Reichstag Plenarsaal

While I was at Rise FX in Berlin, Germany I was tasked with recreating the large Main Chamber (“Plenarsaal”) of the Reichstag before it burned to the ground in 1933. I modelled the interior in Maya, rendered it in Mental Ray, painted textures in Photoshop, and passed it on to the comp and FX departments who did a great job of adding the fire and dynamic collapsing effects in Houdini. I also painted several layers of burning embers for the destruction shots.



Inverting Individual Texture Color Channels in Maya

I was looking for a way to invert the green channel of my normal map in Maya, so that I don’t have to flip it in photoshop for engine export (UDK, Skyrim Creation Kit, 3ds Max). 

Turns out it’s unbelievably simple.


In the “File” Node that loads in your texture there are options for Color Gain and Color Offset. You can think of them as Multiply and Add/Subtract.

Quick explanation: Multiply (Color Gain) your chosen channel by -1 and add (Color Offset) 1 to your channel to invert it. Make sure colors are set to RGB, 0 to 1.0 in the color picker.


The maths behind it:

Value inversion can be done with: 1 – n (where n is whatever value the pixel has. White has a value of 1, black 0, middle grey 0.5. So a 70% grey, 0.7, will be inverted like this: 1 – 0.7 = 0.3)

Luckily this equation can be rewritten as (n*-1)+1=1-n ( and also as (n-1)*-1=1-n , though we will be using the first one).    

So first we need to Multiply our channel n by minus 1. In the case of the normal map, channel for green. 

Click on the swatch for Color Gain, make sure it’s set to RGB, 0 to 1.0 and type -1 in the G channel.

Click on the swatch for Color Offset, make sure it’s set to RGB, 0 to 1.0 and type 1 in the G channel.


Congratulations, you can now use correctly oriented normal maps in your Maya Viewport! This does not work in the Hardware Shader viewport mode, only with Viewport 2.0.

Terragen 2 quick animation

Animation test in Terragen 2. YouTube seems to have darkened the video quite a bit, and H.264 has done a nice job of messing up the colours, so I’ll probably do a daylight test next. Lens flare added in Nuke with the help of a very nice anamorphic lens flare gizmo by Sil Bulterman on Nukepedia. Very impressed with Terragen 2’s ability to output global illumination cache files which prevent flickering and other nasty artefacts.

Matchmover HollywoodCameraWork

A quick test to see if matchmover’s capabilities can equal those of Boujou/Syntheyes/3dequalizer. A good solving engine but I find supervised tracking to be fairly limited in terms of reviewing tracks. Graph editing capabilities are fairly useful in refining solves. Working with interlaced footage produced many slowdowns and crashes, something I didn’t experience with regular plates. The software is in dire need of a lasso tool, along with several other very important updates. Favourite feature: holding Ctrl to scrub in the viewport.