Studio 3: week 12-13 Final renders, Showcase and KPI reflection

This last week before the show has been incredibly hectic. One team member had to still get animation approved so close to showcase we ended up have to take over rendering some of her shots. Some things to note is that next time I need to have the person handing over the shot if they are ‘render ready’ as in they’ve done a test render of at least single frame and the lighting, z-depth pass and the shadows match. While working in a team project I have to remember that even if we are taking the same course it’s difficult to remember all the rendering setting by heart for some people and I should have written an email with the shared render settings and reminders for the settings that have to be changed manually and that you can’t reply on the max render.

In the end I managed to get the the renders down for our post production artist and we were able to showcase but had all members finished getting approvals for animation earlier or adopted the idea of ‘render as you go’ meaning render a scene as soon at it gets approved even if the rest aren’t, then our post production artist would have more time to colour grade and edit the film.

Showcase

Despite these set backs I’m pleased to say showcase was successful. Several member of the audience burst out laughing at our short film and the feedback was constructive and will be put into use for future projects. Here is a link to our feedback forum.

Final self evaluation

This trimester I found myself becoming team leader, learnt a new 3D software in Zbrush, created my first short VFX film, while simultaneously working on pre-production for my studio 3 unit. It’s been hectic and there’s a lot to reflect on. The way I’m going is using Gibb’s reflective cycle model while looking at my production contributions and my KPI’s.

In the very beginning during the pre-production phase I helped with a rough concept art, portraying the frog character as a cheeky beguine anthropomorphic animal and did the initial storyboard and looking back now I felt that I could have done a better job in setting the stage for the film with better camera angles but we were so focused on moving forward quickly, as last semester there was an issue where a teammate was unable to model the main character and we were set behind several weeks. Perhaps, I wasn’t suited best for pre-production elements of the project so at first I felt that I had not done enough during that phase of the project but I did make it up by helping with the second to last version of the animatic and fixing some left over 180 degree issues and the pacing of the film.

Then for production I began to feel more confident and took charge of modeling the character’s body, hands and feet. The face topology was done by another member of my team and later in week 8, after receiving the face topology back the other modeler in our group and I work on fixing issues in the shape of the frog because it did match the model sheet, but it did not resemble a frog in 3D. I felt that these issues had to be fixed because the animation/face morphs relied on the frog looking like a merge of something humanoid and animal. What I should I have done in the beginning is asked if I could take over the face topology myself if they were finding it difficult to model or at least hold a meeting and spend a day figuring out the topology together.

I was advised to model details in Zbursh, which was very daunting since it’s a new program for me but I learned that the base mesh I made could be used to project details on top of it with a displacement map as long as I didn’t change up the initial topology.  This allowed us skip the retopologizing step as we could unwrap the base mesh and bring it into Zbrush. I did have issues with the displacement map at first but found a tutorial online that advised to turn a smoothing option to zero just before generating the map which solved the problem. I feel like I was suited to modeling the frog character, especially the Zbrush portion as other member of the team found that they were not comfortable with the program yet and we had limit time to sculpt the details before we could hand over the model to be rigged by our animator.

I also worked on one scene of animation which contained my self directed learning –  space warps. Our first VFX instruction told me to keep it simple and not stress about hundreds of render passes/caustics as it lasts only a few seconds and people should be able to recognize the ‘meme’ it came from in that time. I should have toned down the reflection layer because it made the tea appear more pink than the rich red Arabic tea we were going for.

Finally, I worked on a very tiny bit of post. I did render several passes for a team member who was struggling but my actual contribution was only fixing the reflection, and color correcting the water. It’s obvious I should have worked on more but a team member who did not get to model took it over and that’s only fair that the workload gets distributed in a way where everyone gets something to do.

