Beano

Password: thingummyblob

I, like the majority of the class, really enjoyed the sound of the Beano brief. I Hadn’t put my own idea forward for the brief because I wanted to focus my work on the areas of industry that interest me and the skills I want to improve. I am working on a couple Beano Projects.

The first and biggest is Dorota’s Thingymeblob project, with Tomas and Sam. Dorot, Tomas and I have worked well together in the past and with Sam animating, I think we can produce a very polished final piece. For this project we are trying to distribute the roles effectively and use proper workflows between all the different stages. I will be creating the dynamics, texturing/shading, cameras, lighting, rendering and compositing. These are the areas where I feel I could offer the best work and also where I want to improve.

Here is the plan I have out together for our group Beano Project, it details all of our roles and, if we stick to it, should have us finished a week before hand in, to allow for any changes and mistakes.

plan_002

Shader Work

Characters

Here are the first tests I have created. I am using the same VrayFastSSS material as ihave done in previous projects. The scatter light it creates has a nice aesthetic on a lot of objects. I am just doing some colour tests to see the best colour for The Blobs base colour. We intend her to be able to change colour depending on her mood so I will do more tests once I’ve settled on the basic shader.

Dorota wanted the blob to be more transparent so I changed the scatter properties to refractive and increased the scale so that is became translucent. The bubbles inside are created using MASH, Maya’s new procedural effects tool. In the first instance the spheres inside are shaded with a glass material with inverted normals so they look like bubbles. Dorota wanted it to be more like a lava lamp so I’ve applied a light material so that they glow inside the body

I had been struggling a long time with creating a shader that had bubble built into the refraction but my attempts were not successful. Whilst I was researching for methods to distribute objects throughout a mesh, I came across this tutorial on MASH, which is exactly what I needed and there are no problems with using animated meshes either.

 

Here is the shader on the updated mesh. We have the different colours for all the shades she is going to take on during the animation. I have still yet to add a bump map to the model to get some really nice liquidy drips come off her body.

Dorota’s instruction was to make Simon look cute like the children in Pixar, Dreamworks and Universal movies. It’s all in the eyes, that’s where we see the most of the characters emotion. She gave me some reference files to work from and I had done my own research using tutorials.

Assets

 

Simulations

For the smoke simulation I have been using Phoenix FD, a fluid dynamics plug in for maya that I have bought to prepare myself for working in the industry. I have been using this project as well as both VFX projects and Dev’s industry practice unit, to further my training using Phoenix FD

Here is a quick video of the workflow used to create a smoke simulation, this is an example of how I made the higher resolution sim, as you can see me referring to the orginal simulation for the attributes.

Here is the higher resolution sim, not quite as high as i would like but we coudn’t wait for a high resolution version, it did come out a bit noisy in the renders.

shot_9.gif

 

Lighting

Doing the lighting for this project was quite challenging, due to the high detail of all the assets in the scene and the amount of light, even to get out low resolution tests would take a very long time, making it difficult to make changes. Having all shots contained in one scene had its draw backs and benefits. it made the lighting easier as i didnt have to recreate lights for each scene, just add them where appropriate, but this is also the reason everything became much slower

Below is a series of my lighting test, trying to find the correct mood for the scene. For some objects I would create the lighting in its own scene and reference it into the main scene. This allowed me to update the textures and lighting quickly without waiting for all the geometry to compile in the larger scene.

 

Rendering

I really appreciated being able to use the render farm this term. It was helpful to get to grips with it before the start of my 3rd year where I will be using it a lot more, hopefully problem free. Having the render farm s what has made this project possible. The renders would’ve taken too long on our own computers or would not have been a high enough quality to submit to The Beano. Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to produce all of our shots on the render farm. This meant we had to find a work around. for shots that were cancelled mid way through, we decided to just shorten the length of the shots. We had to cut 1 shot, and render the other shots at a lower resolution using our own accounts on the render farm. The simulation scene needed to be rendered on my won machine due to the farm not support the Phoenix FD plug-in. It was a shame some shots were rendered at a lower quality, in my opinion it is very noticeable. Shots 8, 11 and 12 are the lower quality shots.

