We started the project at the beginning of october and want it finished by the end of febuary. That’s not a lot of time but the’re are 7 of us so and we’re all hard workers so we’re going to give it our best. Also with some good planning it just might work. We also have a couple workshops between now and new year’s, workshops like rigging and facial animation which will slow down the development by quiet a bit but hopefully also improve it.
We started with some great ideas and very early on settled on a theme we all thought was cool and interesting enough to work on. The theme was a fight with a Samurai/Ronin. Within a couple days we had a bunch of scripts written by 3 people in the group. After that we brainstormed on the story a whole day and found it to be too much and too complex. We scaled it down from 3 to 1 page and settled on the main story line that same day.
It begins with a chase. An asian native is being chased by a dark tiger like creature through a dense forest. When he exits the forest he encounters a abandoned village. He enteres the village awaiting the creature, he searches the forest line with his eyes. The Creature bursts through one of the houses and charges on the man. A fight occurs where the creature clearly has the upper hand. Once the man is cornered he accidentally hits a cable that was holding up japanese lanterns. The creature reacts and flinches at the presence of the fire. The Man notices the creatures vulnerability and lights some oil lying on the ground, lighting up the creature incinerating it to ashes.
The script is still in development but the idea is there.
The third week we had a week of autumn vacation. Even though we had vacation we all started on our individual moodboards. My job on the project is character design/modeling & dynamics along with Karlijn. We already divided the work. The building that gets crushed by the creature will be my main job. To do that I’m going to procedurally model the building in order to make it suitable for rgb simulations but also for easy replication to create the entire village.
Because the building is going to be the standard for the whole village it has to be perfect and well thought out. So that’s the first thing I started with. I created multiple moodboards to point out the architectual landmarks in historic asian architecture both from chinese and japanese buildings.
I also created a couple moodboards for the forest. Just to define the style we’re looking for and to get everything as clear as possible. I want to start in speedtree as soon as possible to start testing the chase sequence.
After that I started on the moodboard for the protagonist. Just a rough one, to give the team an idea of where I want to go. As soon as everyone is on board I can begin with concept art for the character.
This week we had our last workshop for the year. About facial animation. In four days we learned everything about the face, from the latin names of all the facial muscles to animating those muscles on a facial rig. We ended the course with a final assignment in which we had to animate a rig. It had to speak and express all the corresponding emotions. The results were surprisingly good, because before this week we had never animated a face before and because with animating a face it’s very hard to not fall into the uncanny vally;)
This week I started on the main character. I started with a model that was topologically correct, which meant I didn’t have to retopologize it and it was ready for rigging once I finished it. I started with the face, looking for a lot of references to get a tough looking Asian man. which was not as easy as I thought it was.
On Thursday and Friday there was the annual animation festival Playgrounds.
The Second week of November I finished the character. Going for a slightly more cartoonish version of what I originally had in mind. I tried to stick to my moodboards, but along the way I got inspired by all kinds of sources and the character. After the face I did the body. I wanted him quite muscular so i did some more research into muscles. I also very quickly added some hair to the character to test the look and feel of him.
Because we don’t have much time for this project, and not enough people to cover all the parts of the pipeline I decided to research on how we could set up a pipeline where the project could be finished on time. I stumbled on Clarisse IFX, a program I had met before but hadn’t gotten around to try out yet. So at the end of this week I watched all the Clarisse tutorials I could find. The more I learned about the program, the more excited I got. So when the weekend was over I started to set things in motion to change our usual pipeline from maya/arnold to Clarisse.
This week we finalized our planning for the next few months and set all the deadlines. The character modeling of the character is now done but there is much to do. This week I applied alphas to the character and tried multiple workflows to do so. I ended up just painting them on with a lot of different alphas like always.
This week I textured the character, by polypainting it in Zbrush. Keeping it simple like the character. After that I used the displacement maps from zbrush to generate the specular maps. Now that I got my texture and specular maps it was time to test them. A quick setup in maya confirmed everything was A-OK.
