This course will teach you how to shoot and stitch HDR panoramic photos that are suitable for IBL lighting in 3D software. Parts of the workflow can be skipped such as dropping the HDR aspect to simply create stunning panos.
The terminology used here is basic photography concepts and a minimum of Visual Effects ideas.
The course is broken into 3 main sections, including Overview and Preparation, Shooting the Panorama, and Processing your photos.
Included materials will be 4 complete sets of wedged photos used to make example panoramic images. Also there will be introductions to alternative free and shareware software that one can use to achieve the same result without any additional purchasing.
Depending on the level of the student this course could take from 2 to 4 weeks. The reason it could take longer is because it takes time to get outside and shoot lots of photos, and there will be a learning curve the first couple of times as the student gets familiar with the process that fits his or her camera equipment.
Any visual effects TD who wants to take their skill and knowledge to the next level will surely advance professionally by learning how to shoot and process high dynamic range panos. Also any experienced photographer can add a completely new and striking type of image capture to their portfolio with always stunning panoramic photography.
Introducing the instructor Jon Tojek. My primary profession is Visual Effects for films and commercials, as you can see from my website. One major aspect of this job is using HDR 360 panoramic images to light a scene. Over 5 years ago I learned how to capture these images myself, and have worked on set for films and commercials shooting these images which are later used in the studio.
HDR 360 Panorama Photography.
We can split this course into two main techniques, first being 360 panorama, and 2nd being HDR or High Dynamic Range. If you choose to do so, you can skip or ignore the HDR part of this process. You could focus on the panorama techniques first, and later add in the HDR ability.
Things we will cover are the hardware needed such as camera, tripod, nodal head, and promote remote control. Some of these items are optional, but with these things the maximum panorama quality can be achieved.
After the photos are taken we will need to work on the computer, in this case a laptop PC where we will use Lightroom, Photomatix, PTgui, and Nuke to expertly create a professional panorama workflow.
If this seems like an intimidating amount of work for getting just one photo, or excessive technical stuff, yes I understand your concern. I felt overwhelmed also when I started shooting panoramas. I suggest you learn by doing, and feel free to skip some of the steps, then pick them up later as you grow more experienced. Not everything I will demonstrate here is totally necessary, but I do the extra work to get the best Visual Effects film quality results.
Here we cover the main two reasons that I choose to shoot panoramas in HDR, as well as details on what exactly is High Dynamic Range in an image.
Now we get into the specifics of my camera equipment for shooting panoramas. The kit I use is one of 100's of possible combinations so we also look at how to find the info you need in your manuals, and decide yourself how to assemble the correct working combination of accessories.
In this lesson we will specifically show how you can achieve the three general rules of shooting panoramic images. 1) shoot photos that overlap, 2) camera must pivot around the lens nodal point, and 3) exposure should stay consistent.
Here we are going to discuss how many shots to take for you bracket and what shutter speed they should be at. This always depends on how quickly you need to shoot everything, what the lighting conditions are, interior, exterior, and what is the range of light in your full 360 scene.
This video will be a step by step demonstration of actually shooting the panorama. We will begin with a general set of rules, and use all of the details we have covered in previous lessons. On location in a beautiful garden I will shoot a couple of panos and show different situations and how to get the best results.
Once you get home from a shoot, you can easily have 1000 plus photos on your camera. While the work is fresh in your mind it is important to organize these photos and plan out a directory structure, file naming, and organization in Lightroom or XnView.
Now our goal is to reduce our 90 bracketed photos into a set of 10 main camera angles that will later be stitched together into the full 360 panorama. We will use Photomatix to batch merge our color corrected brackets into first HDR shots, and second jpeg versions of the same shots for the actual stitching process.
This lesson will cover the stitching step of creating a 360 panorama. Our main software tool here is PTgui, but I will also demonstrate using free shareware Hugin for this same purpose. There are many ways to assemble an HDR 360 pano, but this hybrid method here is the most dependable and repeatable workflow that will guarantee high quality results.
Now that the HDR pano is stitched and rendered it is time for cleanup. Most importantly we will learn how to paint out the nodal ninja and tripod. In addition now is the time to paint fix any shadows, lens dirt, sun flare or other distracting mistakes left in the pano. Also the prefect time for final color correction and white balance in Nuke software.
Now that we have a beautiful hi resolution HDR pano we can use that lighting information inside of a 3D package like Maya for image based lighting (IBL). I demonstrate illuminating a 3D model with the pano we stitched in Lecture 9, as well as introducing the concept of photogrammetry which I will use in future courses to create 360 VR films.
This is a wrap up of what we have covered, as well as a peek into future possible courses. My passion for creating these HDR panoramic images continues with other parallel photography techniques such as photogrammetry and Virtual Reality. Here I present a recently created short called Memory Dome that is CG film panoramics, made up of completely photographic elements.
Jon has been working in visual effects on film and commercials for 20 years at studios such as ILM, Weta, Sony, Animal Logic and many more. His film credits as Lighting TD, and Look Development artist are on IMDB which include 2012, Avatar, The Hobbit, and Happy Feet. Currently he works on set shooting HDR panoramic images as VFX Supervisor at Fullframe in between international VFX jobs while living with family in Rio de Janeiro.