Below are the final renders for each shot.

 

Compositing

It was my intention to render everything out from the scene individually using render layers, giving me full control over the lighting and compositing. However I was unable to do with with the tight deadline. In the end we just produced beauty renders, with reflection, GI, AO and depth passes, this gave me some control over the look when compositing but not to the detail I would like with more time. The depth pass is handy when compositing allowing me to add depth of field to my renders in post, rather than rendering it straight onto the shot, which increases the render times.

To save time I have used a workflow for grading I have used before. It’s very simple consisting of a grade node to boost the light and darks, and a colorgrade node to boost the intensity of specific colours, namely the red and the blue. I then applied the specular and reflection passes over the top to make them ‘pop’ livening up the scene, the final step is adding in the depth of field using the depth pass and the ZDepth node. I found a neat trick online for upscaling 1080p footage to 4k without too much quality loss, using a TVIScale node. I found this to be effective scaling from 720p to 4k and then reformatted to 1080p, obviously the quality is not the same but it was better than simple reformatted 720p to 1080p.

Here is a comparison between the different scaling methods, you can clearly see the fidelity of the TVIscale node, adding far for detail than other methods.

upscale_comparison.png

For reference here is my nuke tree and a close up to show my work flow.

Conclusion

The ‘Beano’ brief, a project I was very excited about, not only because of the prospect of money at the end but also for the connections with the industry it could bring and the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals; giving professional and constructive feedback. At the start of term, it was my plan to assist multiple groups with the lighting, texturing/shading and rendering of their 3D projects. I planned to work on Dorota’s project as well as Ren and Finns 3D project, however, due to some technical issues Ren and Finn were unable to produce animation ready for rendering by the deadline, this, however, gave me more time to work on my other project. Despite this, I will still be producing some beauty renders for them, for the next presentations, at the Beano headquarters, on the 20th of June. Dorota and I have consistently worked well together on previous projects, developing a strong personal and professional relationship, which is key to our success. Over the course of the term I became more involved project, taking on the role of producer, organising people’s workload and deadlines, problem-solving and making sure the project was finished on time, being the only group to have a finished product by the 6th of June, I feel I have achieved this role successfully.

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2nd Year Film Project ‘Rushes’ VFX

Synopsis

“Rushes is an experimental thriller observing the instant nature of a bad decision and the ripples and effects it can have on other people’s lives. Looking at the mechanical nature of time from 5 different perspectives this stylistic short takes inspirations from High Rise, and Vantage Point. Set in a confused world, somewhere between the 70s and the future there is a strong push on colour and distortion through art deco themes.”

Intro

I was approached by Tara Trangmar, a third year DFP student, to do the VFX for her FMP. She is the producer on the Vanitati project and had heard I was keen on creating liquid simulations.

There are four different shots that require VFX. There are two screen replacements I need to create and composite on Nuke. Also, there are two tricky water simulations, the first requires a custom mesh of a duvet and a guided simulation to trickle down it; the second requires the liquid to emit from a moving person and react with the scene around them. What makes this tricky is the camera is moving also.

I chose to help on this project because it was an ideal opportunity to practice some more complex simulation and compositing techniques. This is a solo project for me so I am able to practice some efficient workflows for if I ever work freelance.

Shot 1

I am having a lot of issue with this shot. There is tonnes of motion blur as the actor starts to move. This is making it impossible to track the phone screen, it doesn’t help that the tracking markers are not crosses or small dots. there is a solution however, the video is longer than the shot and there is about 10 seconds art the start where the actor isn’t walking and this is trackable, I’m just waiting to hear back from Tara on whether it is ok to move ahead with this change

Shot 3

The only reference I was given for this shot was the short story board and that she wanted it to be ‘kubrick esq’. This was the scene from The Shining she gave me as reference.

