Thesis Project: Semester Summary

Brad Reynolds
ANM 670
Thesis Project Summary
I would like to create a set of retro-science fiction themed models based on the 1948 novel, “The City and the Stars” by Arthur C. Clarke.  The goal of the project would be to learn and demonstrate my skills in modeling, texturing, and rigging.
Project Proposal:
The golden age of science fiction from the mid-twentieth century offers a wealth of potential creativity for a thesis project.  During this time period of rapidly increasing scientific discovery and advancement, authors and artists were able to dream up a myriad of imaginative stories and gadgetry, some of which exist today.  It is from this era of science fiction that I am selecting the basis for my thesis concept, specifically from Arthur C. Clarke’s 1956 novel, “The City and The Stars.”
The City and the Stars takes place a billion years in the future in the city of Diaspar.  Due to apocalyptic events, the last remnants of humanity are all housed within the technologically advanced city that cares for all of their wants and needs instantaneously through a complex central computer system.  All inhabitants of Diaspar are actual reincarnations of former citizens, their minds being stored inside the computer system when they die.  Because of this, citizens have millions of years of selective memories within themselves during their lifetime.
The main character of the story, Alvin, is a ‘Unique,’ or citizen that was created without any past lives to remember.  Because of this fact, Alvin is driven by an insatiable appetite to explore the world outside of Diaspar.  Through a series of events, he discovers and travels to Lys, another community of humans outside of Diaspar who have adopted an almost agrarian lifestyle.  
Along with a companion gained in Lys, Alvin discovers and travels to Shalmirane, a fortress where the inhabitants of earth fought off the Invaders with unimaginable weapons.  During this excursion, they encounter an extraterrestrial creature who is the last survivor of a religious cult dating back to the days before Diaspar.  Accompanying the alien is a strange robot that came with the “Master” of the cult when they first arrived on earth millions of years ago.  Through a series of events, Alvin is led to the spacecraft of the Master and travels to a distant galaxy where he is introduced to knowledge that will change the lives of both those in Diaspar and Lys forever.
Drawing upon contemporary visual influences of the time during which the novel was written, the style of the models will reflect a nostalgic feel similar to the serial comic books of the 1930s. Two different and distinct visual styles would need to be included since the characters and props are from two long-separated time periods.  The general description of the models I would like to produce is as follows:
Alvin: Considered a “Unique” in the city of Diaspar, Alvin has never had a previous life, unlike all the other citizens of Diaspar.  During the time of the novel, he has just reached his twentieth birthday and is now considered a full adult, capable of living the rest of his existence unsupervised.  Unlike the rest of Diaspar, Alvin does not have an irrational fear of the outside world, but rather has an insatiable appetite for exploration.  Physically, Alvin has remained at twenty years old since he stepped out of the Hall of Creation.  Although the city of Diaspar will sustain his life, he will not appear to age a day during his existence.  Throughout the ages, the citizens of Diaspar have been refining the design of the human body, removing what they deemed to be nature’s unfortunate adaptations.  For example, the body is completely hairless, except for the head.  Other details such as nails and teeth have been removed, although a different device for masticating food (not described in the novel) has taken its place.  Citizens of Diaspar are physically perfect and exist in a variety of heights, weights, and races.  The clothing of the residents of Diaspar is merely ornamental, serving no function for protection or storage since the city maintains a constant comfortable temperature and can manifest any object at will.  During one of Alvin’s explorations of the city, it is mentioned that he wears a cloak as part of his attire.
The model for Alvin would be considered the “Hero” model and will be the primary focus of the project.  In addition to creating a high-level Z-Brush sculpt, the model would have high resolution textures, a muscle system rig, and cloth simulation for his cloak.
The Master’s Robot: Before the isolation of Diaspar, a human religious leader known only in the story as “The Master” began a religious movement that spread across the galaxy.  Upon the Master’s death, a number of converts fell away from the movement, but a number remained faithful.  One of the last of these followers returned to Shalmirane to await an impending religious event.  With this extraterrestrial follower was a robot of unusual design.  As the Master’s faithful companion, the Robot was programmed to only obey his commands and not communicate with anyone else.  The robot is of an alien design, originally designed by a species not native to earth.  The initially noticeable feature is its three lidless eyes, it’s primary sensory input, arranged in a triangle, but not giving a clear indication of where the Robot’s attention is focused.  It contains multiple robotic arms and a series of tentacles on its body, although it’s primary mode of transportation is a hover system.  Alvin and his companion discover the robot on their excursion from Lys to Shalmirane.  It mainly communicates with Alvin through telepathy, although it has the ability to speak.
The robot model would be a medium-resolution model to accompany the hero model.  In addition to a medium resolution set of textures, the robot would have have a rig set up for controlling the arms and tentacles.
The Master’s Spaceship: Reputed to be one of the fastest ships to be built, the Master’s Spaceship was also his home.  At a hundred feet in length, it has a rounded cross section and is described as being pointed in both ends.  Having been buried beneath the sands outside of Diaspar since the days when man first retreated from the stars, the ship is caked with hardened dirt, rock, and sand when it is first discovered by Alvin.  Despite this, the ship’s function and hull has been perfectly preserved by its memory circuits.  It initially contains no visible signs of windows or doors, but eventually reveals an airlock to its interior.  The design of the interior is incredibly homely with comfortable decor.  On the anterior wall is an oval viewscreen that covers the entirety of the surface.  Arranged around the screen is a semi-circle of couches, flanked by a series of tables with chairs designed for non-human species.  The ship is capable of traveling faster than the speed of light and is able to transverse galactic distances in a matter of hours.  In addition to its faster than light speed, it also has the ability to compensate for inertia, allowing for a complete and instantaneous stop without detriment to the ship or its passengers.
The spaceship would be another medium-resolution model complete with textures and set-key controls for various mechanical systems like the landing gears, engine vents, and airlock system.
Visual References:
Production Design: Retro Futurism
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Character Design: Retro Futurism/Utopianism
THX 1138
Mood: Warm Glow Mingled with Brooding Uncertainty
Blade Runner
Concept Artwork:
Current concept artwork has been completed by myself, Nathan Finlay, and Josh Farnworth.  Further exploration and development is desired for the final designs.
Task List:
-UV Mapping
-Muscle Rigging
-Cloth Simulation
-UV Mapping
-UV Mapping
Gantt Chart:
See attached Gantt Chart.
Note: Because I will be transferring on site starting the summer semester, there may be additional opportunities available for collaboration or helping another animation student with their project.  If it is decided that my skills could be better used elsewhere, I may take up that opportunity and submit a redirect through the graduate offices.

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