Sunday, 30 April 2017

Adaptation B: Lighting & Soundscape Influences

I've now imported all of the models I want into one scene and set up lights for each one. This took me a while because each one is a unique shape, so I needed different lights for each model or else not all of them would come out the way I wanted. I also want them to each light up individually, so I figured it'd be best to set up lights and connect them to their corresponding model. Some of them were more difficult to light than the others, the ones where I had animated the joints and the arms/legs are stretched tend to be the most difficult. Those models I also had to remodel slightly as sometimes an arm or a leg would be beneath the floor. However, I'm liking how they are looking now.

I may rearrange them a little bit more, but I kind of like how they are set up the way that they are. I'm concerned about the render time but I won't know exactly what is going on until I render it on something other than my laptop. I think now I can do some playblasts for an opening scene where the camera moves around and the models light up one by one, then I can start doing some playblasts of close-ups. Hopefully from now on I won't need to move around the lights too much.

I also had a look at some different soundtracks/soundscapes from games, TV shows, and films that I liked because they made me feel uneasy. I figured listening to these tracks would help me get a feel for what sort of sounds I may go for in my sound design using the sound clips I plugged into my models to make the audience feel anxious. Out of all of these, the titles of the TV series 'Outcast' stands out to always made me feel uneasy (especially around 00:42-00:52).

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Adaptation B: Readjusting Skin Material

After doing a few maya tutorials that used the mila_material, I felt I could return to this project and improve the skin on my models now that I have a better understanding of it. My main goal was to see if I could reduce the render time while still achieving the look I wanted. I found that my new version of the skin renders much quicker than my original one which probably has to do mostly with the resolution because my old shader I had to keep at 1 while the new material seems to be ok at 1/2. I also think rendering on a proper computer rather than my laptop will also improve my render times.

There are a few differences between the two materials... for example my original had Fresnel: Glossy Reflection while my new one has a Fresnel: Specular Reflection. I'm not sure if this makes much of a difference or if one way is more realistic than the other but I prefer my new one over my old feels less washed out and I can keep it at 1/2 quality it seems and still get reasonable results (the screencap says it's at resolution 1 on 'New_Skin' but I only rendered it at 1/2). I'll post the differences between my old and new materials just in case anyone has feedback.

Adaptation B: Camera Movement & After Effects Light Burst Test

Last night I set up a quick render with a still model and some camera movement. It's not as high quality as I've been rendering for stills, I need to go back and try to make some adjustments so I can lower the render time while keeping the qualities that I like such as the reflection on the floor. Today I plan on returning to my skin material now that I understand how it works better to see if I can improve the look. I also hope to start making some playblasts with my models as well. I think a combo of distance shots with some close ups of the bodies so I can cut between the two would be interesting...I'll see what sorts of things I can do with it. 

After I rendered out my camera movement test, I wanted to bring my scene into After Effects and see if I could add some sort of volumetric light ray(s) to the scene to give it more atmosphere. I've done something similar for my Fantastic Voyage project, but as this is a spot light rather than underwater light rays I wanted to try something different. To do this, I created a white solid, and made an oval mask so I just had a white oval in the scene. I then added the effect 'CC Light Burst) and adjusted the center, light rays, and position of the oval so they angled in the correct position. 

I then added some Fractal Noise and adjusted those settings so it was more detailed and felt more like dust rather than an artificial gradient for a light ray. I then pre-composed the light ray and on the new composition, I made a mask around my model and across the scene since it's casting a shadow. I also masked out any other bits that were incorrect. I then feathered this and made a few readjustments before key-framing the light's opacity with how the lights illuminate in my Maya scene. I then had to key the Mask Path so I could scale and position my mask with the position of my model. I like how the light looks and I think it adds to the scene.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Maya Pipeline 1: Texturing - Head Texturing (Part 6)

In this tutorial the eyes were textured and more skin tones were added to the face, including the lips. The eyes were made in Photoshop and they were relatively easy to sort out. The rest of the head I struggled with mostly just because Mudbox would give me errors whenever I tried to open the program. I tried downloading all available versions of Mudbox but I'd just get an 'Unknown Error' and it'd crash. However, I managed to get it to open by double clicking on one of my .mud files I made in the beginning of the I'm not quite sure what it is doing but at least I got it to work. The lips were tricky and I think they may need some more adjusting but overall I'm happy with the results.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Eating Disorder & Mental Illness Talk at Anglo European School

Today I visited my old Sixth Form - Anglo European School - to talk to the students about my experience with mental illness. I've talked about this two other times, and it is never easy - in fact it's one of the most difficult things I've done (despite choosing to do it multiple times). I wanted to share this as it directly relates to my Adaptation B project which is about my Eating Disorder, Anxiety, and struggles with Body Dysmorphia. During this presentation I discussed my raw personal story, some facts about mental illnesses, and different methods of coping.

