Projected Matte Painting!

For this assignment, we moved our photobashes into Nuke! This was something I have wanted to do or a while, because we touched on it in my compositing classes, but never went deeply into Nuke's projection system. We were meant to play around with 2.5D and parallax! 

My first photobash for this project.

My first photobash for this project.

For my first attempt, I built a small mountain village based on a town from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I run. Terribly geeky, I know. It was a decent photobash, but I could have done better. It was a good example to start with though, in my opinion. Once I had that done and my adjustment layers were collapsed, I re-expanded the file in Nuke! Here's what it looked like. 


Kind of hectic, I know. It scared me at first, too. It's really not bad! Each of these was a layer in Photoshop, aka why I compressed all my adjustment layers. Next step is to take them into 3D space on their own individual cards. With some organization, TLC, and some guidance from my compositing professor, here is my final node tree. I'll explain what each of these means soon.


For example, my sky layer! Once it was premultiplied to exactly what was in the layer, I placed it on a card, which in turn was placed a certain distance away from the camera in a scene. There's a few more steps here and there, like displacing certain cards with roto'd alphas to match the shape of the objects on their layer or adding an axis, but that is the general setup for every card. Here is the 3D scene!


It's not the most accurate representation of scale, but for a first try at projection, it's not awful. You can also pretty noticeably see a misaligned card in the render, because my distortions put it off-center. Whoops. Well, again, a first try. I did another one of these.

After setting up all my cards, I used an iDistort to make the grass move a little in the wind! (That's a whole other process, but essentially involves animating noise in the red and green channels) But again, the misaligned cards make it slide like a bad track. If I redid this, that's the biggest thing I would fix. 

But hey, what's only one try?? I felt like I could do a lot better, so I did it all again. This time, my subject was an underwater city! And my adjustment layers were all done in Nuke, which I feel gave a much better result.

Unfortunately, some of my Photoshop filters didn't transfer quite right. I had a much more refined caustics layer with the correct perspective, but static caustics look weird, and I wanted the realism. So I downloaded a gizmo, and tweaked it to the best of my ability. I followed the same process, and here is my final node tree and my 3D scene!


A little more streamlined! And a little better lit, composed, etc. I'm a lot more proud of this matte painting than the other. Maybe I should add some fish!!