2D Toons

2D toons built using Blender. No texture mapping used … just 2D shapes. An extended and bent plane was used for the shadows to avoid the edge effect needed for the toons … I couldn’t find a way to do this with a flat plane and nodes. The background was filmed with a handheld camera on a freezing morning with a strong wind, making keeping a steady pan difficult (a tripod couldn’t be used because of the position). Used Deshaker with VirtualDub; Voodoo Camera Tracker; Sony Vegas Movie Studio.

It certainly looks very good, but why are you using blender for this?

If you intend to animate these guys, I’d suggest using Synfig or Anime Studio.

Whoah, you sure did a lot for this 2D thing. evilkillerfiggiis right, you could have used a 2D animating software for this. But I have a question: how did you put a video in the background?

Yes, I probably could have used other software but I was curious to see how Blender could be extended.
The video is not just in the background, the toons are in a 3D model created from the video. There’s a couple of lessons I learnt here. Camera tracking can either work with a perfectly fixed camera pivot, where it builds a 3D model as a sort of spherical shell. Alternatively, provided there is significant camera movement, it builds points where they lie in a 3D world. However it doesn’t seem to like new major elements entering the scene, such as a new section of foreground. It also does not like situations between the two, that is with small camera movements, where it can neither act as a fixed pivot or a moving camera. Hence, when panning by hand without a tripod (as I was forced to in this situation because I was balanced on rocks over water), it was essential to rotate the camera about its centre, without moving my body.
It is interesting looking at the IPO. Despite what looks like a very smooth camera movement after Deshaker has done its thing, the camera path is such that it would be extremely difficult to have tracked manually without using VCT.

In a production environment I would suggest that you simply move video in the background rather than tracking and use masks to imply depth… it is after all 2d. Did you find that you gained anything from actually tracking the footage?

I was originally going to use the un-deshaken version of the movie (for a different 'look"), for which the benefits of camera tracking are very obvious. In this case, Voodoo would be absolutely essential. I have a different version taken using a tripod and even this needed Voodoo un-deshaken. Even with the much smoother deshaken version, I think it would not be easy to make a precise fit of the toons and the movie manually. Camera tracking also makes the shadows relatively easy, especially when the toons are animated. Voodoo is free and it generates a Blender script automatically … good reasons to use it.
It did take a bit of playing with the Voodoo parameters with moving movie background elements, such as the waves. I reduced the number of points and increased the foreground/background point spread. Voodoo also allows manual deletion of points that it doesn’t automatically identify as moving.