2-15-15 Ethan Miller PPJ

What I Said I’d Do

-Narrow shots, begin to recut trailer

-Touchup Airplane Exterior and UV

-Model Plane Interior, UV

What I did

This week I focused primarily on modeling as well as consulting with our Composer to better block out our teaser audio and will be spending the majority of Monday and Tuesday wrapping up the plane interior!

Summary: Due to some file corruption I need to reshape the nosecone of the plane as well as the tail rudder, but otherwise it’s finished. Anthony will have the finished model along with UV’s by Tuesday!

Positives; Plane should be super easy to rig and prepare! Also looks good from a distance and holds up under closer inspection due to additional modeled bolts and panels.

Negatives: Running a little behind due to the holiday weekend and the need to catch up with other classes.

Hours Spent: 7

Airplane Interior

Summary: Plane interior is being touched up focusing on modeling the dashboard first with additional compasses, switches, gauges, and other mechanical addons. Needed to reshape cabin slightly to fit revised exterior, won’t effect shot placement though so Pat’s airplane shots should be good as is.

Positives: Starting to look nice and steam punky while still retaining historical look and feel.

Negatives:  Slightly behind due to holiday weekend, will have updated models for Wednesday.

Hours Spent: 6


Summary: So I really loved the sound and the build of the Prometheus trailer and I’ve been consulting with our composer to find a sound that’s similar while capping it at 30 seconds.

Hours Spent: 2

What I’m doing this week-

-Blocking Out Aerial Shots

-Recutting Teaser

-Begin texturing Plane

-Remodel Lake’s camp after consulting with Dave and Gabe to fit new sequence.

Team Progress Summary: 2/09/2015

winterTrello_week05 winterGantt_week05

At this week’s meeting we realized that we had fallen about a week behind schedule, and had a big discussion to determine our schedule for the end of the sprint. We decided to fall back on one of our two buffer weeks for this term and delay rendering for one more week to polish the characters and environments. Dave, Gabe and Pat spent the week polishing their shots for rendering. Anthony and Josh fixed Dyer’s mustache, Anthony worked on the Shoggoth rig, and Josh prepped everything for rendering and worked on the environment, character shaders and Isaias’s hieroglyphics. Val spent the week texturing and fixing the characters’ clothes, hair, eyebrows and textures, and coming up with ideas to “weather proof” them in the exterior scenes. Ethan modeled the airplane (our first deliverable for Sprint #2!), updated the animatic again, and began working on the environment for our interior plane sequence.

This week we’re going to finish all of our Sprint #1 rendering, The animators will be working on Sprint #2, and Val will be planning out the tasks for the next sprint so she actually knows what’s going on from now on! Woohoo!

2-8-PPJ Valentina Feldman

Goals for this week: 

  1. Character textures DONE.
  2. Mustache & hair DONE, working, attached to rig, renderable.
  3. Implement Isaias’ hieroglyphics.

What got done: Everything! 

What got done:

Dyer and Danforth are both textured with finished and attached hair. We had to have an “Emergency Mustache Meeting” this weekend to figure out a bind solution for Dyer’s mustache that would work with his facial rig. Our original wrap deformer method had failed and skinning had proven difficult, but we eventually got everything working the way it needed to. Styling Dyer’s hair also proved to be an unexpected issue — tufts of his hair would arbitrarily disappear when I adjusted some values in the nHairShape node, so I had to work within these boundaries to style the hair to its final shape.

The mustache is now fully attached to his face (after extensive research into facial hair, including much tugging on Ethan’s beard), and it now deforms with his mouth movements and expressions. This accomplishment was largely thanks to Anthony and Josh at the Emergency Mustache Meeting. The eyebrows have also been redone, so our characters are no longer both Groucho Marx. Dyer’s long wispy brows mimic his flourished hair and mustache and help accentuate his angular facial expressions. Danforth’s brows are rounded and innocent, but still cut a good profile when he’s angry and yelling. Much better!

The textures are still up for critique from the team, but I think they’re in a good place. I wanted Dyer’s clothing to be brighter and warmer than Danforth’s, both to match his complexion (warm vs cool) and to highlight his vibrant, passionate personality. That’s why his textures are more saturated. Danforth, who is the more rational and cool-headed person (excluding his breakdown at the end), has a dark, cool, high-contrast pallate.

I also loosely based Dyer’s clothing on this colorized reference of Antarctic explorers that Dave found. I originally made his jacket more olive-toned, but that clashed with his skin tone so I warmed it up to a more orange-toned khaki. That being said, I’m still not sure that I’m buying Dyer’s outfit is right for Antarctica. I’m going to bring up the idea of a hat and goggles (similar to the two on the right) that Dyer can wear outdoors, and figure out a solution for gloves this week. The benefit is that we can probably get away with not changing the Interior Tower scenes, since they take place indoors. We’d just need to have Danforth drop a bag before he inspects the hieroglyphics on the wall. We can fix any minor continuity changes when we polish the animation and re-render, but I really think it’s important that our character designs fit the environment.

Some renders:

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.47.10 AMScreen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.10.36 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.56.21 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 9.20.11 PM10981222_10153114323225559_9054637456164417653_n

(The last two images were rendered before the clothing was finished, hence the grayness and lack of collar thickness.)

Josh took care of Isaias’s hieroglyphics, tracing them out with the Cintiq. They will be implemented into the scene before we render.

During our meeting this week, I’d like to have a final character review so we can address any final concerns before I move on from these guys and begin working on something else. The most important thing I want to tackle is the weather-proofing of our Character designs, and see how the team feels about a hat for Dyer and some gloves for the two of them. Once that’s done, I’ll be excited to work on something new– the Shoggoth.

Upcoming tasks include:

  1. Revisit Texturing as needed
  2. Help Josh render everything!
  3. Plan Sprint 2
  4. Texture Shoggoth

Hours: 30+? Lost track.

2-9-PPJ Josh Hollander

This week, I was supposed to finalize the Temple Interior environment.  I made a lot of headway on it, but because of other SPROJ work it didn’t quite get completed.  A lot of my time ended up devoted to working with Val and Anthony on our characters, solving weird rigging issues with our hair and polishing their shaders.  I also spent a lot of time converting illustrations from our unofficial team-member Isaias into masks and maps I can use in VRay!

Shading and Texturing (Temple Edition: Part Deux!)


