I have been animating for a while. The wings aren’t dynamic in this playblast, and I’m testing how different camera movements work together with the live action footage right now. The animation will need tweaking as the skinning and dynamics become more refined, and as soon as we have working blendshapes I can start taking it those final inches. I’m pretty satisfied with this. I could tweak it for weeks, obviously, but I think this is as far as I can go given the time I have.
I’ve spent today and most of yesterday painting textures. These diffuse maps are made in Mari, a ridiculously capable acquaintance (free 15 day trial from the Foundry: http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/mari/). It’s been fun to get to know some of the quirks of that application, and I am currently very much in love with it. The channels/masks/shaders way of doing things is very different from Photoshop, but not necessarily in a bad way. I find that the more I learn, the more I can emulate what I would do in Photoshop. Working in Mari feels efficient and satisfying, because I can see right away what I’m doing to the model I’m working on.
This is the updated film that we showed at our Milestone 2 presentation yesterday. For this render we added an image-based lighting setup, mostly to make the contents of the scene easier to see. This will be tweaked significantly in the final sequence. All the major modeling parts are basically done, and we’re moving on to rigging (in Björn’s case) and shading/texturing/optimizing (for me and Anneli). I’ll jump on the animation train in a few days.
Since we’ve got most of the models up and running and looking presentable on their own, I took some time today to try and assemble everything and get some initial lighting in the scene, just to get a better idea of how the environment fits together. This is what I came up with after messing around a couple of hours. This is at the earliest possible stage, but I like some things about it, mostly the way the light from the lantern and the yellowish light from above work together with the character. I mainly focused on the character and the foreground, but there’s something about the general distribution of light and dark areas which kind of appeals to me, although of course there shouldn’t be nearly as much absolute black as there is at the moment. Also, light directions and colors need to be a lot more “explained” and more recognizable as sunlight or reflected light or whatever they happen to be. As a sketch, though, I think it looks pretty cool.
We’re starting to finish up the modeling of the first parts of the environment. Here’s a column base I made. We’re decimating our meshes in Zbrush (densely enough that the silhouette differences between highpoly and lowpoly aren’t noticeable), and making high-resolution normal maps for the surface detail. So far, this workflow has been really smooth and straightforward.
Hi! We got some art direction stuff out of the way these past couple of days. First, here’s the character concept we’ll be using. We went back and forth a lot on this one, but in the end I straightened his back a bit from Anneli’s initial picture and added some clothes and hanging cloth to give mass to the silhouette. Other additions are the flat, bat-ear-like horns, the beard-like jaw protrusion, and the staff and lantern, all of which I think will look interesting in the finished character. Personally, I’m very excited about the lantern, since I’ll get to make it glow!
I also spent some time making an art document for the environment; what goes where, what looks like what, what is more important than what and so on. This will hopefully help us later on, and make the asset creation process easier.
The environment will look like the decrepit ruins of an early christian cathedral, with cracked columns and collapsed arches galore. Anneli’s made some modeling pipeline tests, the file structure is laid out and we’re planning to start the actual production tomorrow.
Today we shot some non-CG elements with our friend (and actor, apparently) Micke Eriksson. The filming went great, and we had a lot of fun with it. Anneli took most of the pictures in this post.
It was important that we had a somewhat correct camera placement in relation to the floor in the previz, and we changed it a couple of times before we had something that worked. The lighting setup went smoothly, and I’m convinced it will work splendidly. We’re inserting Micke into an environment, not adding objects to his environment, so we’ve got some leeway with the lighting: as long as it’s not super-obviously wrong, we can work with it.
We were forward looking enough to bring a computer on set and make a quick and dirty comp before we actually started shooting. This made it possible to see immediately if the new material worked or not. We could shoot a lot of film, transfer it, and see if the camera placement was off right away.
We used a pole as a placeholder for the ferryman, and timed the action to fit with the timing in the previz. The pole was eventually made scarier by duct taping a menacing monster face on it.
I shot some mirror ball photos at different exposures and some lighting reference photos for later. Turns out the mirror ball was pretty busted up by mirror ball standards. Combined with the crampedness of the studio, the resulting HDR image was less than good, with smudged specular highlights from the light rig. Still, the image will help us make Micke look believable in the environment, and that’s all it needs to do.
In conclusion, I’m very satisfied with the shoot. We’ve got a lot of good material, and I’m excited to start using it.