Saturday, 14 October 2017

YPGTTO: Crowds, Gatherings and More



  With a month to go work has been getting intense in the YPGTTO team as we all pursue the project's completion. One of my leading tasks as of late has been assistance in populating the environments with large populations to make the city appear busy and lively.

I expect the next five or six days are going to keep me extremely busy as the team prepares to get everything out the door. But what we are creating so far is looking rather impressive with the numbers the city in the Overture is being filled with..

Monday, 2 October 2017

Personal: A few Posing Designs


  While I may be going back to an old subject, I've been thinking lately on using my ideas. To build a lifestyle. The one thing I was told on thinking of such a direction was whether or not there was a market. I intend to use these images to look for that market. While dragons are perhaps a rather saturated direction, preliminary research always intrigued me that dragons and armour had almost two constants beyond the "anthro" communities, which unlike my ideas used human torsos and human spines:
  • Armour featured scale patterns, scallops and thorns, reminiscent of Gothic plate amour
  • Reptiles of any kind are frequently draped in all kinds of Mesoamerican motifs and designs
Some of it could be explained in how scales can sometimes (especially on much larger reptiles) be depicted as an armour of its own.But the Mesoamerican connection for any reptiles always confused me as to why this was the principle.



  I believe i could go further with these, I will be doing research in the coming days on whether there is a market for this kind of thing.


  It can't be all boyhood fantasies, one thing I'm aiming for with my research is variety, something to build off of. So it's not just warriors and swords and all that, what other avenues could be explored?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

YPGTTO: Modeling Crowds


   To get some of the crowds, the YPGTTO team developed a plugin for preparing animations for  use in large crowds. In order to do this, each animation cycle was processed into an alembic cache, where it would be brought in and looped. A random generator allowed for the random application of colour and an animation offset was set for each citizen to give a bit of randomness to what stage of movement each of the population were in.

  The most time consuming part, once the caches had been created was to insert the crowds into the scene and have them follow a path, this was slightly tricky due to the meandering nature of the highways which went up and down as well as curving around.


  For a first test however, this turned out well. The crowd feels reasonably organic and there are plenty present to demonstrate the scope of the population within the Kingdom of Sound

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A Modeling Sandbox




  I've been doing a little practice work on a model that I made long ago, I've had plans to revamp it for a while. With time in Mudbox I hope to make the skin considerably more convincing, which right now primarily serves as a base texture to build on. I mostly wanted ot go deeper with my modeling - better skin, better texture, better skinning, a test-bed for ways to create models that are a little more convincing


  The process was similar to the refinement of Four: A 3D model created in Maya transferred over to Mudbox then brought back to Maya as a low-poly model overlaid with a normal map.

It's not all geometry, underneath this structure is a skeleton so when the whole mini-project is finished this creature should be poseable, animatable and something that can be brought in to a more complex scene. At the very least I'm getting more familiar with Mudbox sculpting tools.



Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Showreel 2017


  As time goes by and the summer passes I feel it's about time to unveil a showreel composed of my best work up to the end of 2017. There's still some personal question of where to go but lately I have been drawn to character and creature animation. There remains a soft spot for the modeling side which I plan to brush up on.

  I don't have many examples of facial animation, having only really picked it up in my last couple of projects, but I plan to rectify that alongside a whole heap of ideas. I have my whole life ahead of me, time now to make the best of it.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Seat of Power Progress Stage Two


  Over the past weekend I felt sorely tempted to continue working on the throne room I had been building. Parts of it are coming together but I feel that while colouring has definitely brought out some of the design, there is still more to do.


  One thing I felt particularly inspired to do was ring some real colour to the scene. To demonstrate this was the seat of an empire, the room needed colour. It needed vibrancy so I thought to myself perhaps the ceiling is painted or frescoed.


  Perhaps in the final design, along with some decoration to bring out the pillars the ceiling will be decorated with all manner of paintings and murals. When you look above while walking though the room you should get a significant sense of the history and pride written onto the walls. To celebrate their client's glory, the builders of this room would surely decorate it to be the most beautiful in all the land.



  The whole room's purpose is to frame the grand throne in its very centre. Everything about in view needs to draw the visitor to the grand seat, and display it or whoever sits upon it as the most important thing in the entire room. The banners, the stairs, even the alcove at the back are all designed to focus the eye on the grand seat.

  I'm thinking leading up to the throne would be a large carpet, not as wide as the stairs but covered in pretty embroidered patterns.


  My plan for these banners is they would display the crest of the royal family that sits on the throne on the lower half.


