One of the most powerful tools in Blender for video editing is the ability to create a video texture for an object. This has the effect of turning the object into a video clip display object. You can then move it around at will, rotate it, bend it, scale it (within reason; you want a high-resolution clip to start with), or scatter it among other objects, as well as static images (the same tool that maps a video on an object can also map a picture on that same object). In essence, this allows you to integrate video clips into 3D scenes, produce transitions and montages with a lot of flexibility, and even create a “scrolling credits” clip using a credits page made in the graphics software of your choice. This means you are not limited to a set of available plugins for film effects.
Some things to note: These tips are for the latest version of Blender, which is 2.63 at the time I’m writing this, and I’m using the Blender renderer, not the Cycles renderer. For this tip, I will use the plane object.
This tip assumes you have already placed a camera in Blender. No light source is needed if you just want to work with clips; for this to work properly, you want the plane to emit light. You obviously need some kind of footage for this to work.
- Go to “Add” and select “Mesh” and “Plane.” This is going to be your clip viewer.
- Go to object properties, and give the plane an appropriate name, such as the clip’s content.
- Go to material properties, and create a new material. Following these steps, we will turn this plane into a sort of flat-panel TV screen.
- In “Specular,” reduce the intensity to 0. This will prevent the “light reflection spot” on the clip.
- In “Shading,” change the emit value to 1. This will allow the clip to light itself evenly, rather than deal with scene light and shadow… essentially, the plane becomes a “light table.”
- Go to the texture properties and create a new texture. The material will emit light through this texture, allowing it to be seen. Then, the following steps will assign your video clip to the texture.
- In the texture selection area, change “Type” to “Image or Movie.”
- In “Image,” Do the following:
- The first option allows you to select your clip file. Do so.
- Adjust the length, starting frame, and offset.
- If you want to use the entire clip, click “Match Movie Length.” Otherwise, change “frames” to the number of frames of video you want to play
- If you want the clip to start playing at a specific point in your animation, change “start” to the frame you want the movie to start playing.
- If you want to change the point where the clip itself starts, change “offset” to the clip’s first desired frame.
- If you want the clip to loop, click “cyclic.” Keep in mind this means that the “start” value will not prevent the clip from looping before the start point.
- Do not use the preview in the properties to resize this image; test this with a test render; a single-image render will do. This is because the texture preview does not show the clip’s size or location accurately, since the plane itself can vary in height and width.
You can play with the other settings, but the above will allow you to create a simple plane that can be captured using the renderer’s camera, which will play while the rest of the scene is also animating.