Sunday, 17 June 2018

Bullion: Swamp Stage Assets #1

Over the last few weeks I've been working with Leda Entertainment to create assets for their indie game Bullion. I have never modelled for games before but I skimmed over the tutorials online, looked at the assets other team members have made, and asked them for advice. I had a go at making some models for their Swamp level such as cattails, bushes, grasses/reeds, a waterfall, and trees to start with. The tree still needs work - I need to add more branches for some additional variation. 

I'm sure overall there are things I need to fix, but I'm having other team members check over the models as I work on them. I tried to recycle assets where I could to try and ensure I was creating the models correctly. Only some of these assets are UV mapped since I wanted to check with the team if they were modelled properly for Unity (so far they've said the models work fine). I've put on temporary shaders for now to show what the textures may resemble later on. I think learning how to create some low poly games assets may be useful in the future.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

'When' - Bees Sound Design Tweak 001

Another part of my feedback for When was a suggestion to return to my bees entity and make the soundscape more overwhelming. I wanted to increase the audio levels of the music as well, so I decided to play around with the bees as well. I added in another layer of insect sounds that were at a higher pitch as well as increase the volume of the whispers. Hopefully this is an improvement!

Sunday, 3 June 2018

When: Additional 'Art Of' Pages & Projection Footage Brick Tests

After recieving feedback for my Major Project, I decided to return to my Art Of and add in a few more pages to conclude the document better. I decided to add two pages of statistics about Eating Disorders since I want people to have more information about it. I tried to include a range of statistics about the various Eating Disorders and how they affect different genders, sexuality, races, and so on. Despite it being an abstract project, I still want to ensure I have real life woven into I think it's useful to have those statistics available for people to see after going through the Art Of. I also added a short concluding statement which is an excerpt from my 'filmmaker statement' that I've been using to submit to film festivals as well as a 'special thanks' section. I hope this wraps up my Art Of better than it had previously.

In my feedback it was also suggested I experiment with adding my brick displacement onto the geometry I used for my projection footage. For some reason the displacement on the plane was being very fiddly, but I'm experimenting with a few ways of achieving what I want. I tried to have the bricks be very subtle since I only want there to be a hint of them. The first test I did the bricks were straight - in my room all of the bricks are distorted because of the UV map. I then went into Photoshop and morphed the height map so I could imitate the distorted bricks. I still need to tweak the texture because some of the settings (ex. specularity) is not the same as my original brick that may further improve the look. I'm going to continue experimenting and see what I can do with it. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Major Project: Reflective Statement

It's very strange to think that this project is 'done' now - it's been such a large part of my life for the last year that it's hard to think that it is over now. I suspect I'll continue to work on When however, since there are parts of the film that I'd like to continue to improve and tweak...although I could probably tweak it forever. I've really loved working on this project, despite it being challenging at times. I admit I felt a pang of anxiety uploading the full animation since it is so personal, but I am also proud of myself for being able to create a film that I hope will make people think in ways they may not have before.

I feel that I'm lucky that I got to work on something really personal already (Dysmorphia) because it built me up to being able to work on this sort of project. I think one of the main things I struggled with was trying to detach myself from some of the personal aspects of the film, such as the room and whispers. I found the sound editing one of the more emotionally draining parts of the project, but I am happy that I worked through it and I think the whispers really enhance the impact of the film.

I'm also very happy that I've collaborated with Bruce Reid, it was a pleasure working with him and has further taught me to have trust and faith in others. I admit I was very anxious forfeiting some control over my project, but I am glad that I did because the final product would not have been as emotional if Bruce didn't create the soundtrack. I hope I get the opportunity to work with Bruce again in the future.

I was very nervous overall about the Maya aspect of the project starting off with due to the shift from using Mental Ray to Arnold. I knew I wanted to achieve realism but I wasn't sure how I'd be able to do this even with a renderer I was more familiar with...let alone having to re-learn a lot of it. This project helped me recognise how much I really do enjoy texturing and lighting, which is something I want to continue to learn and develop in the future.

I am relieved I was able to achieve the aesthetic that I have, because I honestly didn't feel confident in my abilities at first. I have a bad habit of saying that it was 'luck' that I pushed the right buttons to achieve what I wanted, but I'm trying to allow myself to recognise that it had a lot to do with my ability to sit down and play around with settings and research till I was happy with it.

Overall I think I could have done better managing my stress and emotions in relation to the project, but I feel it is still an improvement from where I have been on past projects. I had moments where this project eclipsed other parts of my life and I was probably more obsessive over it than I should have been. But again, I think I have improved on this especially considering how personal this project was.

I also wish I had researched a bit more into the rendering process as I'm not sure if I accidentally caused the render times to be higher than they really needed to be. That said, I am pleased with how I managed my time and organised myself to ensure I had all the footage I wanted fully rendered as consistently as possible. I usually struggle with making compromises, but I was able to decide that sometimes I had to decrease the quality of my renders to ensure everything was done in time and that I could at least improve on those scenes in After Effects

In addition to enjoying the lighting and texturing part of my film, I did also really enjoy working on the VFX in After Effects as well as simulations in Maya. I wish that I could have experimented more with other visual effects/compositing software, such as Nuke or Houdini but I knew I had to limit how many new things I was trying (Substance Painter/Designer, InDesign) to ensure I created a final product. It was a struggle to get things like nParticles and nCloth to work the way that I want them to, but I'm glad I pushed myself through it to show that I can do it.

It was honestly amazing and so much fun to focus on one film for a whole year. It is incredibly satisfying to see the final product and how months of work coalesced into something complete and polished. Overall I hope that it creates some sort of impact - whether it makes someone feel less alone or if it encourages someone think of mental illness in a way they have not before. While I am somewhat sad about being done now and I'm nervous about the future, I am also looking forward to it.