  • Summary: I continued applying and polishing the shaders for our Temple environment, though as I said I didn’t get much done on this front.  My biggest achievement here was finalizing the snow shader on the floor, and unwrapping the remainder of the Temple’s architecture.
  • Positives: I got a lot done, and the bulk of the shaders are more or less finalized now.  I just need to apply Isaias’ hieroglyphics and texture the trenches outside and this scene will be ready to render!
  • Negatives: I wasn’t able to spend as much time on this as I would have liked, but the issues we solved on our characters had to be addressed sooner rather than later.
  • Hours: 8

Shading and Texturing (People Edition: Parte Dos!)

screen_shot_2015-02-05_at_8.52.50_pm screen_shot_2015-02-07_at_2.06.06_am

  • Summary: Val painted texture maps and roughed in the shaders for Danforth this week, and I polished them and made sure that they were optimized.  Danforth should be render-ready now, and Dyer will be by the end of Monday!  Speaking of Dyer, we ran into issues with his hair this week that set us back a bit.  Despite being set to static (ie, non-simulated), it would move and sway and generally slow things down.  It took three of us the better part of a night to sort it out, but he should be stable now!
  • Positives: Danforth’s ready for his grand debut, and Dyer’s hair no longer has a mind of its own.
  • Negatives: Dyer’s shaders still need work, but he can be done by the end of Monday.
  • Hours: 15

Alien Hieroglyphics (and YOU!)


  • Summary: Our unofficial team-member, illustrator Isaias Santillan, has been working hard to draft us artwork and carvings and things to liven up our dead, deserted city.  I spent a lot of time this week tracing his drawings in Photoshop and converting them to maps and masks we can use in VRay.  There’s a lot of detail in his drawing that I wanted to preserve, which is why I chose to trace it by hand.
  • Positives: Isaias is awesome, his drawings are awesome, and we can finally incorporate them into our environment!
  • Negatives: They took much longer than I expected to trace, which is the main reason I didn’t get to finish the Temple’s shaders this week.
  • Hours: 17


  1. Finish Temple environment
  2. Polish Dyer’s shaders
  3. Render render render!

2-02-2015 PPJ Valentina Feldman

Task #1: Charater Shader Setup & Clothes Texturing

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 10.54.52 AM


These images are VERY rough because I’m rebuilding our shaders on the rig instead of using my usual lighting stage. This week I focused on getting all of the shaders and textures up-to-date on the Danforth rig, now that we have clothing. We also changed the light workflow of our project to use linear lighting, so many of the shaders now have incorrect lighting levels (his eyes especially, eek). Before our Wednesday meeting, I’m going to also update the hair and hair shaders on Danforth and get Dyer textured and ready to go.

  • Positive Stuff:  The textures are referencing properly and will probably work on the farm!
  • Problems / issues: Still not done with these characters… The directory gave me way more problems than I anticipated.

Hours: 8

Task #2: Meetings & Project Managementy Things

Same as usual. Shuffled around Trello cards, wrote out task descriptions and time estimations, and met with people individually about different problems. One memorable meeting was our clothing pow-wow, where Anthony worked in marvelous designer while we gave him real-time feedback.

  • Positive Stuff: All went well!
  • Problems / issues: Nada.

Hours: 6

Task #3: Misc (shoggoth eyes, tiling textures, mustache prep)

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.20.53 AM helixDesign

Grouping these tasks together because I collectively spent about 4 hours on them. I created some weird, alien-like tiling masks for Josh’s temple ornamentation, created retina masks for the shoggoth’s eyes (so we can make them glint green like a cat’s when it looks at you), and extracted and UV’d a new mustache for Dyer.

  • Positive Stuff: We now have a finished story for ELC and ILT, a 3-panel animatic in the works, a plan to use marvelous designer for our clothing, a potential solution for Dyer’s face weight problem, and more!
  • Problems / issues: Not done with any of these things. Gotta step it up a notch to get it rendering!

Hours: 4


Before my next PPJ, I’d like to have the following completed:

  1. Character Textures DONE
  2. Mustache & hair DONE
  3. Implement Isaias’s hieroglyphics

Patrick Stelmach PPJ 2/2/15

This week was all about animating. I wanted to get as many interior tower shots fully animated as possible. I was able to get several done, and the rest are well on their way to completion.


Summary: I fully splined all the shots for the interior tower and I’ve animated several with faces. Not all of them are done yet, however they should be finished soon. I have also been tweaking some shots that weren’t in this sequence at the request of other group members.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 10.48.40 AM

Pros: Multiple shots are done with polish and awaiting critique

Cons: Some shots need more work, and one of them doesn’t have an animated face yet.

Hours: 16

Moving forward

1. Continue working on the interior tower shots and getting feedback

Team Progress Summary: 2/02/15



This week was just as successful as ever! We began our progress with a clothing design meeting, during which Anthony used Ethan’s laptop to give us a real time Marvelous Designer demo. Every member of the team was able to give live feedback on the clothing sims while Anthony manned the wheel, and we were able to quickly address clothing problems and get the models to a workable state in no time. Anthony attached them to the character rigs, and now the characters are just about ready for the farm!  (Well, almost. The mustache is still an issue.)

Now that the clothing models are finished, Val’s been texturing them (again) and setting up the texture reference system for the characters. After a lot of troubleshooting with the directory, Val and Josh determined that textures would need to be linked via absolute paths on the digm_anfx. Val finished the Interior Tower stone textures (sans hieroglyphics) for Josh, who applied shaders to the scene. It’s coming together really nicely!

And, as always, the animators keep animating. We have some really nice shots of facial animation that will be included in this week’s animatic. Ethan updated the shot list with our most current information, and this Wednesday we plan on having an intensive animation critique before our first pass of rendering.

Team Progress Summary: 1/26/15



This week, we’ve made some ch-ch-ch-ch-changes to our project management system! Val found this nifty app called “ganttify” that integrates our trello cards with a Gantt chart. We also have a new background image for our Trello board, courtesy of Josh’s first awesome lighting tests!

As you might notice in the screenshot above, our “done” list is missing and there are many many many more cards up there. That’s because Val went a little slaphappy with the project planning and assigned tasks through our second sprint, which is set to end in early March. We now have a much clearer idea of what needs to be accomplished by when in order to stay on track to finish. Yay!

