Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Making of Intruder on Bride Street

Part 3

Backgrounds & Layouts

This month I'm going to show some of the background and layout imagery throughout my films exterior environment. Populating an exterior scene in 3D can be one of the scariest parts of doing 3D when you start out, but luckily as with everything in CG imagery there are visual tricks & shortcuts. Before you start populating any scene you definitely need to have your Storyboard done, and be happy with all of the shots in your film. Shots are everything! They will help you place a camera in your 3D world, where its looking, what detail it can see. One of the rules I use in 3D is the furthest objects from the camera in any shot will not be 3D objects, instead I'll paint a very detailed 2D image of the object and place it on a simple plane, which may only have 4 or 8 polygons in it, instead of potentially 5,000 to 10,000 polygons depending on the level of detail needed. Think of it like a postcard you have placed at the back of your scene, pointed at the camera. This saves you loads of time as a 3D modeller, and keeps your scene running at a manageable speed. The more polygons you have in a Maya (or any 3D program) scene, the slower it will get. If your scene grinds to a halt as you're trying to work on it, it becomes INFURIATING! So avoid that for sure.

These are some of the buildings at the end of the street in the establishing shot and many other scenes. Each building is a CG painting with a transparent edge from Photoshop (or any other Image Painting program), of course painting something detailed like this is only possible using layering techniques and locking selected areas while you paint. So what you see here is the painted inages placed on 2D planes (like postcards) and pushed to the back of the scene where the street ends.

This is a screenshot of what is going on in Hypershade (The Material/Texture editor). I have saved a version of my paintings for the buildings as .png files. PNGS are pretty good for this kind of thing and they can be saved with transparent edges as a single layer image, unlike jpgs for instance. Also .png files are instantly recognised by Maya if they have transparent edges and it will display them on the 2D planes in the 3D viewport with transparent edges. I have also loaded the same image into the Ambient channel because of the way I am lighting and rendering my film, otherwise the buildings would look too dark in the background. 

So here's what it actually looks like in wireframe mode. As you can see compared to the buildings modelled on either side of the street the polygon count is tiny. As you model more and more of your films environment you will begin to prioritise certain areas more important than others in relation to what the camera can see in detail. 

So here is the entire scene in wireframe mode. As you can see there are many 2D (pink coloured cards) planes with painted buildings on them and they are placed 360 degrees around the central 3D environment where all of the action happens. The giant dome wireframe is the painted sky which I might go into in a later posting. You will come to a point using any 3D software, when you have to start putting certain elements into layers and colour coding them to organise your scene, and be able to turn things on or off visibly as you animate. If you don't its your funeral! (As Homer Simpson says).

So lastly, here's one of the buildings facing the opposite direction from the first one I showed. Its on the other side of the park in the overall screenshot of the entire scene in wireframe. This took a few days to paint, again layering as you paint is so important. This is an historical building in Dublin so I wanted to make sure it was recogniseable but also part of the style of the rest of the buildings in my film. 

Well thanks for stopping by, I'll have more 'making of' posts over the next couple of months but I'm fairly busy animating everything and blogging takes too much time sometimes ha ha :-)

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Making of Intruder on Bride Street

Part 2


Welcome back everyone. This month I'm going to go through some of the props that I have scattered throughout the film. These are all 3D props that I have built over the last 2 years. So when making props for a short film you really want to be sure that you are only creating things that will definitely be in the shot. Otherwise its a bit of a waste of time.... well its a total waste of time! In 3D animation things take time to design, model, then texture paint and even when you get to the texture painting part you want to make sure that you have a very clear idea about how the final colour rendered look will....look. So good references are very important. References can be photos that you took, or found, sketches, doodles, designs from Films that may have influenced your style. 

A lot of 3D artists will start off with sketches and a style that they feel represents their  Film, but after a while they will go straight into the modelling, or use the modelling process as a way of mentally sketching out different approaches (once you've been 3D modelling for 10+ years). It would be great if we could all afford the luxury of time to draw every single thing before its made, but only Big studios like Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, Blue Sky...etc can afford to do that everytime.

Here's a shot of three different cars that appear in the early shots of the film. They are most definitely not the same car model with three different paints jobs on it and slight alterations...No,no,no! Ha ha, you learn how to be economical with your models in 3D, all filmmaking does this kind of thing, not just 3D CGI films. So the red car is in shot the most, therefore I painted that one first and colourzied/altered the other textures for two different colours.

Here is a screen grab of the car model with its UVs unwrapped, a tiresome but very important process in any 3D software. I enjoyed painting textures making this film, but because of the rendered look that I'm going for, that means I have to hand paint every single object's texture in the film! Which is a little crazy for a one man team, but if you want to control how a film looks in a particular style its probably neccessary. I tend to pick a base layer colour, fill the UV areas flat. Then layer on top of that with paint strokes for shading, some dirt, some details, some lighter areas, some different colour strokes. I used the same brush type throughout the Texture painting process. 

Here's the way the UVs image looked before I started painting. So you can see, its quite time consuming, but very satisfying when you put the Textures into materials in Hypershade in Maya. Then apply them to your model.

