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'Freefall' FX Breakdowns


Tony Diaz presents the final result of his work on 'Freefall' including the full videoclip and three breakdowns.

Hey, Tony Diaz here! Finished a very Blender heavy music video that is basically one long action scene. I posted a few of the breakdowns before, but here's a meatier breakdown of the climactic action scene.

Instead of a lengthy post, if you have any questions, I'll lurk around the comments for the next few days and answer as best I can. One caveat: this was my first time using Blender, although I did spend the last seven months learning as I went.

One thing I did want to bring up: I wish the camera tracker would solve with restrictions

An example to explain. If you watch the first dolly shot in the breakdown, it is clear the camera dollies from right to left, on ONE AXIS, with minor shaking in/out, up/down. Admittedly, I didn't have very good markers, so my tracks weren't the best. When I went to solve, the camera solved jittering all over the place. After countless solves choosing different keyframes, I found a decent solution, but it still needed cleanup. In the end I had to convert to keyframes, then manually straighten the move (basically keep it on the X axis and minimize movement on the Y and Z).

It be great if in addition to a tripod option if there were a choice for movement on one axis, maybe with an option to weight movement on the other two axes. I think, especially with problematic shots, it'd be helpful if we could 'guide' the solve.

Again, HUGE thank you to this amazing Blender community, from the programmers to the guys getting 20 views on their YouTube tutorials. Couldn't have figured this out without y'all. Keep kicking ass.

The full music video:

The VFX breakdowns:


  1. comeinandburn on

    wow excellent work! Something tells me your no stranger to VFX :)

    Do you mind giving a bit of information on what software your coming from, and why you chose Blender? Love to hear success stories.

    • Thanks!

      I can't say I have much of a VFX background. For the past ten years I've worked professionally as an editor (Avid) on reality TV shows, and on occasion I've used After Effects for basic titles/lower third type graphics. Using After Effects for work and side projects taught me a lot about compositing, blending modes, alpha channels, etc. But Blender was the first 3D program I've ever used.

      I chose Blender because it was free and the community made it easy to learn from. It took me maybe a week or two to get literate enough in the program to know what kind of questions I should be asking. From there it was tutorials and trial and error. There was definitely a learning curve, but now a shot that took me three weeks to do would only take me a few days now!

  2. Nice to see how this turned out!
    Tony - As always, we'd love you to speak on this at our LA Blender users group meetings. Our next is likely Sat June 20th in Marina Del Rey. Let me know - Stirling

    • More and more short films! I've got one in the can that I'm finishing post on now. Some minor effects work, then scoring/sound/color. Beyond that, I've got a couple of twilight zone type shorts I want to shoot before summer is out.

      Love the Twin Peaks ref. Tempted to call my production company Garmonbozia...

      • Cheers man, I think Garmonbozia is a great name for a production company. But then again I am a Twin Peaks obsessive. It would have the weirdest logo / brand.

        Hope you keep us posted with your new stuff.

  3. Ah! Man I loved this. Having done this kind of meticulous track+roto+comp I really appreciated the time you took into continuity between shots. Especially with prerolling debris, FG & BG dust and hits, and those sparks look absolutely fantastic. Really well done! I always love being immersed in the world instead of seeing holes in VFX work. :)

    @Futurehack Hit me up when you do the LA blender group too! We went to the one in Santa Monica earlier this year, would love to go again. Always a pleasure seeing people out in LA use Blender.

    • Thanks! I will admit I farmed out building the mattes because the tedium of roto work was driving me insane. I can deal with the minutia of all the details in building the smoke layers and animating the debris, but rotoscoping....ugh.

      Do you use Blender on your work? Hope to see you at the Blender meet up next week!

  4. Reverend Speed on

    Fantastic work! I'm only starting down this road with a couple of personal projects, but even at my understanding the sheer scope of your project and the attention to detail is mind boggling! Incredibly impressive that this was made entirely in Blender within seven months...!

    I'm wondering if you'd have any tutorials or sources of information that you found particularly helpful in creating Freefall? I'm currently working through Match Track Blend #1, but I'd gladly take any suggestions you could make.

    Sounds like you guys are going to give some killer presentations. Any chance of a video? =D

    In addition, add another vote for calling your company Garmonbozia. I'm sure you'd get a warm welcome for your pain and suffering. =)


    • Thank you, and good luck on your journey down the Blender rabbit hole.... ;)

      Sounds like you're past the getting started stage, so I would definitely recommend blenderguru/Andrew Price's videos. Sci Fi Animator is a great YouTube resource, his tuts are short and comprehensive, but I learned A LOT of the basics/intermediates from his channel. A couple more that come to mind in the intermediate/advanced level are YouTube channels Sardi Pax, BlenderDiplom and Blender Cookie.

      Based on the feedback I've gotten, I'm working on a tutorial series based on the music video. I'll take one shot and walk through camera tracking all the way to adding smoke, sparks, debris, damage, etc. to the final composite. Aiming to have it up in a week or two!

      [clap] Let's rock!

      • Reverend Speed on

        I'm fairly familiar with Blender as a game dev / modelling tool, but I'm really a total newbie when it comes to tracking - and particles and smoke sim! Thanks for the links - I've a lot to learn from 'em!

        Seriously looking forward to your tutorial. The time you've taken to work on this project and THEN help out the community so much - very much appreciated. =)


        PS: Careful with the Twin Peaks references! I'm close to losing my mind anticipating TP2016...!

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