To bring it back to the present, this week saw some great progress all around! Anthony is now finished rigging Dyer (except for his mustache, which is still causing problems), and even completed a clothing test in Marvelous Designer. We’re going to meet on Wednesday to determine what system will work best for our animation, but it’s looking really good so far. Pat finished modeling the shoggoth and will be passing it over to Val for texturing next week, and Josh finished modeling the Interior Tower environment and jumped into lighting. He also set up directory guidelines for the animators and optimized the rendering for our environment.

Val worked on textures for the Interior Tower scene, and Ethan revised the four-panel animatic (now with facial reference). Before we meet with Nick this week, we intend to redo the shot list to bring it up to date. We also met with Isaias, the newest member of our team and a very talented illustrator. We discussed our goals and visual style in great depth, and set up a schedule for completing all the necessary 2D assets.

For more information on our schedule and tasks for this quarter, please refer to our Trello board!


And finally, our rough idea for a senior show poster:


1-26-PPJ Valentina Feldman

Task #1: Project Management Whatnots

(See Team Summary for images)

I spent a lot of time this week updating our gantt chart and trello boards

  • Positive Stuff:  The new gantt site automatically converts every card in our board into a gantt timeline and updates in real time. It’s so convenient! I still think that the gantt chart is redundant with our trello workflow, so I’m really glad there’s an easy way to meet that requirement now without sacrificing my time.
  • Problems / issues: Right now everything is in order, but i’ll need to remember to add a definite start and end date to every trello card I make from here on out.

Hours: 8

Task #2: Meetings (editing, illustration, general) 

In addition to our usual faculty meeting and my one-on-one check up conversations, I met with the team twice this week. First I met with Dave and Ethan to go over editing the new storyboards, and then I met with Ethan, Josh and Isaias to divvy up the 2D illustration work. Meeting with Isaias was awesome, he has a lot of talent and drive and is very excited about being part of the team!

  • Positive Stuff: We now have a schedule for illustration to be delivered, the animatic is up to date with our latest storyboards, and all is well.
  • Problems / issues: None at all! I’m lucky to have such a passionate and hardworking team.

Hours: 6

Task #3: Stone Texturing

I probably spent more time on this than I should have (because I kept revising my work over and over, but this week I started on the textures for the Interior Tower stone. The stone is a repeating tile texture based loosely on granite. Josh said he wanted a hand-painted quality, so I painted the bump maps by hand and set the diffuse to a high-noise rock texture. The result is pretty nice!

  • Positive Stuff: We now have a finished story for ELC and ILT, a 3-panel animatic in the works, a plan to use marvelous designer for our clothing, a potential solution for Dyer’s face weight problem, and more!
  • Problems / issues: Still needs a few more variations, plus green soapstone inlays for the hieroglyphic tiles.

Hours: 4


Before my next PPJ, I’d like to have the following completed:

  1. Redone Shot List
  2. New Clothing Solution
  3. Finished IT Textures
  4. Textured Shoggoth

Team Progress Summary: 1/19/15



The first official week back was a very productive one! We worked together to solve a few of our outstanding issues from break, including the storyboards and shot planning for the Exterior Lake’s Camp and Interior Lake’s Tent scenes. This version allows for more breathing room between highly emotional moments.

The new version of our animatic has three panels, to show our progression from Storyboards to Reference Footage and Animation. We’re focusing on the Interior Tower scene for this sprint, so our animators are working hard to finish blocking and splining all the shots. Anthony has just about solved the issue with Dyer’s face weights and Val finished the mustache, so the facial rigs are almost done too! All in all, we’re well on our way to completing this sprint on time.

Val textured the first pass of clothing for Dyer and Danforth, but we afterwards decided that the models needed higher fidelity modeling and details. Val and Ethan will be testing clothing design in Marvelous Designer this week. Josh has also made progress with the modeling for the Interior Tower scene, redoing the floors and adding additional detail.

This week we’ll also be getting the first round of assets from our new illustrator, Isaias. We’re excited to plug them into our WIP intro motion graphics scene!

For more information on our schedule and tasks for this quarter, please refer to our Trello board!


1-19-15 Valentina Feldman – PPJ

Task #1: Character Texturing v01

This week I finished texturing version one of Danforth’s textures! I rendered out a turntable for review, and next week I’ll continue with it.

  • Positive Stuff:  It’s a good starting point! I like the materials and
  • Problems / issues: Whelp, a bunch of things…
    • We determined after I textured Danforth’s clothes that we’re going to need more detailed models. Next week I’ll be testing them in Marvelous Designer, but then I’ll have to redo the textures. Oh well!
    • I’m noticing some texture warping on his sides; that’ll be fixed in the next version though.
    • Josh is going to help with the fluffy shaders for his hat and the top of the aviator jacket.
    • The specular hits are too hot — probably needs a fresnel node and lower gloss.

Hours: 10

Task #2: Mustache Mania 

I re-made mustache and got it to actually fit on his head! This involved a decent bit of troubleshooting, because (for some reason) the pfx hair stopped updating with my dynamic curve adjustments.  Now Anthony has all the hair elements he needs to finish Dyer’s facial rig. I did the same for Danforth’s hair (now he doesn’t have a massive bald spot).

  • Positive Stuff: It appears to be working so far!
  • Problems / issues: None at the moment!

Hours: 5

Task #3: Various meetings and troubleshooting

This week involved a lot of planning and troubleshooting — for character clothing design, rigging issues, environment design, storyboard revisions, animatic planning, etc. While it wasn’t a task in its own right, it took up a large chunk of time and we reached consensus on a lot of pressing topics.

  • Positive Stuff: We now have a finished story for ELC and ILT, a 3-panel animatic in the works, a plan to use marvelous designer for our clothing, a potential solution for Dyer’s face weight problem, and more!
  • Problems / issues: Nada!

Hours: 4


Before the end of the term, I’d like to have the following completed:

  1. MD jacket test
  2. Textures for Interior Tower
  3. Render Prep

1-12 -15 Valentina Feldman – PPJ

Task #1: Quarter Scheduling

I met with the team earlier this week to discuss how we’re going to tackle this quarter. Now that we’re in full blown production, we need to really be conscious of our due dates and workload, to ensure that the project is completed on time. We decided to split the remaining animation and environment detailing into 4-week sprints, after which we will continuously polish, re-render, and composite everything. Our current sprint ends on February 1st, and includes all animation and environment work for the Interior Tower scenes. After the meetings I spent several hours putting together task lists, schedules, and plans for the next five weeks. Please refer to our trello board for details!