In the end this trimester really pushed me to learn more about zbrush than I would have, had I been learning it by all myself and without a project at this scope that relied on me getting at least the basic down of the program. I want to practice retopologizing in zbrush and also try my hand at hard surfaces before I can really feel like I’ve earned the right to put Zbrush in my arsenal of tools. Finally, despite the rendering issues, and before that, the long wait to be able to sculpt in Zbrush this semester was really fruitful especially being able to add this VFX short film into my portfolio really helps to show variety in what I can do as a 3D modeler.

kippppe.JPGFinally the KPI assessment really helps gauge where I stand after working on a project for three months. There are some KPIs I thing I kept working at a consistent pace such as communication, acting as a team player and work ethic. Then there were some I improved on such as flexibility, problem solving and ability to learn from criticism. Flexibility improves as I worked on at least one aspect in pre-production, production and post production which was all explained in my presentation slides. Then there’s ability to learn and accept criticism, where I went along with prompts that changed the frog model completely, such as elongating the legs, detailing his hands and slimming his body, which in the end help our animator move the model better for her leap animation. Finally, there’s problem solving where I fixed the displacement map issues I has and helped other team members with animation issues.

So to conclude,  I think working on so many aspects of the project made it difficult to see how far I’ve come along. Never would I have been able to get the details I did from modeling only in 3ds max, so expanding the tools in my workflow has allowed me to improve as a 3d modeler. Having a VFX class in the curriculum is really preparing us for a whole new market that 3D modeling is used for and I’m grateful this semester focused heavily on using Zbursh and post-production since those were area I had limited experience in.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Studio 3: week 10-11

Filming

 

Finally, after getting the equipment approved and having the actor’s schedule align we’ve been able to shoot our film. During the shoot I acted as a co-director and fed lines to our actor. There were a hundred things to keep track of throughout the shoot and somethings to remember if I’m ever on another one-

1) Changes in the set – either the lighting or props that will affect continuity.

2) Taking BTS footage.

3) Getting batteries for the microphone as they run out very fast.

4) Working around the issues of the establishment we had rented. For example, the loud AC and music that may feature in our audio.

 

Week 11

 

This week the animation should have started as all my displacement map issues are solved and  last week we have learnt how to perspective match images in 3ds max, as all the shots with the frog are still ones. I’m a little worried we wont have time to render by the time the animation gets approved but I’ll do what i can to help as I’m currently set to do the space warp for the tea cup scene but I don’t mind animating the whole scene if it’ll help the team out.

Below are some updated images of the frog with the displacement map on-

side_2side

 

I also fixed smaller issues like detailed the frog’s hand more as he will be using it to lift up a tea cup. The minor details really do matter so I’m happy with all the feedback we’ve been getting to help improve the model.

 

Studio 3: week 9

This week I’m taking all the feedback from the presentation to work on the frog zbrush sculpt.  There was a small issue where I accidental projected details twice on the model which resulted in it’s lips and eyes appearing sealed in but I have multiple saves and zbrush itself can store all your previous ‘undos’ for a project.

Last week I got back the face topology but it didn’t resemble a frog another teammate and I tweaked the existing topology by inflating the cheeks, adding eyelids and pushing back the mouth area. Overall, I think the model’s on it’s way to looking like a human/frog hybrid which is what we were going for.

 

I’ve also been looking up how to texture the frog better, specifically testing alpha brushes I’ve found online and on the Zbrush brush database. With a lot of tweaking I’ve been getting some interesting results. I’ve also looked into created veins on the frog to help with the realism. Several resources exist online such as pixologies’ own publications and guides to sculpting but the best one is this quick YouTube tutorial that uses existing brushes to create convincing vein details.

a_vein_tutorial

(Click to open video in new tab)

Below are the arm details for the the frog such as the veins I added in Zbrush after playing with the brush settings and using Alpha images to add slight textures to the skin.

b_veins

Studio 3: Week 8

This week we were unable to shoot as the film equipment list hasn’t gotten approved yet but the film student who will be helping us on set is working hard to get the approvals for next week.

I’ve only just got back the face topology so I haven’t had too much time sculpting the frog in Zbrush. Naturally, I’m not proud of this sculpt but since we’ve just had our week 8 presentations there’s a lot of feedback for the frog model that I need to work on.

 

Week 8 Feedback

For the frog model-

Create the the separation arms

Define sternum

Define legs

Make the eyes more functional

Define rig cage better

 

For the film shot list-

Enforce rule of thirds

Add more foreground elements by using a chair behind the frog.

Depth every shot

Fly scene needs build up.

 

For now I’m working on the Zbrush sculpt and I’m trying to fix the anatomy issues. For the fly scene we’ve added more dialogue where the princess character acknowledges that the fly is the restaurant and swats it away. Finally, the animatic is being refined to include rule of thirds and I feel now that the model is finally handed over and the film is scheduled to be shot soon, we will be back on track with enough time for the animations.

