Dinosaur VFX (cg + live footage)

Hi there. This is my first post. Great forum!

Me and my friend are doing our final project at a cg school in sweden called gscept (www.gscept.com). Dinosaurs are cool. So we decided to make a cg dino integrated with live action footage.

I’ve never tried to mix cg with real footage before so Im hoping to get much help from you guys.

My first concern is about the lighting of this scene.

Here is a small ugly tracking test. The final movie will be 35 seconds long.

Question 1:
How do I go about and match all the detail in the lighting? There is a lot of trees, leafs blocking the sunlight and casting soft shadows on the ground. I want the same shadows to match ut perfectly on my dinosaur. Trees and so on is pretty easy. But how do i match everything else?
Only thing i can thing of is to built a lot of small objects blocking my directional light. But i think that would take forever to set up since I would have to testrender all the time to see if my objects are big enough or in the right place.
Second thing would be to make a gobo that does not match at all. And then try to do the real shadow matching in post. But I would not prefer this since 2d masking out shadows in post would never look as good as the real deal.

Question 2:
How would you set up the scene for this? Im thinking of using a directional light + HDRI + FG (mentalray). I do not have a HDRI matching the backplate. Could it work stitching together a LDR image from the backplate and use that as indirect lighting?

Hope some of you guys can help us along the way. Our deadline is in march.

Here is our blog for this project: http://blogs.gscept.com/2008/ip3/

Take care

/ Olle Rydberg

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