  • Positive Stuff:  We are all comfortable with this schedule — luckily, several members of our team are part-time this quarter and can dedicate a lot of time to the project!
  • Problems / issues: It’s gonna be tough, but we’ll survive.

Hours: 5

Task #2: Hair & Fur Attempts

This task was hampered by the fact that I spent half of the time trying to troubleshoot it on my cell phone during a family Christmas dinner. I imported the hair into Anthony’s rigs, but he ran into some issues because the eyebrow geo-caps didn’t completely match the face mesh. He ended up generating his own eyebrows on duplicated faces from the model. The geo-cap for Dyer’s mustache also mysteriously disappeared, and Danforth’s hair has a large bald spot, so I’ll have to fix those. as well.

  • Positive Stuff: He got some fur working with the rigs eventually! Just have to fix up the visuals and we’re good to go.
  • Problems / issues: Dyer’s hair also ended up slowing the rigs down a lot, but it’s really dense so that makes sense. It probably just needs some proxy geometry so the viewport doesn’t crash.

Hours: 5

Task #2: Clothes Texturing

I began texturing Dave’s new clothing models today, but I wasn’t able to finish them before heading home. They’ll absolutely be done for our Wednesday meeting with Nick!

  • Positive Stuff: They’re starting to look pretty swanky! Plus, I’ll be done with them right when Anthony’s done rigging the faces.
  • Problems / issues: The UVs are a little compressed, but that’s not hard to fix at all. 🙂

Hours: 6


Before the end of the term, I’d like to have the following completed:

  1. Finished Clothing (to anthony)
  2. Fix hair / mustache (to anthony)
  3. sketch silhouettes for city (to josh)

Team Progress Summary: 1/12/15


Click to view Trello boards!

Click to view Trello boards!

Over the break, we were moderately successful — we were able to get a decent amount of work done, but not to the extent that we predicted. That being said, we’re still on track to finish on time, even leaving room to re-render!  We agreed on a new schedule for this term that breaks our 3 acts into 4-week animation sprints. By the end of Sprint 1 (Week 04 of this term), we will have completed all polished animation of the Interior Tower sequence (31 shots), sans shoggoth. We plan to have a finished animation by the first week of next quarter!

The first thing we we did over break was go through all the faculty feedback, then determine what we needed to revisit in our story, We tweaked the script and storyboards, addressed emotional points of the story that required more screen time, and re-edited our animatic.

Dave was able to model the clothes for Dyer and Danforth, and Val began painting their textures. Anthony nearly completed the face rigging for Danforth, which the animators approved of. Dyer’s face weights didn’t mirror correctly and caused several errors, so that’s going to take a bit longer. Anthony also attached VRayFur eyebrows to both characters, and they respond fluidly with the rigs.

Most of the shots were blocked in by the animators, and we are now switching to a 3D animatic. This will be updated weekly by Ethan to show constant animation and edit progress throughout the term. Pat worked on the Shoggoth model, and Josh optimized the city scatter in XGen (now it scatters different buildings of varying sizes, instead of just scaling cubes). Josh also talked to Jay and coordinated mounting digm_anfx on the render farm, finally solving most of our render issues (hopefully!!!).

Through Ethan’s connections, we also recruited an illustrator named Isaias, who will be helping with the intro motion graphics segment, ancient symbols, building designs, and various illustrations for this project. Ethan will be meeting with him on Monday to determine the scope of his involvement.

For more information on our schedule and tasks for this quarter, please refer to our Trello board!


Week 09: Team Progress Summary



This week was another successful one!

It’s always reassuring to see more and more cards move over to the “done” stack! This week we made significant progress with our animation blocking, finished UVing the characters’ clothing models, met with Professor Dave Mauriello to figure out Shoggoth topology, prototypted a shape-shifting Shoggoth rig, finished a new cut of our Animatic, added extra functionality in the hands and eyes to Danforth’s rig, created hairstyles for our characters with VRayFur and XGen, and figured out what deliverables will be included in our end-of-term presentation.  Phew!

For our weekly check-in on Tuesday, Pat will be talking about his Shoggoth research and explaining the innovative nature of our shape-shifting jelly monster. By next week, we plan to show finished characters (with hair, clothes and textures), have a new animatic cut (with help from Film faculty Brian Baker), finish the characters’ body rigs, show more animation progress, and have an update on the city environment.

11-24-PPJ Valentina Feldman

Task #1: Danforth: Hair & Fur

danforthFront danforthSide

My major deliverable this week was to create all the hair and fur systems for Dyer and Danforth. I created hair cap geometry for the characters’ hair, eyebrows, hat and upper lip, then ended up using a few different methods for hair generation,.

For Danforth’s eyebrows, hair and furry hat, I used VRay fur. VRay fur renders very quickly and is easy to work with, but does not feature any artisan grooming tools and relies on ramps for styling. VRay fur also can’t be simulated, so it’s best used for very short hair that can be animated with noise. I used a VrayHairMtl3 shader for the hair and eyebrows and a VRayFastSSS2 shader for the hat fluff.

  • Positive Stuff:  For a first pass, I’m pretty happy with this! The eyes can use a bit more scruffiness and his sideburns need a more natural taper, but those are easy fixes.
  • Problems / issues: Still not happy with the hat fluff. For some reason, even when I crank up the sides on the VRay fur, the hat fluff still seems triangulated when close up. It works nicely for ranged shots, though. We’re also looking to see if the SSS shader can be substituted with a hair material with very high transmission to save on render times, but we’ve been having some trouble with the anisotropic specularity.

Hours: 8

Task #2: Dyer: Hair (xgen & nHair)
dyerside dyerfront

Dyer’s hair setup was a bit more complicated than Danforth’s, largely due to his very stylized, swooshy hair. His eyebrows are VRay fur just like Danforth’s, albeit a bit less polished as I spent less time on them. They’ll be cleaned up in the next draft.

Dyer’s hair and mutache were created in xgen, a plug-in which I’ve found to be simultaneously rewarding and infuriating to work with. Xgen is buggy as hell and crashed upwards of 20 times while I was trying to groom the hair primitives, but the grooming tools are soooo easy to work with. I eventually got a result I was happy with, exported the xgen primitives as curves in a .mel file, and used the curves to drive an nHair system. I haven’t played at all with the simulation settings; I was just concerned with creating a static hairdo that I was happy with for this week.

