Right now we're here at the Blender Institute. This is where the Open Movies take place. The next open Movie, Mango, will make heavy use of camera tracking. While the artists will work on the movie, they will have coders directly next to them to allow direct interaction between artists and developer. Sebastian König will do the supervisation of the tracking process, Sergey is going to be coding with direct feedback from Sebastian König, with direct feedback to get the interface as artist-friendly as possible and Kier is the mastermind behind the pattern recognition algorithms that work in the background.
BD: Obviously it all started 5 years ago with your libMV project. Today, after 5 years of development, it's finally integrated in Blender. Keir, how is that?
K: I don't know whether 5 years of development is accurate. We started 5 years ago but what's now in Blender is like a very small bit of libMV, just the parts you need actually. LibMV was originally my thesis and I started it targeting Blender but that did not happen for various reasons for quite a while. And eventually the Summer of Code project happend.
BD: That's where Sergey brought libMV to Blender by coding an interface?
S: It wasn't really an interface. Interface is pretty simple but it was a bit more difficult task to define a workflow that would be convenient for all Blender users. And to make things work well with existing parts of Blender.
BD: Regarding the workflow you got a lot of input from Sebastian, who had worked with various tracking tools in the past. Sebastian, what was your input?
S.K: Lucky circumstances allowed me to test everything that Sergey did and I was always pleasantly surprised of the progress. Everything went very very fast. I had some wishes how some things should work, where you add trackers or remove them, where buttons might or might not be for an efficient workflow and that kind of stuff. I also discussed that with François Tarlier who is Motion Tracking currently at MPC in London. And he has a lot of experience so a lot of valuable feedback came from him, too. It was a great experience to be in direct contact with the developers and thus help the development of Blender's camera tracking module by sharing experiences, giving direct feedback and tailor it to the requirements of a matchmoving artist.
BD: Sergey, how was it for you?
S: Well, it wasn't only feedback. During SoC students are supposed to do documentation. That's really boring work. So I used to create a few videos but after a few weeks I was totally fine with the tutorials by Sebastian which where enough for the documentation. I still do some documentation but I'm not so good at motion tracking. I can show how things work but not create something geniusly.
BD: The plan is that your cooperation will go on during Mango. Keir, are you also involved in some way?
K: Yes, I will be involved from San Francisco and maybe also on location during some filming. From now on we will be working on further targets for Mango.
BD: There is also the idea from Ton Rosendaal that studions interested in the Blender VFX pipeline will be able to sponsor development of features via so-called "Developer Seats".
S: Those seats are also a general support thing. The coders should still do general bugfixing and work on general feature request, all those things that are not so fun when coding. Brecht will be working on Cycles and I will be working on Motion Tracking.
BD: Sebstastian, you're also hired not just for Tracking but also for further tasks?
S.K: I will also do a lot of modeling and hopefully some compositing.
BD: So great times ahead. Anything else you want to say?
S.K: It was a totally awesome Blender conference this year. To spend a whole weekend with wonderful artists and developers, spiced up with interesting presentations, workshops and live-demos is always a highlight of the year. Especially when some developers code some new features for motion tracking while already standing at the speaker's desk. That's totally awesome! Until right now Keir has been working on automatic camera calibration, should be ready a few hours from now...
This interview was translated to German and released in the print magazine Digital Production alongside an article on the Blender Camera Tracker in Germany and Austria.