backlog of updates: lighting & texturing

February 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This was a really good class. I learned a lot and if I have to work in Maya, I’m all in for lighting and texturing (that’s probably because a lot of it would happen in Photoshop haha). Aaaanyway… The first major assignment was to take one of school’s characters, Bloke, and put him in any setting we want and light it. The facial expression was locked, but we could pose his body. I did have to model and texture anything I put in the scene other than Bloke, but the main focus was to create dynamic lighting that tells a story. I decided to set my scene in the forest with a campfire. Believe it or not, there are 5 lights: 2 yellow-orange lights in the fire pit, slightly offset from each other, in order to cast those wonky shadows you get from flickering fire, 2 blue lights on either side of the camera acting a little as moonlight in order to compliment the orange glow of the fire and define the dark shapes of the characters, the final light is directly on the fire in order to actually light it, since none of the others could. The geometry of the fire also has the incandescence turned on so it glows.

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The final project was to texture a garage scene the instructor gave us. We could model more things for the scene, but had to fit everything, well-packed, into 3-5 UV mesh files. A UV mesh is your 3D geometry laid out in 2D space so you can design custom textures, like so:Image converted using ifftoany

In order to have the mesh, I spent many hours moving UVs around. In order for everything to be in the correct proportion together, put a grid texture on all surfaces. Then you can see if all of the squares are the same size or if there is any stretching and fix them up (pro tip: there always is so be prepared to fork over some time). There is also a lot of cutting and sewing seams together so they are in the least conspicuous places and so the pieces are as easy to lay out as possible. Once you have that, Maya can look at the geometry and create a rough Ambient Occlusion (the shadows objects cast on each other just by being close:

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In order to make things go quickly, I set up tools. Color highlights of each section, so I could easily grab areas with the wand tool and a “lipstick” layer to let me know what direction things are facing. I applied the texture on the geometry so it was possible to see saved updates in Maya by simply reloading.

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Next, to start on the diffuse (color) layers:

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Once the basic color patterns are applied, it is necessary to give the surfaces texture and character. How lived in is this garage? What is new and old? If it is well-used, in what ways does use affect the object? Where do wear and grime and scratches and dents collect?

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The next step is to make a bump map in grayscale. Bump fakes depth in a surface based on the scene lighting. So at an angle, it looks like there is depth, but along the edge it is straight. You can also make a displacement map that will actually affect the geometry to create depth, but you have to have a high enough poly count for it to work, which is not always possible. In the bump map, white = the most raised and black = the most inset.

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The last thing I did was create a specular map. This tells Maya how shiny an object is: white = 100% shininess and black = 100% matte. There is another kind of map for specularity called specular power, which dictates how concentrated the shine is and what the fall off of the shine is, but I did not get to those in this assignment.

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There are so many different kinds of maps you can make to customize the look of an object, like translucence and incandescence, that once you know how to use them, you can pretty much make anything you want. It’s pretty cool. Here are the final renders of my scene:

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backlog of updates: advanced vfx

January 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

There are a lot of little assignments for these VFX classes and most of them are in class exercises, which does not leave a lot of time for perfecting, but we do learn a lot. In any case, here are some highlights.

Week 1: sky replacement. We had to take a clip of people waking across the screen and replace the sky. I also stabilized the shot so there was no camera shake. This was using Nuke for all of the effects and compositing (make sure to watch these on 360p, the lower setting looks like total crap).

Original clip:

Sky Replacement:

Week 6: compositing and motion tracking. In Nuke, I tracked the motion from the clip and exported the data to Cinema 4D. In C4D, I matched a plane to the ground and put a sphere on it textured to roughly match the stone in the clip. I added lights to match the lighting in the clip. Then rendered passes so the C4D camera recorded the sphere to match the footage. Then put renders back into C4D and composite everything together. Whee!

Final Project: This is basically like the Week 6 assignment, but more complicated. I added transparency and reflections into the mix to make these floating alien water cubes fly in formation across the screen. I also darkened everything to make it more moody and creepy.


