pointSnaphttp://area.autodesk.com/Sat, 19 Apr 2014 06:57:49 UTCfroTools + froRetopo by Froyok [Fabrice Piquet]Fianna<p><span style="color: #272d70;"><strong>Scouring through the online forums, I came across an interesting set of tools for Maya. froTools and froRetopo are a collection (or consolidation) of existing Maya tools with added custom functionalities that the author, Froyok aka Fabrice Piquet, had written for himself. Now, his tools are used by everyone from his classmates to artists at Blizzard. The following is our conversation about his motivation for writing custom tools, juggling his time between his personal game project 'EXIL' and keeping up with an intensive games-focused school program, as well as what new ideas are cooking for future fro- tools. <br /></strong></span></p> <hr /> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Hello Fabrice! It is always nice to discover small scripts and handy tools that help to speed up work. Although many tools exist in Maya, we may not always utilize all of them...or let's say, need to see them all on screen. For people who exclusively model, UV and texture (and likewise for animators and rendering peeps), only a certain number of menu sets are accessed..so for you to consolidate them &mdash; AND add new functionalities &mdash; into convenient packages like <a target="_blank" href="http://www.froyok.fr/blog/2012-12-frotools-3-2-new-enhanced-ui-and-tools">froTools</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.froyok.fr/blog/2013-06-maya-froretopo-3-4-a-fast-and-easy-retopology-script">froRetopo</a>, is certainly a godsend for some. <br /><br />Generally as a user becomes familiarized with the tools, everyone sort of develops their own work process and preferences in how they create and modify things; this includes making their own shortcuts. There will be people who are happy to hotkey most, if not all of the functions you've put together....or rely on making new marking menus or some combination of the two. So what inspired or motivated you to put together froTools and froRetopo?</strong></span></p> <p>As I focus on making video game content (everything from characters to environment assets), I needed a way to quickly access the most important tools that I was using in Maya. Unfortunately, the shelf wasn't big enough. Even if I had the possibility to make it bigger, it started to be a bit hard to read correctly as the tool evolved.. <br /><br />My problem is that I have a bad memory, and as a result, I'm working visually. This means I'm unable to take advantage of the marking menus. I can't remember them, so each time I was using them I had to wait to be sure it was a function or tool in the particular location before calling it. You can easily imagine how slow it would be to work like that.<br /><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/frotools_tools.jpg" /><br />So I started to build a custom UI to get the functions I was using the most just under my eyes. I quickly started to use the docking system introduced in Maya 2011 to keep my window opened without conflicting with the viewport. The first version of froTools was born. At first it was just a bunch of colored buttons with names on them. It was a little bit of a mess I must admit. <br /><br />It was still nice however, because from this starting point, I slowly learned the MEL script language which allowed me to get more comfortable with Maya. Once you know a bit of MEL, Maya becomes very powerful.<br /><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/frotools_select.jpg" /></p> <p><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How long have you been developing them? </strong></span></p> <p>I started learning Maya when I entered the first year of school, which was in 2010. It was the year after that that I started to see if I could handle Maya a bit better. I started MEL at that point, to build my scripts. The first one was "froRetopo" in fact, which quickly evolved into "froTools" over time.<br /><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/froretopo.PNG" height="792" width="236" /></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What has been the response of users so far on your free tools? </strong></span></p> <p>I shared my script with a few friends at first, who were intrigued by my "new" UI. They quickly started to like it in fact. Since we learned Maya in the same school, it's probably safe to say that they liked my script because we probably use Maya in a similar way. Today, they often admit that they can't work anymore without it, that they are "addicted" to it. :)<br /><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/frotools_uv.jpg" height="339" width="304" /></p> <p>When I released the first version of the froTools on Internet, I didn't get very much response, but the ones I did receive were positive. I got some comments about the fact that people liked the organization by color. I think this is one of the most interesting features of froTools: you don't need to read the UI; just remember some location and colours.<br /><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/frotools_settings.jpg" height="975" width="229" /><br />I know that some people in big studios such as Blizzard are actually using froTools. So from this point of view, I believe that they like it. :)<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/frotools_uveditor.jpg" height="521" width="690" /></p> <p><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How long have you been working with Maya, and did you use any other 3D app before? </strong></span></p> <p>I started learning 3D on my own, before enrolling in the video game school. I started with the XSI Mod Tool, the free and standalone version of Softimage | XSI. I used it mostly for building assets for a Source Engine mod.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_brickswall_bigb.jpg" height="516" width="690" /><br /><br />Once I started the school, I had to learn 3ds Max since the courses in my first year were using it. I didn't like Max however, and switched to Maya since it was used by the video game section. I quickly started to like it. Softimage and Maya are very similar on certain points, so the transition was easy.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/big_02.jpg" height="389" width="690" /></p> <p><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Can you tell us about this school and the particular program you are enrolled in? Would be interesting to know just briefly what you did each year during the course of the program..</strong></span></p> <p>I'm in Belgium in a school named ESIAJ (&Eacute;cole Sup&eacute;rieur d'Infographie Albert Jacquard - <a href="http://www.infographie-sup.be/">http://www.infographie-sup.be</a> ). It's a school that teaches a variety of courses on graphics, and there is a dedicated program for Video Games. That's where I am currently. <br /><br />It's a 3-year program. The first year is general, you see and work on many subject matters; this allows you to choose wisely what section you will want to work in for the remaining two years. I did three years already, but I still have one more to do as I failed to pass my second year the first time.</p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_wip03.jpg" height="421" width="690" /></p> <p>The class covers quite a lot of subjects, from sculpting and animating characters, to making environment art. This is a heavy course, but very interesting. My school work during these two years is visible on my portfolio : <a href="http://www.froyok.fr/work.html">www.froyok.fr/work.html</a></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Did the school classes teach you all what you know today?</strong></span></p> <p>I would say half of it, mostly about technical information and constraints of real-time rendering. I'm a self-taught person by nature, so even if my school taught a lot of things, I also research by myself in my free time. Of course, I also read and watch a lot of tutorials too.</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Since you straddle both the technical and artistic spheres of games creation, what do you want to do now that school is nearing an end?</strong></span></p> <p>I'm still asking myself that question today, I'm not yet certain. I have ideas of course, and being a technical artist is the most important one. Working as an independent developer and making my own games is also crossing my mind.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_2013_03_rooftexture.jpg" height="699" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />If you could pick any studio and position, which and what would it be?</strong></span></p> <p>That's a really hard question. Arkane Studios in Lyon, France would be a very cool place to be, I believe. I really liked their past and recent projects (such as Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and Dishonored). Being a Creative Director could be a very interesting position, but saying this doesn't really sound modest. Being an artist would be a really good start, haha! There is also Epic Games of course, I would love to be able to work on the next generation of a game engine like the Unreal Engine 4.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/exil.jpg" height="389" width="690" /></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Speaking of games, EXIL is your own personal journey into game development. Can you tell us how this got started and where you aim to take it to?</strong></span></p> <p>Before EXIL, I went into the modding world, starting with Half-life. When I played Half-life my first reaction was, "It would be so awesome if I could make a game like this!". You can understand my joy when I discovered later there was a map editor with the game. So I started to learn how to make levels even if I never finished anything. I learned things slowly here and there. Then I played the Prince of Persia games (The Sands of Time trilogy) and really liked them, to the point that they started to influence me very heavily. At this time I was still in the modding area and I began to investigate whether or not I could create a Source Engine mod (Half-Life 2) to create a platforming game.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/Highres_Screenshot_00008.jpg" height="388" width="690" /><br /><br />Then, during my summer vacations of 2008, I decided to create the game I wanted from scratch. At this time, it was hard to find people on the Source Engine as programmers and I was unable to program in C++. So I decided to learn the C++ but instead of learning a complex engine, I decided to write my own. Needless to say I was wrong to go this route (as making an engine from zero is even more difficult). Fortunately, the Unreal Development Kit came out a few months after. I quickly jumped on that and started my project.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_2011_12_colossus3.jpg" height="361" width="690" /></p> <p>I had never made a game before, so EXIL is the project on which I would learn everything; from mistake to mistake, from game design to art. Fortunately my motivation almost never failed and I was able to work on it without too much problem. I believe once you accept that you have to learn by yourself, for something to progress, you just do it. I always had difficulties to motivate people to work with me, so I ended up doing everything myself.</p> <p><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/DfUloZZuMCw?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="365" width="648"></iframe><br /><br />Now EXIL is more than a game to me, as I integrated a lot of ideas and feelings I have into it. I started a simple game and it became very personal. Today, I try to create a simple but solid and fun gameplay base. Sharing my ideas and my artistic vision is what motivates me. Making it as a commercial indie game would be a plus, of course. It would also be a very nice achievement and something to show off what my skills are.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_2011_12_colossus1.jpg" height="367" width="690" /></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Asides from working on EXIL, are you doing any work on the side - commercial or otherwise? </strong></span></p> <p>I don't have any commercial opportunities for the moment. For the rest, I tried... but I was unable to. Each project I tried to work on (from personal projects to team projects) was never motivating me enough to stay away from EXIL. My game project is so big now that I have the feeling that when I'm not working on it, I am wasting time. That's a bit conflicting with my school work, haha!<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_02.jpg" height="356" width="690" /></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What are your favourite PC and console games?</strong></span></p> <p><i>Chrono Trigger</i> would be the first -- I really loved the gameplay and the story. Traveling in time is one of my favorite subjects in books and movies. I wish we could see more of that in games today. <br /><br />Of course, there is the <i>Prince of Persia</i> games that heavily influenced me. They showed me how space could be explored, making me discover the verticality of environments. <br /><br />Then <i>Mirror's Edge</i> would be the third, as it's Art Direction really had a big impact. I don't think any game visuals could be more powerful than in <i>Mirror's Edge</i>. Again, as a person who loves exploring spaces, the parkour in ME was appealing. <br /><br />I could talk about a lot of other games, like <i>Shadow of the Colossus</i>, <i>The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind</i>, and so on as they share some common ideas to me.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_08.jpg" height="367" width="690" /></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>If you could take gameplay elements from favourite games and make a game from it, what parts from which games would it be? </strong></span></p> <p>Hmm, hard question. Of course, anything with parkour inside it would be interesting. I really like the possibility of making wallruns and climbing walls. So climbing Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus was one of the most powerful feeling I ever had.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/colossus_02.jpg" height="455" width="690" /></p> <p><i>The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind</i> also had a strong impact. I really liked being free, having the possibility to chat with anybody and read any books in this mysterious and unknown country. I had played some RPG before, but the freedom I had in <i>Morrowind</i> made a big impression on me. <br /><br />I also recently played <i>DmC : Devil May Cry</i> and <i>Remember Me</i>, both of which offers some fights based on good rhythms. I like that because the more precise you are, the more rewards you gain and therefore joy. <br /><br />So what would this final game look like? Probably a deep RPG with very dynamic movements and fights. The most ambitious game ever, haha!</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What games are you playing now?</strong></span></p> <p>I just finished <i>Remember Me</i> which was very beautiful. The futuristic vision of Paris that DontNod Entertainment made was perfect. I really liked the story too. <i>FEZ</i> and <i>Alan Wake</i> are probably the games coming next once I find the time.</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>And ......... what tools do you have planned or are working on now? ;-)</strong></span></p> <p>Ho, I have a lot of things in mind. Probably too much, haha! I have some projects that I would like to progress on. <br /><br />One is a projection painting script, possibly in Maya, where you could take the current view of your mesh, send it to Photoshop to paint and then get it back to Maya.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/min_lib02.jpg" height="347" width="690" /><br /><br />One other is a game library maker that you could use to compose some game mesh from multiple sources and then export it to your game project. <br /><br />And to finish, some new UV tools for Maya. Probably some new UV unwrapping functions.</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Sounds interesting, especially the game library maker. I look forward to see your future projects :) Thanks for the chat , Fabrice!! </strong></span></p> <p>Thanks to you too ! :)</p> <hr /> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/pdf_prev.png" height="400" width="690" /><br />// Don't forget there is a <a href="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/froyok/interview_froyok.pdf"><strong>.PDF version</strong></a> if you're on the go //</p>Mon, 12 Aug 2013 18:26:57 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/frotools--froretopo-by-froyok-fabrice-piquetEverything I Can See From Here -- an animated short by The LineFianna<p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/63823593?