Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Building Planets


Today I had some fun with some rather literal worldbuilding. Using the free visualisation Space Engine offers an immense variety and some very powerful procedural generation software. Seeing the rendering power of this engine I decided to experiment with Maya, taking some of its possibilities further, as although effective with natural phenomena, I wondered about using it as a springboard for some science fiction models.

After extracting the procedural generation of a particular planet into bump and diffuse maps, I took them into Maya and built a model out of three spheres - the base planet, a cloud layer, and a faux atmosphere with a transparency determined by its facing ratio to the camera.



Space Engine tended to crash when exporting a Mercator projection larger than 4096 x 2048 pixels, but offered a box projection option as an alternative where it would export a file into six smaller images. A box projection allowed for the construction of a more high-definition model and could be useful for close-up shots.

The world I used was rather dead, so using Mudbox I painted on bands of colour that would mimic foliage.


The night map - intended to show signs of civiliseation - was the most bespoke part of the project,.as Space Engine has no way of building this on its own. It had to be created from scratch and was used as an illumination map.


The techniques used to build the shaders and the textures could - with further practice - be built more from scratch, allowing for more custom-designed planets that can be built in the span of an afternoon.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

New Designers: Final Submission

Year 3 Major Project: Four from Mark Stamp on Vimeo.

A bereaved scientist finds love again far from home, but as he comes to connect with this new lease of life the company's plans must force him to let go.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Four: New Designers Approaching



New Designers is but a few days away, but this blog has been quiet so to alleviate that I present a few stills that I have prepared.


  Rendered in full HD quality, and what I have has been tested in a video sequence. Getting everything right and keeping everything clean well however has been nothing short of a monolithic task. This project started a long way, back, as far back as September and to see the outcome now feels exhilarating as the home stretch presents itself.




I also took some time to build a business card. Nothing too flashy, gets the job done rather nicely though.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Four: An Adult With Polish

  With progress done om the environment model I went back to the animation sequences. With the time that I have available I feel I can definitely push out some much cleaner and more lifelike animations. Currently building a library along the way. It won't translate easily into the juvenile - who has a very different style of movement - but the groundwork should speed up the pace.

 A rather diligent cutting of the animation down to four minutes has been a struggle, as there is always that question of what to keep and what to remove. But after some thorough examination, and the sacrificing of a few details here and there which in a number of cases could be supplemented by visual information, the video flows a little more succinctly and fits within that alotted time frame.


Friday, 16 June 2017

Four: Animation and a New Laboratory



I've been working to improve the animations for my project. Feedback has it that where the most improvement is needed in when Four runs or walks. However one of the larger complications has been that in order to smooth out the way hands moved about, the control around the wrist was re-parented so that it moves with the base and not the torso.

This has the added advantage that she can more easily grasp things, and the hand stays in position better when Four is stationary, but it does mean that all the hand positions need readjusting.


  One update that might have slipped is an improvement to the scale of the rooms. Everything was a little large and off-scale so one of the challenges has been to compress a few things so the environment feels less cavernous. This may have a knock on effect in that Four would need to be smaller. Part of what I learned while researching for the project is that grubs can be much larger than the insect they grow into, likely because the fat and material they store up is also what keeps them alive during the energy-intensive metamorphosis project. It might be a simple case of not making the size differences as drastic but at the same time, Four isn't a low-level predator, and animals whose shoulders may reach the waist when on all fours can stretch taller than an adult human when they try standing on their hind legs.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Four: More Prop Progress


  I've spent the last week building a number of props that will be scattered about the laboratory. While they add to render times, they are necessary components to sell the world.


  Also to sell the world are some features to dial back some of the sterility of the locations. Interest elements like pipes and a new feature to the ceiling were installed to make the place feel less eascetic. One of the intentions for a final pass is a layer of dirt and grime, partially achieved by the ambient occlusion from the pipes and tables but more still needs to be added to make the whole thing convincing.


  Also to sell the world: Some experimentation with photogrammetry and more general texture maps to sell a convincing texture for the world being built. This experimentation has so far been interesting, I was surprised at some of the difference it makes to making an object convincing.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Four: Making Clutter and Props


  The last few days the design priority has been in prop-making.to give the biolab a lived-in look.


  There are still some props that need making - binders, dossier folders, perhaps a camera, Alfonse's experiment, post-it notes, perhaps items like used TV dinner trays or cups of soup. Built into the coffee cup is a particle emitter that when rendered would resemble steam. One of the rops I've entertained is an ash tray in David's office; this could be used as a means to convey that David is overworked, having to take cigarette breaks to get though the day. However, the idea of the decontamination unit that connects the lab to the corridor was to imply that the lab needed to be sterile and clean of foreign contaminants. Food might be passable but smoking in his room also feels like a stretch.


Making food to actually go on these trays might be too much. It might be that all I need to do to convey that the scientists have been eating is empty TV trays that have been stained by what was on them while they were eaten.


  Looking at the time period, what might have best suited the lab in terms of lighting fixtures is a tube of flourescent light that circles the room. This differing setup shoudl contrast the room nicely with the corridor outside.