Saturday, 25 August 2007

Day233 Compositing and Sin City

Maya to Photoshop Compositing
Well, after bringing all the passes (and a few extras once I realised I needed more shadow control) I had all the layers and selection sets in photoshop to get the compositing to match as closely as I could my starting image.
Working with a set of layers (a beauty pass, several for shadows, an ambient and specular pass and some duplicates to control depth) I had the basic lighting looking pretty right. Merging the CG layers together I had to manipulate the set as a whole to get a final it:
_Gaussian Blur of 0.3 to match the less than sharp image.
_Added Noise of 1.5%, uniform, monochromatic to match the image grain
_Changed a little Curves to flatten out the highlights and get the intensity to match

I have seen it suggested for when working on digital art to use a b/w version to check things. IT was mentioned in class that we could do the same here as well and it does help to work through saturation, contrast and such.

Here is the final image, followed by a b/w version and the base and the CG layer - cool huh :-)

[the 4 final images showing how the composit goes together]


Sin City
Inspired by its relevance to my Screen Culture course I grabbed the DVD today. Sin City ( is a truly inspired cinematic rendition of the mighty graphic novel by Frank Miller. Rodgriguez and Miller bring a unique feel to the screen empowered by an amazing cast, clever use of cinematic/CG effects and the illustrations themselves.
The experience is dark, extremely violent and disturbing - if it is meant to reflect on our culture then that says rather too much.

Check out these two images, the first from the comic and the second from the film - this shows how the novels inspired specific shots as well as the look.

[Panel to Screen examples from]


By way of contrast I took the time earlier in the day to watch Shrek2 on DVD. The quality on display here in the CG landscape is grand indeed. Things like the hair, lighting, animation, effects - the list goes on really. Donkey is a riot as we know and I just love the idea of Sleeping Beauty - makes me laugh everytime (Repunzel's mansion is clever as well). Sequences like the ride to Far Far Away, the dinner, the red carpet walk, the meeting of Puss'n'boots are quite simply movie classics. THe editing (or is that storyboarding for a CG film) is something to study in more depth.

[scene from Shrek2 from]

Friday, 24 August 2007

Day232 Maya Toyscene

Maya Modelling
Continuing the modelling of the snowdome. I reposed the snowman to get a bit more dynamics and to better match the initial sketch I made. This added more life and conveyed the cartoony feel of the model in a good way.
I then set about creating lotsa little snowflakes which was fun. after making a single little poly square I used the 'duplicate special' to generate interesting spirals of them all intertwined and repositioned. then after I had a good swirly cloud I duplicated the full set 2 more timed to get some density at the bottom of the dome. I then set about inserting some human randomness to things with simple transforms and rotates and shifting lots of the polys beneath the ground to better spots.
A little set of bubbles at the top was next and this was a simple set of spheres with the transparent material applied - they needed squishing to make them look right apart from the lone one still rising to the top.
The name plate was next and I am far from mastering this little idea. I extruded a set of faces in a duplicate base and then removed all but the extruded part. Then after a new UV projection map along the axis I created a file in photoshop. Applying this to various channels on the Maya materials yielded a variety of resuts. I was hoping to get the alpha working so the letters were just applied to the same plastic - a job for another day.
Anyhow as this image shows it looks the part even if it is a little rough and ready in places:

[Snowdome in a good enough form to start using now]
With the basic modelling done - it was onto the scene that will bring them all together as well as test my capacity to match camera, lighting and wield compositing pass layers (all of which is new to me).
After some considerable playign with hosts of setting I am at this stage now. The objects are in and lit in a fashion that should take me into photoshop now. I liked using the background material for the Harry Potter book substitute - this makes it just vanish from the renderings but obscures the objects - ekelent. So I have a scene now sporting 2 pawns, a bishop, 2 knights and the snowdome.

[WIP of the compiled scene with the objects in place]
This render was one of many happy little misadventures where I rendered the masterlayer by accident :-) I actually quite like the lighting and other bits when it all ends up in there...

[WIP accident of the master render layer for the toyscene]

Setting up the various render passes is actually kinda fun. With the render time mounting with some of them you can really see the value in doing post render compositing as each tweak inside Maya means another long wait to see the results. If I had a complex scene like in Cars or Transformers there really isnt any other way. I am sure there are plenty of productions that just render beauty out then just try and tweak the entire frame if required.

Watching the little video tute I found back on Day212 ( is actually quite helpful here.

Once I rendered out a set of passes (havent got the hang of the Ambient Occlusion pass yet though - and it has such a cool name) I brought everything into Photoshop. The image below shows the very first import, a beauty pass with the alpha to give the shadows etc. This is pretty nifty for just one pass actually - the glass of the dome isnt the right colour yet and there is much tweaking to come to make it sit even better.

[WIP images of the Photoshop compositing phase of the toy table]

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Day231 MDMing

The Screen Culture lecture was fun today - we spend half the time watching Outfoxed which is a rather chilling doco about Fox news. I think this would make a good target for my critical review actually as it not only paints a fun picture, but adopts an interesting array of persuasive elements of its own. There was plenty of coverage of both Digital Cinema and then Remediation as well - quite a packed lesson. In thinking afterwards I came up with a nice new possible direction for my presentation on Tuesday as well - should be fun.