I talked about how I've used my art in the past to cope and express my feelings and that I'm still doing it now in university with my Adaptation B project. I think I left an impact on the students, considering none of them seemed to speak, move or blink which was quite intimidating to be honest. Considering a few students and teachers came up to me afterwards to thank me, I'd view it as a success.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Maya Pipeline 1: Texturing - Head Base Colours/Sub Surface Scattering (Part 5)

In this tutorial, base colours were added to the head, eyes, teeth, tongue and gums. This was done using a layered mila_material to create sub-surface scattering so the skin looked more realistic. I've been using this material for my Adaptation B project as well. I think this tutorial has helped me get a better understanding of the shader, so I think this will help me change/improve my models for my other project too. There was also a Phong shader used for the cornea, a Blinn for the teeth, and the ambient occlusion was adjusted on the rest of the body so it matched the skin better.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Adaptation B: Lattice Model - Additional Renders

I wanted to do a few renders using one of my lattice models with a ground plain instead of having the figure just hovering in blackness. I wanted slight reflectivity on the floor so I added a mia_material_x shader and applied one of the presets. I then altered the colour, reflectivity, and glossiness so the reflection would be blurred to the degree that I wanted. I really like how these renders turned out, I feel they enhance the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Overall, I feel I much prefer the still images I've made so far in comparison the animated videos of my models. There's something about just looking at the static image of it that gives it the sort of 'silence' or stillness I believe it needs. To me - the rendered images are much more impactful and emotional than the videos.

Adaptation B: Font Tests

I wanted to try finding a font that would match the project for when I make an Art Of or anything else for this that would require text. I tried a few different things, such as using black on top of a slightly tinted, blurred version of the text. Most of them are hard to see, which is partially what I wanted... but they are way too hard to see I think - I prefer just the plain white text. I also tried both really simple font and more of a handwritten font (I was thinking sort of doctor's signature) and I definitely prefer the simpler fonts. I think I prefer #3 and #11 the most...choosing fonts is not my strength so any feedback would be appreciated.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Maya Pipeline 1: Texturing - Body Base Colours (Part 4)

This tutorial began the process of adding colours to the model. First, the UV's were updated and exported because of how they changed while creating the normal maps and the gold texture from the buttons/belt buckle were added to the ear pieces. Some extra nodes were added into the shaders such as Ambient Occlusion and a series of nodes that gives the character very subtle rim light. In Photoshop, some base colours were added to the torso, trousers, and boots. I did notice that 'Refine Edge' was not in my must have been removed in an update but the 'Select and Mask' option was there instead. It worked the same, the window just looked slightly different. I like how it's starting to look with the colours, it's much more exciting to look than the grey model.

Maya Pipeline 1: Texturing - Rivets (Part 3)

For this tutorial, the belt buckle and various buttons for the front of the jacket, back of the jacket, and the collar were imported and positioned on the model. The belt buckle was skinned to the pelvis and then the torso was duplicated and smoothed so a rivet script could be used to attach the buttons onto the torso. Extra geometry was deleted away since the high res mesh would not be seen anyway. I've used rivets before on my Fantastic Voyage project, but I didn't delete the unneeded geometry so it's useful to know I should do that now.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Adaptation B: Body Variation #7

This model isn't new, but it was one that I really enjoyed working on previously so I chose to briefly return to it and add my skin texture to see how it'd look rendered.

Adaptation B: Group Animation - Blur Test #2

This animation is very similar to the previous one, however quickly I added a few extra keyframes and made some of the blurring more extreme because I was curious of what it'd look like. I do think it could still be more exaggerated just to see how far I can push it, but my next few tests should have more new things added to it as well.

Adaptation B: Group Animation - Blur Test #1

In this test I wanted to play around with the Camera Lens Blur effect in After Effects. First, I placed all of my models into their own compositions since some of them have duplicates so they all played for the same duration. I then chose those compositions and grouped them in new compositions for the far-background, background, middle ground, and foreground. I then added Camera Lens Blur to each of those groups and changed the settings so the furthest compositions were the most blurred and the closer the objects were less blurred. I then decided to play around with key-framing various settings on the blur so the severity of the effect would shift and alter randomly.

The aim of this is to make things feel more disorientating and sort of dream-like or surreal. I think the results are interesting but I may trying to make the effect more extreme and maybe adding more keyframes so things change faster/more often. Currently, all of the models still animate continuously and at the same time but I plan on changing this so they are stationary/animate independently and randomly soon.

Adaptation B: Group Animation #1 (Initial Render)

I've finished rendering out the render layers containing the different animated models. I've composited them together in After Effects, stretched the time slightly so their movements could be seen better, and I added a bit of motion blur and film grain for this initial video. Each model can be moved around independently and I could add different effects to each one. At the moment, they all animate at the same time but I'd like to play around with this so maybe one in the background moves briefly, then one in the front twitches, then another one does...all separately at random times. I also think it may be interesting to go back and edit some audio then do a render of all the models animating (both together and at separate times), only stacked on top of each other like how they are in these still renders. This is only an initial animation as I wanted to share what I've been doing and I will hopefully soon be posting some more videos with more variations to it.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Adaptation B: Group Renders #3

I've started setting up a scene so I can render out a few different models using separate render layers so I can alter them individually such as changing the speed, adding variations of motion blur, adding depth of field, and other effects. As I was doing that I decided to take a few still renders as well because I thought they looked interesting. I have a mixture of models including the ones with animated joints, ones that I used a flare deformer, and a few that I used a lattice. I'm currently rendering out the animation layers and I look forward to seeing what sort of things I can do to them in After Effects when they're done.