Archive for the ‘Cork Christmas Carol’ Category

It’s been a little while since we provided an update on the Cork Christmas Carol, lately we’ve been busy with other “things” but rest assured everything is coming along well rather nicely. Today myself and Mr Leahy have spent at least 2 hours wandering around Cork City shooting various bits and bobs for the establishing shots, if Manhattan gets that kind of treatment in hollywood films, why can’t Cork? I suppose this means that principle photography has begun. Anyway here are a few stills from the footage:

As if our reluctance to spend a reasonable amount of cash on film equipment couldn’t stoop to a lower level, we bought a really cheap Clap Board for 6 euros, in a toy shop of all places. For anyone who is interested in getting the clap board featured above, you can get these inside Pinnochios in Paul Street.

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Thought I might experiment with Blender’s Camera Mapping technique that I watched from one of the video tutorials made by Peerless Productions. The link to the video tutorial can be found here . The Blender wiki tutorial can be found here. As explained by these lads, Blender doesn’t feature proper Camera Mapping features available on other 3D modelling tools like 3DSMax and Maya, instead you have to use sticky textures to map an image onto 3D objects in a way to match the perspective of the image and the 3D scene or object. Or something like that.

The top image I took from the rooftop of the Car Park in North Main Street. The bottom image is my attempt at re-creating the environment in 3D using the image as a reference in Blender.

Photo of Coal Quay and one of the North Main side streets


With a rough 3D representation of the elements inside the image I then mapped the image onto the 3D scene through the 3D Camera perspective. After animating the camera movement and rendering the output, I got this result.

Aside from the obvious artefacts, the effect looks pretty good. The process itself can take quite a while but I find the results seem to pay off in the end. We’re definitely using it as an FX shot in the upcoming Cork Christmas Carol.

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( Note: This tutorial is outdated, follow the more up-to-date and complete version from this link )

First off credit goes to the author Darek for creating the Blender tutorial that I decided to build this tutorial on top of, so from my perspective he did all the hard work. You can check out the link to the tutorial here . What differs between this tutorial and his is the fact I use a different set of parameters to create the snowfall effect and my version of Blender is newer than his. Other than that they’re basically the same. Feel free to copy and paste any part of this tutorial. This tutorial is a first of hopefully many more tutorials that will be featured on the site.

The version of Blender I’m using is 2.48a, you can download the software from here , don’t worry it’s free ( as in speech ) software.

When you load Blender the first thing you should do is switch to front view by pressing 1 on the number pad. You might want to remove the cube by right clicking on it in order to select it and press X Key to delete it.

Press Space Key and in the menu select Add, followed by Mesh followed by UVsphere . The default values should be fine, just select OK.

Add a UV sphere

Go to Edit Mode (Tab Key) and use Box Select (B Key) to select the top half of the Sphere. Once selected, press X Key and select Vertices under the list of options. You should end up with half a sphere.


Go to Object settings ( F7 Key ) and select the particle icon.


Create new particle using the Add New button.


Now set alter the particle parameters to match the screenshot.


Quick explanation with what’s going on here:

  1. Amount determines the number of particles that are to be produced. I’d recommend using less than 10,000 if you’re having performance problems. Sta determines the frame where the particles start to be emitted , in this case we put it at -300 so when we start rendering from frame 0 we will already have many particles in various positions. End determines which frame to stop emitting particles. Life determines the life span of each particle in terms of frames.
  2. When selected, Random will allow a random number of elements to be emitted.
  3. This determines the starting speed at a random variation.
  4. This determines the constant acceleration of each particle along a certain axis, think of AccZ as the direction that either goes up ( positive value ) or down ( negative value ). The larger the deviation of the value from zero the faster the particle speed.

Select the Bake tab from the Particle window.


Select the Bake option. You can specify the end frame for the particle animation with the End value ( this is particularly important to change because once the particle animation reaches this end value it simply stops dead, so make sure it matches the amount of frames to be rendered, if not more ). Once this is finished the Bake button will be replaced by a Free Bake button. You should select this if you want to change any of the particle parameters. Depending on the number of particles and frames of animation, this process could take several minutes.


In the end you should be able to see the particle feature taking effect. Go to Object Mode (Tab Key) and play the animation (Alt Key + A Key). It should now look like the following screenshot.


Before you render anything you might want to change the background from the default blue to a black background. You get a better contrast this way. Go to the Shading window (F5 Key) and select World Buttons and change the colour to black.


Our particles now need a snowflake material. Go to Material Buttons and add a new material and copy the following parameters.



You might want to position the camera, to find out how to position and rotate objects check out the Blender tutorial that covers those aspects.


If you’re happy with the setup you can render the result.


The video looks better.

[Vimeo 2299370]

Well that’s it, thanks for taking out the time to go through the tutorial, I hope it was useful. The next tutorial will cover snow fall with more realistic animation. Any questions or comments, feel free to write them in the comments section.

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As previously stated by Patchy, we are going to keep a production diary of the first Gifted Babies Christmas Special, tentatively called Cork Christmas Carol. Patchy will post concept art, storyboads and production photos. I’ll be covering FX stuff, specifically how I give Cork a white Christmas using open source software such as GIMP and Blender, as well as cover other post-production aspects such as audio mixing and video editing. I also intend on writing tutorials so at least if anyone is interested, they’ll be able to reproduce some of the same effects, in fact my first production blog will be a tutorial based on creating simple snow fall animation.

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It was the 6 O’Clock in the morning, suffering from a touch of insomnia. To occupiy my mind, I tried thinking of movie ideas. I was currently struggling with two concepts. One was a Christmas sequel of Trippers Through Time (Trippers 2ugh Time) and the other about a couple that solve crimes.  The former was too complex and confusing (there is a graph somewhere explaining various timelines, that proves this) and the latter was little more than a Thin Man rehash.  I looked to the side of my room and saw my €3 copy of Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Stories” I attempt to read each Christmas, rarely get past the first story. I thought about reading it again (Is November too early to read Christmas Stories? Discuss…) However A special kind of alchemy soon occurred. I remember that first story, an unknown tale known as The Christmas Carol. An Idea was born and I rushed to the computer downstairs, thankfully not waking the dogs. Two hours later, I had a first draft.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what the plot is yet. However I can reveal the following, It is a very loose retelling of A Christmas Carol, featuring many Gifted Babies Trademarks, including food, Beehive hair, cat puppets and lame jokes. In case you are thinking “this will be a pointless rehash”, (why would you think that? that’s pretty cold.) It will have some exciting elements, such as SFX and singing. It will also be the first Gifted Babies film to be blogged. Various Gifted Babies and I will document the various production challenges of Cork Christmas Carol. So check back regularly!

+ In case you are wondering what happened to the other two ideas. T2T will be shelved till the world is ready and the detective story was gutted of its best feature. A character named Beverly Honeycomb.

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