Imag­i­neer Sys­tems’ mocha Pro


Animation Magazine - - Visual Effects - An­i­mal Farm

Mocha Pro has worked its way into the visual ef­fects and post-pro­duc­tion world in a big way. If you doubt me, then you can prob­a­bly take it up with the Os­car they were granted from the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences for tech­ni­cal achieve­ments.

Mocha is, at its foun­da­tion, a pla­nar tracker, which means that it tracks pat­terns in footage that lie on a par­tic­u­lar plane – like a tele­vi­sion screen. But if you look around you, almost ev­ery­thing can be bro­ken down into flat planes, and that’s what mocha looks for. You then can take that tracked data and make magic.

The lat­est it­er­a­tion mostly has support for work­ing in stereo­scopic 3D. If you work on stereo shows, you know that there is footage for each eye – each be­ing slightly dif­fer­ent. Can you imag­ine try­ing to do track­ing or ro­to­scop­ing for one eye, and then do­ing it man­u­ally for the other? And make it match? Nei­ther can I. Mocha Pro 4 takes its tried and true track­ing sys­tem and ex­tends it to both eyes at the same time, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the off­set be­tween the eyes. Any change that you make to ro­to­scop­ing or re­move func­tions hap­pens in the other eye. Or not. You have the abil­ity to turn it off if you want. All of the stereo track­ing and spline data can be ex­ported to stereo-sup­ported soft­ware, such as Nuke.

If you don’t do stereo projects, you still get some new stuff though, in­clud­ing full ex­port to Nuke nodes, a stream­lined UI, cus­tom key as­sign­ment to tai­lor the work­flow to you, and even ex­port­ing your roto to Premiere Pro. And fi­nally, Python has been brought into the sys­tem, el­e­vat­ing a fan­tas­tic piece of soft­ware to a fan­tas­tic piece of soft­ware that can now be in­cor­po­rated into a larger pipe­line with cus­tom tools. was ap­par­ent that the tools needed to be avail­able. Mamoworld has stepped up and cre­ated a suite of tools for Nuke users to take ad­van­tage of the strengths in mocha Pro.

All the tools use as their foun­da­tion the mocha Pro pla­nar tracker to drive their func­tions. CornerPin+ and Tracker+ are more ro­bust nodes of the same name, us­ing not only the po­si­tion, ro­ta­tion and scale of the track­ers, but also the shear and per­spec­tive of the plane from Mocha, which adds that sub­tle di­men­sion to tough tracks that you just can’t get from point track­ers.

My fa­vorite fea­tures are the Sta­bi­lize+, GridWarp+ and SplineWarp+ fea­tures.

Sta­bi­lize+ takes the Mocha data, and then make a lit­tle Nuke flow that brings in your footage, and ap­plies sta­bi­lize to it. You then ap­ply your ef­fects to the sta­ble footage. And then a fi­nal node re­turns the footage to its orig­i­nal state – but now with the ef­fects. The process is some­thing I use all the time and this tool makes it so easy.

SplineWarp­s and GridWarps are fan­tas­tic tools, but can be cum­ber­some with mov­ing footage – and what footage isn’t? SplineWarp+ and GridWarp+ take the mocha data and ap­ply it to the warp so it fol­lows the thing you are warp­ing. The trans­forms are ap­plied to the un­der­ly­ing ma­trix of the warp, rather than to the points, so you can add an­i­ma­tion on top of the tracked warp.

Some may say, “Well, I can do that in Nuke al­ready with tools al­ready avail­able, why buy another tool?” The an­swer is: to make it a sim­pler work­flow. In­stead of spend­ing time build­ing a node tree, that artist is al­ready do­ing the art.

At $123, I’d say the in­vest­ment is worth ex­po­nen­tially more than the time in­vest­ment in build­ing the Nuke nodes ev­ery time you need them.

Let’s look at OpenSub­Div. For those of you who don’t know, sub­di­vid­ing mod­els is a common func­tion in a 3D pipe­line. So common, in fact, that it is quite pos­si­bly part of ev­ery CG character in ev­ery CG film you’ve seen in the last 15 years. It’s im­por­tant. But just di­vid­ing poly­gons on mod­els isn’t as sim­ple as it sounds. There is a lot of math go­ing on. And, who else bet­ter to tackle the is­sue than Pixar. In fact, I first re­mem­ber hear­ing about poly­gon sub­di­vi­sion around the time of Geri’s Game, and it just grew from there. Well, Pixar made their tech­nol­ogy open source — in the form of OpenSub­Div, which Au­todesk has picked up and in­cor­po­rated into their DCC suite. Mud­box and Maya got it first and now 3ds Max.

Ba­si­cally, OpenSub­Div al­lows one to take a low-poly­gon mesh and ap­ply a smooth­ing process to it to make it ap­pear as if it had more de­tail. In the past, 3ds Max had Tur­bosmooth (and still does), but that process has its lim­i­ta­tions and can fre­quently cause ar­ti­facts if your base model isn’t cre­ated prop­erly. Now, while you still need to be aware of proper mod­el­ing tech­niques, OpenSub­Div al­le­vi­ates the need for un­nec­es­sary edge loops to con­trol de­tail. Along with the OpenSub­Div mod­i­fier, there is the Crease Set sys­tem that al­lows you to de­fine how sharp edges will be­come when the model is sub­di­vided. So, you can have re­ally soft, rounded edges, all the way to ab­so­lutely sharp cor­ners. And, be­cause you can es­tab­lish crease sets, you can con­trol many edges at the same time. And best of all? Th­ese pa­ram­e­ters will mi­grate nicely to Maya and Mud­box.

And speak­ing on in­ter­changa­bil­ity, 3ds Max now sup­ports the Alembic in­ter­change for­mat that is all the rage th­ese days. Alembic is de­signed to man­age and re­tain model, an­i­ma­tion and sim­u­lated data and have it move be­tween 3D plat­forms with lit­tle to no dif­fer­ence. Ex­o­cor­tex re­leased a plugin for Alembic support for Max a few years ago, but now the fea­ture is built into Max through the lat­est ex­ten­sion.

So, again, it’s not a lot of fea­tures, but it is some pretty sig­nif­i­cant ones.

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