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="864" width="648"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />Hello Sam from The Line studio and David Hunt, welcome to AREA! The Line put out an animated short not too long ago, titled "Everything I Can See From Here". This film had been an ongoing project for the past 2 years, and was completed during evenings, weekends and days off. Before we get started, can you tell us a bit about yourselves, and how The Line Studio became a reality? </strong></span><br /> <br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/fotos.jpg" height="307" width="690" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam Taylor</strong>: Bjorn Aschim, James Duveen, and I met at university. We were very lucky to get picked up straight out of the door as juniors on <a target="_blank" href="http://www.sonyclassics.com/theillusionist/">Sylvain Chomet&rsquo;s The Illusionist</a>, a 2D feature film that was being made in Edinburgh at the time. After 3 years, the film finished and we moved to London to work freelance. We were all working on a 2D freelance job when we met Wesley Louis and Tim McCourt. After a series of drinks at the pub one night it became clear that we all had similar interests and aspirations, and so we set about finding a studio space to rent together. I think we all had the sense that if we could just get everyone in the same room for long enough, good work would start getting made.</span></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/maya_01.jpg" height="491" width="690" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What were the main graphic applications used?</strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: The rough animation was done in a number of different ways, some people used Flash, some worked with pencils and paper, some used TVPaint, but the final cleanup was all done in Flash. The 3D animation was done using Maya and we used After Effects for the compositing. The backgrounds were done in a combination of Painter and Photoshop. <br /><br /></span></p> <p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/63884838?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="365" width="648"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Your character and concept sketches really showcase your strength in illustration, colouring and design. One might say that you could comfortably stay with 2D graphic apps and continue to deliver great storytelling. Watching "Everything I Can See From Here", I was not able to identify that you had used 3D until I saw the making-of video. What made you decide to explore the 3D route? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: We had a design for the alien visitor that was pretty complex, it would have been a hell of a job to realize it in 2D animation, so we asked some friends of ours to have a go at modeling it. We were absolutely blown away with the result. The controllability of the headdress was particularly impressive. There is also something about a big gooning, expressionless face that's quite disconcerting.<br /><br /></span><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/maya_general_02.jpg" height="479" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>The toon aesthetic of the space visitor is consistent to that of the other characters and surrounding environment. Can you talk about the shader setup used for the alien? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #6d6982;"><strong>David Hunt</strong>: The shader setup was really simple, just a number of coloured ramps plugged into ambient surface shaders. This allowed some flexibility for quickly changing the colours during animation and if needed moving the bands of colour through the feathers.<br /></span><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/maya_general_03.jpg" height="409" width="690" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How did you make the feather hair? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #6d6982;"><strong>Dave</strong>: The feathers were polygon tubes, we used the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/scripts-plugins/character/c/dodo-master-feather-system-for-maya-update-v0-2--2">Dodomaster plugin</a> for Maya to roughly place them around a NURBS shape. Once the placement was suitable, they were resized and tweaked to match the shape and flow of the initial designs. We then rigged the NURBS shape, which still controlled the position of the tubes, allowing us to flare the headdress or move the direction of certain feathers if necessary.<br /></span><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/maya_general_01.jpg" height="409" width="690" /> <br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/maya_general_06.jpg" height="665" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What other elements, if any, were 3D in this animation?</strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: The head of the alien was the only 3D bit.<br /></span><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/colourkeys_01_o.jpg" height="424" width="690" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>I truly enjoyed all the elements of the animation. From the choice of no-dialogue, the visual style, the great sound effects and the interesting ending. When you set out to do this 2 years ago, did you have this story in mind already?</strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: We started from the premise of two boys seeing who can kick the ball the highest and then having the ball not come down. I&rsquo;d originally imagined it as a very short 30 second knockabout comedy piece, but when I showed it to Bjorn and he started doing paintings and storyboards, it took on a whole new level of depth.<br /><br /></span></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/modelsheet_01_1024.jpg" height="388" width="690" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/modelsheet_02_1024.jpg" height="388" width="690" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How difficult was it to do this without a budget? Even though it ended brilliantly and looked like you didn't even need it :)) </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: It was a nightmare. I don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;ll ever do anything this big again without a budget. Things take sooooooo long when nobody&rsquo;s getting paid. Every time we&rsquo;d start making headway, a paid job would come up and production would stop. We did turn down work towards the end in order to finish it, but that's never ideal.<br /></span><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/frames.jpg" height="388" width="690" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What about pursuing UK art grants? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: Before this we hadn&rsquo;t done any films of our own. We had no established identity to speak of and no real contacts, so we felt it would have been a big effort to start hunting down funding rather than just moving ahead with production. I think we were probably right. The amount of money we would have had to pull together would have been pretty large. There&rsquo;s something to be said for owning your work outright and not having to answer to anyone in relation to release dates, etc.<br /><br /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Actually just to quickly touch on this; there's been some talk around 3D, games and animation subsidies from the UK government. Is it mostly just talk, or has there been any significant recognition and support to help out smaller studios, to nurture and grow British talent in this industry?</strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: I know <a target="_blank" href="http://www.animationuk.org/index.html">Animation UK</a> have done some great work campaigning for tax breaks for animators. I don&rsquo;t know enough about it to comment, but I am aware that they have had some success recently. <br /><br /></span><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/backgrounds_02_1024.jpg" height="424" width="690" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>And now, back to The Line...who and what are your biggest sources of inspiration? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: Our tastes in filmmaking diverge pretty wildly. It ranges from <em>The Fast and The Furious</em> through to Jean-Luc Goddard, with <em>Top Gun</em>, Wes Anderson, and Ingmar Bergman in between. I think the key in a team like this is to respect each other and not be too tribal about your tastes, whilst trying to look at ideas and images on their own terms. When it comes to animation though, everybody has an appreciation for quality craftsmanship. I think I can safely say we are all fans of Masaaki Yuasa, Koji Morimoto, Gainax, and the new wave of directors coming out of Japan over the last couple of decades.<br /></span><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line//Backgrounds_01_o.jpg" height="424" width="690" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Favourite animator and animation?</strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: Pinocchio, Milt Kahl, Bruce Bickford. <br /><br /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Which is preferred: Cintiq or Intuos with a big display? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: We&rsquo;re mostly using Cintiqs in the office.<br /><br /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>And lastly, what kind of music do you guys listen to, and do you have music on while working? </strong></span><br /> <br /><span style="color: #69435a;"><strong>Sam</strong>: I generally listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I&rsquo;m working. I am addicted to American public radio. Bookworm, Strangers, 99 Percent Invisible, This American Life, Radiolab, Planet Money, Savage Love, and On The Media are my weekly favourites.<br /><br /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Sam, Dave -- thank you for the chat! :-D <br /></strong></span></p> <hr /> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/pdf_prev.jpg" height="400" width="690" /><br />// Don't forget there is a <a href="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/the_line/interview_theline.pdf"><strong>.PDF version</strong></a> if you're on the go //</p>Tue, 28 May 2013 11:41:18 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/everything-i-can-see-from-here----an-animated-short-by-the-lineThe OceanMaker with Lucas MartellFianna<p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/fugduck.jpg" height="287" width="690" /><br /><br />In my daily AREA activities, I get to come into contact with lots of talented artists, high-end technical users and hear about some pretty interesting projects. One such project is <em>The OceanMaker</em>, headed by Lucas Martell. To sum it up, <em>The OceanMaker</em> is an animated short film that's looking for some online love (and funding). Nowadays, with crowdfunding being so ubiquitous, it's hard for everyone to get an equal chance under the spotlight and make cool things happen. I was able to talk to Lucas about <em>The OceanMaker</em> on what it's like to pull together a team of people and jumpstart an idea.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/boysonthedock.jpg" height="570" width="690" /><br /><br /> So Lucas - your introduction video pretty much sums up the path that's led you to the halfway point of where you are at with <em>The OceanMaker</em>. Your idea of gathering up people from around the continent and getting to work in a tropical getaway -- Belize -- is straightup pretty awesome! How did you round up the crew.. did you already know them or were they total strangers who thought "sure why not" :-)?</strong></span></p> <p>With the exception of one person, they were all people I knew and had worked at least a little bit with, but after spending so long living, working and playing with this team, we've become a pretty close-knit bunch. The biggest challenge in pulling together the team was convincing everyone that I was serious. So, I finally just made the plunge, rented the houses and started booking plane tickets before we had the entire crew in place. That really made the project real for everyone, and we found and locked down the last few crew members in just a couple of days. Everyone had their own reason for saying yes, but a big part of it was just because it was so cool, and such a different approach that we all felt that if we didn't do it, we might regret missing out on what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.</p> <p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/62584415?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="363" width="645"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>The last animation you made was <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>, released back in 2009 and currently has almost 9 million views. You also run Martell Animation. Can you tell us how that came to be, and how it ties in to the realization of <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>?
<br /></strong></span><br /><em>Pigeon: Impossible</em> was a lot of fun. It started as a little test project to learn how to animate, and just grew and grew into what you finally see on screen. As for Martell Animation, we do a variety of stuff, mostly animation for commercials and TV shows. It's very small and we just staff up and down with freelancers, but I'm trying to grow the business slowly, and we have several larger original projects in various states of development.</p> <p><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/jEjUAnPc2VA" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="363" width="645"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>When was the start of your career in this industry and what is your background?<br /></strong></span><br />I was actually a music major in school. I moved to Austin for an internship at a post house doing sound for film, but someone saw a simple monitor replacement I had done for a music video in college. Before I knew it, I was getting regular work as a VFX artist.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />What did you 'learn' from doing <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em> ... and when you finally made the decision to do your next animated short (which likely wasn't a quick decision), what things did you know you had to do differently? What were the most painful or memorable aspects in making <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>?
