Finally I arrive at artist friendly interface and workflow with Maya. This combined with some of the stuff I have already learnt has put me in a position where I am realising stuff that I really want to do is at my finger tips rather than off in some obscure place in the far distance that I will need to fight tooth and nail to get to. Here is the first test of a scene. I built the gallery space some time back. Since getting to grips with the mash node, I have now opened a pandora's box of possible objects, collections, arrangements, growths and who knows what else to put within it.
It's taken a lot of time, in-between jobs, and after normal working hours getting this out this year but now I am pleased to say it is completed. Included are some personal projects and some clips from commissions or collaborations.
A local project I am working on......
Nice to be back tackling 3d work again. Here is a still from an 8 second shot which will open a minute-long music animation. It's a long process and just this shot has taken a significant amount of time. However it has been a reminder of many things. Creating procedural trees in Onyx tree, using particles and instancing in maya. I used mayas 'softbodies' as a dynamic effect to get the door here to squash some of the plants and I have developed multiple shaders using the far more render-efficient Mila material - wish I had known about that 12 months ago. I also created floaty particle effects to represent pollen/dust moving around slowly in an otherwise still scene.
Alex Alvarez's excellent series on Gnomon has been instrumental in helping my learning in this project, however, for someone using Maya 2016, there are key techniques he describes which are of course written for previous versions, and therefore dated. Linear workflow is an example that is straight forward, as there are clear tutorials elsewhere available that enable one work with this. On occassions though I have been looking for workarounds, immersed in expressions or scripts, trawling through forums trying to decifer things involving language which is very new to me, or whatever, only to find a day or two later that the problem has been annulled in Maya 2016. I still am not clear why using (legacy settings) Final Gather maps are not needed in Maya 2016. Where's the plain english?! This is the situation of many maya learners right?
Anyway - regarding the artistic vision - It's been a dream for a while to re-create a scene from a place very close to my heart - Hooke Woods in West Dorset. The idea of passing through this slightly ambiguous doorway into an underground chamber might appear somewhat sinister, however the film will reveal a kind of liminal journey...
I have been working for some months now with Lindsay Wilson from fitfolk.com as designer and animator. We have completed one animation series of 7 short information-based films which are available to those who visit his website www.fitfolk.com as a free-bee (Although you will need to give your email address to get access to them). We are now half-way through a second series of 8 films that will be behind the paywall for his product. His product describes an efficient and easy-to-implement way to lose weight (supported by scientific research), while giving tutorials and support to individuals in a 10 week program.
Each of the films has a very specific structure and design. Ident followed by him talking, then 2d animation with voiceover of the specific idea covered - ie 'How to maintain a caloric deficit', then conclusion face-time, and closing ident. It's a rigid formula and allowed fairly quick completion of the series in just 16 days. The storyboards and animatics were very quick as the script was provided very early making it straightforward to tie in the animation with the ideas as they were spoken about. Feedback from the client was regular quick and succinct and this allowed the real time consuming animation work to progress very quickly.
Following this work, I was commissioned to create a series of images illustrating the titles of pages in the fitfolk blog. A couple of examples are included here. This is the first time I have used vectors to create imagery, and won't be the last. I was given a lot of creative freedom to develop a style (within the colour scheme, and relating to the animation style) for these images as it is planned to have one up with each new weekly blog over the next 12 months.
Plunge Productions are prop-makers and "providers of creative and design services". A recent project of theirs involved building a life size sculpture of Benedict Cumberbatch. Their website www.plungeproductions.com will tell you more of their incredible projects).
The brief for this ident was to create a short animation to head video content that they wanted to put online. The ident of course needed to show their elements of the design and production process they considered crucial to their business. Drawing, computer aided design, and the actual construction of the final designed project. Early on in discussions with Plunge the idea of using a scaffolding set-up to emphasize the physical making process of their work told hold of our imaginations.....
This is the conclusion of several months working as a freelance artist for terra firma Landscape Consultancy who are based in Petersfield, UK and have off-shoot offices in London, Vilnius, and Dubai.
I filmed on location on various sites in the South East, and created two CG visualisations of other sites (skip to 2:30 to see). These visualisations were steep learning curves for me, as the significant amounts of grass, plants, bushes and trees presented significant challenges within Maya. However, I must give credit to Alex Alvarez of the Gnomon workshops for giving comprehensive tutorials on this subject enabling me to push ahead fairly capably. The final results I am please with. I would liked to have had more rendering capacity, but the intensity of the scenes with instanced grass and trees and proxy files ultimately involved billions of polygons and in the time and budget available a beauty pass, with depth was all that could be completed.
I could go into a much more indepth explanation but other work must prevail. If you would like to know more drop me an email.
Film of just the CG work to follow.
So how is Maya at making visualisations of architectural space? Armed with architectural plans the modelling and texturing (using Maya's MIA material x mostly) didn't present too many issues. The lighting was of course the real balancing act. With Physical sun and sky, ambient lights, wall lights and ceiling lights to add into the mix this involved significant tweaking, and some small amount of post processing. Global Illumination added to final gathering brought down the render time and helped to clear up what had been very blotchy walls.
The glass and polycarbonate roof were the tricky problems to solve. The outside was not an important part of the design and so needed to fade and blur through the glass. Rather than render the outside separately I wanted to learn more about how to balance the levels as one image. The preset glass didn't quite achieve the desired result. Eventually I realised I needed to reduce transparency slightly with a white colour, to give the effect of the sun hitting.
The polycarbonate is a double layered materials with ribs in between creating long cell-like pockets of space within it (giving good insulation qualities). Divides between sheets create the darker strips. So this was modelled in a phyically accurate way (to achieve lighting accuracy (again using reduced transparency), but if I had planned any significant animation using this material baking the light qualities onto a poly-plane would be preferable, as the refractive nature of the material added to render time significantly.