Friday, February 5, 2021

No Country for Old Men VR Project Part 1

 For this project I'm working on a team of 5 to create a virtual reality experience for No Country for Old Men. I'm working with three modelers and one other tech artist. The virtual reality experience will be done in unreal engine and before this post we build a white box of our environment and some very simple lighting.  Some documentation was also made to keep our team on track.  For this sprint I worked a lot on research, analyzing our environment, dummy lighting demos, shader creation and initial rigging for our phone prop.  

Before I get into all the fun art I needed to analyze our scene and really look at everything that is happening to understand how the world of No Country for Old Men needs to be created.  Our amazing modelers can create all the props, scale the props, and build the scene with their creations but there are other factors that need to be considered and looked at so I created a document and documented the lighting, SFX, and went over our animation style for our scene based on our clip in the Eagle Pass Hotel and a talk with our project lead.  

For our special effects, the main one is the gun shot that comes from both the player and Anton (bad guy).  The special effect would be created using Niagara and would either be a particle or flash effect.  The special effects under consideration is the drapes by the windows, shattered glass, and wood splints.  These are under consideration because either they could be created a different way using rigging or it depends on if we have time for it. 

Gun shot example from the scene

 Drapery by the window

When looking at the lighting in the scene, I was seeing how the lighting was telling the story and there was a hot and cold color combination.  The main lighting comes from the lamp on the bed.  The secondary lighting comes from the windows which is the outside world and the third lighting source comes from under the door.  There is a fourth light source that comes from the character weapon when fired and there is a small flashing red light on the tracker the player will find.  In our project scene, there should be one main directional light that is set to moveable and is the only light that gives shadows.  Most of the lighting in the scene is warm unless it is going through the drapes by the window.  The lighting through the drapes creates a cool blue color.  The lamp by the bed creates a warm yellow tone and the outside world has a warmer orange tone if it is not going through the drapes.  Under the door is a light yellow tone you typically see in an old hotel hallway.

Hallway light and lighting through drapery example

Lighting through the windows from the outside world

Lamp Lighting 

Lighting from under the door

After talking to the lead on our team, we determined that our animation style is realistic, it is suppose to be like we are actually in the scene.  There is potential for use to unitize mocap data or mocapping an actor to act like Anton.  Mechanically for Anton he could always be aiming or he would have an anim state machine with blueprints for animation logic that would either have a timer for when he sees the player.  

Now for the fun art part!  
All of this is not in our project file yet as this is in a dummy file while everything is still being put into our project file.

To start the lighting process I began by creating a dummy shader that would go on the lamp next to the bed. The lamp next to the bed is transparent enough to let light out but it's not so transparent that it's not that something isn't there. To refresh my memory on materials and shaders, I looked up some documentation on the editor and transparency from the UE4 documentation:

So I then began to create the shader for the light and I put the blend mode on it to translucent and this changed by settings on the material editor quite a bit.  I messed around with it a little bit and closely replicated the color to the color on the lamp in the scene.  Currently I am messing with the opacity and then moving forward to give the shader some texture.  To get this shader correct, there is a lot of testing with lighting and geometry.  I created a quick lamp shape using Maya to bring into my scene for testing the shader and the lights.  The lighting for the lamp is not an emissive shader but a physical light inside the geometry and passes through the shader. 

Besides creating a very simple dummy shader, I also created a dummy scene to give an idea as to where the lights should go. The main light source is the light from the lamp and the secondary is from the windows.  There is two spot lights with an orange tint towards the left of the scene and a point light that is inside the lamp.  I did not get an example from the door as in this dummy scene there is no door.  Next sprint I should be applying the lighting concepts from this scene to our actual project file with more lighting updates.

Just recently I got my hands onto my first prop to rig which is a telephone that sits on the nightstand. As I've never rigged props before, I went to the animator discord with animators from previous FIEA cohorts and asked them questions.  Multiple animators answered with the features they like to see on props and one of them from cohort 15 pointed out that for VR it's a matter if the player is interacting with the phone or if the animator is animating it in the scene.  If the player is interacting with it, which we are planning on having, then to talk to the project lead to discuss what specifically needs to be built into the phone, essentially what is most important. I then looked at example of phone rigs to get an idea as to what the hierarchy looked like. 
After talking to the project lead I created a document for the phone prop an documented what needs to be built into the phone rig. It should be able to spin it's dial and the player should be able to bring the ear piece to their ear.  There should be a parent of some sort to put the ear piece back onto the phone base.  The chord on the phone needs some physics and should react when the player picks up the ear piece.  The phone itself could have the potential to be thrown. 

