My name is Andrew Moore I am 19, and am currently studying a Bachelor of Animation at SAE QANTM. I am very into Video Games, Comedy Movies and Science Fiction Books and have created this Blog to talk about my studies while at QANTM.
As part of my study’s this Tri i am to research several techniques or technologies in my field and write about them. I’ve chosen photogrammetry as the first to talk about as I’ve studied a lesson on it and it interested me greatly.
Photogrammetry is the technique of taking 10s to 100s of photos of an object or person from every possible angle. These photos are then run through a program that deciphers the object in the photo and creates a 3D asset of its likeness. This is done by the program identifying key feature points in the object and measuring the relative distance of its placement and using that to make 3D measurements from the photos through the use of trigonometry.
Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography and has been used for radiolocation and radiometry. It has been in the last several decades, used more and more in post-production in movies. And it has also become quite popular in video games, namely Star Wars Battlefront. Almost all of the environments in game were created through photogrammetry and by using this technique they have achieved great visual effects and graphics in-game.
Below is a video of them capturing the environments and the finished result:
Below is an example of a character created through photogrammetry:
Be it Characters or Objects the best way to capture their measurements is in a evenly lit room, to allow for evenness in quality and allow it to be used in any environment. With a camera setup as pictured below:
Best practices for photogrammetry;
When shooting an environment you should try to capture as many angles as possible, the more that overlap the better, this allows the program to more accurately piece them together. Below is an example of an ideal camera setup for capturing an environment.
And here’s an example of an ideal camera setup for capturing an object.
With the extent of clutter in our final project environment i think we will be using photogrammetry a lot in order to generate a lot of it. i will also from now on be looking for excuses to use it.
Digital sculpting is an ingenious tool that has arisen in popularity over the last decade or so. It is the method of digitally manipulating a premade model by pushing and pulling the vertices of the asset through a number of digital tools, similar to an artist working with clay.
This tool has quickly become a reliable staple of animators especially Character modellers as it allows them to create details that would usually be insanly difficult or impossible to vreate through normal means.
Some tips for digital editing:
Focus on one area, many people when starting sculpting for the first time tend to move around the asset adding detail here and there. But many artists familiar with this technique, recomend picking a area and slowly moving from area to area only once you’ve achieved the level of detail you wished i that location.
Work in symmetry mode, this is very useful when working on a character, as it basically means you dont have to repeat detail when working on somthing like a face when working on the opposite side.
And the biggest tip is always use reference. Chances are unless you studied anatomy or are creepily familiar with the way human skin looks down to the minor detail, you will benifit from reference images. These will let you see how each part of the body looks different from the next.
Character Modelling is the sub-specialization of 3D Modelling. As the name implies it is the act of designing and producing characters. The usual pipeline for the process is as follows; Concepting, Production, Unwrapping, Texturing, Rendering, I will be discussing tips concerning mainly the concepting and production aspects of this pipeline.
Practice your drawing skills, its not absolutly required but it is almost always easier to create a character if you have reference and/or a character sheet. This way you have already determined shapes and lines to create your 3D character from. another way to improve your grasp of the human figure and improve your drawing is to enroll in a life drawing class.
Start simple, when first crewating your model it won thelp you to start off the bat with a 10000 poly character. Its best to start low-poly and adding detail as you need it gradually, this will give you greater control over the dimensions of the character, and will leave you with a better looking character by the end.
Dont overeact when it comes to poly count, characters dont need through the roof poly counts to look appealing, it makes sense aesthetic wise and performance wise to add detail only where its needed.
And lastly keep your topology organised and clean, this will make it easier to unwrap your character and texture him, and will make it easier to go back in anjd modify things if needed.
Improving my craft:
This trimester i focused on improving my craft as much as possible before i graduate and am out in the big scary world of job employment. I’ve done this by trying to learn new programs like Unreal.
And learn more of the programs I already know such as Premier, Quixel and 3ds Max. With Premiere i really made it a goal to nail the synching up of my audio and video and I think I was succesful in my showreel.
And with Quixel I made sure to experiment with post-production effects in my renders. namely with my Captain America shield using Depth of Field.
And lastly as I specialise in hard-surface modelling and am not experienced with organic i decided to really focus on incresing my skill for my models, so that if im not an organic modeller at least my hard-durface ones are immaculate. I really concentrated on boosting the detail and poly count in all my models. Prior to this Tri i had awesome looking models but was sub-consciously keeping my poly count low for no reason, which was stupid as all my models had been display pieces up to that point. i started off with the basic shape and gradually added more and more detail as was required using turbosmooth and chamfer throughout, I had done some research and it appears this was industry standard.
