Thursday, 30 July 2015

Infiltrate Exploit Spread Final: Now on YouTube

     As a failsafe I decided to upload the animation to YouTube as well as Vimeo in case there were any viewing, quality or graphical complications with the Vimeo video. You never know.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Infiltrate Exploit Spread: Complete Composition

     I think it might be safe to say this animation is finished. Its been a lot of work but I am rather happy with what came out i nthe end. This is now a work I feel I can be confident displaying. It has been a very long and tough road but it was also an interesting road.

Completing this however has gotten me exited for the upcoming year.

Infiltrate Exploit Spread: Generating the Information

    Working on the first title card I realised that the process of creating text I was using was a rather arduous and time-consuming process. Rather than constructing in photoshop and composing in Adobe Flash like before, I looked into the text generation features in Adobe After Effects to see if I could more efficiently produce the effect of text being generated onscreen.
    First I needed a script, which I wrote up on Photoshop so I could also get an idea of what the text could look like when it's displayed on the side of the animation.

    Text appears using a wipe. Like with the title and exit cards, I aimed for a speed of two letters per frame in order to simulate the camera's computer generating the text. I did have to make a choice between two generation ideas: The first idea was line-by-line, where ext would appear in lines, which a lot of modern computers do. Older computers however (and the sort where green text was common) did letter-by-letter generation. Because of the Alien influences and the fact that computers at the time Alien was made generated statistics via the second method, I stuck with that.

    Working on the text bodies I had the idea of keeping the majority lowercase instead of all-capitals, save for perhaps a "critical error" message, which by that point everything in the scene would be malfuctioning.

    When it came to superimposing in After-Effects however, I discovered that the black background accompanies the text when it was be inserted into premiere pro, this felt solved when I used a screen filter for the text layer however in light backgrounds the text proved difficult to see.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Infiltrate Exploit Spread: Title Card Proprosal.

    An afternoon of working and I have a first version of my proprosed title card. The timings are not perfect, in the middle it feels a little sloppy but this can be tweaked to be more evenly paced when the title is sequenced into the rest of the animation.

Infiltrate Exploit Spread: Return to Refinement

     After a long time procrastinating I decided I needed to crack on and load up what I have done so far with my refinement. Currently in the pipeline is the title card as seen below. My current idea is that this scrolling text will appear (A sequence to last 5 seconds), with the grinding industrial sound of the mosquito's interior in the background. Once the text is completely unveiled, the  bulk of it will fade to leave the title words "Infiltrate Exploit Spread" before moving on to the sequence itself.

     This sequence is also helping me re-familiarise myself with Adobe Flash. At the time of this post, most of the sequence is compiled. But there remains all the other text to appear - which thankfully will not be as dense as this. Just some brief information to help viewers understand what is going on.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Yiquanhuabanyiulu: Composition complete

     After a hard few days the composition is complete. While looking for a background I came across photos of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, world famous for its hundreds of vertical pillars of rock which for me really hit home with the vibe of the Treacy city which is that the designs reflect patterns and structures in nature. So a mountain range that is the opposite, resembling an urban environemnt, seemed like a perfect fit.

    Its unlikely the Chinese government would actually build a city i nthe heart of the park, but such is one of the liberating things about fiction. Who knows, this might not be a unique sight if you look though China hard enough. It is a very big and diverse country.

Huabanliuyu: 3D rendering complete

    Well it's almost done. Most of the assets are there, the last thing I'd say it needs is the background which hopefully shouldn't take too long. That however, might also need some work to accomodate for the higher amount of sky visible in the scene compared to the still image. Fortunately I have more confidence in a crisp image thanks to the painting skills I developed over the course of the year.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Huabanyiulu: Midground Progress

    With July 10th looming I got cracking on the other stages of the animation. Today was the turn of the midground. To make things more interesting with the assortment buildings I twisted up the geometry to reflect aspects of Treacy's organic style. Time restraints and an effort to focus the eye mean these companion buildings are pared down in terms of detail compared to the more important structures, which use shaders while others use some simple textures that were recycled from other areas of the model. While working on hiding the opera house I discovered the matte opacity slider for blynn, background and lambert textures, which when tweaked appear to get rid of the ghost geometry. My best guess is that matte opacity "flattens" the  model when light is taken into account but I might be wrong, I will have to see what it does to a model that I can see to understand what it does.

