Mile high paper stack effect: Blender + Photoshop + FCP

How many five letter words are there? This many!…if you put one word on each page.

Finished an interesting 3D composite (and modeling) effect with for episode #1 of Working on this effect to help demonstrate the huge number of five letter word combinations if you enumerate them all with one on each page of paper. Planning to use Blender for the CGI paper stack. The idea is to have a stack of paper reaching 1.2 km high. Here was my process….

First I shot the empty background plate, which takes place in a forest.

Then I fired up blender (first time using it!) and tried to mimic the virtual camera angle I’d need.

Then I created a rough looking stack using cube and loop cuts with random twists. I began by applying some different lighting to simulate the sun through the trees:

Then I applied a material and texture to the stack:

Next, I wanted to simulate the patterned shadows that the trees would cast onto the stack. So I created a “burn layer” in Photoshop using a textured brush, and animated it changing over a few frames.

Here is the finished model before compositing it into the scene:
And here is where I got without adjustments

Then I asked the Blender community what they thought I could do to improve and got some fantastic advice from this thread.

Mainly I was told that the contrast on the stack doesn’t match the forest….They were right! So I bumped the whites on the stack layer to get this. I was happy to see that the upper parts of the stack now looked ‘burned’ from the sun which was the problem:

Then pasted it into the scene with great results….

Now the missing detail is the perspective difference between the stack and the trees (notice the curve in the trees). So I applied a inverted bulge effect to the stack to match the trees:

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