Adventures in Indie Film Compositing

Clip from Salvage Mission 9

I’m working on an independent sci-fi film right now called Salvage Mission 9. It’s a good fit for a micro-budget movie: ambitious enough to be a fun challenge, but simple enough to be actually achievable.

I’ve had the film in the works for about a year now (January 2017 was when I initially conceived of the idea). I spent many months writing, re-writing, and editing the screenplay. The past several months have been about casting and pre-visualization.

I decided to shoot a short film last July that acts as a functional prequel to SM9. It’s completely unnecessary from a story-telling point of view; however, I wanted to do something that would give people a taste of what to expect  from the final SM9.

I’ve been in post-production with this short film for a while now. I’ve got a small group of very talented friends helping me out with it. The edit is complete and our main hurdle now is finishing VFX.

That means I have to put on the compositor hat for a while.

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I typically use the After Effects 3D camera tracker for most of my match-move, but I’ve run into a lot of limitations with it on this particular film. One particular annoyance is that it constantly tries to re-solve the camera, even while you are editing the 2D track points. This makes it very clunky when tracking scenes with complicated motion.

Enter: the Cinema 4D motion tracker.

Cinema 4D Camera Tracker in Salvage Mission 9
Now that’s how you camera solve.

I’m not sure what took me so long in giving this particular tool a try, but I’ve tried it now and I love it.

I’m still learning a lot of the finer points, but even so, this thing works great — and there’s no more AE to C4D and back to AE round tripping with the camera.

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