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backlog of updates: digital sculpting

December 28, 2013 at 12:01 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , )

This class was all about learning to use ZBrush. In the industry it is primarily used for concept art. I loved it because where most 3D programs are all about geometry and building to smooth, ZBrush couldn’t care less about geometry. It is like sculpting with digital clay. You push and pull the surface around until you have what you want. SUPER fun. If you wanted to see kind of what it is like, Pixologic makes a way simplified version called Sculptris that you can download for free onto Mac or PC. Actually, I think it’s something that kids would love.

Random assignment of subject: we had to pick a letter and a number from a certain range and that determined what our modeling assignment would be. I got Donald Duck dressed as Boba Fett. … Boba Duck. Whaaaat:



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AutodeskMaya… I hate you, but you do good things

October 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

SO. Last term was pretty brutal. I was taking two 3D modeling classes in different softwares at the same time: Cinema 4D and Maya. My advice… NEVER DO THAT. C4D is the easier to use software. It is not quite as customizable, but it is a little faster to do things and stable. When you see 3D effects on TV like ads with crazy 3D, animated logos, some CG animation and effects – most of that is done in C4D. Maya is used more for high budget film CG and effects. This is the entertainment version of software from the same people who make AutoCAD for architects and engineers, etc. It is an intense program that does so much, but is also a finicky bitch that you would like to have die in a fire. It was a 100 level class in which we learned the basics of storyboarding, building a scene (literally and conceptually), lighting, texturing, and animation. So when you watch this video, know that it took about 3 months to make (minus 2 other classes, full-time job, and the occasional break for food/sleep/sanity) – I built pretty much everything. The plants are mainly paint effects, because using them was part of the class… and that was the best use of them, really. Sadly, they kind of “twinkle” in the animation, which I don’t really care for. The character was provided by the professor, because character building and rigging for movement is wicked advanced. My finals week, I slept one night out of five… so that was how that term went. But here it is… There are a few things that I could go back in and play with, but overall I’m happy with what I did.

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Cinema 4D

July 27, 2012 at 12:20 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

So here is my first real beauty shot from Cinema 4D. We had to model a minimum of 3 objects. It took several evenings and I actually modeled 6 things, but you only see 3.5 because that was what was worthy of capturing (and met the assignment requirements). Fun… Definitely more user-friendly, even if not quite as capable a program, than Maya – which I am also taking a class in right now (oy), but our term will be cumulative into one animated short so you will have to just wait for that.

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March 22, 2012 at 5:07 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

SO. Finals….

My image manipulation class assignment was to find something to use as inspiration. Then, create my own art based on that. As open-ended as it sounds, yes. I mean, there were specs… 180 dpi; RGB; PSD file to turn in with layers labeled; printed version mounted on black matte board, but the other details were totally up to us as the artist.

As my inspiration, I finally landed on a contemporary surrealist, Vladimir Kush:

And here is what I came up with. Digital illustration is definitely not my deal, but it was fun to hone my photoshop skills some more and challenge myself with the illustration related aspects. The instructor actually said during the in-class review that it was her favorite one (and some of them were really good, too #notsohumblebrag)! WHOA.

UPDATE, assets:

I had the same instructor for my 3D modeling class, which was much more difficult. Not in a bad way as far as content goes; a good challenge and something very new. Yay for that! … BUT… she fell behind in material. Like, our final was to complete all of these renders from the scenes we created in Maya throughout the term, put them together in After Effects and make a QuickTime movie. The problem is that she still had stuff to show us… ON THE DAY OF THE FINAL. Sooooo, we had to come to class ready to learn how to turn in the final. As a result, I am not totally satisfied with this. If I had known more of the variables to a+b=c … I would have done things a little differently. With that disclaimer and under the circumstances, I felt pretty good about my output. Some of my textures are really nice. There are a few minor proportion issues that I would go back and fix now and I would definitely refine my ball animation for roll distance and perspective view. Anyway, for a first time with any 3D modeling, I call it a win and look forward to gaining more experience.

Also, if you need me to animate anything for you, let me know! It might be a few years before you see the results, but I TOTALLY WILL! HAHAHA!

PS: every time the instructor asked us to do anything with our balls, the 13 year old boy in my head would giggle. Sometimes out loud.

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