  • Positive Stuff: I think Dyer’s hair swoop came out nicely, for a first try! I still need to run these images past the team for critique, but I think we’re off to a good start with these.
  • Problems / issues: I need to clean up the hair systems a bit more (specifically the eyebrows) and rework the textures so they’re a bit higher fidelity. I also need to look into eyelashes and methods of blending the hair follicles into the scalp better.Hours: 10


  1. Refine hair based on critiques
  2. Texture clothing from Dave
  3. Render character turntables! (Major end-of-term deliverable!)

Week 8: Team Progress Summary


Click to view Trello board!

Click to view Trello board!

Glad to report that we had another very successful week! This week we learned that our rig referencing solution works quite well (we were able to update the rigs with modified joints and skin weights after animation was already in progress), we got some killer audio performances from Dean, Connor and Andrew (newly casted as Professor Lake), and our shot list has been updated to record all of our progress and make prioritizing shots much easier. Anthony has been working hard to fix up the body rigs before moving into facial rigging, and we now have an awesome hair solution (courtesy of Jeremy Fernsler) that allows us to use xgen’s sculpting tools with a VRay-compatible simulation system. Fun fun fun!

Next week you can count on finished hair styles, textured clothing, more animation progress, a new animatic cut, and an outline of what we’ll be presenting at our end of fall presentation on December 2nd. Stay tuned!

11-17-PPJ Patrick Stelmach

This week, we started blocking in our animations. We also set up a timeline to make sure that all of our animations are finished on time.


Summary: Spent a few more hours fixing the tentacle and working on the topology of the body. I am meeting up with Dave Mariello this week to go over exactly what we need the topology to be so the shoggoth can do what it needs to.


Pros: Made some progress with the topology and I’m pretty happy with it.

Cons: Since I haven’t met with the teacher yet, I can’t move forward with this.

Hours: 2


Summary: I was able to push this animation a lot farther this week, and I was able to block in 4 shots and set up my next 3. We also created a timeline for ourselves that took the 21 shots we need to do and split it up into manageable chunks for the next few weeks.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.57.02 AM

Pros: Both rigs are fantastic and working smoothly, and the fact that everything is referenced allows all the animations to update readily.

Cons: When danforth was updated once, his head and elbows all broke, so I needed to spend an hour getting them back. These delays were expected, however, and aren’t really a major issue.

Hours: 10

Moving forward

1. Model any props as needed

2. Continue Animating

3. Get the shoggoth set up

11-17-PPJ Valentina Feldman

Task #1: Shot list 

Click to view full spreadsheet!

Click to view full spreadsheet!

I spent most of my time early this week focusing on our shot list, and it is now finished! We have a total of 75 shots in our animation, 65 of which require character animation. This is a fairly huge task, of course, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to get it done. Gabe, Dave and Pat (our 3 character animators) divided the shots up between them, and we intend to be finished with blocking by the end of the term.

The spreadsheet I created is color-coded by scene location and contains fields for shot ID, shot type, storyboard thumbnail, camera movement, description, dialogue, shot owner, priority, notes, lip sync, character animation, and duration. The duration field will be updated with each new iteration of the animatic to ensure that we stay on-target and to inform shot priority.

  • Positive Stuff:  Having the state of our production down in one place will make it much, much easier to prioritize and assign tasks in the future.
  • Problems / issues: I still need a time-tracking solution and a way to track progress on each shot. For now, Gabe is having the animators write out a schedule for themselves to ensure that the blocking is done this quarter, but we’ll probably need a more robust solution down the line.

Hours: 10

Task #2: Hair Workflow Testing

Summary: I spent a few hours playing around with hair this week after Jeremy Fernsler covered his process in class on Thursday. Although my hair tests were very ugly (hence no screenshots), I loooove this workflow.

  • Positive Stuff: We now know how we’re doing hair! This week I’ll be working on the hair for both Dyer and Danforth. I’m going to sculpt the hair in xgen, export the curves as a .mel file, use them to drive nHair, and render the hair in V-Ray.
  • Problems / issues: Render times are going to spike with the hair included, but I’m very happy that we found a way to use xgen’s grooming tools with vray so I’m okay with the hit.

Hours: 3


  1. Create hair for D&D
  2. Texture clothing from Dave
  3. Render character turntables! (possibly push to next week)
  4. Create outline of end fall presentation

Week 7: Team Progress Summary



This was a successful week! We’ve officially rolled over into the animation stage, have worked out the kinks with camera layout and scene setup, and are on track with our characters, animatic and animation-necessary assets.

We met this week to go over layout concerns in person, tweaking our environments and designs to make everything ready for animation. We set up our file hierarchy and are populating our shots, referencing in environments and testing connections. We ran into some unforseen problems with the render farm this week — according to the farm, Maya (linux) is failing to load in both 2014 and 2015. I emailed Jeremy about this issue and hopefully we’ll get some feedback soon. The farm is going to be our biggest hurdle for completing this project on schedule, so at least it’s good that we figured out the problems this early.

This coming week, we will be in full animation mode. Our intended deliverables for next week include pop-through animation, a new animatic cut (with the new storyboards and placeholder audio), painted rig weights, hair and clothing tests, and some solution for the farm.

11-9-PPJ Valentina Feldman

Task #1: Renderfarm Troubleshooting 

Summary: We ran into an unforseen problem this week with the render farm. At first I started by trying to get Josh’s symlinks running through the farm, but it quickly became apparent that nothing at all was rendering and that Maya was failing to even initiate on the farm machines. Apparently it hasn’t been working at all for the past few weeks (according to Ross and Ian of www.coffeebotonline.com/), so I emailed Jeremy and asked for his help. He’ll be looking into it, as this is something that is imperative to the success of our project. I will also be bringing these concerns up at our Tuesday meeting with Michael.

  • Positive Stuff: Well, at least we found out the problem now…
  • Problems / issues: Everything :(Hours: 3

Task #2: Mocap Reference Recording

Summary: I worked with Ethan and Connor today to record video reference of Ethan’s motion capture session. I was able to recreate the camera angles in our storyboards and get great reference for both facial and body expressions.

