We have an animated, textured, modeled, lit, and rendered shot. Its four seconds long, and its gorgeous. The push to get it ready for Friday's production meeting was intense to the point that I was wandering around hugging people for my own moral support, and losing my train of thought every 30 seconds. But get it done we did and I'm actually pretty proud of my team for knuckling down and everybody taking responsibility for their portion of the work load. Special mentions to Jake for getting the shed Leonard calls home into ship shape and jumping on all the odd jobs that popped up, and Nigel who rose to his new position of texture king with aplomb and finesse, even maintaining a digital presence in the studio on the last day through an all day skype video call as I monitored his texture progress in between putting out render brushfires, and Luke for managing the herculean feat of fixing Leonard's awkward wrists at the last moment. Dan finished up the animation and I threw in the remaining lights before clicking render at 10:30 the night before. I won't be posting the whole 84 frames because that would ruin the surprise and I don't want to end up posting the entire film in pieces on my blog. I will however, offer this single frame:
Please Fullscreen It.
Leading up to this mad rush I had been pre-occupied with blockthrough and getting the 'kernel' seed itself ready for its inclusion in this scene and it was also required for some dynamics tests. You can see it in the frame above filling the flasks in the corner on the shelf, nice and out of focus. Here's a better indication of them making up the shed's mis-en-scene.
You missed the final gather didn't you?
Test renders are great as they point out all the things left to fix, for example in this frame I need to turn on reflections for the fur on Leonard's beard and you can also see why we chose the shot we did as they pipe in the background hasn't been textured yet.
Youthful As Ever
The fun/tedious part of the blockthrough is putting Leonard in outrageous poses as me and Hugh layout the cinematography and poses in each shot of every scene. With the kernel I adapted the brain from before and retextured it to try and match a more organic looking haze nut exterior with moss filling the folds of the brain, then I wanted to give the stem the look of the white top to a conker as it merged in the sycamore seed style wings. These wings fold up or down according to whether its growing on the try or mid-flight.
Here it is folded, and it'll be hanging upside down from the branch, or perhaps growing upwards from the branch as per the design of the tree.
I kept redoing the moss to try to get it to actually look like moss rather than toxic waste splattered across the shell.
The simple sycamore seed model in their folded out flight mode.
Getting the translucence right for both the kernel and the wings was tricky but using the mia_material_x_passes I could control it pretty well using the existing diffuse textures and setting the advanced refractive settings to thin walled so that with a little bit of transparency the light scattered through the shader nicely, and much quicker than a sub surface scattering shader would have down. It also avoids sampling issues and grainy  illumination inside the shader.
And then it was all done, probably at slightly too high or a resolution and poly count than was necessary for a background prop so I'll need to finesse it for other shots and keep this hero asset for the small number of close ups it features in. Maybe I'll even turn the displacement back on for those hero shots, if I'm feeling opulent.

Pixel Propaganda

Clint Hocking wrote another of his great columns this time addressing the standards by which game dialogue is often judged as awful and contrived, but that we are judging it against the wrong things because it serves a totally different function than it does in film or theatre.

This last week DICE took place, a convention akin to GDC but seemingly more holistic and people-centric. Bethesda's Todd Howard lead with a great keynote talk that's worth watching if only for the sizzle reel of cool stuff created in a game jam at Bethesda that was omitted from Skyrim but might yet see light in DLC or free patches.

Short and sweet this week.