<br /></strong></span><br />Pretty much everything I know about 3D I learned on <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>. The most painful thing was definitely the fact that it took five years to make. I knew that when it came time to do another film, I needed to have a larger team, and I knew I needed to find a way to get them all in the same location and totally dedicated to the project. I didn't want to take the typical indie animation approach where people are all working remotely and just put in scraps of time when they're available. That was how the idea for doing the film on an island came up.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/01.jpg" height="406" width="690" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/03.jpg" height="406" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What applications did you guys use on <em>The OceanMaker</em>; was it the same ones used for <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>?<br /></strong></span><br />It was mostly the same as <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>. Primarily Softimage, with a few other utility packages thrown in for one-off needs.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />I noticed on the video and in the photo that you guys are using both Softimage and Max... why both instead of just one or the other?<br /></strong></span><br />It was almost entirely Softimage, so pretty much everything you see was done in that. The only thing being done in Max are the clouds which use Fume.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/foto_house_tour_with_christina0.jpg" height="388" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How was the work divided amongst the team?<br /></strong></span><br />We had 2 animators, 1 person doing models/textures/hair, 1 cloud FX, 1 story/layout/previs artist, and then myself and one other person filled the "utility" roles. Rig fixes, shot setup, pipeline tools, IT, and all those other necessary things. I tried to stay more hands-off and focus on the story and direction, but with a crew that small I found it necessary to bounce back and forth a good bit.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />Can you tell us about the hardware setup in Belize? Actually before getting into that, exactly how long were you guys staying there?<br /></strong></span><br />We were down there for 6 and a half weeks. Most of the crew were working on new, but not terribly high-end Acer laptops. They were about $900 a piece, so decent, but still "consumer grade." The house where we set up shop had a really good router and we just synced the whole project over wifi to everyone's local drives. Something like that would be pretty difficult with a larger crew, but that's one of the benefits to keeping the crew small&hellip; as things get bigger, you have to have more pipeline tools, more IT and more middle management just to keep things working.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/foto_lessons_0010.jpg" height="388" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/workingonthesofa0.jpg" height="388" width="690" /><br /><br />Working with laptops exclusively, were there any performance issues overall? I think most people are still psychologically more comfortable to stay on workstations, but nowadays there are some pretty loaded laptops that can handle and process large data.<br /></strong></span><br />No problems that we ran into. In fact, even now that we're in the lighting phase, our render farm is exclusively the laptops we had down in Belize. We're rendering everything as a single pass in Mental Ray, and frames are taking about an hour a piece INCLUDING 3D motion blur. It helps that there's not a ton of assets, but we also know a couple of simple tricks that really optimize things. The laptop stigma is totally outdated in my opinion. A lot of people have this old-school mentality that they can't do 3D without a lot of heavy iron to back it up. But most of the work&hellip; modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, layout&hellip; none of those even come close to maxing out a system. The only things I'd still consider using a workstation for are lighting and heavy simulation stuff, but I'll gladly sacrifice that little bit of speed for the ability to sit on the beach&hellip; Of course&hellip; I should mention that sadly, we didn't actually do any work on the beach. The caribbean sun was so bright we couldn't see the screens :(</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/katrinacu_originalcolor.jpg" height="287" width="690" /><br /><br />In the time you guys were down there, what items have been checked off on the "To Do" list? <br /></strong></span><br />We went down there with a script, a couple of models, and the character had been built and rigged ahead of time so the animators could start. While we were there, we did two or three complete animatic passes, about 70% of the character animation, finished all the models and rigs, and got our cloud system working. By the time we left, the film was pretty close to picture locked. We didn't do any rendering while we were there, but we did a few test screenings when we got back, and the animation and temp FX were totally adequate for a non-industry audience to watch the film and give us their thoughts.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/10.jpg" height="406" width="690" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/08.jpg" height="406" width="690" /><br /><br />What's left to do now?<br /></strong></span><br />The bulk of the work is scene finaling, lighting/rendering and effects. We have a couple of additional assets to build, mostly due to a few small story changes based on the feedback we've gotten in the test screenings. There's also a handful of shots that still need to be animated, but they're the most challenging shots which we've saved for last.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />Would you consider an open call to artists to "crowdsource" remaining assets, in exchange for including their name in the film credits? Something like<em> Iron Sky...</em><br /></strong></span><br />I've since added two more people to help finish assets, but assets aren't the time consuming thing. It's camera work, animation, lighting, effects&hellip; those things you can't just bundle up and hand off to someone without a lot of time bringing them up to speed. I've got nothing against films that go the crowdsourcing route, but to me, it's just terribly inefficient. Usually, by the time I find and bring an artist onto the project, brief them on what I need, and then do a few rounds of reviews over email or Skype, I've put in about as much time as it would have taken for me to just do the task myself. That's not to say that the doors are closed&hellip; People are welcome to send me a reel and we might add one or two more artists, but my main objective is to hit our IndieGoGo target and pay the crew we have. If we could get everyone together for another month, we could pretty much finish the whole film.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/07.jpg" height="406" width="690" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/06.jpg" height="406" width="690" /><br /><br />Are you still actively working on <em>The OceanMaker</em> or is it on hold until the IndieGoGo campaign is completed and you can pull the team together to work at warp speed?<br /></strong></span><br />We're still working on it, but as I mentioned in the video, people are all busy with day jobs, so the last few months of remote work has been equivalent to about 2 weeks of concentrated production. I think my original estimate was pretty much spot on&hellip; If we had been able to afford a full 3 months of production on the island, we could have totally finished in that time.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />I know that a lot of people were also fans of the short tips and tricks videos you did along with <em>Pigeon: Impossible</em>. Will we be seeing more of those with <em>The OceanMaker</em>?<br /></strong></span><br />I'll be doing a few more, but my focus has shifted more to the bigger picture of writing, directing and producing animation, so one of the perks we're offering with the IndieGoGo campaign is an 8-hour masterclass on making animated short films. It will still have lots of cool tips and tricks, but the longer format will let us dive into some much larger topics that can't be covered in those short podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/63553055?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="363" width="645"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />Ok, have to ask. Is that a Steve Zissou reference in that photo? ;-D<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/img_0364.jpg" height="518" width="690" /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>Absolutely. You have to admit the whole idea of doing an animated film on an island has a very Life Aquatic feel to it.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />We'll have to save that discussion and Jaguar sharks for another time ;-) Meantime Lucas, thanks for sharing your film-making island-experiment experience and I hope that we will get to see <em>The OceanMaker</em> in the near future!<br /></strong></span><br />Thank you!<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/oceanmaker.jpg" height="286" width="690" /><br /><br /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>* * *&nbsp; <br />[ Additional Reading ]<br /><br /><a target="_blank" href="http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-oceanmaker-animated-short-film?c=home">The OceanMaker @ IndieGoGo </a><br /><a target="_blank" href="http://martellanimation.com/pigeonimpossible/">Pigeon: Impossible</a> <br /><a target="_blank" href="http://martellanimation.com">Martell Animation</a><br /></strong></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Read it later </strong>| <a href="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/oceanmaker/oceanmaker_lm.pdf">Download .PDF</a> (1.7MB)</p>Mon, 08 Apr 2013 22:52:38 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/the-oceanmaker-with-lucas-martellLenovo ThinkPad X230T ReviewFianna<p><span style="color: #ccff00;"><strong>LENOVO THINKPAD X230T REVIEW</strong><br /></span>l'll begin by giving a bit of context, in terms of the hardware I've had before this ThinkPad.&nbsp; Previously, I was a longtime user of Apple hardware -- this included the Mac Pro, Mac Book Pro, Mac Book Air, iMac, and Mac Mini. This was probably over the span of about 6 years. And before that, l was using a custom-built rig at home and the company-issued Dell laptop (Precision M70) and I believe, an HP workstation (also company issued). That said, I think it would only be fair to compare laptops to laptops. Oh and l also have an Intuos 3 that I use for painting and sculpting -- it's dated, but it does what I need so I haven't yet upgraded...though the multi-touch updates look pretty tempting. l have gotten the chance to use Cintiqs before, but not to the extent that it would permit me to fairly comment on.&nbsp; So...all those things considered, what do l think of the ThinkPad? I gotta say that I absolutely love it. In our house, we have also the X220T and W520 from Lenovo as well. The X220T is a touch-screen, without Gorilla Glass so it was good to have, for comparison purposes. <br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/X230T/x220_x230.jpg" width="690" height="359" /><br /><sub><em>Comparison: X220T (left) and X230T (right)</em></sub><br /><br />For those who are not familiar with Lenovos or to tablet PCs, the X230T utilizes Wacom technology to drive the pen and tablet input and will feel familiar for those who already use tablets in their daily work. The screen resolution runs at a maximum of 1366x768 and is powered by an IntelHD 4000 graphics card. In my configuration, I have a dual-core Intel i7 3520M, 2.90GHz CPU, 8GB ram, 32GB Samsung SSD drive and a secondary Hitachi 300GB drive. The X230 shipped with Windows 7, but shortly after, Windows 8 was released, so I used the SSD drive as a boot to Windows 8 and kept Windows 7 to a different partition. I have not gone back to Windows 7 since, even though this laptop doesn't have the touch-screen option. For those who don't know, Windows 8 was streamlined for touch-input interaction, but I enjoy using Metro all the same with the mouse/stylus/Touchpad. Ironically, the "Windows" key has become by new best friend...it is no longer in the way :-D Primarily, I am using this laptop for doodles and sketches, and Maya modeling. Unfortunately, Mudbox doesn't support the Intel graphic card, so that is left to the workstation.<br /><br />So what are my thoughts from using this machine? I use it daily, that's for starters. It is a pleasantly smooth drive; you'll be able to run Maya, 3ds Max or Softimage for modeling without lag. Don't expect to do any sims or heavy renders on it though. And though the screen is "smaller" than what most would normally use on a workstation (e.g. 19"+), you can optimize your shelves and menus to "bare-bones" and the difference is not noticeable. If you miss working on the big display, then there is the Displayport which supports 2560X1600. My workstation is setup with a 30" Dell display and this laptop doesn't have any problem to drive this massive resolution. In addition, you can also hook up the second display; there is a VGA port for older monitors as well. <br /><br /><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/J_KXUOUnOkc" allowfullscreen="" width="658" frameborder="0" height="370"></iframe><br /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #ccff00;"><strong>SKETCHING</strong><br /></span>SketchBook Pro works as it was meant to be -- a digital sketchbook. You literally twist and fold the screen back and draw. I had tried mobile sketching on 1st and 2nd gen iPad with various stylus options, but those were simply not comparable. The preciseness of the pen... it's like using an Intuos (because the technology is literally from Wacom). The only issue with the display is the pen calibration; you can't go close to the edges of the display...but this is a known disease of any tabletPC computer. Otherwise the pen is responsive, pressure sensitivity works as it should and I have no complaints there. The *ONLY* thing that is missing, in my opinion, is the addition of a few programmable buttons on the screen. Once you flip the screen, you are at the mercy of your stylus/mouse/external keyboard. Also, there is only 1 button on the stylus...so no middle mouse-button(!). The workaround is...if you can find one on eBay or Craigslist, the stylus from Intuos 1. The display automatically recognizes the pen and you have yourself the 3-button access. But you'll have to sacrifice the "suspension" if you will...basically the small spring that's been added to Wacom styluses since Intuos 2...it's not in the 1st version. <br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #ccff00;"><strong>BATTERY</strong><br /></span>Next up is the battery life. I use the X230T both with the charger and battery alone and get a solid 7 hours of life or more from the latter. It obviously depends on what sort of stuff I'm doing on it, so the more intensive the application, the faster the battery gets used up. But overall combination use, I get several hours before having to reach for the cable to charge. The size of the charger also is very conveniently small and makes the whole package very mobile (read: lightweight). <br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/X230T/x220_w520.jpg" width="690" height="330" /><br /><sub><em>Comparison: X220T (left) and W520 (right)</em></sub><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #ccff00;"><strong>UPDATES</strong><br /></span>A quick mention about the updates on the X230 from the X220. One of the things I had grown accustomed to with MBP and MBA was the backlit keyboard. The W520 had a "lamp" LED light that shone on the keys at night but wasn't exactly what I was used to, so I had always wished to have backlit keys on my laptop...which the X220 also didn't have. I'm happy to say that X230 comes with a backlit keyboard...now if they can add the side LED display indicating battery life like on the MBP :) I'd like to also add that though they've put in new "nice-to-haves", there has been some useful stuff removed as well...due to limited space, no doubt. The X220 had a cluster of keys to the lower right, which had page forward/page back...they have since been removed. I prefer those, but you can use the finger swipping on the Touchpad instead (like on Mac laptops). <br /><br /><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Pq6HULZnDgc" allowfullscreen="" width="658" frameborder="0" height="370"></iframe><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #ccff00;"><strong>INTERIOR|EXTERIOR BUILD</strong><br /></span>The casing of the ThinkPad itself feels great on the hands. The external cover is a composite magnesium material that is nonslip and not so prone to finger-grease marks. A simple wipe-down of the surfaces with a microfiber cloth will make it looking new again. It feels really well-made and durable (I have yet to drop it so I can't tell you JUST how durable it is) cause it has gone through <a target="_blank" href="http://www.lenovo.com/news/us/en/2009/02/rugged_computing.html">military torture tests</a>, but what will leave your mouth open will be this video above if you didn't already watch it. The entire Lenovo ThinkPad series have waterproof keyboards...so you can rest assure that pouring a liquid over your keys will not damage your machine. Haven't put this to the test either, but no company is going to make that claim without having gone through rigorous testing, so I'll take their word on it! As for the keys themselves, I guess they are so well made that I don't even notice how comfortable they are to use. For me, they are the same as those on the MBP and MBA&hellip; they are also backlit as well, with 2 levels of brightness intensity. Lenovo is well recognized for the quality of their keyboards and this X230T is no exception. <br /><br />The standard ports on the X230T include:</p> <ul> <li>(1) Display port w/ audio</li> <li>(1) VGA</li> <li>(2) USB 3.0</li> <li>(1) Always on USB 2.0</li> <li>(1) 4-in-1 SD Card Reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC slot)</li> <li>(1) Express Card 54mm</li> <li>(1) Ethernet RJ45</li> </ul> <p>and an Integrated Fingerprint Reader for those with security concerns. <br /><br />One more bit about the construction of the X230T - most of us are used to laptops that don't have any sort of "protrusion" and is pretty much a rectangular shape. The X230T has a unique and smart design with their battery, which gives a "protrusion" but in fact, this is actually a really well-designed element that allows the user to grip onto the tabletPC whether in tablet mode (flipped+folded down screen) or 'regular' L mode (screen and keyboard @ 90 degrees). The grip gives you an unobstructed view of the screen and you don't have to worry about having to move your hands around to adjust the display. It gives you a really sturdy grip over the whole machine and I can't imagine not having it now. <br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #ccff00;"><strong>SUMMARY</strong><br /></span>If l could sum this up, l would say that the X230T is a delightful combination of a PC, with the mobility of a tablet and the usability of a Wacom stylus input device. I would recommend the X230T to anyone considering mobile hardware for sketching and working-on-the-go. A built-in webcam lets you work from anywhere and connect to your peers, and you can get the initial skeleton projects started and transfer work over to a work-horse workstation afterwards.