  • Positive Stuff:  These shots will definitely help the animators lock into Connor’s performance. Ideally it would have been cool to use the virtual camera to record the mocap with the same camera angles, but the animators have expressed that they’d rather work with video anyway so this works well.
  • Problems / issues: It took much longer than I had expected — I wanted to have my shot list done by today, but I got tied up with the recording Ethan. Luckily the shot list is well underway and I forsee no problems getting it done tomorrow during my lunch break at work.

Hours: 7

Task #3: Shot List

Summary: I began to set up a master shot list to match our storyboards

  • Positive Stuff:  These shots will definitely help the animators lock into Connor’s performance. Ideally it would have been cool to use the virtual camera to record the mocap with the same camera angles, but the animators have expressed that they’d rather work with video anyway so this works well.
  • Problems / issues: I didn’t have as much time to work on this than I thought I would, due to the mocap reference taking so long. It will be done tomorrow though! I need the finished animatic to finish populating the Shot Durations anyway, so this wasn’t too much of a setback.

Hours: 2


  1. Hair (going over in Jeremy’s class!)
  2. Get Renderfarm Working (?)
  3. Texture Dave’s clothes!

Week 6: Team Progress Summary

gantt_week06 trello_week06

This was a moderately successful week, albeit a bit slower than the past few. We did not get around to animation like we initially intended, instead spending more time refining our storyboards and working on assets. Our characters are textured, our layout scenes are beginning to be populated with cameras, and we’ve decided on an asset directory that should accommodate all our production needs.  We collectively agree that the extra time spent on preparing for animation will put us in a better place. We have a solid project foundation set up, and the extra time meant that Anthony could further refine his proxy rigs to give the animators the most fluid experience possible.

We will begin animation tomorrow! The next week will also include hair and clothing tests, a newly completed animatic, and more fun rig additions. We will also determine a solution for referencing in assets and rigs to scenes in a way that the render farm can work with.

Sidenote: I’m considering reworking our Gantt chart. In its current form, it takes way too much of my time to update on a weekly basis, and I’d rather use that time working on production. We’ve adopted a pseudo-agile workflow for our early production phases, and because we recently doubled back on our script we have a few portions of our Gantt chart that are currently outdated. I’ll be remedying that in the next week (possibly by simplifying the Gantt chart down into quarterly chunks). I will also be posting screenshots from our Trello boards from now on.

PPJ 11/2/14 Valentina Feldman

I spent most of my time this week working on the textures shaders for Dyer and Danforth. The majority of the work into render testing the eye shaders, as they need to be incredibly detailed in order to convey the necessary emotion in our script. I also brought up asset management and workflow with Nick at our weekly meeting, and he worked us through a few options for

Task #1: Textures / Shaders for Dyer & Danforth

danforthfront sdanforthsides dyerfront sdyerside

Summary: This week I textured Dyer and Danforth. I spent most of my time working on their eyes, trying to find a shading solution that gave them that lifelike sparkle. I started off with a very helpful tutorial but ended up making a few modifications — for example, I added an extra layer of geometry for the cornea and modified the displacements on the iris geo to add some depth during close-ups. I’m almost worried that the eyes are TOO lifelike, but I’m sure that any uncanniness will be resolved when I work on hair this week.

I started with VRaySSS2 shaders for their skin, then painted 3 different skin maps for each character: overall color, scatter radius and subsurface color. The eyes also have levels of subsurface scattering, which I think helps to soften them a lot. I painted a layer of veins in the sclera that can be animated to create a bloodshot eyes effect, which I’m sure will prove useful for many of our shots.

  • Positive Stuff: I especially like how Danforth’s textures came out.!
  • Problems / issues: Dyer isn’t bad, but he lacks the freckles, imperfections and level of detail that Danforth has. I feel as though Dyer’s current state lacks a lot of his personality, and I’m hoping that will be fixed once I give him his very distinctive hair and mustache. I talked to Dave about this, and he agreed that we shouldn’t create imperfections without having a story behind them. I’ll revisit these characters next week while working on the hair.

Hours: 10

Task #2: Asset Management / Directory Meeting


Summary: At this week’s meeting, Nick ran us through a project directory template that he has used in the past in asset-heavy productions. I took notes and consulted a few other people (including Jeremy and Team Coffebot), and tomorrow I’ll be setting up our project folders so we can get rolling with shot placement and animation.

  • Positive Stuff:  This format allows for a very clean, detailed and extensive project that has intelligent locations for all assets. This includes places for personal folders, technical research, reference, and both 3D and 2D production assets.
  • Problems / issues: One of the main things we have to troubleshoot for this project is how to store and update rigs and textures without breaking the references within our Maya files. Because I was under the impression that the render farm can’t handle non-local referencing, we came up with a few options for redirecting Qube to texture locations outside of the default project window. After talking to Ross and Ian, however, I learned that we can link our textures to external folders so long as they exist on the network. This will require some testing on the farm, which I will be working on this week. I will also message Ross this week and see if he can give me a breakdown of their renderfarm pipeline.

Hours: 2


  1. Hair testing!
  2. General pipeline stuff (directory creation, farm testing, etc)
  3. Helping with camera layout

Week 5: Team Progress Summary

This week was very successful overall! We are officially in a place where we can begin animating this week. We went through our script line-by-line, ironed out all the problems, and finally came to a group consensus. We are very happy with our final script, and are almost done with the new storyboards!

This week we also finished up the rest of layout, created a milestones list of everything we wish to present at our end-of-fall presentation, and tested out nCloth simulation techniques for our characters’ clothing. We checked a few models off the asset list (Elder thing, Lake’s notebook, and Lake’s backpack). Finally, Anthony finished up the character rigs with proxy geometry, so the animators can begin blocking in shots for the popthrough. There is still a bit more work to be done before he moves onto facial rigging, but this will allow for us to move forward with full body functionality and reference in any updates.

Looking forward to next weeks post! We’re all excited to finally begin animation.

10-26-PPJ Valentina Feldman

As others in my team have already posted, the major milestone of this week was settling on a story that we were all completely happy with. In addition to the “mother of all script meetings,” I worked on Project management-y things, shading and textures for our characters, and storyboard thumbnails.

Task #1: Project management-y things 


Summary: At our last meeting, Nick expressed an interest in some sort of updated milestone tracking system through the end of this term.This coupled with my observation that our Kanban cards weren’t being significantly utilized prompted me to update our Trello board. I have created cards for every milestone we want to finish by the end of this term, and lists for every week / deadline remaining until our end of Fall presentation. The free space around weeks 8 and 9 will serve as a buffer for everybody to complete their tasks. I also created a task list with our total milestones for this term.

