Working with some Video Copilot techniques

As many of you know, Andrew Kramer is a major player in the video compositing space. His website, is a treasure trove of great After Effects projects, processes and techniques.

Lately, I’ve been trying to go #AdobeFree with the idea in a year I’ll completely quit my Creative Cloud subscription. I only really use Photoshop, After Effects and Illustrator-- and AE less and less. I’m using the Affinity product line suite whenever I can these days. Been playing around with Blender to see if the compositing tools can work for the little bit I do (I am not a professional video person).

I purchased Element 3D from Video Copilot a few years back. It was basically EEVEE before there was EEVEE and it still has some nice features EEVEE doesn’t have like both shadow and reflection map catchers.

One of the ways I’ve found to “get better” is to try and copy another person’s style and/or technique. There are certainly a ton of them on VC, and this roof concept seemed interesting because he’s given away for free the models. Problem is they use the Specular PBR workflow, whereas EEVEE uses a variation on the Metallic workflow.

This means converting the textures can be somewhat difficult-- mostly a hit or miss on most of the maps, so there’s quit a bit of tweaking that goes into them. FWIW, I’m trying to contact VC to see if they’ll allow me to share the models.

Once I converted them over, I decided I wanted to take a shot at creating Andrew Kramer’s fantastic advertisement for their Roof Kit. Here’s what I ended up with:

and here is Andrew Kramer’s original:

It was created (I believe) entirely in AE using Element 3D.

The goal for me was to get as close as possible in EEVEE with Blender and zero post other than the title and a very tiny bit of sharpening. All the color toning was done in the Blender Compositor.

Here’s where I ended up. Note there were a few other models in the kit, which I added to the scene as well.

The challenges:

  1. As I mentioned early, converting the Specular workflow mapped OBJs to EEVEEs Metallic hybrid workflow.
  2. Getting the lighting correct was extremely tough as EEVEE doesn’t have a fade to color fog mode as most other realtime renderers have (Unity, Unreal, etc). So, in the end I ended up using a volumetric cube with a gradient shader to get the light from the right to left. Furthermore, I used an HDRI to get the reflections and a single sunlight to create the harsh shadows.
  3. The hardest part was getting the wet concrete to not only work, but not create a discernable pattern as it goes off to infinity. This was done using only tileable concrete textures, overlaying them using a mix node shader. No procedural was used. Based on looking at existing tutoriasl, I believe Andrew Kramer also only used tileable images. I would sure like to know more about how he set up that scene. I suspect there was a lot more compositing done.
  4. Other notes: I bumped up the AO condiderably in EEVEE and used the techniques to create sharp shadows I showed in this youtube video: