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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