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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
  2. 3D Studio Max
Cgi

Converting a Still Image into Live Footage Using Camera Mapping in 3ds Max

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

The Result

1. Preparing the Image in Photoshop

Step 1

This is the still image which I'll use in the tutorial. This is the snap of my stills camera’s carton box.

Still image
Still image

Step 2

Open Photoshop. Import the image into Photoshop.

Open Photoshop
Open Photoshop

Step 3

Click on Lasso Tool icon and select Magnetic Lasso Tool.

Magnetic Lasso Tool
Magnetic Lasso Tool

Step 4

With the help of Magnetic Lasso Tool, make a fine selection around the carton box.

Magnetic Lasso Tool
Magnetic Lasso Tool

Step 5

Press Ctrl-X to cut the selected part.

Ctrl-X
Ctrl-X

Step 6

Press Ctrl-V to paste the cut part again but on a new layer.

Ctrl-V
Ctrl-V

Step 7

Rename the layers as Box and Floor.

Box and Floor
Box and Floor

Step 8

Turn off the visibility of the Box layer.

Box layer
Box layer

Step 9

With the Floor layer selected, pick Clone Stamp Tool.

Clone Stamp Tool
Clone Stamp Tool

Step 10

With the help of Clone Stamp Tool, start painting the empty space. The aim is to fill the empty space with the missing pixels of the floor. Use the pixels around the empty area and the rest of the image.

Clone Stamp Tool
Clone Stamp Tool

Step 11

I've painted the empty space. This is not perfect but it's sufficient for the task. The only thing which you have to keep in the mind is that you must paint the edges of the empty area perfectly. No matter how it looks in the center, but it should be seamless around the edges.

Paint the floor
Paint the floor

Step 12

Save this image as floor.jpg.

floorjpg
floor.jpg

Step 13

Turn off Floor layer’s visibility and turn on Box layer’s visibility. Save the image as box.png.

boxpng
box.png

2. Camera Mapping in 3ds Max

Step 1

Open 3ds Max.

Open 3ds Max
Open 3ds Max

Step 2

Being in the perspective viewport, press Alt-B keys. It opens Viewport Configuration window. Turn on Use Files radio button. Click on Files tab. 

Alt-B key
Alt-B key

Step 3

Select floor.jpg file and click on Open.

floorjpg
floor.jpg

Step 4

You get the floor.jpg image as the perspective background image. Turn on safe frames mode by pressing Shift-F key.

Shift-F
Shift-F

Step 5

Match the grid with the perspective of the background image. This is a very necessary step for a successful camera mapping.

Match the grid
Match the grid 

Step 6

Create a plane and cover the entire perspective viewport.

Create a plane
Create a plane

Step 7

With the plane selected, apply a Camera Map modifier onto it.

Camera Map modifier
Camera Map modifier 

Step 8

Being in the perspective viewport, press Ctrl-C to create a camera.

 Ctrl-C
Ctrl-C

Step 9

Press M to open the Material Editor. Pick an empty slot and apply floor.jpg image as the Diffuse texture onto the plane.

Material Editor
Material Editor

Step 10

With Camera Map modifier selected, click on Pick Camera and select the camera in the viewport. You can see the plane’s texture is a bit jagged. 

Pick Camera
Pick Camera

Step 11

Select the plane and increase its Length and Width segments to 30. The problem with the plane’s texture gets solved.

Length and Width
Length and Width

Step 12

Press M to open the Material Editor. Pick another empty slot and apply the original image as the Diffuse texture onto the plane.

Material Editor
Material Editor

Step 13

Create a box in the perspective/ camera viewport.

Create a box
Create a box

Step 14

Turn the box into Editable Poly. Adjust the box according to the carton box in the background image. You may have to play with the vertices of the box.

Editable Poly
Editable Poly

Step 15

Press M to open the Material Editor. Pick another empty slot and apply the box.png as the Diffuse texture onto the box.

Material Editor
Material Editor

Step 16

With the box selected, apply a Camera Map modifier onto it. With Camera Map modifier selected, click on Pick Camera and select the camera in the viewport.

Camera Map
Camera Map

Step 17

With the ground plane selected, apply the floor.jpg texture again.

floorjpg
floor.jpg

Step 18

With the camera selected, press Ctrl-V key to make a clone of it.

Ctrl-V
Ctrl-V 

Step 19

Select the second camera and try to bring it closer to the box. You will see the camera is traveling in the scene.

Animate the camera
Animate the camera

Step 20

Render the scene. You will see some shading in the rendered frame so I'll apply an ambient light.

Render the scene
Render the scene

Step 21

Apply an Omni light in the scene. Turn on Ambient Only option. 

Ambient Only
Ambient Only

Step 22

Render the scene. You will see a perfectly lit scene.

Render the scene
Render the scene

Step 23

You can animate the second camera. But don’t go quite away from the box otherwise you will see some seams around the plane’s corner.  A little bit of camera animation can make the still scene live.

NB: Don't move the first camera during the animation of the second camera. The first camera is used to project the textures onto the meshes.

Animate the second camera
Animate the second camera

Conclusion

Camera Mapping is a very useful technique and it is used in almost every VFX shots. Due to Camera Mapping technique, you don't need to replicate each and every thing in a scene. You just have to project the textures onto the simple geometry and hence you can animate the camera to make a still image into a live one.

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