You know what's rubbish? Having a blog I used to be proud of and neglecting it for several months. That's awful, especially when theres a ton of things I want to share. So hopefully this is the first of five or more semi written blog posts.
This is Shaun the sheep with no arms. Why does he have no arms? Because part of the magic CG is that we can just turn things on and off, like arms. Find the arms button, turn it off (its not that simple). Part of the fancy animation for the Sty Dive game was that Shaun's arms waved independently of his body depending on the angle he was falling at.

One of the great things about using Vray is the way you can easily isolate parts of the render using object properties and render elements, simply grouping them in the outliner and changing attributes that effect multiple objects. Not just alpha attributes either, GI, shadows, reflections, all the control is in there.

Here's a composited frame of Shaun's in-game animation where surveys the height before diving.

I tried a couple of different lighting setups, above being closer to the final one as it has cooler shadows giving a better sense of Shaun being higher up in the blue sky than the one below where the green bounce light from the grass makes him appear too grounded.

When Shaun plunges into the bucket at the bottom of the dive he needed to emerge with a victorious grin so I created some alternate shaders to make him appear nice and wet from the water he'd just been submerged in. 

The mandatory glitch render, don't even know how this happened:
a table for some moles to sit behind as they judge Shaun's diving performance.
We got some feedback, always good, and the general consensus was that the blue goggles I had made weren't comical enough, and admittedly they were more surgical than athletic in appearance. Also the refractive index on the goggle lenses is too high as it makes Shaun's eyes appear like that of a person with severely deficient eyesight.

So we had a look at the series for reference and came back with this fantastic flowery showercap and pink snorkel combination!

The problem with writing these posts so long after the subject of the post has actually taken place, is that they become rather light on prose- due to the fact I can't remember what I would have said. This arguably improves the blog. Perhaps I should dedicate more time to presenting these posts as visual pieces that comprise multiple images rather than talking about the technical details of how I moved this vertice or rendered that pixel. I never felt I was really educating anyone anyway, if people like the work and want to know how to achieve a specific effect they tend to just ask me.


Pixel Propaganda
How do you summarise or collect months worth of reading into the appendices of a blog post? You don't, we're starting from scratch. Mostly because I stopped collecting material for this segment a long time ago when I realised that posts had become too infrequent to warrant any kind of literature curation. So here is the residue and then we can start afresh:

Here is a video from the game jam back in January, I have make a cameo appearance a couple of times and its great to see some of the other jammer's work in progress.

One of the more interesting game bloggers wrote an article regarding the fine line between advocating diversity in the representation of minorities in media, and promoting censorship.

One of the games I've been playing more of than any other recently is actually a Japanese role playing game, a genre I usually avoid. But Persona 4: Golden is a real revelation. Imagine The Sims meets Pokemon embedded within a high school murder mystery where the lead characters can explore an alternative reality. Its cleverly designed with all the core themes being systemically represented. The writing is great, very very funny in places, and characters face their personal demons down during gameplay. Here a couple of great critics exchange a series of letters exploring its finer points.

And lastly, on a more CG note, if you copy these scripts into your scripts folder and you're running Maya 2013 (it may be compatible with other versions this is just the one I've got it working with) then some of mental ray's more powerful and exciting new rendering features are exposed in the render settings window. Things like unified sampling and environment lighting are all easily accessible and great to use. As explained in elemental ray's great post linked above. They help bring mental ray's feature set more in line with some of the standard stuff I've come to expect from lighting and rendering in Vray.