heavily on a daily basis and rely on it a lot for it's quality output. Since Matchmove is primarily at the start of the VFX pipeline, 3DE helps us create a strong foundation to the overall process. How many artists use 3DEqualizer on a daily basis? Close to 300 artists use 3DE on a daily basis. Almost all of the matchmove shots created at MPC are done using 3de.
What were the specific challenges of tracking Alien Covenant? Above the general challenges of every project there were couple of specific tracking issues we faced on Alien Covenant. This project had extensive set extension work since most of the outdoor shots were blue screens. Outdoor blue screens are always a challenge since they are moved from shot to shot and they can’t be 100 % static due to wind. We had to make sure that the CG cameras didn't have any jitters as well as maintain the continuity of the scenes across the sequence. Also we had some very tight roto animations of actors where the alien creature bursts out of their body. We had to go pixel tight on those shots to make it as seamless as possible. How did your team solve these challenges with the help of 3DEqualizer? 3DE has some advanced features which enable us to solve cameras by constraining the transform channels. This allows us further control over our solves as we can manually intervene on frames where we did not get a stable output. Being able to adjust distortion based upon your solves really helps to nail that final 1%. Also being able to visualize huge lidar scans with ease and the ability to work with multiple camera angles helps us to match continuity and approach shots more systematically. We also used 3DE for extensive object tracks and rotomation and with newer features like cleaning z depth jitter against the camera, it was really helps to achieve quality tracks in a minimum amount of time.
Are there any in-house scripts being developed specifically for 3DEqualizer at MPC which improves your workflow? We do use in-house scripts to help integrate the software with our pipeline. Also we have been working with lot of motion controlled camera data. We use our internal tools to work with the data provided and then use 3DE to refine the output further. In your opinion, what specific features of 3DEqualizer separates it from other products? 3DE has some amazing features which make it a unique package. The amount of possible outcomes we can have by adjusting minute parameters can be daunting at first but once you get a hang, while understanding it's working, you can really push the software to achieve high quality outputs. Unlike lot of auto tracking software's 3DE features are more geared towards giving the user more control over the solves, which is highly beneficial since every shot is unique and one successful trick does not apply to all.