</p> <hr /> <p style="padding-left: 60px;"><br /><span style="color: #00b366;"><strong>PROS</strong></span></p> <ul> <li>lightweight, not bulky</li> <li>good performance</li> <li>durable build</li> <li>Wacom-integrated technology</li> <li>long battery life</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 60px;"><span style="color: #00b366;"><strong>CONS</strong></span></p> <ul> <li>missing programmable buttons on display</li> <li>missing 2nd button on stylus for 3-button controls</li> <li>essential utilities for temperature control not default (install <a target="_blank" href="http://www.staff.uni-marburg.de/~schmitzr/donate.html">TPFanControl</a>)</li> <li>needs improved microphone driver</li> </ul> <p style="padding-left: 60px;"><span style="color: #00b366;"><strong>SIDE NOTE</strong></span></p> <ul> <li type="_moz">pick up a bluetooth mouse if you can; mine is from the W520 -- comfortable, great on batteries+same matte black feel as the laptop. Cool design for battery removal AND has <a target="_blank" href="http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:item.detail?GroupID=460&amp;Code=0A36188">1600 dpi res</a>.</li> </ul> <hr /> <p><em><strong>UPDATE:</strong></em> X230T Pen Properties Window (screenshot)<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/X230T/pen_prop.JPG" width="628" height="533" /><br /><br /></p>Tue, 12 Feb 2013 20:10:04 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/lenovo-thinkpad-x230t-reviewPedro Conti: Making Partner, a Hairy Viking and Etc.Fianna<p>Last month, Pedro Conti released an animated short "One More Beer", which featured a large and hairy Viking (a beautifully rendered one, that is). I tried to get a hold of him, but he was finally kicking it back on a trip across Thailand and China. Pedro is back in Brazil now, and we undoubtedly talked about the Viking, past projects, collaboration with Dario Picciau and life-changing work with a 5-man studio out of Sweden called Meindbender.</p> <p><strong>* * *&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Pedro! Been a while since we <a href="/inhouse/bts/pedro_conti_working_at_lightspeed">last spoke</a>, it&rsquo;s nice to see you&rsquo;ve been keeping busy, like with this Viking animated short you released not too long ago. You created this character from about a year back -- when did you begin working on making the animation?<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>I started working on the Viking Project in January of 2011. Over the span of 5 months, I did the illustration but I had plans for an animation. From July to December of 2011, the project was on hold until Alan Camilo (animator) came on to join the project.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/06clay_scene.jpg" height="363" width="645" /></p> <p>Actually there's a funny story behind the short film. We had no plans for the short; Alan decided to animate a gag with the character, and during that process we decided it would be a short film.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/01.jpg" height="350" width="645" /></p> <p><br />The animation process took about 2 months of free time, and after the animation process I worked on polishing all details of lighting, shading, compositing, and finalization of the short film. We released "One More Beer" on the 1st of October. So, it was 9 months of hard work - overnights and weekends - to complete it.<br /><br /><br /></p> <p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/50522981?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;badge=0&amp;color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" width="645"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Looking at the credits, you worked with other artists on this animation...but a lot of the aspects of the animation were done by you: design, art direction, modeling, texturing, dynamics, hair, lighting+rendering+comp and more. Out of all those areas, what were the primary obstacles that came up as you were making the animation? Surely there were obstacles&hellip;<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>Yes, I had many obstacles during the process, especially because I&rsquo;m used to working with illustrations. So I had to learn a lot about how to prepare the scene for animation. It took me a lot of time until I could make sure everything was right for the final render and after that, the nightmare had just begun.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/02.jpg" height="350" width="645" /><br /><br /></p> <p>I was using a special shader for hair, and for some reason it was crashing my Backburner Manager. I ended up managing all render passes by hand. The rendering itself was made at my company, so I had to wait (everyday) until all fellas left the studio to start the rendering and then the next day, check what happened over night. Overall, rendering was the most painful process.</p> <p><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/03model.jpg" height="472" width="645" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>The rendered look of the Viking and environment deliver a great atmosphere and feel to the scene. What did you use as your rendering solution?<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>For the rendering I used mental ray, which is a really good rendering engine. The render time was about 1 hour and 30 minutes per frame; I did a lot of extra passes (about 28 passes).<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/10_LIGHTING.jpg" height="382" width="645" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/710_max.jpg" height="349" width="645" /><br />The final mood was achieved with post-production. With all render passes plus colour correction, it was quite easy to control every detail, as well as relighting the scene in post-production with a normal pass :P</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How did you create the Viking's facial hair? <br /></strong></span></p> <p>The beard was created with the native Hair and Fur modifier in 3ds Max. It&rsquo;s a really powerful tool, I learned a lot during this short film.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/605_max.jpg" height="366" width="645" /></p> <p>The shader I used for the Hair was the amazing P_hairtk by Puppet shaders <a target="_blank" href="http://www.puppet.tfdv.com/">www.puppet.tfdv.com</a><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/VIEWPORT.jpg" height="361" width="645" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Now that you've got the taste of what it takes to produce an animation...would you do it again? If so, do you have plans to make a longer animated short or series from the Viking?<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>I have a lot of ideas in my mind already and for next time, I would like to have more people to divide the process with, and make things better and smoother. About the Viking, I have to say "IT'S OVER, IT'S OVER".<i> Hehehe</i> <br /><br /> I'm so happy the project was completed, after one year work of looking at this character, I want to start new stuff, try different designs and move on.</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>I know last time we talked, you were working at an ad agency doing all sorts of awesome CG campaigns...the parrot and hippo are still fresh in my mind. What are you working on now, and are you at the same studio? <br /><br /></strong></span>I'm in the same studio that I was in 2010, the great news is that I've become one of the partners of Techno Image. \o/ I'm really excited with the projects. Many dreams came true last year, including the work we did with the guys of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.meindbender.com/#/home/">Meindbender</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nathanlove.com/home">Nathan Love</a>.</p> <p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/44807996?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;badge=0&amp;color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="363" width="645"></iframe> <br /><br /><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/44807997?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;badge=0&amp;color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="363" width="645"></iframe><br /><br /></p> <p>A lot of clients have been asking us to work with characters, so that's what I really want to do as a 3D artist. Besides that, we continue to develop a lot of illustrations for the advertisement market.</p> <p><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/pedro_01.jpg" height="363" width="645" /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/pedro_02.jpg" height="369" width="645" /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/pedro_03.jpg" height="487" width="645" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>By the way, what happened with the animated feature that you were working with Dario Picciau on? I know he was doing the Anne Frank movie, but it never made it to distribution...</strong></span></p> <p>We've finished the pilot in 2010, and since then, I think it's in selling process. About Dear Anne, Dario recently released a <a target="_blank" href="https://itunes.apple.com/br/app/helga-deen/id457460378?mt=8">app series for iPad</a>, which is really impressive.</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>And lastly... the photo of you on your site -- is that really your setup?!</strong></span></p> <p>Yes... of course.... :P</p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/pedro_setup.jpg" height="295" width="645" /></p> <p>Ok, it's a joke <em>hehehe</em>. A lot of artists in industry post their images in a high tech clean room, with Cintiqs, huge 30-inch monitors. So I decided to make something different. <br />This place that I took this photo is near my home and it's like an old computer depot. <br /><br />My setup is default: 24-inch monitor, with a Wacom tablet and that's all!! :)</p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Alright Pedro, thanks for keeping it real. At&eacute; mais from Canada to Brazil...</strong></span></p> <p>I'm really glad, once again, for the opportunity. I just can say MANY THANKS and "At&eacute; a Pr&oacute;xima" :)</p> <p></p> <p><strong>* * *&nbsp; <br />[ Additional Reading ]<br /><br />Pedro Conti&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; <a target="_blank" href="http://pedroconti.com/">pedroconti.com</a><br />Techno Image&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a target="_blank" href="http://www.technoimage.com.br/">technoimage.com.br<br /></a></strong><strong>Meindbender&nbsp;</strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.technoimage.com.br/"><strong>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; </strong></a><strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.meindbender.com/">meindbender.com</a><br />Nathan Love&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nathanlove.com">nathanlove.com<br /></a></strong></p> <hr /> <p></p> <p><strong>Read it later </strong>| <a href="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/pedro/interview_pc.pdf">Download .PDF</a> (1.3MB)</p>Sun, 25 Nov 2012 17:03:18 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/pedro-conti-making-partner-a-hairy-viking-and-etcCameraMan for Maya with Wes McDermottFianna<p>Wes McDermott aka <strong>the 3D Ninja</strong> created an iPhone app &ndash; <a target="_blank" href="http://the3dninja.com/cameraman%20"><em>CameraMan for Maya</em></a> - that allows you to drive a Maya camera or any object, via the gyroscope in an iPhone (or iPad). <em>CameraMan</em> was nominated at the 3D World Magazine CG Awards 2011 for Software Innovation of the Year. I had a quick chat with Wes to ask him about <em>CameraMan</em> and how he got started with the idea for it.</p> <p><strong>* * *&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/CameraMan_Icon_1024.png" height="645" width="645" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Hey Wes -- so <em>CameraMan</em> for Maya, what exactly does this app do and when+where did you get the idea to make this app?<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>The app allows you to drive a Maya camera or any object by actually using the gyro in iPhone or iPad devices. It also has a virtual joystick that allows you to move the camera and the gyro is used for rotation. The motion is cached in what I call the motion cache and can be applied to the Maya timeline as keyframes or the cache can be exported to a <em>CameraMan</em> file which can then be loaded into Maya using the <em>CameraMan</em> control panel.</p> <p>I came up with the idea when the gyro was first introduced on the iPhone. I then thought it would be cool to create an app that could be used with Maya and began development in 2011.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/screen02.jpg" height="363" width="645" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What made you develop this app? Also, do you have a programming background? Not every Maya user can go and create a means to bridge stuff going on in Maya, to an external device...<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>I developed it because I was interested in iPhone development and wanted to create an app. But I wanted to do something that really interested me as a 3D artist. I wanted to create something that wasn't a gimmick, but something that could actually be used.</p> <p>I do have a programming background, but it's mainly in multimedia development. I am more of an artist than programmer, but I see programming as another medium for creating art. It's tough, but I think it's very cool and I always push myself to learn about coding.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>So asides from the benefit of having the natural movement derived from using your app, what would make a user choose purchasing your app over keyframing the movements themselves?<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p>Well, the main benefit is for creating a handheld-look for camera animation. It's much easier to use the app to create camera shake or the handheld look then traditional keyframes or procedural methods. You also get a more realistic and random look as the motion truly is from your hand.</p> <p><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/53469274?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;badge=0&amp;color=ff9933" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="430" width="645"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How much is the app going for and to date, how many copies have you sold? Also -- what's the process for getting your app approved and made available on the App store? Was it difficult?