Because this was the only reference my first tests the blood was very powerful. After showing it to Tara she said it was too much so, next time i am going to tone it down, make it more realistic.

First of all I needed to track the camera on nuke, that’s what all the locators are in the first video.  With this markers as a guide, I have made a basic model of the room for the liquid to react with. The first video is made using Bifrost but I have switched to PhoenixFD as it is easier to simulate smaller scale liquids and renders better with Vray. I am using a similar method of using a body rig as a collider for the actor and animating it to match-move with him. This is working OK, but there is a little bit of sliding where it doesn’t completely match his movement, I should be able to fix this in Nuke though, using the tracking markers provided.

 

Shot 4

This shot requires the screen to be replaced with a custom calling screen and for their to be blood splatter over the whole thing.

First of all I am planning out what needs to be done. The tracking and screen replacement will be done on Nuke and the blood will most likely be done using Real Flow.

screen_1_ano.png

First of all I need to create the video for what the screen is going to be replaced with. I have used a combination of these Android templates and custom images in After Effects to make a calling screen.

 

Below is a breakdown of the call screen replacement. I’m tracking the green markers, and using the data to drive the roto paint to remove the trackers. The same tracking data is used to hold the screen and cracker screen onto the phone.

breakdown_gif.gif

Here is a quick slap comp of a still frame of the fluid simulation. Here I’m testing to see if my camera track is sticking to the plate properly.

breakdown_blood_gif.gif

 

Conclusion

I took on this project because I wanted to test myself produce the full vfx pipeline. This project has required me to do modelling, rigging, texturing, lighting, rending, dynamics and compositing. This project has really helped me improve my dynamics abillties, with varied shots for me to practice on. In hindsight it was too much work to take on, I think it would’ve been possible to do just one VFX project. However I have time over summer to fully complete each shot.

I had a lot of issue with these shots, mostly to do with tracking markers and lack of reference. I put the blame on myself because I was not able to attend the shoot where i would have been able to better direct what I needed, however it was on our last deadline so I could not make it. This made it a good opportunity to work with footage that wasn’t perfect, causing me to find effective ways to solve the problems, even if it is ‘boshing’ it till it works. The method does’t matter as long as it works.

3rd Year Film Project ‘Vanitati’ VFX

Synopsis

The film starts with Dylan, 25, in his bedroom, descending into insanity, cutting off his hair, poking his eyes into his skull and leaking black goo. This is contrasted with a developing story of his overwhelming work life and the suffocating nature of a purposeless career. Disorientating, we see Dylan between work and home, also at a club where Victoria, his fiance, is constantly struggling for attention and fun. She is very much in the moment and very different to her lover. Every encounter seems to become worryingly more painful for Dylan. He drinks and takes a pill he receives from a slot machine. Throughout all of this, there is the building pressure that he is going to loose either his job or his girlfriend if he continues like this. He is forced to confront his fears and it revealed that all is not what is seems and time has lapsed over. Dylan has lost himself in an impersonal world with no one to reach for. What will happen to him?

Intro

Last term Ren approached me to see if I would be interested in working on a 3rd year film project that she was involved in. The film required a lot of liquid simulations so Ren had recommended that they contact me for my help. Including Ren and myself, there is a group of 5/6 of us working on this project. I am taking care of the majority of the 3D work including all of the simulation, rendering and some comp work.

The film requires a liquid simulation of a black, oil like substance, that is a key aspect to this film. For these simulations I am using a combination of Realflow and Maya’s Bifrost, both of which I have used in previous units.

Along with the simulations I will need to track and comp the CG elements onto the live plates, with use of Nuke and the skills we learnt in our VFX unit.

