Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

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Luke Marcatili
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Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Luke Marcatili » Sat May 30, 2020 5:54 am

Hi all,

This may be interesting to many of you who enjoyed Klaus and animate in Moho. Since all the hubbub around Klaus' character lighting techniques I felt that very similar lighting effects could be 'easily' achieved in Moho. I carried out a few of my own experiments sometime last year and came to the conclusion that it is possible but somewhat time consuming.

Now I see this video and realise it would be no more time consuming than the Klaus process since they are simply creating animated vector shapes as we would do in Moho.

I would argue that, since Moho focuses on rigged characters, it is actually faster to do this in Moho than the method shown in the video below which seems to require new lighting layers for every shot.

In my experiments I created separate light layers to light a character's face from each direction. I had a left side light layer, a right side, a top and a below. You could also add edge or rim light layers- whatever you want. Of course the layers are shaped to match the contours/geometry of the character's face, just like is shown in the Klaus video.

Then those light layers are rigged to your smart bones with everything else and therefore animate together with the rest of the rig. When you need them, you can simply have those layers switched on and switch them off when not needed. Or you can do what I did and export them separately and use them in the compositing process as mattes.

I realise that is probably a bit vague without showing reference video of what I did. I think those that know Moho will get the drift, but if there is some interest I might put together a quick video showing my process and the results I got.

But here is the Klaus process video. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTcblxN8TGQ

Embed:



I'm curious- has anyone else used a similar lighting process in Moho?

EDIT:
Adding my demo video in here to make it easier to find- more details in the thread:


EDIT:
Lighting Demo Part 2. Details below.
Last edited by Luke Marcatili on Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by DK » Sat May 30, 2020 10:04 am

Hi Luke.
I am a big fan of the Klaus process and also thought that this could be something done with Moho. Maybe a set of template files could be developed for different lighting scenarios where all you have to do is place your character inside and split the layers up to achieve the results?
Anything to help keep Moho up there progressing would be fantastic!

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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Maestral » Sat May 30, 2020 2:04 pm

I share the impressions about Klaus production, their approach to light and I did the tryout where I used referenced layer copies.

Copies are made after the animation so this way one may select the portion of visible/used layers and either apply some of the available Effects or use such 'portions' for masking, for additional layers with Effects. Once I had a grasp on what it takes to make such contraption to work, I've decided to wait till I could devote somewhat more time and make something under such specs.

The idea of splitting the scope into 4 sections, as Luke explained, is a really good one. Though I think it might not necessarily have to be just 4 nor just ortho oriented (slanted, diagonal, parallel...), due to objects/characters passing over each other - perhaps it could be just separated into objects/characters... I also think it would make the files larger and am not sure if or how much it would be in a way of smooth production. For something short, I'm sure it would work just fine. But still, once I make room for further tests, I'd try to apply such an approach to the ref. copies.

The thing which I think should be taken into consideration, when applying their or similar approach in Moho, should be more of the productionwise rather than of mere technical nature.

I don't know if Mikel is on this forum but his approach and tryout deserves the place in this thread (check the date)


There's an insider story behind Klaus' production


So, if there could be more of us willing to lay hands on such deck - count me in.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Luke Marcatili » Sun May 31, 2020 2:40 am

Thanks for the replies!

I've decided to do a new demo version of the concept I'm describing and I'll post it here for everyone.

I do have the experiments I did before but since I did them for myself they're probably a bit on the rough side to convey the potential of the idea.

The Mikel video is cool, I hadn't seen that before. Using Colour Points is a technique I've seen for lighting before but I hadn't thought of using it in conjunction with my process so I might play with that as well and see what I can do by combining them.

Maestral wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 2:04 pm

The thing which I think should be taken into consideration, when applying their or similar approach in Moho, should be more of the productionwise rather than of mere technical nature.
I agree. That's why I didn't investigate further before, I thought it would probably be too prohibitive to add a lighting stage to the character rigging process in a production setting. But it seems Klaus had a lighting stage for each shot, and the simple shot demonstrated equated to roughly 1 day of work. I had the impression that KLaS used some kind of new interpolation technology to automate a lot of the lighting process, but it seems it's mostly still manual.

Using rigged characters, you could put that 1 day of lighting work into the rigging stage to create lighting layers and use those layers across an entire production. That's much more efficient than it seems the Klaus process was, although of course they're different styles of animation.

Anyway I'll work on a demo and try to post it soon!
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by alanthebox » Sun May 31, 2020 5:47 am

Looking forward to seeing your demo!
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by hayasidist » Sun May 31, 2020 10:22 am

in a similar vein, I've used vector shapes in layers with blend modes such as overlay, multiply, screen to create lighting effects (despite the comment in the OP video around 6:20 about "not the same as in Photoshop etc") masked onto the underlying object vector.

