viewing reference footage while animating

I shot reference footage for a specific animation and loaded it as a texture onto a plane in the scene I am animating. I would like to match the movement of the model with the reference footage I shot, then delete the plane before final render. Problem is, the movie frames don’t show up in the window for me to follow.

Is there a way to see each frame of the reference footage on the plane while in camera view so I can match the moves? I enabled Texface, changed the Draw type to textured, yet the plane remains blank.

Also, if this can be solved, how do I offset the reference footage to begin where the specific motion begins? What I mean is the animation begins with frame one, but I don’t need the reference footage until frame 30 (the begining of the specific movement I video-taped). The reference footage loads to frame one, offsetting the whole thing by 30 frames. I’d like frame one of the reference footage to begin at frame 30 of the animation.

You can load your ref movie as a Background Image in any 3D Window. There are controls in the Background Image panel for offsetting the start frame and such.

If you want the movie to exactly fill the Active Camera view in a 3D window, it has to be the same pixel dimensions, or evenly proportional to the pixel dimensions, that you set for your rendered output.

Putting the ref on a plane can introduce perspective and alignment issues, whereas the BG Image is always aligned to the camera, needs no lighting, and can be made partially transparent very easily if you want.

Thanks for the reply Chipmasque. I knew about loading the footage as a background image. This doesn’t work for me since the model blocks the view of the footage (that’s why I wanted it to be in a plane off to the side). I tried to change the x and y offset of the footage in the background but nothing moves. Unless I’m missing something else, I’m stumped. By the way, I’m using 2.49.

Thanks for the information about offsetting the start of the footage. That part was helpful.

when you texture the plane via material, use the same movie panel controls in the texture panel to auto-refresh the texture image.

Papa Smurf, it is not a matter of advancing the frames as the animation goes along. It is a matter of not being able to see the frames on the panel as I’m trying to match the models’s movement with the reference footage frame by frame.

The question is: how can you view each frame on the plane during the posing of the model. As I’m set up now, the plane remains blank.

If you use the textured plane, you need to use the Textured display mode to be able to see it on the plane in the UI. Be aware that this usually produces a noticeable performance hit when working in the UI. You’ll likely want to use the Shadeless option for the plane’s Material as well so you don’t have to light it. Not sure if you also need to enable GLSL materials or not, but I usually do by default anyway.


Thanks for the reply, I am away from my work computer at the moment, but will try your suggestion soon.

Drew, getting it to display is easy, but getting it to refresh, iirc, is not possible with 2.49. To get it to display, unwrap the plane, and load the movie in the UV/Image editor while the plane is in edit mode.

Edit: having said that, there is a videotexture module that is used to play movies in the game engine (in 3D View). perhaps that tool will solve the refresh issue if you must use the textured plane solution.

Using a movie as a background works well, however. Have you considered maybe working in wireframe view mode, so your model does not block the movie? Another work-around that I do is to move occluding stuff to an unselected layer when I am animating using background image through camera view.


Thanks to the both of you for your help. I think I have something I can work with now. - Drew

One tip when using an image plane that can help keep things aligned properly even when moving the camera around: First use the Transform properties to line up the camera’s viewing axis (usually Z when in Normal axis mode) with the center of the plane. Put a Track To constraint on the plane and make its target the camera. Then move the plane in or out along the camera’s view axis until it exactly fills the frame (this is for perspective camera mode, btw). Then make the plane a child of the camera. Now whenever the camera moves, the plane will follow in exact alignment.

To add to chipmasque’s good ideas. Remember to make the plane in the same aspect ratio that your footage is in.