Photogrammetry: shooting best practices for 3D reconstruction | Julia’s beta blog. (2016). Juliasbetablog.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://www.juliasbetablog.com/tutorials/shooting-for-photogrammetry/
Photogrammetry. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photogrammetry
Digital sculpting. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_sculpting
5 Sculpting Tips to Speed Up Your Workflow. (2014). Digital-Tutors Blog. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://blog.digitaltutors.com/5-sculpting-tips-speed-workflow/
How to create character models for games: 18 top tips | Creative Bloq. (2016). Creativebloq.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://www.creativebloq.com/how-create-character-models-games-18-top-tips-9113050
Tips and tricks for organic modelling | Creative Bloq. (2016). Creativebloq.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://www.creativebloq.com/tips-and-tricks-organic-modelling-7123070
Throughout the trimester ive been working hard on the written aspects of my Final Project, mostly the planning out of the project. God, theirs been a lot of planning. But we’ve finally gotten through it all, and my group and me can finally get around to the production of the assets.
I’ve just started the first of many assets i will be creating; a old fashioned TV. I though i would give a update.
I have nearly finished the modelling of it, but will have to hold off on finishing it until end of Tri presentations and assignments are finished.
A recent side-project ive undertaken this trimester at uni is some low-poly assets for a games project called Doggos Cribz. This work has included a bunch of cars to be placed around the dog park the game is set in.
I started by making one car and then by making minor modular changes to the asset, made a whole range of vehicles for the project. this cross-discipline project i believe was more successful than my last one as i didn’t take on as many assets to build as previously. this meant my work was done quicker, and i wasn’t as stressed by the end.
Deliverables for project: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8gFuJ9-DRrxYkVTbjJ6Wm44YVU
I recently completed the world-builder project i had discussed in a Previous blog post where i dissected it themes, and am now writing the post-mortem on the project in order to evaluate how it went. But first i will give a quick recap on the assignments brief.
As a group we were told to pick a book, and then to each create a scene in Unreal, as depicted in the novel using only sentences from the book as inspiration. Our group selected Darksiders: The Abomination Vault, and then split into 3 sub-groups. 3 people would create the angel city depicted in the book, 2 would create a angel battleground, and i would create the subterranean lair/workshop of the novels antagonists.
As i was working by myself i made sure to sit down to figure out what was in scope, what wasn’t, and what was desirable if enough time remained.
The “in scope” list included: a detailed character to be replicated, a modular low poly tower, low poly lanterns with customized lighting within, and normal maps for the rocky floors and walls. The “out of scope” list included: a detailed enviroment, and more than 1 character. And the Desirables were: additional props, and numerous versions of the stones the constructs lay on.
My next step was to lay out strict deadlines, as we only had 7 weeks to complete the project and my scene lived and died by me. I gave myself 2 of the seven weeks to complete the character model, another 2 were then given to environment design, 1 to unwrapping and texturing and 1 more to setting up the scene in Unreal.
I also outlined potential risks and created contingency plans. the biggest risk to the project was if i became ill, in which case i would lessen some of my work, such as no custom lighting in the scene and fewer details in the scene like the rocks on the walls and floor.
The last thing i did before starting construction of my assets, was settling on the style of my work. The novel we had chosen was based off a video game series so i considered their assets style while also not replicating its aesthetics too closely since we were to put our own style on the project.
From the start of the project we had some specific deadlines.Week 1 the project proposal and style guide were due as well as our initial pitch to our lecturers.
Week 2, concept art was due, as well as our initial pitch. I believe that i described my idea and its elements of gloom and depth well enough, especially to the audio students who were interested in providing a track for my scene. The Audio students nailed the exact sounds i was aiming for. I made my concept art 3D rather than 2D as ive never been any good at conveying depth in art.
Week 3, the art bible was due. and then week 4 we had to write a deconstruction of our individual shots which i did here: Abomination Vault Shot Deconstruction.
Week 6 we did pre-showings in class. And lastly Week 7 we did our final showing in class.
Performance of myself and the team:
Their were pros and cons for me working on my own outside of the group. The pros were that; i could get experience creating environments through modular assets, i would only have to report to myself and as a by-product knew what was and was not possible for the project, and i would have something cool at the end to show off in my portfolio that was 100% mine, i was also able to finish my work on schedule quite easily. The cons however while not directly affecting me still had merit, I got so engrossed in my own work that i forgot to check in with my group regularly to see how their scenes were progressing, and to see if our art styles matched. i also think this rung true for the other members of my team as well. So by the end of our project we each had great scenes to show off but they didn’t quite match one another aesthetically.