In addition to Trello stuff, I also worked on researching asset management techniques. This will be a major topic to cover at this Wednesday’s weekly, since Animation will be beginning this week and layout is dependant on a solid file hierarchy. On one hand, having a large project will guarantee that every scene is referencing the same files, without needing to duplicate updates into separate sub-projects or break the local references by linking outside a project. I want to minimize the chances of human error, and this seems like the best way to ensure that everything is always consistent.

On the other hand, having smaller sub-projects would allow for a much easier time rendering locally, without needing to drag an enormous project folder to the desktop every time we want to use a machine. I’m worried that storing everything in one place will cause problems due to the sheer volume of data sitting in one project folder. Does the render farm try to load the entire project folder, or only the files referenced within a scene?
  • Positive Stuff: I think this new Trello paradigm will allow for everybody to simultaneously get a clear view of what they need to work on (and how long they have left to do it), while still having the freedom to budget their time themselves. As for asset management, that remains to be determined on Wednesday.
  • Problems / issues: I kind of wish I had integrated this earlier — at this point in the process, spending time on project management issues almost seems like a waste. I feel like this solution will be an effective one to settle on, though. Nick suggested another Gantt chart, but I honestly don’t like how long it takes me to update my existing one, and Trello’s ease of use is much more appealing.

    Hours: 4

Task #3: The Mother of All Script Meetings & Storyboard Thumbnailing

Summary: As others have already noted, this week we had a 3.5-hour meeting during which we went through our script line-by-line and came to a final agreement. Although we are still awaiting feedback from our screenwriting contact, I’d like to stress that FINAL agreement more or less means final at this point. We took all of his advice and revisited the areas that he had problems with, so unless he has some glaring issues with this new version we will be pushing forward with animation.

I also met with Gabe and Dave this week and helped a bit with storyboard thumbnailing. Or, well, I helped with acting out the shots and suggesting a few cinematography things. They actually did the thumbnailing part.

  • Problems / issues: Better late than never, right? 😀

    Hours: 5

Task #4: Shading & Texturing Characters

Summary: Continued working on Dyer and Danforth’s textures this week. They aren’t completely finished at this point, but because the deadlines for our weekly deliverables are on Wednesday I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it.

  • Positive Stuff:  On track to finish this week!
  • Problems / issues: This task has been a valuable exercise in personal scope management. I had originally intended on banging this out in a week, but three weeks later I’m still coming back to it and leaving it partially unfinished. These textures WILL be done by our weekly meeting this week, come hell or high water.

    Hours: 4


  1. Finish D&D’s textures and render out turntables
  2. Help add value to storyboards
  3. Set up project hierarchy and asset management system
  4. Place cameras in scenes; label accordingly in preperation for animation

Week 4: Team Progress Summary

Click to view Google Sheets file

Story, story, story!!! This week was whirlwind of script-edits, with ideas flying this way and that. We came up with four new script versions this week, and we are meeting tomorrow (Monday) night to go through our lines one by one and finally nail down our dialogue. Our scenes make sense, we (mostly) agree on the character direction, and now it’s just a matter of running through it all with a fine-tooth comb and picking out the imperfections.

Script aside, we stayed fairly close to schedule this week, with a few minor set-backs. I was unable to finish the character textures, though I will before our lab meeting on Wednesday. I finished up the website, however, and set up a new task management paradigm that we will be switching to at our Wednesday meeting.  Anthony needs only a little longer to finish the character rigs, which are working beautifully so far. The last of our layout scenes have been finished up and are now waiting for review. Anthony met with Dave Mauriello and gleaned some valuable insights about Shoggoth modeling, so Pat has begun work on Shoggy2.0. Gabe’s finishing up the Elder Thing, and I have high hopes that we will be animating by next week.


10-19-PPJ Valentina Feldman

This week my focus was on story, branding, and production management. I wrote a new version of our script, updated and redesigned our website, and implemented a new project management paradigm into our workflow.  

Task #1: Trello / Kanban Board setup 


  • Summary: On Wednesday night I had a WONDERFUL conversation with Britt Gilbert as we were standing out in the rain waiting to meet up with people. We swapped project management tips and tricks — I told her about Slack (which has been a lifesaver on this project), and she gave me a quick rundown on Agile. We chatted for a bit about how Agile can transfer over to an animation pipeline (which is very different than gaming or dev work), and she suggested I look into a Kanban board to track my teams’ daily progress. I love it already.
  • Positive Stuff: Trello integrates my boards in directly with Slack, so whenever I assign tasks or move boards everybody in my team gets a notification. This was annoying today, since I created like 20 tasks at once, but it will likely prove useful in the future. I loooove automated “bother my team” functions!
  • Problems / issues: Still need to get everybody on board and using it!

Hours: 3

Task #2: Website Update


so meta

so meta

  • Summary: Our website is updated and it looks pretty! This site will mostly function as a home for our PPJs, but it will also inform anybody stumbling along via Google about our rationale, research, and overarching themes.
  • Positive Stuff:  Everyone seems to like it!
  • Problems / issues: None so far.

Hours: 5

Task #3: Story 

Slapdash adherence to naming conventions aside, this is a pretty good overview of where we're at

Slapdash adherence to naming conventions aside, this is a pretty good overview of where we’re at

  • Summary: This week was a flurry of script re-writing. Gabe wrote a script, then Ethan edited it, then Dave edited it, and then I edited it. We’re meeting tomorrow to go through the story line by line and solidify something by the end of the night. We’re close.
  • Positive Stuff: I honestly felt like our script got stronger and stronger as everybody continued editing and patching things up. I tried my best to fill the plot holes I noticed (there were a few), and we’ll go over everything else at the meeting.
  • Problems / issues: We’re having a difficult time striking a balance with our Characters. They need to speak naturally, but they need to come off as educated scientists. They need to react emotionally to what they find, but they need to stay calm enough to advance the plot.

Hours: 6

(but for real this time! hopefully the story will stand still now…) 

  1. Refine Danforth’s shaders; shade and texture Dyer
  2. Research Xgen styling techniques; style characters’ hair
  3. Create composites of X-gen hair renders and bust renders

Week 3: Team Progress Summary

Click to view Google Sheets file

Once again, Story was the primary focus of this week. Gabe and Ethan met with a member of the Screenwriting faculty to talk over our script, and he raised several great points about how to fully flesh out our characters’ motivations. This was a problem we had struggled with since the beginning, so we took his advice and overhauled several of our scenes.