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Seat of Power: Progress Stage One


  The other night and tonight I got a little experimental again after rewatching some of the older episodes of Game of Thrones. I've sort of concluded that designing environments is one of the things that got me hooked into design so I've set this and the Treacy city as long-term brush up projects, something to let off some steam.

  Thinking on it I've always had a soft spot for the grandeur on display in places that are courtly and the elegant, places of power and majesty. If things are getting difficult to realise in reality, there is always the digital world where almost nothing is impossible with the right plan and a few tricks.


With this design in particular I've particularly enjoyed experimenting on how to make a vaulted ceiling, a staple of cathedrals and grand halls throughout Europe where stone slopes elegantly to meet the ceiling to provide something much more fascinating to the eye than a slab of concrete, stone or marble that can themselves be decorated a variety of ways such as painted murals or intricate stone carvings.


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Huabanyouliu: Revising an Old City


As I looked to the future I had a suspicion that I may be looking for a job for a little while, so to keep my skills sharp I went back to an old design, the city I built in my first year with fresh ideas to make it more convincing. Maybe more expansive or more true to something Philip Treacy would design, as while the key buildings are certainly Trracy-like, I feel the rest of the cityscape could do with a more true-to-his-work look.

It's only a blockout so far, but going back to my inspirations I have a few new ideas for the city's layout.



  I went back to my old inspiration, the Zhangjiajie Forest National Park in China where the city was nestled in the pillar-like mountains to look for ideas on layout and construction. Maybe the mountains form part of the city itself. The original city's design involved many platforms, elevated psaces for people to move and interact. The mountains provide a perfect preface for such vertical construction, a foundation as the city reaches out into the air, it's people rooted in the rock but living among the clouds.

  Key structures will be installed, of course - the opera house and some of the platforms will remain as they are symbolic features of the design as it was during my final submission. I might not get to populate it, or expand it as more than an empty city once vibrant, but it's a wonderful exercise to fill empty time.

Zhangjiaje, in particular some rock formations that might work very well in the revised city. (Amusing Planet, 2015)

References


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

YPGTTO: Yellow Runs of Excitement


Finishing the second half of the task of creating a few running animations. The first was based on one created by the other team members who created quite a feminine gait, which I attempted to convey with these animations. The second, where Yellow runs while holding her dress, may have been a little ambitious. Based on how one way to run in a dress is to hold it up so it does not snag or trip you, in hindsight the dress may be a little short for what was intended but at least some variety is available for the crowds.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

YPGTTO: Animating the Audience


Carpe Diem, as the Romans say. I've felt like things are quiet on my end; a bit too quiet to be comfortable so, introducing some more work done for the animation to accompany the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. So fat I have been asked for two jobs. The first, now clear, was to create a series of bows and curtsies that an audience to the king were to perform. The keywords of 'ostentatious' 'slow' and 'ceremony' gave me clear ideas of what I needed: Something elegant, something graceful and dignified. The highest leaders in a baroque realm were being greeted by a grand audience so nothing short of regal was required.


As well as this, the crowds needed some variety. As the Trombone and Tuba districts were a mix of golds and blues, so did the people need to match the palette of their surroundings. Some colours form other districts were also thrown in to the bundles to provide a more diverse crowd, which in the final production would speckle the seas of people with odd colours to add variety to the otherwise monochrome palettes.

With these, time was dedicated to some running. The project already had some neutral runs so I was asked to create some runs for characters that would be excited for one reason or another, and thus running to a particular goal.



The remaining sequence to make is one or two runs for the female character Yellow.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Planet Modeling: Refining Night-Time Lights


  Along with some other plans I returned to my planet. I'd say it is roundabout complete as much of the time was spent on Wednesday polishing the night map. Looking at the planet with the various layers such as mountains and rivers (which from space would be intensely lit up rather than these dark patches they were before).

  Climate, temperature and elevation might also affect where cities are built, and while I could not quite work out how to turn the illumination off when exposed to a directional light, the daytime illumination doesn't appear too glaring.


Although for them ore intense areas there may be some question as to why the valleys around various riverbanks are practically golden.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

YPGTTO: First Tasks on a New Role

In the past couple of weeks I've been brought on to a design team to help with creating an animation sequence for a film that will play alongside a performance of Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, which for development has been abbreviated to YPGTTO and at present is entering the sequence animation phases of construction.

My first task has been simple so far: Six animations for the two commuter types that have been designed to act as members of crowds. Nothing too complex so far but so far the work has been engaging, and more could easily come very soon.
 

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.