While i didn’t communicate as much as i should have we did have a communication system in place via slack.
I also provided my construct asset to a team mate so he could scatter it out the front of his scene to add character.
Another con was that we had to assemble our scene in the Unreal engine, and the majority of our group were not that familiar with the program, if we had of collaborated more this aspect would have been a lot quicker, some of this is my fault especially since i was one of the first to finish and render my scene, i could have gone back and helped my team-members but i got distracted by other school work. we also should have stressed our milestones more. But overall me and the rest of the group are fairly happy with how our personal scenes came together.
Creative Processes used:
The majority of the assets for each scene were created in 3ds max. some of the assets for the angel city, such as the statues were then modified in zbrush and mudbox. All assets were textured in Quixel suite and then imported and assembled in the Unreal engine.
By using 3ds max and Quixel, programs we were already intimately familiar with, we streamlined the construction of most assets and made sure each scene shared the same texturing theme. We however (and I’ve mentioned this above) were not that familiar with the Unreal engine and should probably have helped each other out more in this area.
What I would change/improve upon:
To reflect, the things i would have improved upon and will keep in mind for future projects are; to really keep in mind i am a part of a team and that means that not only should i keep that in mind when i am completing my own work, but i should also maintain contact with other members of my group to make sure things are moving smoothly.
Other things i need to work on in a more technical sense is my planning, specifically the poly count of the assets in the scenes i create. when i made the construct to be replicated over and over again throughout the scene i made him far more detailed than he needed to be especially considering their was never drawn out close-ups of the character. this flaw in my planning made the scene’s poly count in the millions which made assembling the scene in Unreal very tricky and drawn out. A possible solution to this issue would be to make a less detailed version for the outer walls which aren’t seen for long, and also to make as much detail as possible using a normal map.
Once the project was finished i uploaded it online through numerous websites such as; Youtube, Vimeo, Artstation, and my own website. I uploaded to YouTube to get it to the general population. Vimeo, as that is where numerous creative professionals dwell, and Artstation and my own website for potential employees to view.
My first project this trimester is to choose a book of any kind and create a scene from it to your interpretation, you must then compose a shot in it and render it out. I thought i would talk today about the book i chose and break down my shot to its base components. The book my group chose is called Darksiders: The Abomination Vault and is the prequel book to the video game series of the same name. I chose the workshop scene halfway through the book to create. The protagonists of the book, Death and War, track down their enemies to their workshop where they have been producing hundreds of constructs composed of stone and brass. the chamber is described as quite large but with an incredibly high roof with many levels. Below is a rough draft video i rendered so some audio students at school could design some sounds for me.
My shot deconstruction will discuss each of its elements including; Lighting, Sound, Camera movement, and its Content
Lighting: When i was creating light for my scene i made sure to think about the workshops setting, for example the cavern was set deep underground so i made sure that the only light in the chamber was generated from lanterns i had made and that there were plenty of dark spaces. I also gave the light a lime green tinge to make the viewer feel ill at ease. The color green is usually associate with evil, like Slytherin in Harry Potter, and all the bad guys in Disney movies. This method has been used by Disney for decades now, and for good reason, as it works quite effectively.
Camera movement: I wanted to make my shot a slow, drawn out, curving zoom down through the workshop, this was done for a number of reasons. It allowed me to show off my work, showed the scope of the chamber, slowly revealed the boss construct at the bottom, and the rotation exaggerated the depth and gave the scene some character.
I took some inspiration from the climbing camera shots of Saruman tower in the Lord of the Rings movies.
Content: I wanted to really make it seem like an army had been constructed in the chamber so i studied the droid factory scene from Stat Wars: Episode 2 and the Rogue Robot scene from I, Robot.
I then grouped as many as Constructs into the scene as i could leaving room only for walkways and created many levels to place more on. I also wanted to allude to the size of this underground lair with out having to create more rooms, so i put bridges crisscrossing the scene to give the illusion there were more rooms out of sight.
i collaborated with some audio students this for this assignment and told them that i wanted the mood to be sinister and have tons of echoey sounds to once more give the scene depth, and they didn’t disappoint, their first try at the sound is at the top of the blog.
Disney Movies Taught Us That Lime Green is a Harbinger of Evil | Oh My Disney. (2016). Ohmy.disney.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://ohmy.disney.com/movies/2015/11/12/disney-movies-taught-us-that-lime-green-is-a-harbinger-of-evil/
Gandalf and the Moth. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGBwcfSIugE
Gandalf vs Saruman HD || Fight Scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1Vyhve9gtg
Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of The Clones Droid Factory HD. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HjP1DYi5WQ
I, Robot (1/5) Movie CLIP – Rogue Robot (2004) HD. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ouht1xip9NQ
LOTR – Fool of a Took. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cZ4ABUo6TU
Over the holidays i started work on the construction of Captain America’s shield in 3DS Max, it took about 3 hours total to make, but unfortunately uni started back up before i could start unwrapping or texturing. Here and there over the last few weeks when i had a few spare moments i have been slowly unwrapping it until last night when i finally finished and textured it in Quixel.
