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 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
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 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.
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