Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shader Workflow, Bindings & Camera Testing

Yesterday evening I added a Python console to the renderer and a new Binding class that allows me to tie values and UI control elements like e.g. sliders together, so I can quickly scrub over a value to find good settings.

I also imported the GLSL shader pipeline from my "nedu" engine that I wrote for Die Ewigkeit schmerzt. It scans the shader sources and exposes attributes to modify uniform variables from within Python. It can merge multiple shaders by replacing GL symbol names. It also keeps track of changing sources and re-compiles shaders on the fly.

This way I can quickly rewrite a shader while the preview is running, and cut down on waiting time between making changes and seeing the results. This is very important.

A colleague lent me his Full HD camcorder, a Canon VIXIA HF10, so I can try it out and get a feel for shooting with a digital camera. The camera records an AVCHD encoded video stream at 1920x1080, and does pretty well at various lighting conditions. I uploaded some material to YouTube.

The image stabilizer isn't bad when you keep a steady hand, but it does terrible things to panning shots, and it's not working at all when you zoom in. Good thing Sylvia bought a tripod recently, so I can probably turn off the stabilizer.

Contrast seems to be a little low by default (more greys than blacks), and I haven't figured out how to disable auto-exposure yet. The motor zoomer has four speed settings, of which some might come in handy for steady, almost invisible zooms.

On Sunday Sylvia and I are going to make a few shots for a very short film, so I can learn something about shooting, cutting and post processing on Linux.

"Teonanacatl" is going to be mostly CGI, but it's an animated story embedded in a real one - I am going to need one or two shots for the beginning and the end. It will be helpful if I have had some previous experience shooting digital film, so I can make this perfect.

I currently spend the way to work reading Robert Rodriguez' "Rebel without a Crew". His insights into how he shot his first feature film and got into film business are tremendously helpful to me. If it weren't for his book, I would be shitting my pants and hiding unter a desk right now - or I would just sit around and bore myself to death with my cowardice.

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