After heavily focusing on my portfolio, I am now investigating resuming production of this film. The live action components currently pose a major hurtle.
Wanted to post earlier but didn’t get to it. Things like looking for a cat during the rain at 2:30ish in the morning are not enjoyable. Finally I get to this. Hammered out the opening scene environment. I did not go with as much detail as I wanted but I had to burn time on correctly rigging the character.
Also blendshapes became quite the mess. I was going to use ZBrush but ended up going with the sculpting tools in Maya. To my surprise they worked rather well for what I needed. I didn’t think they would.
Blend shapes for various facial expressions. This was the easy part. I ran into a lot of trouble binding the rig. Somehow the joints for the left foot were consistently left out. I didn’t figure this out until doing a google search. As a result though, initially, the math magical algorithm the computer used had the weights for the right foot influencing geometry on the left foot. This turned into a happy accident that I used later on but was at first very hard to deal with until I looked online for help. I found that you can manually add joints but there is the drawback of having to paint the weights from scratch manually for those joints. This isn’t a problem if it’s just a few, which it was.
Something else I ran into that was more of an artistic compromise in the end. The arms were not long enough to comfortably form the main pose that I needed. Meaning, I had to lengthen the arms and lenthen the rig too. The only way I found to do this was to undo the entire rig hierarchy, move the joints individually and then reestablish the hierarchy in the the outliner. The model has the same general look but it gained some lankiness in the end because of this.
Some fun was had experimenting with Vray fur however. I’m fnding it gives a nice look to hide some of the pinching in the shoulder areas that are inherint to the design of the character and rig. Meanwhile it gives a nice depth look to the character, as if he’s wearing a sweater. I like this look. Rather than playing around with nDynamics and cloth simulations versus having neither and going with a dinkier look.
Some irony to this. In preproduction I struggled with how much photorealism to go with. This however weighs it in the direction of photorealism but doesn’t go all the way. Ironically this look is impossible at school because they’re running Mental Ray, not Vray. I also want to note that subsurface scattering in Vray is significantly faster than Mental Rays.
Throughout this project I’m starting to find two things. 1. I like the entire pipeline. 2. I still like doing lighting and surfacing quite a bit too. So it’s seeming that I’m a generalist along with being a lighter and colorist or surfacer.
There is still more but the screenshots are on another system. I have taught myself a good amount of Mari through this. For characters and most assets in general it seems to be a grossly more efficient way of covering that part of the pipeline than what I was taught utilizing Photoshop. However squeaky clean UVs are extremely important. Garbage in garbage out.
I am slowly getting over my fear of Maya crashing and making more progress. Will be posting updates in a day or two. Alley is built, character rig and model are built, surfacing is done. I’ve almost constantly expected Maya to crash like it did so many times in Senior Studio at school but it hasn’t at all on my hardware.
Sort of getting the wheels spinning on this again. I haven’t figured out or decided how to do the cameos for some of the people that passed a little over a year ago and forced this film into hiatus in the process.
I am finally redesigning, planning, whatevering the alley scene that is mostly the opening shots and setup for the protagonist. Collecting reference from online to get some traction and general direction going. The alley is in a virtual reality cyber construct type of thing. Yet it needs to look trashed, a mess, if could put a pile of vomit in somewhere I would, perhaps someone urinated on the side of a dumpster while inebriated from drinking and so forth. Though I do draw the line at any kind of drug paraphenelia. The idea of a broken liquor bottle or two is appealing though. He’s not in a good part of town, and definitely not at a good time of night. I may have to settle for graffitied and trashed dumpsters with broken glass strewn about. The idea of human waste being depicted seems gratuitous and excessively graphic.
The alley is supposed to be in a bad part of the neighborhood, the time is say about 3 or 4 a.m., everyone’s asleep, there is no one to witness anything, no one whom will call for help nor render you aid. Lots of really bad situations can arise from this. Yet this shows the arrogance, bravado, and foolishness of the the protagonist youth, and perhaps how naive he is. Though most of this is really brought to light in the very last scene.
Some reference, these are kind of the direction I want to go in. Graffiti, trash here and there, need dumpsters though and spooky lighting. The street surface itself isn’t so clean….also note that it’s an older area, pipes and stuff protruding from the walls, the buildings have been retrofitted and updated, their original design is quite old. I need to find balance in how much detail to visually show.
After many months of distractions pulling me away and working on my portfolio rather than looking for the production binder, and after having moved and taking time off to deal with things. I have located and found the production binder!
Where it was also is somewhat telling of how my mental state was roughly a year ago. None the less, now I can resume production and accurately.
It has been about 10 months since I had to stop working on things. I want to finish this film and am looking into what it would involve. Currently I need to think through everything and in a manner of speaking look down the pipeline and see what is involved with each segment of it, every shot. I still have all the files from last year. I want to resume and finish it.
So it has apparently been more than a few months since my last post. Wanted to update things if only say that things are over and done with. Production and the semester has ended very badly as multiple issues have erupted in my personal life. I did make an attempt at the last scene of the film, the FBI interrogation scene. However, I grossly overestimated how strong the schools renderfarm would be with nonphotorealistic subsurface scattering turned on along with various other render passes being generated for various visual effects or styles I wanted to build during compositing in Nuke.
The Warehouse scene is currently incomplete. I do want to thank David Bammel for allowing me to use and for providing, the environment the Warehouse scene is using, including the props and texturing. I currently have a crude mockup built but never rendered it out past an animatic, nor are the characters fully textured and shaded. This may change in the weeks to come.
I’m currently undecided to finish this film or not. On the one had I would like to complete it, if only to use as reference of how my skills have gotten better since its production. On the other hand, it may turn into something that never sees the light of day and simply wastes time.
Currently, I have not graduated as scheduled, the passing of my grandfather has not been the only contributing factor. I do plan to create a new rendition of the film with much refined character designs and more consistent aesthetics. There is the remaining question of how much render power can be budgeted towards this film, however, the first half is rendered out, it’s only the second half that became an issue.
Going back to an earlier point. Since most of the Warehouse scene is setup, and the bulk of the work us just rendering it out, I may indeed finish the current rendition of the film. Running it through Nuke shouldn’t be that involved now that a Non commercial version of Nuke is offered rather than just the Personal Learning Edition. Leaving a computer on for a few weeks isn’t that hard or complicated. I have been rendering out the FBI scene with all the original render passes added back in for a few weeks now.
That is the current state of this project.
I would like to thank Professor Bently as my instructor and Professor Harrell as my instructor and mentor, for their help and guidance on this film.