The Goo

Reference

To match my simulated liquid to the, liquid used on set, the crew has sent me some reference footage. Here I can get a better understanding of the viscosity of the liquid and also some good reference of the aesthetic. I can clearly see it is of a similar consistency to honey and has the same glossy surface like oil. I can also see there is a brownish tinge when the liquid is spread thinly. This could be achieved one of two ways that I know, either with the VraySSS shader or with Bifrosts liquid shader, using the density data to drive the diffuse colour.

Here are my first couple of tests, testing out different viscosity’s of the liquid. These simulations were created using Realflow. I can see from both tests that I am going to need to increase the stickiness off the liquid so that it doesn’t just slide off of the surface.

 

Shot Planning:

This first scene is the largest of simulation scenes. A large body of liquid needs to fall from above the shot and crash down onto the actor and environment. The director indicated that it should be like a ‘tidal wave of black goo’. My first thought was to make this using Bifrost, I am more familiar with the interface of Maya, and I have had issues before with moving colliders in Realflow. Bifrosts sim time for a simulation this size is also faster.

 

Below are a select few of my playblasts to show the progress of the simulation and the mechanics behind it. I have created the body rig by taking a mesh from Adobe Fuse (3D character models) and using the quick rig in Maya 2017 to have at least a usable mesh to animate, this is then applied a collider, along with the cymbals and walls. I have animated the emitters to offset the liquid so it doesn’t fall in such a uniform manner.

We needed to get something to show to the editors so they could grade the shot, here is a quick comp I did of a medium resolution sim.

waterfall_comp_test_002

As mentioned before I had been using Bifrost for this simulation, I find at small scales like this the meshing is too thick and unrealistic. Once I purchased Phoenix FD I switched to using that, it meant starting again but the result I achieved was better. I was able to push the resolution high whilst remaining stable and the rendering out of Vray looks much better than Bifrost.

WATERFALL_30

Shot 2

The second shot is of the actor popping his eyes out of his sockets with a spectacular oil spray. This shot is challenging because it requires an accurate collider mesh for the oil to react with, this then needs to be tracked onto face and then the liquid simulated. The length of the shot also makes it hard has the actor frequently overs his face and the tracking markers with his arms.

Henry was supposed to be removing the tracking markers but it was my job to do all the fluid work.

I started off by using some modelling technique we learnt with Dev and Sanjay and applied it to this project. I made a replica of the actors head head using some reference files sent to me by the producer

For this simulation i have been using Realflow but I am going to switch to Phoenix FD for 2 reasons, first of all it has a wetting setting, which leaves a stain over where the liquid has run and i have been having issues with real flow where the liquid behaves not physically accurate, it could either be a problem with the mesh or a scaling issue.

Shot 3

Shot 3 Sam and I are working on, he was doing the comp work and I am doing the dynamics. He’s done the 2D work of making the clock spin and it was my job to create the liquid flying around the edge.

I have been using Phoenix FD for this simulation. There is an emitter hidden behind the clock and then a rotating disk which acts as the emitter, the velocity of the disk is transferred to the liquid making it spray out.Capture.PNG

Here are some of my tests to get the velocity of the liquid right, on the left it is too so i slowed down the emitter and turn the gravity down, so we could really see the motion of the liquid. The director agreed to this version so I was ready to do a higher resolution sim that you see below.

The shot on the right is the comp that Sam put together, i basically need to take his nuke comp and just add the liquid onto it, then the shot will be finished.

 

Conclusion

This is an on going project, I planned to have some shots finished for the deadline but the Beano project took up too much of my time. Sam and Henry have also left the project, giving me and Ren more to do. although, there is no set deadline on the project so I am able to get it all to a finished standard over the summer.

This project has been a great opportunity for me to improve my fluid dynamics abilities and has given me the chance to spend time learning how to use Phoenix FD. I am hoping, that once finished, I will be able to use some of the shots in my show reel.

This project has also been a good collaborative experience, working with film students. They come from a different background so the correct communication needs to be used to make sure everyone is on the same page.