Friday, June 27, 2008

School Work - Project Pitching

I've made no progress with my car so far as I had been really busy with school work.

Basically we were supposed to pitch a story to our lecturers and imagine them to be our clients. So animatics and storyboards had to be done, together with the publicity elements such as moodboards, posters, etc.

So I was incharge of all the technical aspect, a VFX supervisor more likely if I may. I took on the job of creating the moodboards. Basically it's a scene in my school again, just that it's from a different angle. Here is the reference picture I took.

Again, I had to make it look scary and eerie with night lighting. So as usual, I jumped into Maya and began the process of modeling. This wasn't much of a difficult task. Just some placing of models, extruding them and analyzing them through the shot camera. I love architectural modeling and I was getting pretty used to the workflow and techniques. Special thanks to Digital Tutors for that. I finished the model in roughly about an hour or hour and a half. Then I moved onto adding the textures. I knew I was going to use mental ray to render the final image. So I decided to use raytrace reflections, refractions and shadows. Simple blinn materials applied to everything except the floor and the walls. For the walls, I used a lambert and added a little bit of noise so that it doesn't look flat. Nothing is perfect in this world. For the floor, I used fractal as a bump map and added grid lines to it to emphasize the tiling. The entire set is low poly, except for the ceiling lights, which are pretty high res. This is what the set looks like.

And this is what the scene looks like from the shot cam.

Now was the hardest and the most tedious part of the entire process - lighting and rendering. Night lighting is not easy, especially if it had to look a little spooky. I tried a few lighting set-ups and failed horribly. These are some of the renders I took when I was still experimenting with the lighting.

After playing around with the lighting, I finally came to my final render from Maya, using global illumination and final gather. This is what the final render from Maya looks like.

Now was the time for post-processing. I brought this image and the rest of the previous test renders into After Effects and did a set extension by filling in the space. I also color corrected the image to give it more of a night feeling.

Not forgetting that this was a moodboard, we had to add our two characters inside. 3D character modeling and rigging it to pose it is another tedious process. Thus, my team decided to use Photoshop to paint the characters in the scene. My friend, Germaine Phoo Hui Jun did a pretty good job for this. She used a tablet and painted in the two characters.

The image was almost complete. Just the final touch up was left. I brought back this image in After Effects and did a few minor touch ups like adding mist to the scene, glows to the ceiling lights and slight color correction. This is what the final image for the moodboard looks like.

I was quite happy with this final product. This is the first time my modeling scale was at this high a level. I have never built a proper set in 3D before, and this would be my first. A lot of problems along the way, especially in lighting, but when I look back at it at the end of the day, I feel good that I overcame everything and managed to produce the final results.

A few things were still left to do. For example the poster. For this, all the four of us worked on it.

My friend, Wendy Chan Yan Jun, painted the headless ghost in checkered shirt using Photoshop. Another friend of mine, Gary Goh, did the title font. Lastly, Germaine and I created the image below, which is actually the moodboard. I composited all the elements, which were made separately, and made it into this poster.

Also, I had to do the DVD cover as part of the publicity elements for the project pitch. I took roughly two and a half hours to do it. Done in Photoshop.

Credit: Germaine painted the hand pressing the lift button using Photoshop. [Bottom left hand corner of the DVD cover]

Looking back, I realised that I learnt a lot of technical skills and time management. I got more used to Photoshop now, and the Maya modeling techniques and what to expect after the rendering and things like that.

Pretty good learning experience (=

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