... </strong></span>The app costs <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/cameraman-for-maya/id429086818?mt=8">$1.99</a> and to date, I've sold around 1,500.</p> <p>I had to become an registered Apple developer and from there downloaded the SDK and got to coding. When the app was completed, I then submitted it for review with Apple. I never had any rejections or review problems.</p> <p>It was a very fun process and thrilling to make an app. It wasn't a lot of trouble to get it on the <a target="_blank" href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cameraman-for-maya/id429086818?mt=8">App Store</a>.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>For that price alone, it's not even worth the trouble of keyframing and tweaking curves around. Awesome price point and congrats on the sales!<br /></strong></span><br />Thanks!<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/screen01.jpg" height="363" width="645" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>I see that you are on v3.5 now... is there still room for improvements at this point (for a 'small' app as this)? If so, what features would you be looking at? <br /></strong></span><br />Yes, tons of improvements. There is a lot I want to do, including adding support for adding and managing animation layers. I have a lot of requests ; ) I'm also learning the Maya API, which presents some interesting options for development, especially when looking at creating an actual node that can use threading to increase performance.</p> <p>I also have ideas for other Maya iPhone apps. I'm looking at creating an app that will show the Maya render. For example, an artist can send a rendered image to a connected device and allow a TD to view and comment on renders remotely. I am also looking at options for remotely monitoring renders using the iPhone.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Cool &ndash; is that currently in the works already?<br /></strong></span><br />Not officially. I am currently evaluating methods for creating the viewing app. I've been wanting to create it for awhile and am researching and coming up with possible solutions.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Well Wes, all the best with development and thanks for the chat! <br /><br /></strong></span><strong>* * *&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><strong><em>CameraMan</em> UI Screenshots below:<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/IMG_0170.PNG" height="430" width="645" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/IMG_0171.PNG" height="430" width="645" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/IMG_0172.PNG" height="430" width="645" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/IMG_0173.PNG" height="430" width="645" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/IMG_0174.PNG" height="430" width="645" /><br /><br /></strong><strong>* * *&nbsp; <br />[ Additional Reading ]<br /><br />The 3D Ninja&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a target="_blank" href="http://the3dninja.com">the3dninja.com</a><br />CameraMan&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a target="_blank" href="http://the3dninja.com/cameraman">the3dninja.com/cameraman<br /></a></strong></p> <hr /> <p></p> <p><strong>Read it later </strong>| <a href="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/3dninja/interview_cm.pdf">Download .PDF</a> (1.5MB)</p>Sun, 18 Nov 2012 16:51:38 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/cameraman-for-maya-with-wes-mcdermottmashru mishu --[HAWKEN MECH]--Fianna<p>Got to catch up with Mashru Mishu on his latest work, the HAWKEN MECH! In addition, Mashru shares some useful modeling techniques in Maya (just noticed he's still using MJPoly Tools!) and talks about stuff he's been working on lately (Hawken, Dishonored, VERTEX, etc.)</p> <p><strong>* * * </strong><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br /><br />Hey Mashru - thanks for taking the time out to share your latest work -- the HAWKEN MECH! Okay for those who have not heard about Hawken, Hawken is a multiplayer FPS featuring giant <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">robots</span> mechs. It's being developed by Adhesive Games, a small indie team led by Khang Le, Christopher Lalli and John Park. Development has gone on for roughly 9 months (ONLY), and is built using UDK. Oh and did I mention that it's a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.playhawken.com/">free-to-play</a>? Scheduled to roll out December 12!<br /><br /> <iframe width="650" height="366" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/udEAEARD-Fo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong> <br />Now this is a sweet looking mech, if I might say...LOTS of nice details to pore over :-) I gotta ask before we go further -- what's your technique for all the bolts+screws placement...Snap Together Tool or something else?</strong></span></p> <p>I select the main body mesh on which the bolts will be placed on and then select the bolt mesh and apply a 'normal constraint' to it. This makes the bolt always obey the surface normal of the body mesh. Then I make the body mesh live (the red U magnet icon on top). Once it is body mesh is a live surface any other objects you move around with automatically snap to its surface. Together with live surface snapping and normal constraint I can just move the bolt around and duplicate it as needed. Once all the bolts are placed I would click on the magnet icon again to deactivate the live surface. Now I can manually tweak the bolts according to me needs.<br /><br /></p> <p style="font-size: xx-small;"><em>&lt;ok, so the issue with image enlarge pop-ups is still not resolved, therefore if you want to see all the images at higher res, you're going to have to do it ghetto style ------&gt; RMB &gt; View Image&gt;</em></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech01.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech02.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>If memory serves correct, the design of this mech came from Khang Le and John Park? I think I saw the video of the mech being drawn up using a series of images in Photoshop...and you took that design and built a 3D version of it?</strong></span></p> <p>Initially I was supplied a very crude blocking mesh mostly consisting of extrudes and primitive objects and front, side and top orthographic concepts. Together with the help of that blocking mesh and the awesome concept work of John Park I Started modeling out the final highpoly mesh. There were no perspective or 3/4 view of the concept and I had to figure out that part of it for lot of the detailed parts. I was given lot of freedom in terms of figuring out what the smaller details should look like as well and figuring out lot of the shapes that define the silhouette.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech19.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech20.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How much time did you spend on building the mech in high poly?</strong></span></p> <p>Around 6 weeks.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Retopo in Topogun? What was the polycount on the game-res version?</strong></span></p> <p>Lot of the lowpoly was actually modeled inside Maya and lot of it came from the highpoly base mesh. Rest of it was done in Topogun. The final polycount was ~15000 triangles.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech05.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech06.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What did you use for texturing and detailing...Mudbox or something else; and what was the texture size for the mech?</strong></span></p> <p>Photoshop has always been my weapon of choice for any texturing. I don&rsquo;t think there are any tools out there yet that can do most of the things that I do in Photoshop. In addition to Photoshop, I also used Mudbox for decal painting and some projection painting and texture seam correction. For these mechs, we used 2k map for the torso, 1k for the arms and 1k for the hip and legs.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech03.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech04.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech13.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech14.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Are there other freelance projects you've worked on asides from Hawken?</strong></span></p> <p>Yes, I am currently working on <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dishonored.com/">Dishonored</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.redlynx.com/trials-evolution">Trials Evolution</a> and few other unannounced titles.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>A month or so ago, I saw your tutorial in this excellent *free!!* resource for users - <a target="_self" href="http://www.quixel.se/Papercut/VertexHD.rar">VERTEX</a> - ...may I ask why you did this for free, on your own time?</strong></span></p> <p style="font-size: xx-small;"><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>/side note -- content call for next <a target="_blank" href="http://www.artbypapercut.com/">VERTEX #2</a> is out/</strong></span></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech07.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech08.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p>When Ryan Hawkins mentioned his book idea and asked if I would like to contribute to this book, I thought it was a good opportunity to share some techniques and workflow with the community. The model was something that I was working on before the prospect of making the tutorial. <br /><br />Since I work freelance and lot of my recent work is under NDA it becomes difficult to show off my current stake of skill. So I wanted to update my portfolio with more "next-gen" quality work that reflected level of work that clients can expect to see. Not to mention, every time I work on something for my personal portfolio I try to improve my sculpting and painting so it pays off both in terms of securing future freelance work and self-improvement.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech09.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech10.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Well, congrats on having your work featured as the main character in what looks to be an awesome game! Can't wait till December 12th :) Thanks for your time, Mashru -- and until next time!<br /><br /></strong></span></p> <p><strong>* * *&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><strong><br />[Additional Images]</strong></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech11.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech12.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech15.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech16.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech17.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/hawken_mech18.jpg" height="1178" width="1920" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Additional Reading</strong></span></p> <p>Mashru Mishu <a target="_blank" href="http://www.fx81.com%20">www.fx81.com </a><br />Hawken <a aiotitle="www.playhawken.com" target="_blank" href="http://www.playhawken.com%20">www.playhawken.com </a><br />Adhesive Games <a aiotarget="true" aiotitle="www.adhesivegames.com" target="_blank" href="http://www.adhesivegames.com%20">www.adhesivegames.com </a><br />Epic Games <a aiotitle="www.unrealengine.com" target="_blank" href="http://www.unrealengine.com">www.unrealengine.com</a><br />Dishonored <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dishonored.com/">www.dishonored.com</a><br />Trials Evolution <a target="_blank" href="http://www.redlynx.com/trials-evolution">www.redlynx.com/trials-evolution</a></p> <hr /> <p></p> <p><strong>Read it later </strong>| <a href="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/mashru/mashru_hawkenMech.pdf">Download .PDF</a> (8.21MB)</p>Mon, 15 Oct 2012 07:03:53 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/mashru-mishu----hawken-mech--/In Uxbridge with Paul Neale/Fianna<p>So as it turns out, living in the countryside is not without benefits -- for example, I got to meet Paul Neale in his home! Paul lives in Uxbridge, which coincidentally, is a shorter trip than going to the Toronto office (the former Alias HQ). Anyway, we had a good chat and here is the edited version ;-)</p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/PEN/paul.jpg" height="1371" width="1024" /></p> <p></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Paul, you're someone who has been active in the 3ds Max scene for over 2 decades. Let's go back to the very beginning -- how did you get started with 3d Studio?</strong></span></p> <p>This goes back to a friend who got me started in the business. He was one of the really early guys who got involved, even before the DOS version of 3DS. We're talking spheres...and not even chrome ones. So this friend got me in around the time when 3D Studio DOS Release 3 had come out. I was then attending Seneca College and they were teaching it at the time. Anyway, the year I started doing 3D was the year 3ds Max came out, so I've been using it ever since!</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>As someone who specializes in character rigging and coding, what is it about these things that appeal to you most?</strong></span></p> <p>Coding appeals to the problem solving side of me. I like to figure out how things work and enjoy doing it. I also like modeling and texturing. I enjoy the creation and art side of modeling and texturing.</p> <p>Going back to problem solving, it must have come from my dad who was a mechanical draftsman and was one of the principal designers for the 3D IMAX cameras from some time ago...anyway, my brother and I grew up learning how things worked. When I started 3D, I was doing everything at first...modeling, rigging, you name it. But over time, I became interested in how I was going to move a character and how it should be rigged. I always tried to figure out a better way, rebuilding rigs and such. People starting passing characters to me and said that I could fix them, so that was how I got started as a character TD. I didn't look for it, it was just something that I turned out to be good at.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/PEN/rig_01_-_Copy.jpg" height="523" width="698" /><br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What are some of your favourite projects and clients over the years?</strong></span></p> <p>Good question. I would say the different ones, moreso than the mainstream stuff. I enjoyed working on Bioshock, that was cool. There were considerations for MotionBuilder or Character Studio, but I suggested that I could write a rig that would allow you to dump straight mocap data onto it, directly in Max. I had never done such a thing before, but I figured it was all just math and there had to be a way to do it! Things like that stood out to me the most. Another client...one I have been working with for 6 years and counting, he's doing a product called Perfect Fit. It's a rehab tool for sports injury and related physiotherapy needs. We did 2000 mocap capture sessions that needed to be physically accurate and exact, and again, I wrote a motion capture system for that, where the data could be brought into Max and dumped right onto the rigs. Having to solve problems on the fly and thinking of things that hadn't been thought of before, it makes the job very interesting for me and that's what I like most.<br /><br />Another project I'm working on, a bird for an undisclosed client. Doing a rig that will handle thousands of feathers... how do you make a rig that can handle 3000 feathers? I didn't want to pay for a plugin, so I wrote it! I wrote an entire paint system where you can paint feathers right on the surface, fluffing and combing all those individual feathers... all of it is MAXScript. Being able to custom-make what I need to deliver on projects, these are what make them most memorable.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/PEN/gwen_dave02.jpg" height="709" width="1280" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Have you always worked freelance under PEN Productions and if so, what are your reasons? </strong></span></p> <p>The only place where I've ever been on staff was at Red Rover in Toronto. I was hired by Red Rover co-founder Andy Knight, to put together a 3D department and get them up and running. Prior to that, Red Rover was exclusively a 2D animation studio. I stayed on for a year and returned to freelancing afterwards. All of the work I've gone on to do, everything from Disney to Rockstar, has been freelance. My clients are spread around the world, from Mexico to England, US and Canada.</p> <p>What usually happens is an internal artist will reach out to me when they've run into some problem which requires a highlevel TD. I go in and help them out of their situation. I've never looked for work; everything has been word of mouth, either from past clients or from posting and being active on forums like on AREA. I enjoy working out of the comfort of my home, in my bathrobe with a mug of coffee in hand :-)</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>I've heard that you are also training and teaching at Humber College? </strong></span></p> <p>Yes I do. I am a professor, teaching 3ds Max and Mudbox, with focus on modeling and TD. I got the opportunity to teach at Humber thanks to Terry Posthumus. He&rsquo;s the Course Coordinator at Humber College; Terry and I worked at Disney together and eventually he offered me the position at Humber. I've been there for 7 years and 4-5 of those years have been fulltime. I also do a handful of productions in the year, usually around summertime when I have time off school.</p> <p><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/T397hVNkGBI" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="369" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>The latest animated short with the boy and ogre... how much time did you work on it? </strong></span></p> <p>First off, it's a girl ;-) Or his name is Gwen... you decide ;)</p> <p>Good question... how long? We've been working on that for a while actually, but only because the story and animation went through so many iterations. I worked with Brian Lemay, at least a year ago on the character design. I also worked with Keith Chamberlain and Shawn Hendriks, coming up with the original designs. In the end, everything came back to me for rig work. I worked out of my office here at home, so I can't answer for anything outside the scope of rigging, but the short was spread over about four months with me.