Over the holidays I spent a lot of time reading about high dynamic range (HDR) images and image-based lighting. These techniques will help ensure that when I do composite CG content into live-action video, the CG lighting perfectly matches the real-world lighting. This can make all the difference for realistic CG effects.
I experimented with taking some simple HDR light probes using silver-colored Christmas tree ornaments. That worked okay, but the glass balls are delicate and very easy to scratch, as well as more often than not being somewhat warped. For a more industrial-strength solution I followed the advice on the HDRShop website and got myself a two-inch chrome ball bearing from McMaster-Carr, a truly awesome online hardware store.
The next question was how to build a tripod mount for the ball. If you’ve got the tools to drill a decent hole in a steel ball, then that’s probably the way to go, but I don’t, so I decided to build a mount using a rare-earth magnet. So I ordered what looked like a perfect little magnet from Supermagnete.nl.
Before you can order, the website makes you confirm that you’ve read their magnet safety page, which starts right out telling you how hazardous these things are for babies who might be tempted to swallow one or more of them. Two magnets with 10 pounds worth of force each are not something you want in your intestines! I’ve got a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old in the house, and the young one especially will put anything in her mouth, so I’m all too sensitive to the potential horror of this situation. I deliberately just bought one magnet, even though it would have been just about a euro more to add a different sized one to the order just in case.
So I was surprised when the order arrived and I opened the box to find my magnet, a page of magnet-safety info, a nice group photo of the friendly folks at Supermagnete, a free packet of ten 5mm cube magnets with a kilo of force each (or “baby killers” as we say in the biz) and… a bag of gummi bears?
I guess they figured the baby was going to want to eat something in that box. Sure enough, the 3-year-old homed right in on those bears.
As for the baby killers, I turned those over to Ton, who assures me that he has no intention of swallowing them.