     Perhaps not the best effort but one of the primary things I considered adding was detail to the ground. In previous entries this was some basic contouring. Today I added an ocean shader to what should be the river that flows around the city to make it look at least vaguely like water.

    The forest ground appeared too flat for my liking, so I did some experimentation with bump-mapping to add a little texture. Not the best but I think it does some sort of job at giving the ground some texture to it.

     There is a narrow band of a brown shader between the water and the tree texture. However I later discovered that after I added the lines I had created a definite and even ridge to the hill. In spacing out the geometry and smoothing the hill out, I discovered a rather appealing "roughness" to the shadowline that I think gives the area some depth.

     The last frame is me fully satisfied with what I have and another all-night render has been planned. The initial frames are currently taking a little over 7 minutes each to render, an estimated average of 8.6 frames an hour (although the first hour has produced nine frames and a bit). This may get slightly faster as the focus changes and there are less lights and wireframes to deal with than the last phase.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Huabanliuyu: Opera House Done

     After a couple of days rendering, the opera house layer of the animation is close to completion. There could still be some fade-in fade-out work (which may require some extra frames at the start), I can leave the most render-heavy component (due to the lighting) for later and refine the other parts of the animation. I may also have to consider more frames to create a more gradual transition between the different render sessions.

Huabanliuyu refinement: Lighting the opera house.

    It hs been several days since the last post and I would like to finally present some progress. Above is the result of some tweaking with background buildings to get a more convincing-looking metropolis in the background. The other large change is the deeoplemt of a river groundscape which is at a higher elevation to the buildings. While this may lose the feeling of height from the scene, I had done so because I felt it was extremely important to get a 3D environment as I had cut corners during the project in order to save time.
    I mentioned in a previous post that I had gotten a render time down to 15 minutes per frame for the scene. Because the opera house was the most well-lit of all the buildings in the scene, I decided that I should render it seperately from everything else. However during the ensuing rendering sequence the rendering times climbed to half an hour for each frame, which I felt was unacceptable and eventually warranted further investigation in how i could save time.

    After two days of rendering I looked into streamlining the opera house further. I changed what the lights illuminated so that the computer was not trying to calculate any unneeded illumination. It was then I discovered that at some point during the building of the scene, I had linked the ambient occlusion node to the transparancy factor of the opera house's main platform, which is where I believe a lot of the render time was going. After tweaking the light connections and getting rid of the transparency conection (setting it to zero but I had to tone down the specular rolloff and eccentricity) the 30 minute render times dropped to 10 quite promptly. This dramatically upped the number of frames I could make in an hour from 2 to 6

    I was worried the slow render times would take me off track but now that I have only 60 of 250 frames to go, I might be able to get the opera house part of the sequence rendered by the end of the afternoon.

     First render test using the background shader technique I used for Infiltrate Exploit Spread hit a snag. As can be seen, the buildings appeared to use Maya's background colour (which I changed to sky blue during development) as shadows.

     First test I tried to fix the problem was to set the backgroudn colour back to black, but this only succeeded i ndarkening the surface shadows from sky blue to black. And altering the shadow intensity on the background shader to zero did not work either.

     What did work was checking for Maya to ignore rendering the objects themselves, which when performed leaves shadows and reflections floating on an invisible surface. This proved to by the method that worked.

    Depite being mildly transparent (which only showed up when I became more selective with what was illuminated by lights), a black underlayer such as a black panel or the background maya world, hid the transparency somehow without greatly affecting the brightness of the object.

Closer inspection however, reveals that the new opera house is slightly darker with a slightly less intense illumination brought on by the reduced specular intensity to cmpensate for the now-missing transparency factor.