While i was rendering it out i also played around with the depth of field settings included in the program and it has really stepped up the quality and photo-realism of my render
Due to the success of this technique i am considering going back and re-rendering past projects. I also like creating this asset from the marvel Cinematic universe, and am now considering making Mijolnir, Thor’s hammer from the franchise.
Our Lecturers at uni have asked us to reflect on where we would like to be in our chosen industry in the next 5 years, and i have considered this in depth and would like to by that stage in life be working as a 3D modeler at a respectable company based maybe in video game development or perhaps architecture. This career is highly sought after and the competition is fierce so you have to stand out from the crowd, in terms of the quality of your work. As an animation student specializing in Hard Surface Modeling, with an interest in designing mechs, objects, and vehicles the following collection of images shows the quality of work i wish to be producing by the end of the projected 5 year mark.
I believe this goal is highly achievable especially if you compare my work from last year to the assets i’m producing now.
This is the work i was producing same time last year:
And this is what i’m producing now:
So with 5 years i am very confident in the potential increase in my skills, especially when i evaluate the speed at which i now produce assets and the knowledge i have gained in the last year alone. But in order to get to that stage their are things i need to improve on. For instance i wish to start constructing mechs and other automaton type characters but i have done very little prior character modelling, same thing goes for vehicles, so i need to start producing these type of models so i can gain better skills in these areas. To get started on this self appointed progress i have volunteered for multiple characters that need to be constructed across various assignments, in a sort of trial by fire kind of learning, and so far i think its going pretty well. The first character is made of brass and stone and is described in a book i’m currently reading. Currently its nothing overly special, but i’m pretty happy with it considering it is my first real attempt at creating a character.
Another thing i hope to improve on in the coming years is the amount of small detail in my assets, i believe this will be easier to accomplish after i finish uni as i will be able to spend longer periods of time on my productions instead of the usual 5-7 weeks i’m usually assigned now.
So to wrap up some current goals i’m assigning myself this trimester; are to create more characters as mentioned above, improve the overall detail of my work further, and to learn how to use the Unreal engine so i can compile my own scenes, as well as potentially increasing my current post production skills.
In terms of presentation i believe i have definitely improved this trimester, especially when it came to producing my show reel.
I first did research on some show reels on YouTube and paid attention to what they had done for theirs, i then applied these techniques to my own work, such as more dynamic angles, Wireframes and PBR texturing on the majority of my assets.
This trimester i focused on adding more dynamic shots and using batch renders. I also made sure my assets were more visually appealing in general especially in terms of textures mostly in Quixel. I also did an animation syncing audio to my revolver animation i also experimented with omni lights in some scenes and messed around with the tint in my game assets scene to make it resemble the afternoon. I also found some appealing royalty free music online to use in the background.
Update: since creating the above video i have created a far superior one consisting of only my best work:
This trimester i focused on improving my skills in Hard Surface Modelling. and so before starting i researched the topic and best ways to make them. i have shared what i learnt in this blog post.
Hard surface models are assets that don’t resemble organic items like buildings or vehicles. and the appeal of them directly depends on 3D Modelling Principles. https://andmoor1.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/3d-modelling-principles/
I learnt that when making hard surface models its better to use multiple reference images and analyse man made structures in life, as you’ll gain a better understanding of how solid surfaces look.
I improved in this field by producing many hard surface models, while making sure they were well proportioned gave the illusion of weight and realistic looking, i believe i have found my niche in modelling terms this trimester.
I have done a lot of PBR textures this trimester in Quixel and fell in love with the process so much i decided to write a blog post about it so i could teach myself more information about the system through research. Here is what i have learnt:
PBR or Physical Based Rendering is a technique to make more photo-realistic textures that are easier to set up in a scene. Normally you would create multiple diffuse/specular maps for every single item in a scene to set up how light reflects off it. But by using PBR these maps are automatically generated by the program in a realistic and visually appealing way.
During my research i have discovered a pdf you can download from the following site, it explains in great detail exactly what PBR rendering is: https://www.allegorithmic.com/pbr-guide
Here is an example of these textures in action on an asset i made:
I’ve uploaded my PBR textures for a Mass Effect rifle i textured in Quixel as an example.