Entry Level VFX: Matchmoving in 3DEqualizer 2




Unless you understand a little bit about Post Production, a person who isn’t very familiar with the VFX process probably hasn’t heard much about the role of a Matchmover within a studio. It’s a part of Visual Effects that is seen often, but if the artist has done their job properly, it is almost unrecognizable.

Matchmoving is the process of combining live-action video footage with VFX; The goal is to create an accurate reconstruction of the camera, for use within a virtual environment layout, and for tracking purposes. It allows films to blend with realistic animations and effects seamlessly.

This allows CGI and film to line up so that Optimus Prime looks like he’s walking around a city live in Transformers, or it’s to create the first down yellow line seen on television when you watch a football game, or the mouth animation in the Bush’s Beans commercial that makes us believe the dog is aware and speaking with the actor.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve noticed how Matchmoving has been heavily integrated into the Virtual Production pipeline, especially in the area it must be required in, the process called Post-vis.

I’ve been through an Autodesk Matchmover tutorial from Digital-Tutors in 2011, but it was at a time when animation was a huge interest for me. I took it only to get a basic understanding of concepts, but I had no intention to explore it as well as I could have.

Since the tutorials, I’ve taught myself a reasonable amount of Maya skills that have given me a higher confidence level to tackle this new area of my VFX education.

It also doesn’t hurt that Matchmoving is an entry level position in the VFX industry. It’s one of the desirable junior positions to enter when you’re coming out of college into this field.

If I can get a job working in a VFX studio, I would love to always be improving my skills to be the best they can possibly be-especially with the talented people in the vicinity I would be working around.

*UPDATE 7/21/14* At times, the CGSociety changes their online class offerings. The Matchmoving course mentioned below is no longer available in their CG Workshop. If this course still interests you, please check back with their website at a later date for course listings, or email them directly to see if they will offer this class in the future. Until then, please go the main 3DE website for further training. Thank you for your understanding.

How does one attain professional Matchmover skills?

What I plan on learning is a matchmoving program called 3DEqualizer. With 3DE in my toolset, it’ll give me a professional understanding of virtual cameras, lenses, and layout, which will help me as I understand Previs on a deeper level.

At first, I thought I was going to start learning the subject again using the Autodesk Matchmover tutorials. For some reason though, my Personal Learning Edition (PLE) didn’t seem to want to work on my computer.

My original goals were to familiarize myself with the basic concepts, go through their tutorials, and then switch over to learning 3DE to prepare me for an 8 week online course I want to take with the CGSociety in April.

Since the program didn’t seem to want to work, and I still haven’t figured out what the problem is exactly, I just went directly into setting up the download for 3DE.

It was pretty easy to go to the downloads area of the website, fill out an information form for use of the PLE version of the software, and have immediate access to download the program. A bonus is that it also comes with a set of videos to instruct you, in case you don’t understand how to open it with a Unix application like XQuartz.

There are additional tutorial video’s on the site I plan on going through in the next few months to assist me in learning the program, but as I mentioned earlier, not only do I want to go through those video’s, I also plan on taking a CGWorkshop that goes into a greater level of detail of the program.

I’d like to get a handle on the user interface before I pay to dive into it. I’d like to be on top of it so that I can give my full attention. I hope to showcase some of my progress here, and by summertime, have a few other interests to write about that will help define this blog’s direction.

In the VFX world, there never seems to be an end to learning different areas of this field. I take that as a good thing. It can only help you improve your skills as an artist.


What skills are you working on learning at the moment? Where are you headed in your projects? Let me know in the comments below…and don’t forget to follow along to see where the progress leads.

Thanks for reading!