Monday, February 26, 2007

Using POV-Ray for movie special effects

(Not for the mathematically challenged)
POV-Ray is still the best Ray tracer, there are many tutorials available to get you started and it is FREE. Get it here:
The effect I wanted was the view from a helicopter as it was flying over a city but you could also use this technique for making documentaries based on old photos or for whatever else your imagination can dream up.
First I loaded an overhead picture of a city onto a plane (the geometric type) in POV-Ray then pointed POV-Ray's 'camera' at it. Next I worked out a starting and ending position for the camera, largely by trial and error, then used
POV-Ray's animation functions to output the rendered frames as a sequence of images. All that remained was to batch convert the images to .jpg and use a program like
JPGVideo (also FREE) to make the sequence of images into a movie clip.

If you are unfamiliar with POV-Ray read the 'quickstart tutorial' then have a look through help for 'animation' and you'll have all the knowledge you need.

NOTE: Remember there are all those lighting and atmospheric effects at your disposal.

1950's Wessex Navy Helicopter

I needed a shot of myself climbing into a helicopter for a movie I was making. A quick call to the local Aviation Museum and the problem was solved - many thanks guys. And with a few SFX (see above) I was off into the wide blue yonder, on celluloid at least. And yes, the child within got a real buzz.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

ILD (improvised lifting device)

We went crabbing last night at a nearby jetty. There's not much involved, just throw a baited trap over the side and haul it up every 10 or 15 minutes to remove the crabs. So there I was watching the trap slowly sink out of view in the greenish H2O below when an agitated young lady walked up beside me, said 'excuse me' and promptly tossed a bicycle over the side into the ocean, before stamping off. Being concerned with ocean pollution and being unable to resist a challenge I knew something had to be done. Having only limited means at my disposal; just a bucket, rope and a pair of clippers I quickly devised a hook by firmly tying the clippers to the end of the rope. Then it was just a matter of lowering the 'hook' into the water and raising the bike.