Phone rig example

With all of this in mind I then began to create my hierarchy and joint layout for the phone.  For the cord it is super important that the joints have even spacing so I took time and adjusted the joints that needed to be moved.  I also went through and gave the joints their naming conventions on the joints.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Tarantula Proxy Rig Test

 My favorite specialization in the CG world is rigging.  Watching the characters come to life when you create digital bones and joints, attaching a controller, and then creating the skin deformations.  From there you get to see the animators do what they do best, create the acting of the characters.  I was challenged with creating a rig for a character that has more than four legs and I chose to do a Tarantula!  I am not responsible for creating the model,  I found the model on sketchfab!

To start my rigging process, I did a lot of research on the tarantula anatomy and looking at how they move.  I also looked at how other people rigged spiders and tarantulas to see their approach.  Did you know that tarantulas are considered to walk on 8 legs but when they are little they actually walk with 10 legs?  Tarantula's have what's called a pedipalp that they use to grab their prey with but then they are little, tarantulas use it to help them walk.  Sometimes when they get older they will still use them for that purpose. 

To really begin my process, I had to do a lot of research on how tarantulas move besides looking at anatomy.  I also asked many animators what is the first thing you would do to a rig that has more than four legs?  The answer I got was that they would check how the legs react to how the body moves.  Knowing this I knew that this rig had to be very much IK built in each of the legs and the pedipalp.  To start the rigging process, I began with cleaning up the model and hiding all of the legs and fangs until all that showed was the torso and the tail (abdomen)

·         To start the rigging process I placed my joints in the model and then from there I began to build and think about the functionality.  The torso on the tarantula is made up of a simple FK chain that has a clean hierarchy that allows it to move smoothly. The animator should be able to manipulate the torso by translation, rotation and scale. The orientation of the joints for the torso is ZYX

From there I had to think about the hips and the tail(abdomen).  Because I wanted to create a game rig, I needed to connect the root joint but still have the ability for the animator to move the abdomen.  To created this, I have two joints right on top of one another with the hip joint (the one that controls the abdomen) parented under the joint the root is connected to.  I also began to think about the orientation of the joints.  The above image is before I changed the abdomen to XYZ. 

Next, I worked on the Spinnerets and the fangs.  I created these to be simple FK chains that allow the animator to translate, rotate, and scale them.  In order for them to move I had to parent them under the joint in the parent chain that was closest to them.

There is a total of three different hierarchies working together inside each leg to get it to work correctly.  The simplest hierarchy is the skin joints which are physically connected to the torso joints.  Both IK hierarchies are intertwined and there is a group for each IK leg (you will find them under the ctrl group) that is then in a bigger group to keep them organized and easy to maintain. As there is 10 of these groups I created an even bigger group that holds all of them so that they are easy to find.  If you look under a group called Leg_rigging you will find all 10 of these groups that holds all the IK legs. To find the Leg_rigging group it is under T_root_jnt.  To describe how the legs are intertwined, the ik leg has the first pole vector that goes from the pivot joint all the way down to the ball joint.  This pole vector is then parented under the anim controller so that the leg can be moved around.  The ik rig leg has two pole vectors that control the knees and the ball.  The pole vector for these are then parented under the ik leg group under the ball.  This is what intertwines these two legs.  To get this to connect to the skin joints, I took the joints from the ik rig leg and point and orient constrained the skin leg and this allowed them to all move and work together.  I have never tried this before and I was inspired to try this from several different rigs I saw and messed with. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Painting Lab: Inspiration from Mirror's Edge


 For this week I created a piece inspired heavily from the look of Mirror's edge. To start my project I created a PureRef for my references and payed close attention to how color was used. In Mirror's Edge there is a lot of different shades of blue to show depth while the main character is able to pop against the blue with her hints of red. 

Once I decided on the look of my piece I knew I wanted the Character to be the main focus.  I grabbed the mannequin's controller and put a parent and scale constraint on it to easily move and scale the rig.  I then brought in some reference and began to manipulate the character's joints into the position I wanted them to be in to give the falling feel. 