 

Studio 3: week 7

This week we’re casting for our actors. I’ve made posters, hung them around campus, contacted my local theatre program and asked a teammate to send out emails.

final_casting_call

The actors we ended up casting either live close to the shoot or study on campus so the convince of being able to reschedule is there if we are unable to check out the equipment we want for next week’s shoot.

I still have not received the face topology so I have to wait a bit till I can finish the sculpt in Zbrush and create a displacement map but I have been practicing in the meanwhile.

Studio 3: week 6-7 Genre and cultural aspects

I’ve handed over the base mesh and I’m currently waiting on the face/troath and teeth topology to come back as mentioned last week our instructor has advised us to  look into detailing in zbrush.

During the development of our short film we knew we wanted a humorous modern day spin of an easily recognizable fairytale. In a semiotic approach the ‘icon’ of a frog was enough for my friends viewing the concept art and animation for the first time to recognize the direction we were going with. Semiotics helps us understand the ‘words’ in visual media and since animation is a visual medium often things need to be explained through signs, symbols and icons in the background of the film (Port, 2000) So what I was to explore is using signs and symbols to further enhance other parameters we’ve set up, that being that this short film is centered around humour as our genre and the use of a modern day setting.

Image result for edgar wright

Director edgar Wright is notable for his comedic timing, background details to make a film enjoyable on a rewatch and using his hometown as a backdrop for him films (Godfrey, 2013, para. 4). He tends to hide small details an audience would pick up if they were observant making them feel more connected to the medium and then the opposite which is repetition, he makes sure a comedic moment is repeated to it’s funnier the second time. In our film the frog catfishes the girl character but we thought we could set up his profile picture on the dating app to something ridiculous to make sense as to how she got catfished in the first place. We are going to use a picture of a famous actor, for now it’s a young Leonardo DiCaprio that the frog uses as a display picture.

 

Matched_App1.jpg

I also found these Emirati themed salt and pepper shakers that I’ve been waiting to ask the team about if we can use as symbolism and foreshadowing the failed date by place the shakers away from each other. They add to the modern middle Eastern zeitgeist we can emulate if the coffee shop we book for the shoot is Middle Eastern themed. This means several things would have to be taken into consideration such as casting the female character, we would then be looking specifically for a Middle Eastern actor and we would have to incorporate more into the background of the film for our audience to get that.

References

Godfrey, A. (2013, July 13). The World’s End: Meet Edgar Wright. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jul/13/the-worlds-end-edgar-wright

Port, R. (2000, September 4). ICON, INDEX and SYMBOL. Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://www.cs.indiana.edu/~port/teach/103/sign.symbol.short.html

 

Studio 3: week 2 Presentation Feedback

This week we had our studio presentation. Being in the early phases on concept art the frog currently looks a little silly and playful. We’ve been asked to consider changing the design into something more muscular, changing the frog in a more ‘macho’ character. We like this idea because it lends to explaining the frog’s awful behavior in the end and makes the twist more cheeky than upsetting for the female character.
frog_character_design_1

For the storyboard the feedback was a lot and it was all fair and valid because we really did rush to complete it as our idea had just been approved a few days before the presentation. The feedback were as follows-

No rule of thirds

Lack depth in shots

Lack variety of the shots

Only using front facing cameras.

Looking at the storyboard right now it’s evident that we need to research camera angles for dialogue between two people. We also have to look at films that play with the height difference of characters such as Pixar’s Ratatouille. I asked about going over the storyboard but have been advised to go back the to 3D animatic and make the changes there. Some reworked shots include an over the shoulder shot when the princess looks at her phone in panel #3 and a side view, wide angle shot of the character about to kiss in the last act to help bring in some variety in the shots.

 

Week 2 presentation: Research and development

For the research and development part of our presentation I looked over various ways I could simulate the effect of water flowing in a tea cup while someone was holding it and found several ways to do it but each came with their own short comings. For example, 3ds Max 2019 has a water system but I don’t have 2019 and also have suffered last semester when a teammate was working on a different version of 3ds max than the rest of the group. So I found out about ‘space warps’ which the official  Autodesk  guide explains that they “create ‘force fields’ that deform other objects, creating the effect of ripples, waves, blowing wind, and so on.” What I like about using space warps is that it simulates in real time once you press play instead of having to re-simulate every time you make a change, such as using the cloth modifier.

