Amazingly we got chosen to do the Animated Exeter intro trailer after the 3 groups presented their pitch documents. Kudos to Jake for coming up with the initial concept with Tom, and then doing the animatic on his own. I've begun modelling Exeter cathedral for what will be the centre piece of the animation as the robot emerges- Thunderbird's style, from the cathedral as it splits open. Here are some renders from the different stages of modelling.

I'm still not into the fine detail yet but it wont be long, I'm not sure whether I'm going to try and do displacement maps or create vectors to extrude geometry from for the intricate carvings but I certainly won't be trying to model them from the existing faces. Alan has been working on robot models based on the promotional illustrations for a while and its looking sweet.
I've been playing with final gather in mental ray and getting some great results from using just one light, and its not as slow as I remembered. It effectively calculates bounce light or "indirect" lighting, when combined with mental ray's sun light node (shown to great washed out effect in the final image) it starts looking really tasty. What I hadn't realised was final gather also calculates the colour of the bounced light so you get strong colours bleeding and reflecting onto nearby surfaces when brightly illuminated which really helps make the image feel cohesive and authentic. It also left me wondering what global illumination was, which I previously thought was for this colour bounce effect. Research time!

Click to enlarge:

I'm sure you also recognise our old friend ambient occlusion as well :)

I've been collecting interesting articles to share with you all, the mystery people who read my blog, and its been a while so there's quite a few.

Fascinating thoughts on Roger Ebert's refusal to acknowledge videogames as an art form, and whether we should even care what he thinks.

The debut trailer for the pioneering That Game Company's "Journey". If its even half as evocative as Flower it'll be worth your time. And here is the creative director talking about a number of topics not usually covered in an developer interview.

BBC's Panorama created a sensationalist documentary that, while raising the dangers of addiction in certain personalities, attempted to pin the blame on videogames. While its probably not on iplayer any more there's plenty of outraged prose to browse on the blogosphere.

Discussion of viable ways of getting into the industry from going Indie to getting a job as part of a bigger developer.

The game whose tech everyone is talking about because of it's ridiculous accuracy when it comes to facial motion capture. L.A Noire looks to build on all the great detective gameplay and digital acting Heavy Rain started, and deliver in a slicker package that will appear to the less open minded majority.

An incredibly affecting flash game that only lasts about 10 minutes and does exactly what it says on the tin. You have once chance to play this game, no amount of refreshing your browser will change this, believe me: I tried, after massively screwing up. The permanence of consequence explored by this game mechanic is something rare in a small flash game, and a pleasant surprise.

A good talk from one of the creators of Narbacular Drop, the game student project that became Portal, that touches on the differences between education and the industry. Invaluable stuff.

A wonderfully diverse talk on innovation from a number of more prominent Indie game developers at a panel in 2007. Each says his piece before they discuss points from their respective presentations and generally cerebral debate follows.