Preproduction: Concepts Part III

So far I haven't gotten enthusiastic feedback on my thesis concepts, but that is mainly because I am blowing the work way out of scope. So this week I decided to reflect on what actually brought me here to school and how my particular background in industrial design has had an influence in my work. Having done that, I realize that my particular love is hard-surface modeling (non-organic) and that I would thoroughly enjoy doing that when I am finished with school. With my goals in mind, that helped me to come up with some more doable concepts:

3D Modeling - Hard Surface Modeling

Alien Garage
The theme around this idea is that even in a futuristic world, when your vehicle breaks down, you still have to bring it to someone to fix it. The idea would be to create a small ‘intergalactic’ mechanic garage with two repair bays for spacecraft/speeders. The shop is run by two mechanics: one a future projection of your stereotypical human grease monkey, the other an alien/cybernetic hybrid. The interior environment would include the repair bays, at least one speeder, and their collection of tools and supplies.

Industrial Design Concept Lab
This idea draws direct inspiration from my background in industrial design and manufacturing engineering. I would like to create a still scene that centers around what the future of concept design and prototyping might be. The idea would be to create a human designer in his own not-too-far-distant-in-the-future design studio. He would be interacting with some sort of tactile interface that is connected to a multi-armed robotic device, essentially a rapid prototyping machine. He would be sculpting out a concept model of a futuristic motorcycle or some other type of vehicle.

This concept is probably a little clichè, but the visual potential still interests me. This would include modeling a portion of the interior of a derelict spacecraft, filled with cargo containers, load lifters, and other industrial equipment. A lone human in an environmental suit stands on the edge of the cargo area, shining a searchlight in the dim interior. In the shadows, a non-humanoid alien creature lurks, just out of the direct view of the searchlight.

Ecorchè: Refining the Skull

This is turning out to be one of my favorite classes, mainly because it is an exercise in learning, not in creating some beautiful piece of art. It is supposed to solidify inside your head the 3D forms of the human body... and by golly it works!

This week we learned about the different parts of the skull and how it is divided up. I'm also starting to learn the actual names of the important visual landmarks of the skull. The photos you see here aren't perfect, though. The jaw is a bit short. I need to go back and rework it, but it is close.

Next week we focus on the thorax (rib cage). Should be interesting.

Organic Modeling: Blocking in the Head

This week we had a chance to go in and refine the features of the head in preparation for bringing the model into ZBrush. There are still a few more things to refine on the model, but here is the progress so far.

It is also important to point out that there is a certain flow of the polygons as you are modeling the head. You can see two continuous loops around both the eye and the mouth. By working around these two areas, you prepare the model for proper subdivision and deformation when the time comes to start rigging.


Hades & Poseidon: Two Greek Gods

Here are two more renderings that I banged out this weekend for fun. I've been in the mood to try and determine what these spheres might look like based on different naming conventions found in Greek mythology.

I am sure I've got more inside my head somewhere, but I need to get back to doing homework, plus my computer could use a break. The Hades rendering took 94 hours to complete, mainly because I turned on the diffusion reflection setting on the floor, which makes the reflections appear blurry. It wasn't worth the end result.


Thesis Concepts: Part 2

Here are some more story ideas I had to try and derive a thesis project from. Apparently I have spent too much time devoted to trying to tell a narrative and not enough defining a project that I could do by myself, so I need to keep working on that:

8-Bit Dreams
Seven year old Devin has been cautioned many times by his parents to not play too many video games. One night after hours of playing the original Nintendo NES, he has a dream that his game consoles come to life, materializing all of the monsters from the games he has been playing inside his bedroom. The only way Devin can escape the dream is by fighting through the digital nightmares and pushing the power button on the Nintendo.

Monster Boarding House
A documentary-type short animation that asks the timeless question, “What if all of the classic movie monsters lived together in a boarding house?” The short interviews include Frankenstein (who isn’t much of a conversationalist besides a few grunts), Dracula (who has to suffer the various pranks of his housemates as they move his coffin someplace inconvenient during the day), the Creature from the Black Lagoon (who always seems to be hogging the shower), the Wolfman (who goes through new clothes every single full moon), and the Mummy (who is surprisingly articulate and fairly intolerant of having to live with commoners). Interspersed between the interview clips are short segments of life in the house and the frustration of having to deal with each others’ characteristics.