</p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/PEN/gwen_dave01.jpg" height="709" width="1280" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>So what are you working on nowadays? </strong></span></p> <p>Asides from Humber, I'll be teaching three classes for the upcoming Autodesk University classes, so I'm preparing for those: "<a target="_blank" href="https://www.autodeskuniversity2012.com/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=2439&amp;tclass=popup">Developing Character Rigs from the Ground Up in 3ds Max</a>", "<a target="_blank" href="https://www.autodeskuniversity2012.com/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=2442&amp;tclass=popup">Advanced Character Tools and Systems in 3ds Max</a>", and "<a target="_blank" href="https://www.autodeskuniversity2012.com/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=2443&amp;tclass=popup">3ds Max MAXScript + Microsoft&reg; .NET: Discover a Bigger World</a>". I'm also working on 2 projects in-house. One is with Tombolo; the client is Disney for an undisclosed project, and also the project for Perfect Fit Health, the physiotherapy work I mentioned earlier.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />And those three classes, even though they are going to be covered and demonstrated in Max, is it possible that users of other applications like Maya and SI can benefit from them? </strong></span></p> <p>Yeah, absolutely. When I teach anything, I try not to teach button-pushing. You can go through some tutorials out there step by step, but you don't know what you're doing in the end. The way I teach is a lot less about coming up with a specific end-product, and finishing that end product. It's more about how do all the parts of that product function and work, what's going on under the hood and how does it all come together. With that - you should be able to make many more different things. Not just this product we're working on, like a bipedal character.&nbsp; Or how do you rig an IK/FK arm. I don't teach how to rig an IK/FK arm. Ok I do, but I explain how do constraints work and how does the idea of it work. How does an animator want to work with this sort of system, etc., etc.<br /><br /></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/PEN/rig_02_-_Copy.jpg" height="523" width="698" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />After so many years, why do you still continue to use Max? Asides from the time you've invested...in developing techniques, custom scripts and in tools you've written -- but is there some other reason for it? <br /></strong></span></p> <p>Yes, it's fast and easy to work with for a lot of productions. Max has been called the Swiss army knife; great for doing small to mid-size productions quickly. It's got almost everything in there and you don't have to go out to something else; not that there isn't a better solution somewhere else, but a smaller midsize shop can't necessarily afford to buy a specific plugin or tool to do a specific job and then train on it. The job needs to be done in a month, so get it done. Max has got a lot inside that will get the job done in a really great way and plenty of other tools that will get you through areas that you just need to get through&hellip;it&rsquo;s all in there. It's quick and easy to learn, has a big userbase and a large pool of artists which is important for productions. And also, I guess I just know it really well, so sticking with it is also partly because there's always been a call for it. I'm always having people call me because I know Max really well. So that's a big part of the reason <i>why</i>. Max has kept me busy. Though I also use Mudbox, Combustion and Composite, I still mostly keep to Max.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Paul Neale</strong> | <a target="_blank" href="http://paulneale.com/">PEN Productions</a> | <a target="_blank" href="https://www.autodeskuniversity2012.com/connect/speakerDetail.ww?PERSON_ID=E6F9F7CF213E692518C4D6F86788DC76">Autodesk University 2012</a></p>Tue, 02 Oct 2012 18:31:24 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/in-uxbridge-with-paul-nealeThe Absurd, Grotesque and Surreal -- Characters by Luis SantosFianna<p style="font-size: x-small;"><em>*Note that you can view all images in full res by RMB and selecting View Image. The *enlarge image* option has been temporarily disabled and we are working on bringing it back.</em></p> <p><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/edsel_front34.jpg" alt="Edsel Flat" height="526" width="760" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Hello Luis - you are the artist behind the latest Mudbox splashscreen image. Edsel Flat is certainly an interesting looking character, but even more interesting is his great skin texture. Can you tell us how you achieved that nice result -- how did you do the texture and tell us about the shader type+settings used?</strong></span><br /> <br />Hi Fianna, thank you for your interest! The textures are painted, like all my skin works (except the zombie, which also has photos blended in). My experience with Mudbox enticed me to believe that its creators had true production needs in mind, thus I use the default stamps and stencils 95% of the time with no regrets so far. I use Lightwave3D with the simpleskin skinshader node, then I go through a trial-and-error phase in which I perform several setting changes and tests until I'm fully pleased with the result. I do not have a fixed setup or a global solution for everything. Edsel Flat features 8K texture maps, but Mudbox worked perfectly even these huge dimensions (mind the section where I mention my machine setup as well!).<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/edsel_side.jpg" alt="Edsel Flat" height="526" width="760" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/edsel_top34.jpg" alt="Edsel Flat" height="805" width="760" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What is your background and how long have you been doing 3D?</strong></span><br /> <br /> I got into 3D back in '95 while working in a post-production house: animating 3D flying logos - quite trendy at the time! - and other small assets. I've always loved drawing wicked characters and painting crazy figures, which led me to think I might enjoy seeing these characters from multiple angles and different perspectives. With that in mind, I decided to fully embrace character creation since 2004 - as a self-taught artist - with a continuous yearning to learn and evolve. Digital sculpting software such as Mudbox felt like a natural and logical mean to achieve my goals..<br /><br /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>How long have you used Mudbox?</strong></span><br /> <br />I've been using Mudbox since its first version and have sculpted all my works with it. As soon as the paint tools became available, I began to texturing with it as well.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/edsel_front.jpg" alt="Edsel Flat" height="921" width="760" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/pic-interface-sculpture.png" alt="Edsel Flat" height="421" width="760" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>As you know, there are other sculpting and texturing programs available, and every artist has unique preferences and different ways in which we think/work/process. So what is the reason you chose Mudbox? </strong></span><br /> <br />Mudbox is an incredible and often underestimated sculpting and texturing program. I like the fact that it's so well organized and has a seamless artist-targeted consciousness in every aspect of the interface and user experience. The navigation is perfect IMO - I like to rotate and move the model plenty of times, so for me this is a great deal of the creation process. I own a SpaceNavigator and Mudbox's support for this 3DConnexion device increased the navigation options. I've also grown accustomed to changing the pressure and size of the brush with Mudbox's shortcuts without hassles. I know it might seem that I'm focusing on little things, but these are the actions that take place more frequently and for me it can only make sense to make each basic action as smooth, reachable and efficient as possible. Mudbox painting system allows me to complete my textures with little-to-no visits to Photoshop. The "Flatten to UV Space" option is handy when you want to paint difficult areas, hardly reachable in 3D mode. I cannot imagine myself working on software that does not allow me to sculpt the model and simultaneously paint the textures in a layered Photoshop-like manner; Mudbox definitely "spoiled" me with the feature.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/zombie.jpg" alt="Zombie" height="495" width="760" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Out of the version that you are using, what would be your biggest wish for Mudbox -- it could be new brushes, saving out UI settings, filesize management, retopology tool, voxels...what would you want most? </strong></span><br /> <br />I can't pick just one, but these would be my priorities: 1) geometry creation would be the biggest step forward in Mudbox; 2) retopology; 3) Translucent channel and materials; 4) Folders in the layer panels.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What is your computer config and what are your tips for handling dense meshes and big texture maps?</strong></span><br /> <br />My computer is a core i7 2600K, 16GB of RAM, SSD, GTX 580 with 3GB of VRAM. I use a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and a 10bit NEC 27-inch P-IPS monitor. Mudbox's performance runs smoother with a powerful graphics card and the textures themselves are stored in the VRAM, so get a graphics card with as much VRAM as possible. Mudbox also allows you to hide specific textures from the VRAM, easing the strain momentarily. The setup I described handles dense meshes very well, but you can follow two good practices: 1) hide unimportant objects while you&rsquo;re focusing on one part; 2) isolate each part in a different scene, work on them separately and then import them into the full composition. Be sure to check Mudbox's requirements and technical specifications for further acknowledgement. <br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Generally what size of textures do you work with?</strong></span><br /> <br />I use 4K maps mostly, but sometimes I use various 2K maps for one object. <span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br /><br />Which artist works inspires you in your character designs?</strong></span><br /> <br />Ron Mueck, Salvador Dal&iacute;, David Lynch and Roman Polanski, to name a few. I'm strongly inspired by music, cinema and nature. I also find myself inspired with casual bystanders during my inspiration strolls around town.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/talhante_front.jpg" alt="Talhante" height="841" width="760" /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/talhante_heads.jpg" alt="Talhante" height="608" width="760" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>You have a preference for exaggerated extremities... flattened skull, exposed skull, oversized teeth. It really adds to the overall visual effect and makes the viewer wonder about the narrative behind each character. Are these guys sharing a story together? Future comic book series? ;-) Who designed them?</strong></span><br /> <br />The characters are designed by me, some live inside my head for several months before I let them out. Others, such as Edsel Flat, are improvised on the spot. I really enjoy creating characters for myself and most of them are driven by background narratives which are filled with non-sense, the absurd, the grotesque and the surreal. I also write down this kind of narratives as an extension to the creative flow :) The aforementioned characters do not share a story, but they abide by my common goals: to place a smile on your face - may it be a true smile or a freaked-out one - and to let you wander in your own version of the character's story. I don't mind taking chances by depicting unusual themes, keeping in mind they might not suit common tastes.<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/freak.jpg" alt="Freak" height="1087" width="760" /><br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/luis_santos/freak_views.jpg" alt="Freak" height="475" width="760" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Generally how long of a sculpting session do you spend on a character, obviously taking into consideration certain characters are more complex than others...</strong></span><br /> <br />When I'm fully dedicated to just one work, it might take me around three weeks to finish a character all the way to the final render. However, as I'm usually working on several pieces at once for my clients, I tend to work on my personal projects during multiple short sessions across long periods of time. I can say that sculpting and texturing are the most liberating stages - and also the ones I accomplish more quickly. Lighting, shader setups and renders are the most time consuming phases of my workflow.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>You mentioned that you are primarily using default Mudbox stamps and stencils &ndash; is there some special technique in how you use them, that you don&rsquo;t need to make custom ones?</strong></span><br /> <br />Yes, I do use the default stamps and stencils more often. I just prefer to sculpt many details without "mirroring", as if it were a traditional sculpture. <span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br /><br />Thanks for sharing your art with us, and showing your personal workflow Luis. Obrigada!</strong></span><br /> <br />It was my pleasure, thank you for the opportunity :)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Link: </strong></span><a target="_blank" href="http://www.luissantos.net/">Luis Santos</a></p>Fri, 31 Aug 2012 03:25:41 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/the-absurd-grotesque-and-surreal----characters-by-luis-santosSculpting and 3D Prints with Jesse SandiferFianna<p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Hey Jesse! So most of us know you from the killer "Turtle Barbarian" image, a winning entry of the CGHUB Warriors contest challenge. Recently you've published a new image, albeit a much softer and gentler one, of two lovers in the moonlight. As you've mentioned across numerous forums, this was a commissioned piece by Autodesk. Can you talk a bit about that?</strong></span><br /> <br /> Sure! Yeah, it&rsquo;s definitely a different kind of genre for me but I&rsquo;ve always had a sensitive side too. And yes, Autodesk asked me to create a couple characters in a classical period using Mudbox. I was given a little reference and inspiration that consisted of the 16th-18th centuries and the movie, Casanova, with Heath Ledger and Sienna Miller. You&rsquo;ll notice that I pretty much ripped the outfits from their characters because I&rsquo;m no style expert! The idea here was to show off what Mudbox can do for the digital artist whether you are creating the beauty or the beast.<br /> <br /> <br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/VenetianCharacters_JustBeforeTheKiss_2K.jpg" height="2700" width="2000" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>As I understand it, you were exclusively using ZBrush prior to Turtle Barbarian. Participating in the challenge gave you the chance to try out Mudbox for your work -- what are your thoughts on Mudbox prior to and after, and do you continue to use Mudbox in your daily work? </strong></span><br /> <br /> I figured if I was going to be taken seriously in the digital sculpting world, I needed to have knowledge in both ZBrush and Mudbox. I didn&rsquo;t know much about Mud beforehand so the challenge was a great way to force myself to learn. I was pleasantly surprised on how well Mudbox held up during the challenge and at that point I knew I was going to keep Mudbox in my arsenal. I like how well it plays with my 3D software of choice, 3ds Max. The intuitive interface, the sculpting ease, and the straightforward painting were also appealing to me. I continue to use Mudbox in my daily work for sure.