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The Derby Crush

By, perhaps stupidly, saying yes to almost every opportunity that came my way after wrapping up the course I produced this short piece of animation for Kernow Rollers, the local roller derby league. It was to act as part of a larger instructional video, which I've also embedded below.

It was all slightly more rushed than I would have liked, I thought it was even going to render in time for the skate event at one point, but then I realised I'd turned unified sampling and motion blur on when I didn't need either. I went all out with the shaders in this one, spending a good deal of time texturing the floor and using specular and bump maps to get that glossy gym floor look as good as I could.

Kernow Rollers introduce Roller Derby from Kernow Rollers on Vimeo.

I also used a great tutorial that Jake showed me on creating satin, or velvet cloth effects using the mia_material in Maya. Using a colour ramp in the reflection colour you can get a great iridescent effect which I used on the balls and stars that feature in the animation. I wish I'd had more time to add some props to the set, and add more than the 2 lights I used. Perhaps next time.
This was a great project to try some things I'd been meaning to use for a while but still hadn't got round to learning. This one Joe showed me, and its a way in photoshop to paint along a curve you've made using the pen tool using the selected brush. So effectively you can tweak a vector, and then apply a nice looking stroke to it. I used this to get the track shape, and then paint evenly around it.
The layered shader in Maya is a great tool, but isn't compatible with the mia_material. So I found a cunning tutorial that basically embeds the final result of the shader inside a surface shader, which IS compatible with the layered shader. I was planning on using it to put the Pivot player's stripe onto specific balls, but in the end it was easier just to make a bespoke texture, than wrestle with a headache of nodes.
I kind of cheaped out on the animation by using motion paths, curves drawn in 3D space which objects can then follow, with some tweaks to timing it worked reasonable well, and then are even some fancy settings for banking into each curve's turn. Only the jammers are hand animated.
For the motion blur I broke out my friend the mental ray production shader "mip_motionblur" who creates vector based motion blur on each image after rendering, this way I can have fast motion blur without using compositing software I don't own. Though it does unfortunately mean that its baked into the image and therefore non-editable.


I've also been slowly making moves on the Kernel fixes. I think I'm going to add an opening title. Tasteless and unpopular as the idea seems, I'm effectively admitting defeat and creating some expectations for the audience so they're not completely in the dark about the story at the outset. Im also planning on adding two shots which will clarify a couple of the plot heavy props. But these need discussing with the relevant team members before I can start working on them.

Pixel Propaganda

An excellent article was written by the consistently interesting Kirk Hamilton, on writing videogame dialogue, in particular the enemy barks the player hears.