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Feature of the Month: Custom Virtual Set Creation

Have you ever wanted to create custom virtual sets similar in quality to the ones that came with your TriCaster or VT [5]? The built in sets are great, but they have limited appeal if you cannot replace the backgrounds, add your own artwork and tweak the set design to match your creative vision.

There are a couple of ways to create basic virtual sets without a lot of technical background, but the method that provides the greatest realism requires LightWave 3D version 9.2 or higher plus a basic knowledge of LightWave 3D and Photoshop. You could hire a professional 3D artist to create the renderings, but this can get quite expensive, and you might have to go through several versions before you get the results you want. The good news is that the LightWave Virtual Set Generator is a free plugin for all owners of LightWave 3D, and it includes the basic content that was used to build most of the virtual sets you are already using. The documentation included with the plugin is also quite good, so the problem boils down to understanding the LightWave 3D basics and working through the entire process.

Amitrace can provide the software and the basic training you need to accomplish all this, and if you bring in your own content, such as logos and background images, then you can leave the class with a finished scene file that only needs to be rendered. The class touches on Adobe Photoshop layering and masking techniques since some of the work must be done outside LightWave 3D, but the class also covers 3D modeling and tracing techniques that can be used to create fully textured 3D designs based on your 2D artwork. We also cover the techniques required to put all the pieces together and prepare a scene for final output.

Below is a sample of what you will get from the class:

We started with the basic Demo Studio set:



The client wanted to customize the virtual set with their school logo and mascot:

MCHS LogoMascot

We composited the mascot image with the backdrop (minus the map) and converted the logo into a 3D model attached to the front of the desk.

Here are a couple of shots from the final version:



Please visit www.amitrace.com and register for the Advanced Graphics for Live Production training class if you are interested in learning how to create virtual sets customized to your exact needs. The class is well suited to professional 3D artists and novices alike, and you do not need prior knowledge of LightWave 3D or Photoshop to achieve practical results by the end of the training. The training is hands-on, and we provide all software and equipment needed during the class. If you want to purchase your own copy of the software for later use then you will need Adobe PhotoShop CS4 for MAC or PC as well as LightWave 3D 9.6.