Here's a closer look at the front of the car....

....and the back of the car. Thats enough of that for now. 

This is a prop from the apartment interior shots in the film. Its a DJs table with Decks and a controller in the middle. Again its the same process, the tricky thing is remembering your painting method for the Texture painting throughout the film, as you will be doing it on average over 2 or 3 years, and you may notice that your latest textures are better than the first ones, that are two years old, then you might lose your mind trying to redo things, reach for the whiskey...who knows?

Here's the Texture for the Black Controller box. You may notice that I am pre shading in this film with the textures, in Hypershade the materials are Ambient, so really the shadows will be rendered from Maya in a different pass, same goes for contour shadows for everything, Highlight pass, Rimlight pass. I'll go more into the render process in a later post. When you want to blend a 2D and 3D look together in a Film this is a process that I found works for me.

These props belong to the Lobby of the Apartment building. You can see how all of this Texture painting begins to take over, my God. 

Here's a typical Dublin parking Meter pay station thingymajig. I think these are in the street scene shots, maybe the first 12 or so. There's a lot of detail there, jayzus, maybe too much ha ha.

And the Texture painting in its unwrapped form. Okay thats enough for this month, I'm starting to feel a bit bombarded by textures myself. I'll have more crazy amounts of tedious detail ready for next month. Thanks for reading.

**Apologies for the text size variations. I've set it to normal in the Blogger Post edit, but it keeps making the text size large or small.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Making of Intruder on Bride Street

Part 1

Character & Setting

Hello everybody, let me introduce you to my new short film. Its called 'Intruder on Bride Street' and its a film about an overly obsessive TV licence Inspector doing the rounds on a street in Dublin, Ireland where I used to live, called you guessed it! Bride Street. I don't want to give too much away storywise, so I'll just say that this particular Inspector bends the rules a little sometimes and ends up in sticky situations. He has no problems spying through peoples windows looking for evidence of Televisions which may not have been licenced. Then one day he picks the wrong home...

So I wanted to post a making of for the film and try to make it a regular thing, maybe once a month or something. This film is mainly a 3D animation with some elements of 2D in there. The overall look I'm going for is an Illustrated colour look, like a moving comic book or something, with nice ink style shadows and contours. There's loads of animation short films online that already utilize a look like this, but its something that I've been playing around with for years in different ways, but I finally set up a method of texturing and rendering that I am happy about. So as its the first part of the making of blog, I'll introduce you to the main character in his rigged form. 

This is a screen grab from Maya of the Inspector character all rigged up. He's got a scanner, backpack, binoculars, notepad and pen as props which he'll use in different scenes. 

This is a render from a scene in the film set at night time. The inspector character had to be rendered out into a lot of passes as I had to also get the reflection of him in the glass as well as the usual colour pass, contour shadow pass, shadow pass etc....I will go into more detail over time about how I organised this.

This is an early render (not final) of the opening scene, an establishing shot. Just to give you an idea of the look of the scene. There's a lot of different render passes to go through before it gets to this point. Each shot in the film might average out at around 20 to 30 passes/layers to be Composited together.

...Okay, so thats it for now, next time I'll go through some of the models in more detail with wireframes, and maybe some info on creating the textures and painting in photoshop. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Updates are here!

Hello there, I've been meaning to update my blog posts for a while, just been so busy lately. I'm currently compiling clips and images of some of my latest works. Stay tuned....

So as promised, here is my new showreel...

....its been a real job trying to get a resolution that fits most of my clips for the showreel, so I settled on 640 x 360, as there's some stuff that was done a while ago that I can't get re-rendered to HD, or even 720 x 576! Anyway I'm also going to put up some new stuff that I worked on a lot in March and April, it was designed for an outdoors projection but, well, its a long story......

Back soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lovely Jubbely

Finally got a short 3D animation that I've been working on for a while in the evenings done. Its just some comedy character animation to the soundtrack of a scene in 'Blazing Saddles', a classic comedy. I just wanted to try something completely different to what I remembered from the film. Its also been entered into the upstart event in Ireland ( It's called Space Ditto.

I also wanted to see if it makes my nephew Sean laugh, I hope it does. I haven't seen him in a while.

Until next time!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Its Christmaaaasssss!!

Well its been and gone so Happy New Year. This month I'm uploading the second motion graphics animation I did for Asavie. I decided to try something different this time as the piece was aimed at people 'on the go' in modern businesses. I referenced a lot of different styles on this project but mainly some Art Deco architecture and some stylized illustrations from 'Hirschfeld's New York', a book which I got for last Christmas. Funny how things work out in a year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow in November! No way!

...Hello humans. I can't believe its snowing here in Dublin in November, that's never happened before, there's tonnes of the stuff. Its feeling very Christmassy. I filmed some of the snow falling at 2.30 am this morning, it looked really cool. Well, its been a very busy few months and I've got more RTE junior idents to post here. I took my time animating the mermaid on this one, trying to get her to twist and swim was difficult, cloth simulators were used to get the hair flowing effectively.

Here's the Halloween one...