Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Term 4

Survived another term, once again, passing out afterwards from exhaustion. Still, I do not regret coming to Gnomon at all. Its one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Apologies for being so late on the update!

Introduction to V-ray / Hard Surface Texturing

One of the nice things about our classes is the occasional opportunity to combine finals. Introduction to V-ray was our first class involving a different render engine. Most of my experience was with mental ray and it was nice to learn a new way to render things. For the non-3d savvy, a render engine is used to light a scene and display materials. 

As for the Hard Surface Texturing class, it was all about working with materials such as metal, stone, wax, etc. The hard surface part being everything except organic things like plants and creatures. This can be anything from a stapler to a brick wall. The challenge was to not only create these materials, but also create the normal wear and tear that occurs over time or from human interaction.

Term 1 Sewer
 I chose to revisit my sewer den scene from Term 1 and see what I could do with the same model, but all new textures and shaders (materials). It was pretty challenging learning V-ray, especially on trouble shooting grainy images and flickering artifacts.

Visual Structure

I was really looking forward to this class. The first week, we were given a list of 5 or 6 teen books and our job was to read one and come up with concept art for it over the term. I chose a book called Uglies which takes place sometime in the future, and is about a society that believes you are ugly until you reach the age 16 and receive drastic plastic surgery. This twisted book is all about superficial beauty vs inner beauty, and brain washing in the literal sense as well as through conditioning. I worked with a fellow term mate, Douglas Skot, to create visuals, storyboards, and the tone of this story as if we were going to make it into a movie. 

We really wanted to make clear the disturbing nature of this view on beauty and we decided to make a teaser video. A teaser is a commercial that gets people excited about the movie, but would not be in the final movie.We were fortunate enough to find a young actress name Hana Liu to donate her face and voice to this project. I truly felt horrible for destroying Hana's face in the process of making this. The video was well recieved in class and the coolest thing that came out of this was the author of Uglies, Scott Westerfeld, said he liked it a lot and posted the video on the main page of his website.

Character Sculpting

I was also greatly looking forward to my first character modeling class. Every week we had to do a head sculpt, and it was neat watching everyone progress over time, myself included. I think my favorite weekly exercise was the skull study.

After searching online for a good concept for my final and found this one by Anna Christenson.

 I was warned that because this character has so many little pieces it would be a difficult model to complete in 10 weeks. I did not get around to everything, but the majority of it is finished and I will continue to finish it in my down time. Next step is to texture it and give it proper hair, which I will save for later classes.

Animation for VFX
This class was an overview of animation, making things such as pistons and pendulums, and skinning characters to provided rigs. I used this provided model, rig, and animation to practice character skinning. This may look very dorky but the purpose of this animation is to test the flexibility of the mesh and help identify pinching or stretching problems.

Compositing with Nuke

I think that after this class, I'll never composite anything in After Effects again. Nuke is an amazing program. Its a little intimidating because its all node based, but once you get into the groove, its a faster and more organized way to go.  Each class we were provided pieces of footage that we had to learn how to composite together. We learned color correction, green screen keying, tracking, and how to use 3d cameras.  Here's an example of the raw files we were given. 

As you can see they don't blend together at all. But through the magic of compositing, voila!
What was nice is I was also able to use Nuke on my Sewer final which was great because had I not used Nuke, it would have come out very different.