Below was the test shot I created to show what the water may look like. It’s a mixture of the ‘ripple’ space warp binded to a plan with a lot of geometry and and the moving it gently along side the tea cup as it moves back and forward. I also animated the plane twisting up and down based on the the direction the cup was moving. Combining these two animations we can see the final result below.

References 

Imed, A. (2014, March 28). Bind to space warp. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3P73oKiXVQ

Space Warp Objects. (2016). Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/3ds-max/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/3DSMax/files/GUID-319D19A7-97B0-42BE-82CE-28AE7A8DF3F3-htm.html

 

Studio 3: week 5

Right now I’m waiting of the face topology to be done but in the meanwhile I thought I’d look into space warps a little more, and test out a shader that could pass for the rich red Arabic tea. This goes back into last week’s blog about mimicking a modern times but still keeping the Arabic cultural influences.

Example of shader.

I’ve also been told to enhance the look of the frog we should look into detailing in zbrush. I’ll admit I’m a little intimidated and this add and it additional step into our production workflow but if we can get some more detail across and I get to put the zbrush lectures we’ve had into practice then it’ll be worth it.

Studio 3: week 4

This week I’m helping out with the animatic version no. 4. It’s easy for someone to wear out when working on something for a long time to I thought I’d fix some of the 180 degree issues and timing between shots.

The character model sheet has just gotten approved at the end of the week and i will be working on the frog’s body, arms and legs while our texturing artist takes over the face/throat/teeth and eyes and then the final textures.

So far I have the base for the body done and I’m researching how to do the frog’s fingers and toes.  It’s been a while since I’ve done some organic modeling as last trimester I worked on assets for an industrial kitchen but It’s been a fun process and I’ve been checking back with my animation teammate to ask if there are enough polygons/loops around the pelvis, knees and elbows so she’ll have enough to work with when skinning and animating.

Studio 3: week 3-4 Semiotics Analysis of out Film so Far

Research redo the storyboard week 3

This week while I wait for the character model sheet to be approved I thought I’d try to finish some props we’d need for when we shoot the film and this give me the opportunity to add more to the film than what appears on the script. This leads into some research about the visual direction of the film and improving how we show the setting and humor without explicitly saying where the setting is and if something out screen was supposed to be humorous.

During the development of our short film we knew we wanted a humorous modern day spin of an easily recognizable fairytale. In a semiotic approach the ‘icon’ of a frog was enough for my friends viewing the concept art and animation for the first time to recognize the direction we were going with.

Image result for signs symbols semiotics

 

Semiotics helps us understand the ‘words’ in visual media and since animation is a visual medium often things need to be explained through signs, symbols and icons in the background of the film (Port, 2000) So what I was to explore is using signs and symbols to further enhance other parameters we’ve set up, that being that this short film is centered around humour as our genre and the use of a modern day setting.

Director Edgar Wright is notable for his comedic timing, background details to make a film enjoyable on a rewatch and using his hometown as a backdrop for him films (Godfrey, 2013, para. 4). He tends to hide small details an audience would pick up if they were observant making them feel more connected to the medium. In our film the frog catfishes the girl character but we thought we could set up his profile picture on the dating app to something ridiculous to make sense as to how she got catfished in the first place. We are going to use a picture of a famous actor, for now it’s a young Leonardo DiCaprio that the frog uses as a display picture.

I also found these Emirati themed salt and pepper shakers that I’ve been waiting to ask the team about if we can use as symbolism and foreshadowing the failed date by place the shakers away from each other. They add to the modern middle Eastern zeitgeist we can emulate if the coffee shop we book for the shoot is Middle Eastern themed. This means several things would have to be taken into consideration such as casting the female character, we would then be looking specifically for a Middle Eastern actor and we would have to incorporate more into the background of the film for our audience to get that.

Referances:

Godfrey, A. (2013, July 13). The World’s End: Meet Edgar Wright. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jul/13/the-worlds-end-edgar-wright

Port, R. (2000, September 4). ICON, INDEX and SYMBOL. Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://www.cs.indiana.edu/~port/teach/103/sign.symbol.short.html

Noise & Semiotics [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2018, from http://www.decodingculture.in/2010/05/noise-semiotics.html