Anneli here, with an update on the asset we named “archs”. These pillars are part of the archs that will be seen behind the ferryman. I tried some different approaches on how to make the details, such as the leaves and swirlie patterns on the capitals. In the end what proved to be most efficient was to model one leaf in Maya, use Zbrush for details on the surface and minor tweaks to the shape, and then just make copies and place them around a cylinder using duplicate special. Since two pillars will be visible I’ve modeled one, duplicated it, and just rotated it so they wont look exactly the same. Still have some work left on the capitals and one of the pillars will be more deteriorated than the other.
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.
After alot of discussion between us concerning the design of the character we finally arrived at a decision and I could start with my basemesh. This was yesterday so I’ve put about a half day of sculpting into it also. I still have a couple of more days of sculpting and modeling before I move on to rigging.
I’ve decided to model and retopologize first and then rigg the character instead of rigging our basemesh, this incase something goes wrong or we decide to change some proportions, which would have meant that I wasted alot of time rigging and Ludvig would have animated for no reason. Now we will know that the rigg works and hopefully not waste any time!
After our research and preproduction phase we got together and made a more complete schedule which we will be following starting today.
Finally here is a screengrab of the character in its current state, alot of work to be done!
Today I’ve been busy working out an efficient pipeline for asset creation. We have divided the environment into seven parts, some of which will be placed as cards in Nuke.
We want our scene to look believable compared with our actor, so getting the materials and textures looking realistic will be important. Me and Ludvig have started modelling some pillars. I’ve started on this one, it’s supposed to be in the foreground of the shot, partly visible.
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.
While Anneli and Ludde been working on the environment I have been busy solving some of the problems we will most likely encounter in this project. Most of the problems lie in the rigging department, so I’ve been looking into some Pose space deformers and how we will handle the cloth of the character.
I was concerned at first of using ncloth so instead I tested to use dynamic hair to drive the joints in the cloth pieces, but the result wasn’t that appealing. Instead I tried ncloth in conjunction with a skinbinded mesh and that looked alot better. So for now we are going with that.
Here are some videos, the first one is hair driven and the second one is ncloth with joints.
I’ve also been building up our 3D scene in Nuke so that we can place our actor card and asset cards in the correct places. Here’s a little shot of that.
Finally I’ve been modeling the basemesh for the character, once it’s final and accepted I’ll start rigging it.
I’m in the process of making concepts for our scene. Right now I’m trying out different variations for the character and the environment. Neither of these are final, the plan is to have them ready by Sunday. Me and Ludvig have been adjusting the camera and rearranging the environment in the previs to make the composition better.
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.
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