This week we also tried out Mocap. To test if the workflow was usable for the cinematic animation. We got some great results. Beginning January we’ll begin with animation and Mocap most animation first. If the Mocap animation is not usable the animator will animate it by hand.
The last day I educated myself about using blendshapes and succesfully tested a workflow from zbrush to maya. Ready to sculpt all the action units the face needs on monday. I also quickly put our test scene, we put together in maya, in Clarisse to test the rendertime per frame.
This week I made all the blendshapes the face needed. After that made a few more moodboards for the clothes. I looked at tratitional Japanese clothing and some clothes from Star Wars, before stumbling on 47 Ronin, which had the clothes I wanted to make. So when I had the look I wanted I started in Marvelous Designer to make the clothes. I also watched 47 Ronin again and created two moodboards from frames in the movie and concept art from the movie that had the right style.
This week I am testing animation and displacement in Clarisse. I am finalizing the clothes of the main character and I’m testing the best workflow for hair by testing out xGen, Yeti and Houdini hair workflows to Clarisse and comparing them.
We also finalized the script and fight sequence so Thomas can create the Previs.
This week I created the hair of the character in xGen and finalized the Character workflow to Clarisse. Seeing as this is my first time working with xGen and Clarisse it took a little longer to figure out the hair workflow. By reading and asking a lot from the forums and watching a lot of tutorials I finally figured it out. I also did a testrender of the character with its hair and clothing in Clarisse to check the final look of the character.
This week I also managed to persuade my teachers to buy the megascans library packs we needed for the environment. Now I can start with the environment in January with everything I need.
This week I finalized the character by adjusting the face, eyes and also adding boots. And I finalized the creature by adjusting the model to fit the same style as the character, retopologized it again and uved the creature.
We also planned out the fight sequence and are working hard on visualizing it in the previs.
This Week I decided to catch up to my deadlines. Even though it was still Christmas vacation I started on the environment testing and finished the character blendshapes. To test the environment I made some trees and ferns in Speedtree and used the scatter objects and textures from the megascans library to create a test scene. Just to lookdev and test the rendertimes, of a scene with more than 3 billion polys in it, on a single machine.
To prepare for 2017s first week of school I made some moodboards to research the look I wanted for the cliffs. So I can begin modeling as soon as possible.
This week I started with assembling the Clarisse scene. I shaded all the scatter-assets and trees and applied scattered moss on most of them. I also made a sculpt of the environment of the beginning of the story (the forest).
This week I continued working on the environments and Forests around the village. It wasn’t a very productive week. I had too much other things to do.
This week I retopologized and uved the creature again to give the rigger a polygon count he could work with. From 80k to 25k. I also redid the blendshapes for the character so the rigger/animater could begin.
This week I Continued on the Environment by editing the beach, making it bigger. And shading some environment layers. I also continued with the clothes, making minor changes, also starting on the modeling of bracers.
This week I continued shading and populating the Environment. I looked for ways to add volumetric effects to the lighting and add mist to the scene. I also rigged the character, because the rigger wouldn’t. Now Animation can finally begin, after more than a month of delay.
We also finally finished the previs. So I now know where to populate the village with the props that where made and start to add more detail where it is needed.
This week I finished my showreel and spend a lot of time searching for cool companies that offer an internship.
Because of delays in rigging, the animators now don’t have time to animate, so the project has come to a stop.
I’m hoping they’ll have time in the near future to finish a couple shots. The Character and Creature assets are now done. For better portfolio material I’m going to keep improving the environment.
In April I continued searching for an Internship while figuring out how to get a decent Clarisse render. I also kept improving the environment and decided to redo the Procedural houses, as they were not what I wanted. Which was a great decision. I really lost myself in Houdini (in a good way) and finished the procedural house within a week, just in time for the presentation of the project.