The one thing that KLaS _seems_ to have that Moho doesn't is "intelligent" spatial interpolation of points - but I might be wrong about that.

Looking forward to Luke's demo.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Luke Marcatili » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:10 am

Hi all,

It took me a little longer to get a first pass on this done, mostly due to other life things but here is a first demo of this lighting method I'm talking about in Moho.



Basically what you have here is 4 lighting groups- Left, Right, Top and Bottom. The lighting groups include 1-2 light shape layers and a rim light layer. In addition to that you have a Base Colour layer that is masked to the character. That determines the flat Base Colour/Value of the character.

Each of these lighting groups are part of the character model and rigged in/ animated with the rest of the Bones and Smart Bones. For the purposes of this demo I just did a simple head turn and you can see how the light shapes animate along with the character.

I also added Opacity and Blur controls for the light shapes so that the intensity and sharpness of the light can be independently controlled (I didn't add a blur control for the rim lights in this demo though).

This is all being done in Moho at this stage, but you could also export out these animated light layers separately once your scene is done and use them in your composite to get more control and effects. You could (for example) use these light layers as masks and then have shaped layers animating inside those to create dappled light effects or projected images or whatever.

There are a few things here I think I could develop further:

- I think you could add even more control to how the light actually falls on the face. I have some ideas but I'll need to experiment further.

- Overlapping light layers create unnatural effects that you wouldn't see in a realistic lighting situation. But light shapes on the same layer blend perfectly so I want to experiment with fewer layers.

- There's no subsurface scattering here, so I will play with adding some Color Point Controls to Ears/Nose and maybe Cheeks to add that extra level of detail in.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by DK » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:54 am

Really great work Luke!
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Víctor Paredes » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:23 am

That's very interesting, Luke. Thanks for sharing it.
So, are you using masked layers with shapes that change of color and transparency to simulate the lighting? Are you using smart bones to control them?

There's a concept I have been working on for some time. It's using meshes to create headturns instead of moving the points themselves. This adds the advantage you create the headturn only once and after that you can add as many new layers to the head as you want. If you link those layers to the mesh, then the headturn will automatically work for them too.
I'm thinking this idea can work for adding the lighting easily to a character.
(It's similar to what we did for A cat called jam and the characters' textures)
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Luke Marcatili » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:35 am

Hi Victor,

In the demo I posted I'm just using coloured shapes for the lit areas. They are rigged and animated with the character bones including the head turn smart bones.

Then I'm using smart bones to control Opacity and Blur. I'm also using Screen & Multiply Blending Modes most of the time.

I am now working on a more advanced version of this which incorporates gradients and masks to add even more control and realism to the fall of light.

I can't record screen & audio very easily at the moment unfortunately but I'm hoping to record a bit of an under the hood walk through this week. I probably should have gone through all this development work first and then posted the results and explanation afterward but I got too excited, haha.

I had a look at A Cat Called Jam- it looks great! That mouth rig on Treacle that amanandink posted looks quite similar to a mouth rig I created for a scene I'm planning to post soon, though the rig I created utilised a separate 'control mouth' with 'smart bone joysticks' to control the points. That's a whole other topic though!

I'd love to know more about the mesh rigging concept. A one-time head turn sounds amazing. If it's possible to have subsequently added layers automatically animate with a head turn (or other actions) then it sounds like it would be much quicker and easier to create scene specific lighting situations that would add a lot of value to this lighting method.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Luke Marcatili » Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:18 pm



So here's an update on the lighting method I've been working on. I realise now this really should be in the Techniques section of the forum so apologies for that.

As you'll see in the video there's a lot more control now over how the light works.

Here's a screenshot of my workspace which I think will help to describe what's going on for anyone interested. It's pretty complicated and at the moment, a bit messy, but it works pretty well.

Image

The main principle of this method is combining animatable Gradients with Masks.

Gradients
The Controls on the left of the screen control three Gradients: Gradient Left, Gradient Right and Ambient Fill.

Each of these Gradients is a Radial Gradient, usually of a single colour, with Transparency enabled so the gradient goes from Solid Colour to Fully Transparent.

Gradient Left is Masked to the Left Light Shape Mask, Gradient Right is Masked to the Right Light Shape. The Left & Right Gradient Opacity is controlled by the Light Shape Opacity Control.

Ambient Fill is Masked to the Character.

Each Gradient has a control for the size of the gradient, which gives extra control of Light Fall-off.

The combination of these controls allows you to simulate Key, Fill and Ambient Lighting. The Ambient Lighting can also be used to simulate subsurface scattering in the face, or simulate light glowing or spreading outside the confines of the light shape mask (you can see what I mean in the video).