Most notably, we’ve changed the character Lake to be Dyer’s nephew, adding a layer of emotional value to his motivation. This also changed the primary character conflict — Dyer no longer believes that Lake killed his own men, and instead is determined to search for him in the mountains to find his nephew and learn about what happened in his camp. He is driven by guilt that he wasn’t there to protect his family, and a genuine concern for his well being. Danforth continuously repeats that they shouldn’t be going after him, and should be fleeing in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. This results in an ironic twist when Danforth goes insane, since it was ultimately Dyer’s fault for pushing him to venture into the mountains with him.

Reworking the script does mean that we need to backtrack on a few levels (bringing the voice actors back in, for example), but we believe it was worth it to address our story concerns early. We will be pausing progress on the shot list, storyboards and animatic while we refine our story further. That being said, several of our scenes were left untouched, and since layout has been completed we will be pushing forward with production in the meantime. We still intend to start animating as soon as the rigs are complete.

Apart from the story changes, we worked on our presentation, continued modeling assets, completed our first round of layout, continued with look development, and continued rigging. We hope to be animating within the next two weeks, pending faculty approval.

10-12-PPJ Valentina Feldman

This week I spent most of my time and energy polishing our Presentation and migrating our website over to a more flexible CMS. I had originally intended on finishing our characters’ textures and hair tests by now, but the presentation took much longer than I had anticipated so I will be finishing that early next week. There were also quite a few story meetings scheduled for this week (5 total; I went to 3 of them), and participating in them took up a lot of time, too. Thankfully, our direction is now strong and our story makes much more sense.

Task #1: Presentation 

PDF Link:

  • Summary: I cleaned up the presentation based on feedback from our Senior Project class and Nick. The slides now go into greater detail about the major beats of our story, contain animated transitions, and are much cleaner overall.
  • Positive Stuff: It looks great! I’m very happy with how our presentation turned out. Here’s to hoping everything goes smoothly on Tuesday!
  • Problems / issues: Not so much an issue, but we decided to take out the opening scene of our animatic and instead add a slide better introducing ourselves.

Hours: 8

Task #2: Website Migration

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 1.50.51 AM

  • Summary: Frustrated with the aesthetic limitations of wordpress.com blogs, I spent a few hours this week migrating our content over to a wordpress.org site. Before our Tuesday pitch, the site will be finished.
  • Positive Stuff: All of our posts transferred without a problem! WordPress.org is the open-source alternative to WordPress.com, and offers a much greater degree of flexibility with themes, plugins, and CSS editing. Now that the site is located on a database in my name, I’ll be able to clean everything up and establish some uniform branding for this project.
  • Problems / issues: For the time being, the wordpress.org site is located at valfx.net/mountainsofmadness. As you can see, it doesn’t look so good at the moment – it’s using the default theme, a few of our images broke, and it’s overall very amateur looking. I will be addressing all of these issues before our Tuesday pitch so we have an attractive website to direct the faculty to afterwards.

Hours: 2

Task #3: Story Meetings 

  • Summary: After Gabe and Ethan met with a screenwriting professor to dish out problems with our script, we met several times throughout the week to figure out exactly what we were doing. As a group, we decided to make a few minor character changes to establish a more concrete motivation for Dyer. For example, we changed the character of Lake to be Dyer’s nephew, solving the question of why Dyer and Danforth would risk their lives to go looking for him when he goes missing. Dyer no longer believes that Lake murdered his crew, and his motivation is now to bring him back and find answers.
  • Positive Stuff: Our characters and story make much more sense, and thankfully these edits are minor enough that we’ll be able to keep most of our storyboards. A few of our scenes have stayed completely static, too, and since we have completed Layout we will proceed forward with animation while rewriting the scenes that need to be revised.
  • Problems / issues: By backtracking like this, we’ve set ourselves back on a few fronts. We will have to bring our voice actors back in to re-record our audio, redo the animatic, and redraw several storyboards. However, script rewrites have always been part of the plan, and our schedule is flexible enough to accomodate these setbacks without too much trouble.

Hours: 6


  1. Update website before pitch
  2. Refine Danforth’s shaders; shade and texture Dyer
  3. Research Xgen styling techniques; style characters’ hair
  4. Create composites of X-gen hair renders and bust renders

10-05-PPJ Valentina Feldman

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • 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.

Hours: 3

Task #2: Xgen hair testing

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • 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.

Hours: 4

Task #4: Tentacle Rig Research emb_tentacle_example

  • 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

Hours: 2

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.

Hours: 2


  1. Rewrite presentation! Practice, practice, practice!
  2. Refine Danforth’s shaders; shade and texture Dyer
  3. Research Xgen styling techniques; style characters’ hair
  4. Create composites of X-gen hair renders and bust renders

Week 2: Team Progress Summary

Week 02 Gantt Chart. Red indicates work done this week, yellow indicates work for next week. Click to view spreadsheet!

Week 02 Gantt Chart. Red indicates work done this week, yellow indicates work for next week. Click to view spreadsheet!

After a successful first week and draft pitch, we determined that our project pitch required some finesse. The main beats needed to be communicated to the faculty, and thus needed to be hammered out as a team. Because of this, one of our key topics this week was Story. Gabe brought up some concerns with the script last week, and this week the team met twice to adjust the pacing, tweak the script, and edit the animatic.

Look dev was also fleshed out this week, and Dave was assigned mood boards to convey our color scheme and style. Josh worked on roughing in the city layout and developing shaders. Anthony continued rigging Dyer and Danforth, and we worked with DIGM alumn Evan Boucher (currently at Dreamworks) to research methods of rigging the Shoggoth’s tentacles. Evan even provided us with a sample rig to break down.

Pat and Gabe worked on modeling assets and clothing, and Pat refined and retopologized the Shoggoth. Val painted textures for Dyer and Danforth, created a skin shader, and tested hair generation and styling with Xgen.

Overall, a pretty productive week! We now have lots of polished assets to populate our presentation, and we’ve refined our story based on feedback. We are now in the process of reformatting our presentation to put a better focus on the narrative structure of our project and demonstrate what we’ve done so far. Next week we will continue on these projects while the shot list is developed.