From here I then began to create my background with simple primitives and using extrusion to create some interesting buildings.  Because you would only be seeing a the one angle I created a small scene that is dedicated to only being in that one angle versus creating an entire city. 

Once I got my city set up I created my render camera.  The trick to getting the angle was to have the dual panel layout because you can see that your render camera is looking at in one and then use perspective to manipulate it into place. When I rendered I also rendered 5 different passes so I can set up my passes in Photoshop to create different effects. 

From here I brought everything into photoshop and used the different passes to create my fog, ambient occlusion and base colors.  I used the same technique demonstrated in the previous assignments to set the stage for this piece. 

I then began to hand paint in details in the midground buildings to give them a little bit of pop.  I also added the sky behind all of the buildings with a color fill layers so that the background buildings can be seen.  

From here I began to work on my character.  because the mannequin is mechanic looking I created a design that gives him some more mechanical areas.  I used a dark grey and red to pop him out from the background and left the color fill color as his main color to fil the other areas. For the extra design elements I hand painted them onto the mannequin. 

For the last part I worked on the foreground building.  The foreground building was difficult because I did hand paint over it and finding where the extrusions are became very difficult since they do blend in with where the windows are.  I colored in where I thought the windows were and made each window lighter as they got further away.  On top of creating different shades of blues for each window I also made a ground with the window pieces and made a gradient that went over all the pieces to blend them together. 

  To make the window more interesting I created some white lines that show the perspective and give the building a little design.  I also added a second gradient that effects the extruded parts so that they get lighter the further away they are.  Lastly I added a slight reflection of the character in the windows.  Using my ID map I selected the character and gave him a grey fill color.  I then used transform to flip him over the horizontal axis and then distort it a little bit. One I got the placement for the reflection I used the opacity and then used the gaussian blur filter to create it's final look. 


Friday, October 9, 2020

Spoopy Game Asset Crate

This is part three of creating my crate game asset!  This week I brought some color into my crate and brought it into Unreal Engine 4 to create a sequence.  To start my process for part three, I wanted to make my crate Halloween themed and thought about the colors I often see associated with that holiday.  I then came up with a purple and black base color for my crate.   Substance painter is very similar to Photoshop with working with layers.  So I created multiple different layers with different filters on them to create the base.  The base color on my crate is purple and then I created a separate layer that was on the multiply mode and have the 3D distance effect to create my dark parts and for the detail with the wood grains, I had a normal layer that had the effects blur, levels, and fill.

The next part I found to be very fun as I could actually paint on the 3D model.  I created a layer that was just for painting.  Looking at the colors on my crate I thought having a tortoise/light blue color would pop against it.  I selected the Dot brush and changed the size of it to have multiple different sizes of dots and painted them all over my model.

To add some more fun to the design of my crate.  I added some symbols that were in substance painter and I added a filter to one of them to give it the look of spray paint and then I added different handprints to the crate. 

After painting my crate, I created custom export settings and then I exported my color maps and checked them in photoshop. 

After I exported my maps, I Imported my crate model into Unreal Engine 4 and connected my maps to the crate so that it would appear in the world just as it did in substance painter. 

From here I created a new level and imported an infinity wall for rendering.  I also added some lighting by creating a spot light and environment light.  I also added some green fog for atmosphere. I also put in a post process volume to create a bloom effect. 

Once I got my render level set up, I created a sequence and animated the camera.  I also created a fade filler and added it to the beginning and the end of the sequence. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Perspective Study


For this project I worked on the concept of perspective.  I was heavily inspired by the idea of the way cities show perspective and used buildings from Chicago for inspiration for my building designs and then letting my own imagination to evolve the look and concept. 

After looking at some reference, I modeled four different buildings in Maya to create my city with. 

To make it easier to create my city, I exported my buildings as obj's and saved them in a folder that my content browser accesses. 

When I was building my city, I payed close attention to variety by scaling and rotating individual buildings.  I then explored one point perspective, two point perspective, and three point perspective. 

My favorite was the one point perspective scene and I added the unreal mannequin to add some fun!
From here I rendered an ID, normal, ambient elusion, z depth, and beauty pass to bring into photoshop. 

From here I brought all my renders into photoshop and used several filters and paint brushes to create my colored scene. 

No Country for Old Men VR Project Part 1

 For this project I'm working on a team of 5 to create a virtual reality experience for No Country for Old Men. I'm working with thr...