<br /><br /> <img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/tb.jpg" height="1600" width="1179" /></p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br />A bit about your background, what are some projects/gigs that you've worked on in the past? </strong></span><br /> <br />My background is kind of different than most character artists. I do have a degree but not in character art but rather in architecture. So twelve years ago, I started my career doing architectural 3D modeling and rendering. After a few years of doing well in that genre, I really felt a tugging to explore character art instead. So as I did architecture work during the day, I was working on learning how to do poly modeling and sub-d modeling from online tutorials and personal projects. It was a fascinating world to me and I just kept working through lunches and late nights to hone my new craft in hopes that my hobby would become a new career path. I started a boutique studio called Green Grass Studios in 2003 with two other guys and we worked on all kinds of things like commercials, game cinematics, straight-to-DVDs, and of course some fun stuff like medical videos showing how the urinary tract in cats work. We all have to do those kinds of projects at some point! I will say a professional highlight while at Green Grass was working on the digital Lake Monster in Scooby Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster, a Warner Bros live-action tv movie on Cartoon Network. I was responsible for designing, modeling, sculpting, texturing, rigging, skinning, and dynamics setup for the character. I worked with Matt Von Brock over at FuseFX and had a great time working with him. I also have experience in the whole gamut of the cg pipeline since I was in charge of a lot of productions in a boutique studio so I had to know how to animate, light, render, storyboard, etc. But my focus now is on character-related art and it&rsquo;s my true passion. You can see my work at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chickwalker.com">www.chickwalker.com</a><br /> <br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/Venetian_Female_FACE_2k.jpg" height="1026" width="2000" /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/Venetian_Male_FACE_2k.jpg" height="998" width="2000" /><br /><br />That's changed now, and you've started up your own company to provide professional services. Tell us more about this and why you decided to go on your own. How has it been so far? </strong></span><br /> <br />Yes, change is inevitable and just this year I left Green Grass after 9 years to start freelancing under the name Chickwalker. The name might confuse some people so let me quickly explain. The name pays homage to one of the first creations I made that caught notice in the cg industry almost a decade ago. I had written a story about a young rooster chick that invented this tall, long-legged egg-shaped robot and he protected his farm with it when they were under attack by a bunch of menacing wolves. It was a coming of age story about a boy and the struggles with impressing his father. Then of course, movies like Chicken Little and Barnyard came out and the rest is history. So the launching of my new company, Chickwalker, is basically my way of getting back to what I&rsquo;ve always wanted to do, creating character art. It&rsquo;s going well so far and I&rsquo;m very excited to be working with cool people and great clients so far! <br /><br />I&rsquo;m really looking forward to getting some of my existing work made into custom prints with Offload Studios and offering them to the collectibles community in the next year or so.<br /> <br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>CGNuggets and Chickwalker are two companies you are running&hellip; why two? </strong></span><br /> <br />Well, the two companies have two different purposes. CGNuggets actually came before Chickwalker and it&rsquo;s my tutorial site for the character creation process. It&rsquo;s kind of my way of giving back to the teaching community after I had learned via online tutorials early in my career. Chickwalker is strictly my professional art, whether it be for-hire or creating my own original work.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>What are you working on these days, commercial contracts or otherwise... </strong></span><br /> <br />Right now, I&rsquo;m working pretty heavily with Hasbro Toys in creating some exciting toy lines. They require secrecy of course when working on their projects but I will say that I can&rsquo;t wait to have these toys on my desk one day! I&rsquo;ve also had the chance recently to work with Shadows in Darkness in creating some high-poly game bosses and creatures. I&rsquo;m looking forward to showing those off when the games come out. Another big thing that I&rsquo;m excited to announce is that I&rsquo;m getting some of my existing work made into custom prints with Offload Studios and offering them to the collectibles community in the next year or so. I&rsquo;ll also have some new creations to offer so stay tuned for that!<br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/tb_00_lres.jpg" height="1536" width="1024" /><br /> <br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/tb_01_lres.jpg" height="1536" width="1024" /><br /><br /><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Going over the Chickwalker portfolio of work, there is a great variation in styles. Certainly, clients will have a specific preference in mind in what they are looking for but overall, who would you say have influenced you in your artistic journey to date? </strong></span><br /> <br />Yes, it&rsquo;s definitely diverse. And on purpose. Since I&rsquo;m a new freelancer in the industry, I&rsquo;m trying to be as attractive to as many genres as I can. So whether it be realistic monsters or humans, exaggerated cartoons, or just some cool toys and statues, I want to show that I can handle it all. I&rsquo;ve been heavily influenced by Feng Zhu, Neville Page, Ryan Church, Ian Joyner, Weta, Pixar, and ILM. Movies like Avatar, Star Wars, Predator, District 9, Minority Report, Super 8, Jurassic Park (and more) have been a big part of me getting interested in this industry.</p> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Well Jesse, thanks for the quick chat. For those of you who want to see how Jesse made "Just Before the Kiss", check out the first part of the tutorial <a target="_blank" href="/tutorials/just_before_the_kiss_chapter_1">here</a>. Stay tuned for the upcoming chapters as they roll out each week! <br /><br /><img src="/userdata/blogs/pointsnap/jesse/Venetian_Female_ALL2.jpg" height="3150" width="4039" /><br /></strong></span></p> <hr /> <p><span style="color: #00a3c7;"><strong>Links: </strong></span><a target="_blank" href="http://www.jessesandifer.com/index.html">Jesse Sandifer</a> | <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chickwalker.com/">Chickwalker</a> | <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cgnuggets.com/">CGNuggets</a></p>Thu, 26 Jul 2012 16:49:03 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/sculpting-and-3d-prints-with-jesse-sandifer"The Fox"Fianna<p>While surfing the great Interweb, I came across this 3d animated cartoon character, &quot;The Fox&quot;, created by Algerian artist <a target="_blank" href="http://digitalrabie.com/">Rabie Rahou</a>. Rabie made &quot;The Fox&quot; in Maya, rendered in mental ray. Some concept, wireframes and rendered images, along with a short animation clip of &quot;The Fox&quot; below -- check it out!</p> <p><img width="760" height="549" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/04_14_12/fox_06.jpg" alt="" /><br /> <br /> [Concept sketch]<br /> &nbsp;<img width="760" height="440" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/04_14_12/fox_01.jpg" /><br /> <br /> [Some wireframes+hardware render]<br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="455" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/04_14_12/fox_02.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="526" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/04_14_12/fox_03.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="526" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/04_14_12/fox_04.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="526" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/04_14_12/fox_05.jpg" /><br /> <br /> And the animation clip...</p> <p><iframe width="760" height="428" frameborder="0" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/40236491?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/40236491">The Fox</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user2202311">RabieRahou</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>Sat, 14 Apr 2012 20:00:00 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/the_foxQuantic Dream's Kara Fianna<p><img width="760" height="323" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/03_09_12/kara.jpg" alt="" /><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: small;">Some of you may have already seen this tech demo from </span><span style="font-size: small;"><a target="_blank" href="http://www.quanticdream.com/"><strong>Quantic Dream</strong></a></span><span style="font-size: small;"> (the guys who did Heavy Rain) but for those who haven't -- you should definitely check this out if you are into games (who isn't??!). This week at GDC, David Cage, founder of Quantic Dream, revealed to audiences this tech demo named KARA, which highlights the new proprietary technologies being developed at the French game company. Keep in mind that this tech demo was running in realtime on the PS3.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: small;">Quantic Dream has said that these technologies are currently being used in the development of their upcoming project - an exclusive title for Playstation 3 - which is yet to be announced. Hopefully they turn KARA into a full-fledged game!&nbsp; Check it out below...</span></p> <p><iframe width="760" height="416" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Dou4Gy0p97Y"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>Fri, 09 Mar 2012 19:00:00 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/quantic_dream_s_karaV-Ray for Softimage ReleasedFianna<p>VRay which has been available for Max and Maya, can now be an option for SI users.</p> <p>Dimitar Krastev-Jimmy from Chaos Group has prepared a few demo videos showing VRay in Softimage, exploring VRay Material options and creating complex materials with VRay Blend Material and VRay Car Paint Material, using default and custom render elements, using V-Ray proxy objects to render heavy geometry, and hair and fur shading with the VRayHairMtl shader. </p> <p><img width="760" height="415" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_20_12/04.jpg" /><br /> &nbsp;</p> <p><img width="760" height="415" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_20_12/01.jpg" /><br /> &nbsp;</p> <p><img width="760" height="415" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_20_12/02.jpg" /><br /> &nbsp;</p> <p><img width="760" height="415" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_20_12/03.jpg" /><br /> &nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-size: large;"><strong>DEMO VIDEOS</strong></span></p> <p><iframe width="760" height="416" frameborder="0" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HC4YKDTWNVY" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="760" height="416" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/EkfeDazYcck"></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="760" height="416" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Yf_VJnPPn2k"></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="760" height="416" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zJZABHthbYg"></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="760" height="416" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/SvBM7A13gLw"></iframe><br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.chaosgroup.com/rdr/0ef5f029f9f23ea6c71dec40710fe1b3">Demo</a> and more info <a href="http://www.chaosgroup.com/en/2/vray_softimage.html?nws=0220">here</a></p>Sun, 19 Feb 2012 19:00:00 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/v_ray_for_softimage_releasedDiamant Modeling Tools Alpha 1.0Fianna<p>Hello and welcome to my blog! <br /> I thought I'd jump right into my first post with a chat I had with Rich Diamant following his public release of the Diamant Modeling Tools. I was lucky enough to get a hold of him to ask him a few questions about his custom toolset and here's what he had to say...</p> <hr /> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>Hello Rich - it's been about 2 days since your public release of Diamant Modeling Tools Alpha 1.0. This is great news for the community on two fronts&hellip;cause it's been 4 years since you first put out Diamant UV. And second&hellip;well, maybe it's just me, but I remember the character modeling you did for Drake and Elena in Uncharted 1 and they were pretty awesome so I didn't forget your name since that time. So when people like you 'go off the radar' and resurface, it's always nice to see what new cool things you've been up to -- and this is true now :-) </strong></span><br /> <br /> Haha well thanks for that! It&rsquo;s very flattering! It&rsquo;s kind of crazy to think that it&rsquo;s been so long since I first put out Diamant UV. It&rsquo;s also nice to hear that I&rsquo;ve made some sort of impact one way or another in certain people&rsquo;s lives. <br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/01.jpg" /></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>Just to give a little bit of history, Diamant UV, the precursor to DMT&hellip;That came from the time you were at Naughty Dog, and was made to run on Maya 2008, right? Asides from optimizing for Maya 2012 and 64-bit support, what are the new features and improvements in DMT Alpha 1.0 that have been added?</strong></span></p> <p>Correct! It all started for Maya 2008 while working on Uncharted 1 at Naughty Dog. To be honest, so much has been changed and/or added that it got hard to really think about this as the same tool. Thus the reasons for the name change. Diamant UV was really my first major tool that I embarked on and, to be honest, what was under the hood was a bit messy! After a couple years of working with Diamant UV&rsquo;s code base, I realized it was extremely hard to add new features as well as track all the bugs and crashes that were happening to random people. I decided to take the base ideas and start over from scratch with all the new knowledge and experience I had acquired over the years. <br /> <br /> I had two high level goals in mind with the new version: make it stable, and make it expandable. In addition, I wanted to fix a bunch of workflows with Diamant UV that just didn&rsquo;t feel right. This included making the tools a lot faster as well as fixing some of the odd workflow hacks. Plus, I had a ton of ideas for other additions I wanted to add!<br /> <br /> As for improvements, I believe this version is 100% more stable and more reliable than Diamant UV ever was. I, along with others, have been using and testing some sort of version of this tool for years now. I wanted to make sure it felt intuitive, fast, and safe to use. So a special thanks goes out to all my friends from Naughty Dog and Blizzard who have helped test this out as well as come up with great ideas for improvements and features.<br /> As far as new features go, I wanted to place a much bigger focus on the modeling tools with this version. Diamant UV had a very basic and simple version of modeling tools built in. It was always centered on creating and editing automatic UV&rsquo;s. With Diamant Modeling Tools, I made sure to add features that would attract users in all areas of the modeling pipeline with heavy emphasis on modeling itself. <br /> <br /> New features include:</p> <ul> <li>Completely new brush engine that includes a Grab Brush (which simulates the Grab Brush from Mudbox), as well as a Sculpt Brush (which simulates the Standard Brush in Mudbox), both of which work on polygon objects without having to select them.</li> <li>Awesome and totally new features of the Advanced Brush based modeling tool, which allows you to model with object space symmetry all within a single tool.</li> <li>A Poly Build brush (formally Quad Draw which was changed for legal reasons) which allows you to draw points to create new polygons.</li> <li>The ability to retopologize while sliding on high polygon objects. All brushes supported.</li> <li>Faster and simpler Super Selection Brush which includes dragging and finding the closest edge path from the first edge selection, as well as object space symmetry selection.</li> <li>Faster and simpler edge marking workflow.</li> <li>Huge tool additions to the custom RD UV Editor which try to duplicate as many features found in Maya&rsquo;s native UV editor in addition to new features missing.</li> <li>True color compression for UV Shells.