PFHoe first test!

(kitsu) #1

Bunch of rambling nonsense, skip to the bottom to see video.

The other day I bought one of these:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000AV14J0/dealtime-photo-20/ref=nosim
Partly because it’s a cool little pocket camcorder, but mainly so I could practice some Blender video compositing!

I did some little tests with voodoo, but it was a pain and gave really lousy results (all kinds of sliding). Kinda disappointing, I was really hoping voodoo would work too.

Next I tried icarus (2.09). It seemed like a nice little package, but was complicated to setup and use, and I never even got results good enough to try exporting to Blender :frowning: Also I plan to do some match-moving for work if I get the chance, so I couldn’t have stuck with icarus anyway.

After some searching around and some reading I decided PFHoe was cheap enough that I could stand buying it. I was also swayed by Blender being on their list of supported exporters :slight_smile:
There really isn’t very much information available on this software. The software site is even mostly blank! After searching their forum, google, and youtube I couldn’t find a single demo or test using the software, let alone using it with Blender. It was a real impulse buy, and if the price had been any higher I wouldn’t have done it. The next cheapest competitor ‘syntheyes’ is about $350 which is a bit too much just for personal use/testing.

The Pixel Farms online store was nice enough, it required creating an account, and asked for the same information several times, but nothing too odd. Their licensing/download on the other hand was quite weird an annoying. It seemed at first that because I had gone for the ‘pro’ instead of the regular version I would have fewer rights! It seems their pro level software has its license tied to the machine on which it is to be run. This is because when you follow the provided instructions and go to the download option in your account settings there is nothing there! read the instructions again and it says you need to request a license, and to do so you need the special number generated when running the demo on your machine!! I finally tried the ‘request a licence’ link just to see what it would ask for and… it didn’t ask for anything, it just gave me a link to mail me the serial:confused:

Okay, so I installed it and grabbed the best footage I had made while trying to get decent results out of the free softwares. My first thought on opening the program was that the interface was pretty weird - but then I use Blender, weird is not a problem :slight_smile: The interface is very simple and gives you very few options - not that you need many. There are a row of (large) button at the bottom of the screen, and if you click through each one from left to right you will go through all the steps needed to track your footage… sort of. After I figure this out I go ahead and click thru until I’ve exported a file for use in Blender (exports as a Python script just like voodoo). I load it up in Blender, setup my scene, render… It’s awful! Looks like it is doing the exact opposite of what it should be to match the footage.

Well, I had paid for the thing by this point so I figured I’d better figure out how to get it working! I knew from voodoo/icarus that trackers seemed to be really picky about the settings you use, so I figured I must have just mucked up something along the way and I’d give it another shot. This time though I tracked down the manual before I started (fairly short pdf document not accessible anywhere in the ui). Almost the first thing I learn is that all the important settings are hidden away in a menu only accessable by pressing the spacebar (sound familiar :D). The manual is short and not very indepth, but I manage to pick up a few important points - once again reinforcing the lesson rtfm.

Anyway here are the results of my first successful attempt at using PFHoe with Blender
Starting footage ~ 1.5M Xvid
composite ~ 1.5M Xvid

Nothing fancy - just a simple functionality test - but to my eye the results look great! Very minimal sliding and the perspective looks good. I actually used Blender’s compositor to tweak the footage before running this thru the tracker, and then again to add some blur to blend the render better with the video. One other nice bit - it took me longer to write this post than to tweak, track, and composite. I highly recommend this software for low-budget match-moving/camera tracking :cool:

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(simhar) #2

thanx for the nice thread!
I’m also very interested in tracking (…and I hope somedays blender will have an internal one…) and pfhoe seems interesting… for such a cheap price!!!

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(BlackBoe) #3

Wow. Nice. Sounds interesting as trackers go, I’ll have to look into that.

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(spacestrudel) #4

Yeah, results are preety good, post some more if you have! I would like to get into this when i’ll have more time. Thnx

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(simhar) #5

whoa… i tested it already.

in the past i made some experiments with maya live and icarus, but pfhoe is quiet useful.

do you know a lot more about the pixel farm and pfhoe or pftrack… is it used in production… i just heard about boujou and realviz matchmover for production…

thanx and greetz
S.

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(86point5) #6

Nice results.

I’d been watching this app for a while. I haven’t been back to their site recently to see they added Blender as a supported exporter. I was wondering if there was any way to ‘convert’ the LWS files … but now that doesn’t seem to be a problem. :slight_smile:

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(mattebb) #7

Just a tidbit of trivia, from what I understand, PFHoe is the successor to icarus. The university researchers decided to commercialise icarus and they either started Pixel Farm or sold it to them (can’t remember). And after a few more years of full time development, it became PFHoe.

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(simhar) #8

no, not exact…

icarus became pftrack, but it`s far away in the developement from the older icarus… pfHoe has the core algorithm, but not the whole suite of functions and tools (eg: sophisticated masking to separate foreground and background)

greetz
S.

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(mattebb) #9

Ah! I stand corrected then.

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(simhar) #10

i tested it now several times, and in my opinion it’s a very good package (that price). i got very good results, when the resolution of th footage is high (720x576)… resolutions like 640x480 or compressed formats work not so good…

but in conclusion: think it’s it price worth and a cheap improvement of everybodys toolset… thin i will buy it.

S.

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(kitsu) #11

From what I’ve heard a couple of the core developers of icarus now work for the pixel farms and very little icarus code remains intact.

I haven’t had time to do any more tests, but I did try the previous scene with a different object - showed the sliding a lot more clearly. The footage wasn’t very good though, and the the whole thing was kind of a quick hack so the thing could render over night…

I’m using pfhoe “pro” and it hasn’t had any noticable problems with my 640x480 xvid video. Still it may have better results with correctly sized footage, and with the new image manipulation nodes in the compositor it shouldn’t be a problem making/using any resolution needed :smiley:

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(simhar) #12

i meant, low-resolution lead into bad tracks… it’s clear, because, when you have a high resolution with a lot of details, the solver can detect the points more clearly, instead of a low-res with a lor of blurry stuff in it…

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(kitsu) #13

Right! Some of the text on the site leads me to believe that the non-pro version of the software input if its aspect ration is wrong. In the “pro” version it accepts resolutions up to HD, and accepts any aspect, but recommends 4:3 or 16:9.

Still no new tests :shrug:

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(roofoo) #14

Hmm, I downloaded the trial version of PFHoe Pro, and it crashed on me when I tried to load a movie! Also, it sucks that you can’t load image sequences…

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(cswimm) #15

I can’t seem to find any instructions on how to import a PF Hoe python script into Blender. I recall a one page instruction set that I got somewhere but I don’t have it now. Do you have a quick instruction on how to import a PF Hoe python script and line up a 3d scene.

Thanks

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