Deus Ex: Revisited
Set in a distant dystopian cyberpunk future where nanotechnology is just beginning to become the latest advancement in human augmentation, the original 2000 PC game Deus Ex provided a uniquely compelling experience that was a blend between a first-person shooter and a role-playing game. Since then it has sparked both a sequel and a soon to be released prequel. Despite the unique and compelling storyline, the game engine was not powerful enough to support high resolution graphics or texture maps larger than 64 x 64. Some fans of the game have developed higher resolution textures, but map them to the original geometry. The project would include developing new high resolution geometry and textures of the principle characters, robots, genetically enhanced creatures, and scenery.

My Pet Rock
Billy’s parents refused to allow him any sort of pet at all, his father remarking that the only pet Billy would ever have is a pet rock. Taking this to heart, Billy set off into the woods near his home and began to dig for the perfect pet rock. After hours of digging, he struck something that began to move under the dirt, which eventually turns out to be a golem that appears to think that Billy is his master. Billy takes the golem home and announces to his horrified parents that he has found the perfect pet.

Little Shop of Horrors
The off-broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors is a dark comedy about a seemingly innocent venus fly trap named Audrey II that is taken in by a loner named Seymour Krelborn who works in a little flower shop in an urban skid row. Progressively through the musical, it is discovered that this plant has a taste for human blood and is actually an alien being set on world-domination. The story has multiple opportunities for composing a CG still shot. One that would be compelling to do is the part where Mr. Mushnik is about to be eaten by Audrey II while he is confronting Seymour about a recent murder.

One Small Step...
This concept would be a digital scene that would be viewed in the round. The scene is a small, oblong asteroid in space. On one side of the asteroid can be seen a traditional NASA landing craft similar to concepts for the next lunar mission. Near it, two astronauts are seen planting a flag in salutation. On the opposite side of the asteroid, a similar scene is played out with an alien landing craft and alien astronauts planting a holographic flag in salutation.

Jozin z Bazin (Joey the Swamp Monster)
In 1978 the Czech musician and comedian Ivan Mlàdek composed this song that in English roughly translates to “Joey the Swamp Monster.” The song is a narrative of a man who is traveling through the Czech Republic to go camping, trying to avoid the ravaging Joey the Swamp Monster who is terrorizing the countryside. A local mayor hires the man to catch Joey, offering his daughter’s hand in marriage as a prize. The man knows the only way to defeat Joey is to use a crop duster, which he does, covering Joey in a white powder. After Joey is subdued, the man captures him with plans to sell him to a zoo. The animation would be set to the original music and follow the man in his journey.

Organic modeling: Blocking in Part 2

Our organic modeling is coming along as well. This week we started to do a little bit of detail work with our digital model, creating the fingers and toes for it:

There is still one more phase to do before we take it into ZBrush to do really high resolution modeling to it. That is to come next week.

Ecorchè: Blocking In

I am really starting to like this class, but don't ask me why. I've been learning all about anatomy and how things are shaped in the body, which I have done before, but this time it is really sticking inside my head! It's crazy and fascinating at the same time.

This week we focused on blocking in the basic forms of the body, namely the skull, ribcage, and pelvis:

Next week we actually start detailing out the details of the skull. It is going to be fascinating.


Hydra: A Daedelus Evolution

Here's another image that got stuck in my head after creating the Daedelus Spheres render. This took a few hours to put together, then another sixteen hours to render. These things just keep seeming to inspire more images in my head because now I've got another that I want to do.


Daedelus: A Sunday Afternoon Rendering

Every once in a while I get a 3D image stuck in my head that just needs to come out. Such was the case yesterday when this appeared in my head:

Don't ask me what Daedelus means or why it is a Korean-branded glowing ball thingy. I just thought it sounded nifty.


Preproduction: Concepts

The third class I am taking is a class on preproduction. Preproduction is an important part of the pipeline in making films, video games, animations, etc. Essentially, it allows you to budget your time and resources while striving to not lose the creativity of the original idea. For this semester, I'll be developing concepts for my thesis project. (I'm not actually sure if I'll be using these since I hope to work on a group production, but it will still be a good exercise for me.)

