Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fire Hydrant

It's not that I get side-tracked a lot. This time, it was during class when Greg and I decided to model a fire hydrant as soon as possible. Why a fire hydrant of all things? Because we wanted to model something non-organic. Secondly, my team, Crewsade, is working on this project which revolves heavily around fire fighting and we definitely need fire fighting related assets like fire hydrant. So we decided to model it.

I started out with a reference image below. It's an American fire hydrant. Basically what I loved about this model is the small details that make the hydrant look really interesting.

However, for my own model, I decided to go for a different approach. I modeled using a cylinder for a base shape with very low resolution on it. I sculpted the hydrant to match my desired look. The challenge between Greg and I didn't last that long because class got over, so I just continued at home. I added in the details such as the repetitive dents on the metal and the bolts and nuts.

Once the modeling was complete, I was too lazy to texture it properly. So for the time being, I added a plane for the ground and rendered an ambient occlusion pass with final gather. Here's what it looks like.

One thing I decided while modeling this hydrant - everyone of my work will have my initials somewhere on it. Not like a typical signature, but instead the words "Digimator's Renders" or "DR" on it. It'll be like my own way of marking my work out (= So here are the close-ups of my initials on the hydrant.

I'm pretty excited about this model. I plan to texture it, light it and render it semi-photorealistic pretty soon when I get more time. Can't wait to see what the finished product looks like =D

Oh yes, and I haven't forgotten about my car. I'm still researching on the topic and different methods and workflows for modeling. Stay tuned :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ambient Occlusion Animation

The animation is up on youtube.

Click here to watch it.

No big deal actually. Just a simple camera pan around the text, showing the shadows.

Ambient Occlusion

I actually wanted to get started on the car, but got sidetracked because I got curious about ambient occlusion all of a sudden. So I decided to research on what exactly ambient occlusion is and played around in Maya by doing a simple logo animation of Digimator's Renders. Yes, it's pretty lame right now, but I guess it can do for a test render.

Render time was pretty expensive. I turned on final gather and global illumination. Approximately 5 minutes per frame. The animation is being rendered at the moment. I'll upload as soon as it's done.

Truthfully, my research on ambient occlusion seemed pretty complex to me. However, I did get one thing right out of it - photorealism. Ambient occlusion can be pretty useful when doing visual effects - CG compositing with live action. It plays a great part in photorealism in that it gives very soft, diffused shadows and very dark shading when corners meet. From what I understand through my experimentation, I think that ambient occlusion is another way of defining soft, diffused, realistic shadows. I may be wrong. I definitely plan to explore in depth on this matter, and how to use it through Pixar's RenderMan.

Friday, July 25, 2008

BMW Update - Rendering & Reflecting

I was doing a little bit research on texturing cars and I decided to do a few test renders on my BMW Roadster. Here are a few of them, which are compared to the original car.

Basically what I did was very simple. I assigned a mental ray car paint shader to the model and tweaked the shader a little to create a grey car. I turned on image-based lighting. Since I did not have a HDRI image, I used a jpeg instead and adjusted the color gain so that it would emit enough light. I added a directional light for some extra lighting. Finally, I turned on final gather and global illumination and rendered the image through mental ray.

Some close-ups:

I am going to start all over again. Even though a lot of time and effort was spent on this, there are many obvious flaws which are very difficult to correct at this stage. The first mistake I realised is that I jumped into details very quickly into the early stage of modeling. Maybe I was too excited to see the final result like most beginners. I did the edges too quickly and extruded the door sooner than expected to create that little bend. I should have blocked out the main body of the car first before adding too many edge loops to create the detail - which explains why the car looks dented at many points due to meddling around with the vertices. Secondly, I should have kept the car in separate pieces - the front part, the door, rear etc should have been separate pieces on their own so that I could create those panels perfectly without getting too much into extruding the faces to create those small ridges between each panel.

Nonetheless, I'm quite happy with the result here. I did get the edges where I wanted them to be. The only reason why I am starting all over is because I want to avoid these mistakes that I made and follow a proper workflow to create this car. After all, it's my favourite car and every effort should be put in to make it as perfect as possible! (=

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Demoreel 2008

As I had promised, I'm finally done with my demoreel. Actually I was done quite some time back, approximately a week ago, but I had issues compressing it for web streaming. Well anyway, here it is:

Demoreel 2008

Do remember to turn on your speakers (=

It's the compilation of my latest works. Longest one I've done so far. Compiled entirely in After Effects. Do feel free to comment on it.

I'd like to thank Tad Leckman from Lucasfilm Animation Singapore for guiding me on improving my demoreel during the consultation session at NAFA after their talk on how to make a good demoreel.

Enjoy! =)


For those who can't access the youtube version video, here's the blog version:


Youtube version would still be a better choice though.

Enjoy once again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Subsurface Scattering Experiment

I keep on hearing this term and after Alan explained to me about what it was, I decided to play around with it.

So I built a simple model, inspired by the Hulk, his upper half and rendered it with subsurface scattering through mental ray. This is what it looks like.

The whole point of this subsurface scattering technology is to get realistic looking skin. I don't quite know whether I got there or not. I applied a dielectric material to the ground so that it would give a nice reflection and turned on final gathering. I used two lights in the scene. One spotlight for the backlight and a directional light for the fill light.

I then twitched around with the model to exaggerate the muscles using the sculpt geometry tool. Once I was happy with the model, I rigged it and skinned it very roughly and adjusted the arms to give it a pose and rendered it again.

I was quite happy with this. I've never modeled a human figure before, and although the anatomy is wrong here, I still like the fact that it's over-exaggerated. Perhaps the skin might need to look less plastic like.

Next, I wanted to make it look like a stone sculpture. I carried on playing with the texture.

Was quite happy with this. It's definitely inspiring me to make an exaggerated anatomical human-like creature.

No updates about the car yet. Haven't gotten the time yet. More later.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back Part Started

Been very very busy with school work - crafting resume, cover letter, shot breakdown and creating my demo reel (which should be up here and on youtube pretty soon). So couldn't do much on the car. Here are the updates.

As usual, edge flow is always a problem. I messed it up a little, but fixed it back. I'm still thinking whether I should connect the back part to the front. Maybe it would be a lot easier for the entire modeling process.

More later.