Also, having the ability to move the Left & Right Gradients independently helps avoid unnatural looking layer overlaps which you can see in the earlier video I made.

Light Layers
The Controls on the right, outside the Camera Viewport control the Light Shapes and Rim Lights.

There are Opacity and Blur controls for Left, Right, Top and Bottom Light Shapes. I have the Left Light Shape switched on at the moment which you can see indicated on the left side of the character's face (though you need to render a preview frame to see how it actually looks).

There's a Rim Light for each group (Left, Right, Top and Bottom) and those have Opacity & Blur controls as well.

In the Layer Window on the right you can see the Left Light Group. The Top Layer is the Gradient Layer. Below that are two Light Layers (one for Face and one for Neck). Both of these are "Add to Mask but keep invisible" so that they act as one mask for the gradient.

At the bottom left of that Light Shape Control grouping there is a Base Value control which controls how dark the base lighting is.

Subsurface Scattering
Beneath the Camera Viewport you'll see the Subsurface Scattering controls which are only Opacity controls.

The Subsurf layers themselves are just orange shapes set to a permanent 5% blur.

Other Stuff
The Light Source in the video is just there for show. It's just a blurred circle that I animated through the scene to help create the illusion of light.

There are other Pin Bone 'handles' you can see in the picture which are purely organisational- e.g. under the Left Light group there's a Left Light Handle. All the Left Light bones are parented to that so I can move them around easily.

I haven't done this yet, but you could fairly easily create more scene specific lighting by using subtraction masks in the Light Layer Groups.

Drawbacks & Limitations
- I suppose an obvious drawback of this method is the complexity of setting it all up, though I think it would work for the right projects. I can see myself using it in a short film context where there are limited numbers of characters to rig. It is reasonably complicated to animate all the controls together, but the lighting doesn't have to be animated to be effective.

- The other drawback for me is the way Moho handles gradient colour and the difference between Display Quality and Rendered images. To change the colour of a Gradient seems to take around half-a-dozen clicks, and then to see how your output will actually look you need to render a Preview frame. Getting the right look to your scene lighting can pretty tedious.

- This method works well in low light situations, but I haven't had as much luck with daylight scenes so far.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by alanthebox » Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:35 pm

Wow, really impressive stuff! Does this level of complexity bog down the rig considerably?
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Luke Marcatili » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:49 am

Thanks @alanthebox

I haven't found any issues with Moho running slowly if that's what you mean. It would be interesting to test this concept with a more complex standing rig but I haven't got anything available right now to do that test.

I have started to apply this lighting to a more complex scene I've been working on though so I'll see if I run into any issues.

There are places where the workflow bogs down which are more to do with how Moho handles and displays the layer settings and gradients. That's more of an issue if you want to animate the lighting as I have, but if you just have a static lighting setup which would be more common, it's not too bad.

Here's another still frame where I've incorporated a subtraction mask into the Left Light group to create a film noir venetian blind effect. That took less than a minute to add to the setup from my last video. Because it's connected to the other light layer mask the edges animate with the character while the light itself stays static, as if it is being cast through static blinds.

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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Víctor Paredes » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:15 am


I need to watch it with more attention, but so far it looks less 'automated' than I expected.
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Re: Klaus Lighting Tutorial & Moho Lighting

Post by Greenlaw » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:11 pm

Just before Klaus premiered on Netflix, Sergio Pablos and James Baxter did a presentation about the film at the studio where I work, and they talked about the production's workflow and techniques.

Generally speaking, a lot of clever tricks were employed, often by combining varying degrees of CG, digital 2D and traditional animation techniques to produce the results Pablos wanted. The criteria was that the cg and traditionally drawn elements needed to look aesthetically cohesive, like everything belonged in the same world. That and they needed to complete the work as quickly as possible. Needless to say, there was a lot of cross-training between traditional and cg artists, and everybody wore many hats in this production.

They did show off a custom program that was really cool. This tool tracked and interpolated path-based shapes from keyframe to keyframe, which were used as mattes to simulate 3D lighting effects like global illumination, subsurface scattering, ambient occlusion, etc. Yes, the 'key' shapes for the mattes were manually plotted by the artist but what is remarkable is that the software could track the hand-drawn line work of the art very accurately and intelligently interpolate the in-between shapes for these mattes...and it did this very quickly! I can get similar results using composting packages like After Effects and Fusion, but without this intelligent line tracking feature the process is definitely more labor intensive. Of course, it is still up to the artist to decide on the shapes of the mattes and how they would be applied in compositing to simulate the '3D' lighting, and that's where cross-training between cg and traditional artists really paid off.

Near the end of their presentation, Pablos said something I really admired. When asked if Klaus should be classified as a 2D or 3D animated film, he refused to define it as either. To him Klaus should simply be called an animated film.

I agree completely. 🙂
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