Our first project was to come up with some ideas on something to work on, narrative or not. I've always got a few stories floating around in my head, so these are the ones that I put forward:

A.L.F.R.E.D.: Artificial Life Form: Robotic Energy Division
As a seven and a half foot tall steam-powered humanoid robot, Alfred was designed by the Baron Von Tito as a prototype solution to the rampant slavery that plagued their steampunk-themed world. Before Alfred’s final programming could be complete, the Baron passed away, leaving the lumbering robot with an insatiable curiosity about the world surrounding him.

Weapons Test Range Tour
Set in the intermediate future, Omni Technologies invites the you to view its latest development in weapons technology. Guided by the company’s hostess A.I., Alice, the audience is transported via a people-mover type system through the weapons test ranges, catching a glimpse of the contraptions in action. The test results are performed by clean-suit technicians on dummies or ‘willing’ test subjects, often with comedic results.

Alien Garage/Pit Stop
In the distant future, NASCAR has continued to survive and evolve, with racetracks being built on other planets and the cars being upgraded to speedy spacecraft, complete with galactic corporate sponsors. The racing team of speeder number 42, Dax Darkstar, is comprised of humans and aliens alike, and often is found at their wit’s end trying to deal with each other’s quirky behavior.

Privateer 3036
With the expansion of humankind far beyond the solar system, warring factions have emerged over the control of resource-rich planets. Commissioned by the Interplanetary Colonial Government, the space-faring warship Foehammer, captained by Marcus Grant, works as a privateering ship. Their main mission is the seizure of enemy cargo and vessels, as well as defending the ICG’s expansionary efforts.

Ferdinand the Cave Troll
Among the ranks of the army of Mordor preparing to enter through the Black Gates and crush the remaining world of man is the unwilling participant, Ferdinand. Although he is a very large and ferocious looking cave troll, he would much rather sit and smell the flowers. While waiting for the order to march through the gates, he spots a butterfly (the one who is a friend to Gandalf) and happily chases it into a nearby cave. As he admires the butterfly resting on a flower, he is completely unaware of the entire final battle of Middle Earth and the destruction of Sauron that is occurring behind his back.

Future Private Eye
Set in a cyber-punk themed future, Tracer Spade lives a solitary life as a private investigator in the heart of Detroit. The two loves of his life include his ‘antique’ hotrod hovercraft and his sidearm. His life takes a turn for the unexpected when a mysterious woman enters his office, hiring him to search for her missing father.

Herakles Versus Cerberus
In order to pay penance for the murder of his family while temporarily insane, Herakles (Hercules) was given twelve labors to complete. The final labor consisted of capturing the three-headed hellhound Cerberus from Hades using nothing but his bare hands.

That's all for now. We'll see how things pan out for the future.

Ecorchè: Constructing the Armature

This semester I am also taking a class called Ecorchè, which literally means flayed. It has been a way for centuries of helping lock into an artist's brain the three dimensional forms of the human body. Essentially, your start by building the body from the inside out, starting with the skeletal structure, then adding muscles. This helps to understand where the major visible landmarks of the human body are when depicting it in art.

This looks very familiar, I am sure, but first things first: construct the armature.

Another thing I want to point out is that I am using Chavant sculpting clay for this class, which I am happy about. It is an oil-based clay that doesn't dry out and can be reused for future projects. The one downside to is is that it isn't very soft to work with. That is quickly overcome by keeping the clay warm prior to working with it. Because my workshop is in an unheated part of the house, that may prove difficult this winter.

Organic Modeling: Blocking in Part 1

Another semester is here and I am back to blogging about it. This semester should be very fun with lots of hard work and fun projects ahead of me.

One of my classes is Organic Modeling. The essential purpose of this class is to help me understand the forms of living things (real or imaginary) and how to properly create 3D models for them. One of the principles of organic modeling is to have your model mesh completely constructed of quadrangles (4-sided polygons in 3D space). This allows for the proper subdivision of a model as you go into finer detail. For now I will be working on a model of a human figure in a neutral pose, although other projects will explore quadruped anatomy and construction.

The initial stage is called the blocking stage where you rough in the model:

At this point, it is very rough, but is the foundation for further high resolution work.