Maya Modelling
I tested quickly running render passes out using different light sets which should hopefully give me enough control over things during compositing to match the lighting up.

Then back onto some modelling, first finishing off the knight. I am certainly not fully happy with how the smoothness turned out thus far - but it kinda works. I forgot to play with the 'normal angle' though - back to that another time.

[screengrab of the knight under construction - well finished for right now perhaps]

Next I went back to the snowdome - though I am unsure if it will be possible for me to integrate this realistically - but it could be worth a try. So after just a little more work it looks like this - I am having fun with this one so far. I still need to pose the snowman properly, add a UV label on the front and add all the floaty snow of course.
So far it consists of revolved curve profiles for the base and dome shells into nurbs with 4 simple cylindrical feet. Then I created the blue plastic and followed the online tute for creating MentalRay glass. The snowman is 3 poly spheres and bunches of cylinders to make up the hat and limbs. The eyes are squashed spheres and the mouth a circle lofted around a curve. The snow texture and some simple colour work brought snowy to life. The snowy ground was another squashed poly sphere which I then played with the vertices to make some uneven ground - I may need accentute this step.

[WIP of the snowdome now sporting very happy snowman]

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Day230 Maya Work

Maya Camera Match Work
Continuing the camera match project I created a sphere with a blinn as close to the actual light ball I shot in place on the day I took the images. Then started to work with lights to try and get the digital conditions to match the reality using spots, ambients and light domes.
This process turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be, getting the direct and light dome components close wasnt too hard - there was at least improvement as I tweaked between renders. Getting the reflected lighting from the table I definitely havent mastered, though I have tried a handful of techniques - some with pretty scary render times considering I was just rendering a single ball :-)
Anyhow, I have enough to try some compositing and will test running some passes with coloured lower lighting to simulate things.

[two images of the lighting match WIP first the ref ball and one of many renders.]

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Day229 MDM and Camera Matching

Todays Screen Culture tute covered Digital Cinema and there were plenty of nice movie references about the room - it was good to see more of the group joining in. I am up next week so I will have to get my literature content under control to support the examples I am collecting.
The 3D Foundation class covered a host of topics again, particularly around render layers and compositing in photoshop. On the way we passed ideas like GI and light domes, beauty and other passes, render layers, ambient occlusion, presets in Maya for render passes, alpha channels, selection sets in photoshop, using multiply and screen, un-pre-multiplied rendering and more.


My camera matching in Maya
As part of the 3D course Project 1 submission we need to camera match and composit to place our modelling work into the scene as believably as possible. So after inserting my 'cow' image into Maya and then setting up the scene, camera (including position and angles), gates, resolution and imageplane and just a little tweaking I end up here - which isnt too bad at all:

[WIP image of the camera match of the toy table showing the table plane and reference box to match the DVDs]

And just a bit more effort later I am bringing in models - then I can start to play with lighting and rendering and more:

[WIP composit scene in Maya, now with chess pieces]

Monday, 20 August 2007

Day228 Snowdome

Maya Snowdome Modelling
I did a nice cute little sketch of a snowdome and it looks like a good little project for modelling in Maya. It has some nice materials (plastic, glass, water, snow) and effects (bubbles, label etc).

This is WIP at the very beginning showing the revolved curves into sub-divs. Not sure if I will stay with the subdivs yet - but for now they are great. I have made the glass as 2 layers so far, but I may have to regenerate the geometry from the curves if they need to be linked.

[screenshot of the basic shape in place for the dome, base and feet]

Next I played with some basic materials to check if I was on the right track. This image shows my application of the glass from this tutorial by .KernKraft. ( The way I have made the glass might need some 'normal' work - this render is set to ignore normals and looks rather nice.

[WIP screenshot of a nice empty snowdome]

To finish up for the night I started on the snowman and got this far with some pretty simple poly primatives and basic manipulations of them. I think its going very well and has a nice character that matches the sketch. It still needs a little more posing, sizing and trimming to the base and texturing - all of which should be fun.

[WIP screenshot of the snowman to go in the dome]

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Day227 Maya, Remediation and snippets

Maya Modelling
Got the main of the Knight done and completed the missing head sections. I still dont have the hang of the smoothing though - over most of the figure the polys render beautifully, but in others the faces show clearly. Around the eye and in a few other areas I need to do some fixing before I can mirror and then join too the base.
In some views the eye centre and 2 bands of faces are transparent - mighty odd.
Anyhow this is where we stand another day along:

[render of the WIP for the knight]


Remediation Tutorial Work
I sent quite a bit of time today hunting down content to illustrate my coming tute on Remediation. I think the Sin City example should work out well and building the whole thing in GooglePages is quite fun:


In looking around for things, one comes across all manner of amazing things:

David Attenborough's Lyre Bird Documentary Clip
With docos there can always be surprises - but this is quite amazing, make sure you watch all the way through :-)

Jumanji Movie
I watched the Jumanji ( DVD today, the effects are actually rather impressive considering the film came out in 1995 - that is 12 years ago! The idea (from the book) and realisation in film are top notch here - ekelent.