Thursday, 15 February 2018

Major Project: 'When' Previs 001

So I've finally got enough footage, playblasts and tests together to piece together my first pre-vis. I'm obviously not 100% happy with it, but I wanted to be sure I got something out so I can start readjusting what I need to. It was definitely useful putting this together so I know what I was missing, what needs revisiting (for example, 'static' needs to be revisited), and what was working. I was also able to get a better feel of what lines of the poem needed objects/textures, the room, or live action footage. This obviously has no music or soundscape since this first pre-vis is getting sent to music composer Bruce Reid so hopefully I can have a very atmospheric soundscape to go along with it. It's not perfect, it's really a collage of full renders, playblasts, live action clips, and experiments. Any and all feedback will be useful and appreciated.

Major Project: Room 'Smoothness' Animation, Snowfall Particle Test & Initial Sugar Playblast

I've been doing quite a mix of things today since again I wanted to fill in some gaps for my pre-vis. I spent some time animating the brick wall for the line When I see perfection I see smoothness. I had some conversations regarding this line, and I felt that just showing the bricks really distorted then smooth out could work well. I still need to experiment more with this since I think I may want the height to be even more extreme initially before it smooths out. I also want to see what other camera angles could work for this.

I also worked on creating some snowfall within my room. I was feeling as though my ice texture wouldn't work well with this particular line as it didn't feel as impactful as I wanted. I had some discussions earlier in the week encouraged me to look at other options for this part of my film. I liked the idea of actually creating snowfall in the room, an attempt to make it feel almost like a snow-globe. I found this snow tool, which I thought worked really well. I made the room a passive collider so the snow settles on the floor...although in this shot you can't see that.

I blurred the room when the snow appears, so the focus is on the snowflakes rather than the room, similar to my soap bubbles. I was worried initially if this would be bad since it doesn't 'fit' with the pattern of my other objects but I wonder if this will work alright since there are live action intercuts and the more positive lines in the poem break from the pattern anyway even if those are mostly later in the film (for 'hope'). This was also made in Mental Ray, so I'll need to see how it looks in Arnold and if it casts shadows/light rays because of the fog, which would be ideal.

Snow Tool
Lastly, I created a very quick playblast using my sugar cube. This line of the poem is pretty fast, so I don't have a lot of duration to work with. For now I just have the cube rotate and the camera move around it, to sort of 'exhibit' that it is different from the previous objects.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Major Project: The Room Playblasts & Animation #2

I've continued to work on some playblasts of my room set. I tried to be sure that my playblasts feature the entirety of the room, so each detail (the doorways, bed, and window) is seen at some point in the film. Since the room itself doesn't feature much, I feel more free to use the camera creatively (such as playing with the focal length or having some unusual angles) to try and ensure the shots are interesting even if they are somewhat simple, which I find really fun.

For the first playblast in this set (#4) I wanted to be sure the bed and window were visible, playblast #5 focused on the bathroom/bathroom doorway, and the final playblast of this set (#6) focused on the room as a whole. The final playblast I wanted to make the viewer sit in the lower, back corner of the room, my aim was to make the room feel unsettling and that the viewer was trapped and exposed.




I also decided to do a full render just to see how the set was looking. I noticed that the main doorway was in shadow since the four main lights aren't that close to that back wall, so I've added in an additional light. I'm going to need to be cautious of how many lights I have and use, since I don't want the render times to be too crazy. I suspect some of the close up shots of the objects, though, I could turn off some of the lights. Once I have my pre-vis together, I'll spend some more time considering my lights and how I light my set.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Major Project: The Room Playblasts & Animation #1

As mentioned previously, some lines in my poem cannot really be represented by specific objects or textures. In addition to live action footage, I needed to put together some environment animation to occupy those specific shots. During my discussion yesterday, it was also suggested to have some time in the beginning of the film where the audience is 'left' in the room before the actual poem starts - so the viewer can see and experience the room itself before the film starts. 

For these three playblasted shots, I put in a temporary piece of geometry to represent the lights since you can't see where the light really is in the playblasts. The first shot I tried out a contra-zoom-like effect which I thought looked really interesting, especially since in the final render the bricks would be 'breathing' as well. The light is also flickering in this shot, which is difficult to see, but I was more focusing on the camera movement in this instance. 

The second test I wanted to focus on the entrance doorway (although people many not know that's what it is). I placed the camera low on the ground, then had it face up towards the ceiling more. I did this to try and make that specific door feel more intimidating, and to also try and represent that there is no exit or escape (no seams, just bricks).

For the third test I wanted to try having the camera higher up, starting from a somewhat awkward angle almost as if it was hiding in the corner, then having it turn and show the majority of the space. I had the camera roll to the side to try and make it feel more uneasy and 'off'. I also feel this particular shot is like security camera footage.

It was also suggested that the film begins pure white, then the camera zooms out, revealing the white is from the light on the ceiling. This could then be reversed at the end, so the film ends with the camera zooming back in on the blinding lights. I really liked this idea so I began working with environment and camera animation for these shots. I had to fully render this shot since I needed the lights to be visible, but I'm glad I did that because the subtle 'breathing' bricks can also be seen. I think some shots I may exaggerate the brick's movement more.

Major Project: nParticles 'Bee Swarm' Tests #1-5

After some discussions I had yesterday, I decided to explore the line When I see other people's bodies I see bees. After considering what I've been doing for some of my other lines in the poem (making them more representative rather than literal) I had a feeling that I'd be working with nParticles. Rather than creating realistic bees/a bee texture, such as yellow/black fur, I'm aiming to make a representation of bee swarms. This is because when I relate people to bees, I'm talking about how they feel like a chaotic, loud swarm or hive of constant movement. To do this, I set up a simple particle system with an instance attached to it (a black sphere). I don't want to make this over-complicated because I think the movement and clustering of the black spheres can speak for themselves. 

My experience on Red & The Kingdom of Sound has helped me with these tests. I tried my best to recall how we controlled the music notes, schools of fish, and flocks of birds...although I struggled to control the birds. Luckily, the orientation of the spheres do not matter which is what caused me issues with the birds.

After creating an initial number of particles, I created a Newton Field and played around with the magnitude, attenuation, and minimum distance settings. I then animated the newton field around the scene so the particles/spheres would follow it around. 



I also added a Turbulence field so the particles would have more movement and variation. I adjusted different settings on the turbulence as well including the magnitude, attenuation, frequency,  noise level, and noise ratio. In total so far I've playblasted 5 of my tests, the first three tests I had the emitter turned off after creating the number of particles I wanted and setting the initial state. I prefer test #3 because I added more particles than what I have in #1 and #2 and there's overall move movement.




For #4 and #5 I have the emitter on while also animating the settings on the Newton and Turbulence fields. I also placed the camera closer to see what it would look like up close. I do think I prefer #3 overall, but I plan to keep experimenting and see how the particles react to different settings and fields. I also need to tweak the timing, since the actual playblasts of this were very slow compared to what I was aiming for. This is because I was previewing it in Maya, where I have to play every frame rather than at 25 fps so the simulation calculates properly. The above tests were sped up to match what I was going for, but it is something I'll need to keep in mind in the future. I think it may also be interesting to see what other effects I could add to it possibly in After Effects.