</li> </ul> <p>And more! The list goes on but I feel it might be getting boring :-)<br /> <br /> <object width="760" height="580" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="/player/loader.swf?p=/player/main.swf&amp;f=/userdata/fckdata/204/flash/02_17_11/02_17_12/DiamantModelingQuickModeling.flv"> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="wmode" value="transparent" /> <param name="movie" value="/player/loader.swf?p=/player/main.swf&amp;f=/userdata/fckdata/204/flash/02_17_11/02_17_12/DiamantModelingQuickModeling.flv" /></object></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>This is a plugin that has been years in the making. What compelled you to make it in the first place? Were you already making tools along the way, that sat in a Shelf and you just decided to package it all into a handy UI? What's the story on that? </strong></span></p> <p>Good question. The story started way back on Uncharted 1 when I came up with a cool way to UV a model fairly quickly by using standard Maya tools. What I found however was that I kept doing the same things over and over again. I was always tech savvy and knew there had to be a way to automate this process. I had asked our Lead TD, Judd Simantov, at the time to write me a script that did the same basic steps that I was doing over and over again for me. Unfortunately, he was super busy, but he helped to get me started and sent me on my way. So I started copying and pasting code that came out of the script editor while trying to create a button that did the magic for me! I finally got &ldquo;something&rdquo; to work, but luckily Judd was there to tell me how to actually do it correctly. This led to the start of my programming hobby. <br /> <br /> Over the next 6 months or so I would go home and try to wrap my head around learning MEL while creating little helper tools. I was lucky enough to have Judd sitting across from me at work, helping all along the way. I&rsquo;m sure I annoyed him a couple times too many with all the questions I had! The nice thing about learning to program is that you start to have ideas about what you can do once you start to realize what is actually possible. So while I was learning and creating other little tools, I kept going back to my initial idea of creating this automatic way to UV a character. I actually had this terrible MEL version of Diamant UV very early on that was slow and odd to use. It was still at that time based off of some sort of &ldquo;edge marking&rdquo; technique which was at the heart of the idea. <br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/04.jpg" /><br /> <br /> Over time, I kept having more and more ideas of how awesome some sort of automatic UV solution could be inside of Maya. The one thing I&rsquo;ve always been strong at is coming up with good and efficient workflows. So the ideas were constantly pouring out. I got to a point where my ideas exceeded what was actually possible within MEL. So I decided to dive head first into trying to learn C++ and the Maya API. <br /> <br /> That was a harder and longer road. I bought books on C++ and the Maya API. Once again, I had Judd there to help with any questions. However, the one thing that I learned about C++ was that it was much harder for outside people to help solve problems you were having. They really had to take the time to understand what you are trying to do. What might be 5 lines in MEL could be pages in the API, so I really had to rely more on myself to problem solve and find answers.<br /> <br /> I went head first into developing Diamant UV. I wanted to figure out a way to select edges quickly since it had always frustrated me. I also wanted it to be as much of a one button solution as possible (a great starting point if it does not have to be exact). However, I wanted the ability to still use fast editing tools to edit the UV&rsquo;s in case I needed a precise result (which the one button solution did not offer). Regardless of whatever automatic solution I had seen or came up with, I always ended up tweaking my UV&rsquo;s after to get an exact result. This is most crucial in a game&rsquo;s pipeline. I had the idea very early on for creating a custom UV Editor since I really wanted to create a brush based system for editing UV&rsquo;s. I do wish this was possible within Maya&rsquo;s UV editor in the API :-). <br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/05.jpg" /><br /> <br /> From there the possibilities you could achieve within Maya began to flourish. I found myself getting involved in several conversations for cool new tools that Maya could have and realized that I could probably write some of them. That&rsquo;s where things started to really come together. <br /> <br /> So to answer your one question, Diamant UV was never really made up of a bunch of little tools and later combined. It actually started as a living and breathing toolset from a simple idea which later expanded into something that really attempts to solve each aspect of the modeling process. It seemed logical after solving a cool way to automatically UV an object to focus on ways to speed up the modeling creation processes in general. To be honest, if you really look at the workflow of DMT, you should be able to tell that it is not just a bunch of little helper tools shoved into a single package. All the tools in the modeling section are built to work with each other while using very similar workflow principals. The same can be said for the UV tools. Although most of these tools can be used in isolation, the real power comes from using them in sync.</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>When you were developing these tools - were you influenced by other packages you've used in the past? Or you simply just thought &quot;this is what I'd like to do in Maya. Gonna go make me a Master Grab tool.&quot; *type-type-type-type-type-type*</strong></span><br /> <br /> I&rsquo;d love to sit here and say that I came up with everything from scratch with no reference point. That is obviously not true. I was heavily influence by several other packages that were out at the time. I&rsquo;d like to believe I am more of an innovator. I saw the great new ideas that other programs were doing and I tried to find all the good in them while innovating on the ideas to push them to new levels. With this came new creative approaches to problems, along with innovative methods of achieving them. <br /> <br /> While creating the automatic UV portion of the tool, I was heavily influenced by programs like Headus and Unfold 3d. I feel it is always smart to see what others are doing to figure out what works and what does not work. There were some really great ideas in both of those programs as well as certain aspects I felt could be improved. <br /> <br /> The modeling tools had several different influences. The Advanced Modeling Tool Brush was actually influenced by a program called Silo. I really enjoyed the multi component selection tool and how easy it was to organically model something. I actually loved modeling in Silo but always felt I was missing something that Maya gave me. So I decided to try and take what was cool about Silo and add it into Maya. If you have used Silo in the past you should see an influence in the Advanced Modeling Tool.<br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/03.jpg" /><br /> <br /> The Poly Build Tool was also influenced by NEX tools&rsquo; Quad Draw. It&rsquo;s hard to not be influenced by the awesome things those guys came up with. To be honest, the only reason I created the Poly Build tool is because NEX&rsquo;s Quad Draw is so awesome and I wanted to use it with my implementation of mesh sliding. <br /> <br /> Other tools like the Grab and Sculpt brushes are obviously influenced from programs like Mudbox or Zbrush. It seemed logical to me to have that awesome control inside of Maya. I really felt the need to be able to shift around my model without having to see a wireframe on top. This was a major factor in writing this.<br /> <br /> In other words, thank you to all the other packages for coming up with such awesome ideas :-)<br /> &nbsp;<br /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>DMT is in alpha at this time. When you release the final version, will DMT be a commercial product? If so, any ballpark numbers on pricing? </strong></span></p> <p>I do plan on releasing DMT as a commercial product. Hopefully everyone can agree that I have put a lot of time and effort into making this toolset a production friendly and powerful addition to Maya. This has been a huge part of me for the longest time that I just wanted to get this out to people to use purely because I was so proud of it and because of how useful it could be in any pipeline. Over time I have had several people tell me that I should sell the tool and I started to realize that it could be a reality. <br /> <br /> I am not sure yet on a price point, as I really do want this to be as accessible as possible to everyone. I&rsquo;d rather not scare anybody off at this point but I would imagine it would be comparable to similar tools out.<br /> <br /> <object width="760" height="580" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="/player/loader.swf?p=/player/main.swf&amp;f=/userdata/fckdata/204/flash/02_17_11/02_17_12/DiamantModelingQuickUvs.flv"> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="wmode" value="transparent" /> <param name="movie" value="/player/loader.swf?p=/player/main.swf&amp;f=/userdata/fckdata/204/flash/02_17_11/02_17_12/DiamantModelingQuickUvs.flv" /></object><br /> <strong><br /> </strong></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>Compared to other commercial products out there, that offer similar tools (Roadkill, headus, NEX for example), why should users consider including DMT in their toolset? </strong></span></p> <p>For one, you have everything in one tool all fully integrated inside of Maya :-). To be honest, one of the biggest complaints I experience and hear is that nobody wants to leave Maya to use an external tool. Besides that, if you compare DMT to Roadkill and or Headus, DMT actually has a ton more functionality and is fundamentally different in its base philosophy.</p> <p>Both Roadkill and Headus rely heavily on a one button solution, while DMT is built to give you the tools to edit and modify that one button solution to achieve exact results. This is especially necessary in a video game pipeline where you need to customize your UV layouts to work the best in several different situations. The RD UV Editor features tons of tools to achieve the exact results you need (way past the initial one button solution). I am not going to try and kid myself here, both Roadkill and Headus can give better initial one button click results at times. However, I challenge anybody to achieve a faster custom end result with either of them as well as the time it takes to do the initial edge marking. The nice thing about DMT is that it also plays nice with any other tool. If you really want to use Roadkill for your one button solution, you can do that and use the other great features of DMT to achieve the exact result you need.</p> <p><img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/06.jpg" /></p> <p>To compare with other programs such as NEX, I tried to differentiate DMT by changing the initial thought process of modeling. Standard modeling practices revolve around a select/move manipulator mentality. I wanted to create a new and unique workflow that revolves around a brush mentality. I&rsquo;d like to believe that any artist who has ever used any sort of brush based tool immediately feels at ease with it. It is a natural thing for an artist to relate to. Take painting weights for example in Maya. This is much more enjoyable to do than in other programs that have different workflows.</p> <p>Once people give these tools a try, they will find them to be as different as they are fun. They will also find that the workflow is much more intuitive to use than standard workflows. This is actually one of the main reasons I have decided to release this version for free to the public for now. I want people to have the opportunity to try this different workflow and to really see the benefits in it. In the end, I have really developed these tools for myself. I am a production artist and I want to work the best and fastest way possible. If my workflow can somehow change people&rsquo;s perspectives, or help them become faster and better, then I am more than happy to help communicate that and give them the same advantages that I have. <br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/02.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>DMT requires the user to have a perpetual internet connection. I know it's already been discussed in numerous forums, and probably you can understand this concern that users have. However, this can be restricting for those who, for whatever reason, cannot work with a constant internet connection. Will there be an option for those people, to still use DMT in the future? </strong></span><br /> <br /> I understand this completely. It was a big concern as well with Diamant UV and was heavily anticipated as a problem when releasing DMT. To be honest, people have to understand that if my ultimate goal is to sell this commercially, I can&rsquo;t just give this version out for free with no way to pull it back. I&rsquo;m sure that sounds harsh, but I hope you can understand that. Right now requiring an internet connection is the only way I know of to control this. I&rsquo;d love to hear other people&rsquo;s ideas or suggestions on how to get around this problem at this time. <br /> <br /> One thing to really keep in mind is that I am still learning aspects of programming. I have not had the time to really dig into encryption methods or deployment methods. This is one of the next steps in order to get this product out in the future. So to answer the last question, allowing the user to be separated from the internet will be a major focus for the release. <br /> <br /> <img width="760" height="427" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/08.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>Also - will there be support for other OS versions? </strong></span><br /> <br /> I have had tons of requests for Linux and OSX versions of the tool. This again falls a little bit into the learning aspects of programming. I have never created a plugin for either OSX or Linux. So the reality is I am not sure exactly what it entails. I have had some people help with directions on OSX which I plan on looking into somewhat soon. Linux is a bit of a black box for me. I plan on doing some research into this to see how I can make it happen. There is no real reason why I would not want to support these so it&rsquo;s more a matter of investigation. Windows 32bit is an easy and obvious yes. <br /> <br /> I would also love to get information from people in terms of how far back in Maya versions they would find these tools useful. I have done some early tests making this work within Maya 2009 and could make that a reality if there is enough of a user base.</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>With all the work that keeps you busy at Blizzard, and not to mention having a personal life, when do you expect to release the DMT v1.0? </strong></span><br /> <br /> Also another good question! To be honest, getting DMT Alpha out to the public has been such a huge part of my personal life that I wouldn&rsquo;t mind having as many people trying it out as possible before it goes to an official release. One, I want to make sure people like it and find it useful, and two, I want to make sure any major problems get addressed before expecting people to pay for it. I&rsquo;d like to believe that it&rsquo;s currently in a good place stability-wise. We could be talking months before an official release.<br /> <br /> &nbsp;<img width="760" height="427" alt="" src="/userdata/fckdata/204/image/02_17_12/07.jpg" /></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>Will there be any differences between the alpha and the full/final version of DMT? Or are we all just gonna get prompted one day to enter our creditcard numbers ;-) </strong><br /> </span><br /> I actually have a couple of pages of features that I&rsquo;d love to release in the final 1.0 version. I had a large list of things that I felt had to be in the Alpha and release version and a huge list of things that I&rsquo;d love to see in the final release. The reality is that it could take me years to get all the cool features that I have in mind to be part of this tool. Especially since this is not my full time job. This is why I made sure that the core of what is there is compelling enough to draw people in. However, the main reason I am calling this version an alpha is because I might decide to sneak some more things in before release. We&rsquo;ll see :-)</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 163, 199);"><strong>Well - big thanks, Rich! Until next time...</strong></span></p> <p>Thank you for your interest in DMT! It really is nice to feel all my effort is being appreciated.</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-size: smaller;"><strong><a href="http://www.rd3d.com/" target="_blank">Rich Diamant</a><br /> </strong></span><a href="http://www.rd3d.com/DiamantToolsAlpha1.0.zip"><span style="font-size: smaller;"><strong>Diamant Modeling Tools Alpha 1.0</strong></span></a> <span style="font-size: smaller;">[Download]</span><br /> &nbsp;</p>Fri, 17 Feb 2012 19:00:00 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/diamant_modeling_tools_alpha_1_0Mostly recovered and trying to catch upFiannaThu, 30 Aug 2007 02:45:00 UTChttp://area.autodesk.com/blogs/pointsnap/mostly_recovered_and_trying_to_catch_up