My focus this week was on shading and texturing Danforth, learning how to style and render hair in Xgen, and modifying our presentation and pitch.
Task #1: Shading and Texturing Danforth
- Summary: This week, I created shaders and textures for Danforth. I painted an influence map for VRay’s Fast SSS2 shader that adjusts the subsurface multiplier, as well as a diffuse map to add rouge and texture to Danforth’s skin. Now that I have the light stage and basic shaders set up, texturing Dyer should be relatively easy.
- Positive Stuff: The team liked my shaders! I still need to add more color to his ears, but they were happy with the subsurface levels. I still need to composite these renders with the Xgen hair tests I’m working on.
- Problems / issues: We learned that Dyer and Danforth weren’t modeled to scale — in fact, they were roughly 20 feet tall each. I scaled Danforth down to about 33%, which means that Anthony will have to make sure the rigs are scalable so the materials behave. Also, I still need to do the eyes.
Task #2: Xgen hair testing
- Summary: I played around in Xgen for the first time today, trying my hand at sculpting hairstyles for Danforth. The shape didn’t come out quite right, but it rendered and looked like hair. I’m counting that as a success!
- Positive Stuff: The hair rendered at only 20 seconds per frame! The style might be wrong, but I gained some familiarity with Xgen and will be working to get it closer to the concept art next week. I will also be shading it and compositing the hair into renders of the skin and textures. This goes for Dyer too – I want to make some nicely rendered busts for our initial presentation.
- Problems / issues: It’s not the right shape, and the team raised some good points in a critique. I’m going to resolve the shaping issues by using base geometry created by Dave as a guide for the hair.
Task #4: Tentacle Rig Research
- Summary: Rigging the shoggoth is going to be one of the hardest technical challenges of this project, so I decided to spend part of this week researching solutions and asking friends for advice. I got in touch with Evan Boucher, a past graduate of the Digital Media BS/MS program who is now working as a Character TD at Dreamworks. Evan’s last project was rigging an octopus in the new Penguins of Madagascar movie, so I thought he would be a great person to contact for advice.
- Positive Stuff: Evan was outstandingly generous, and spent a few hours putting together an example tentacle rig for us to break down. This is how Evan described it:
So there are basic fk controls which just allow you to bend segments down the chain. And working additively on that are ik controls where you can translate things around on a lower level. They follow the FK by default, but have controls on them to allow them to get left behind. so you could do something like, place the Ik control in one spot, and have it “Stuck” there while the rest tries to bend away (There’s also a global follow control that allows all of them to become independent at once.) Then there are some specialty controls to allow you to roll the whole thing, and twist down the axis. And there is a built in sine wave deformer with controls to allow you to control the amplitude and the offset so the wave can travel through the chain. and a stretchy ik control, so that by default it will stretch with the IK controls, but if you turn it off, it will maintain its original length.
- Problems / issues: None so far! Anthony still needs to try his hand at breaking the rig down, but I’ve played around with it and it’s amazingly flexible. Evan said he’d be open to helping us out if we get stuck breaking it down, so I think this could be a great solution for our shoggoth rigging problem
Task #4: Pitch
- Summary: I started rewriting our project pitch, taking into account all the feedback we received last Tuesday. I will be finishing this in the immediate future so the team can practice through the next week!
- Positive Stuff: Because of all the work being done this week (mood boards, character models, refined story, etc.), we will have a ton of visual assets to back us up in our pitch. I’m looking forward to taking some time and piecing it all together!
- Problems / issues: Still need to finish our Elevator pitch revision and redo the Keynote next week.
LIST OF UPCOMING TASKS:
- Rewrite presentation! Practice, practice, practice!
- Refine Danforth’s shaders; shade and texture Dyer
- Research Xgen styling techniques; style characters’ hair
- Create composites of X-gen hair renders and bust renders