VFX Breakdown and Asset: A Pretty Cool Book

Take a look. It’s in a book. Wait this book is faaake.

Eric Ravenscraft

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Lord Ravenscraft is a video essay series created by Eric Ravenscraft. You can watch the latest full episode on YouTube.

It’s a little hard to make reading a book cinematic. Not the content of the book, mind you, but literally the act of reading text on a page. I had to solve that problem for all three of my Animorphs videos, and I wanted to share what I built so anyone else who liked the solution can use it, too.

Talking about Animorphs means quoting from books a lot. I didn’t want to just do screenshots of text, because while that’s fine, it’s not super engaging. The next obvious solution would be to point a camera at the book itself, but there are two problems with that: first, it’s a bit of a hassle to set up the camera for every single page you want to quote — and that’s assuming the quote you want isn’t split across multiple pages.

The second problem is I didn’t have physical copies of all the books.

To solve both problems, I built this Blender scene of a realistic-looking book with a gentle curve, and a soft light coming from just over the reader’s shoulder.

I’ve used this scene dozens of times over the course of the three Animorphs videos, for every instance where I’m reading more than a couple of pages from a book. Personally, I think it does a better job of getting you into the feeling of reading from a book, it’s got that tactile feeling of text on a page, but it’s simple enough to customize that it could be used over and over again.

For the download above, I decided to add a couple features to it so that other people could use it if they wanted. I tried to make it as accessible as it could be, even if you’re not that familiar with Blender (I don’t know if it’s possible to make it so easy you don’t need to know anything about Blender to use it, but if you can figure out how to export an animation, you can get by with minimal familiarity.)

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Eric Ravenscraft

Eric Ravenscraft is a freelance writer from Atlanta covering tech, media, and geek culture for Medium, The New York Times, and more.