Modeling for Character: Both projects on this video require high polygon subdivisions and sculpting, although only the first one is going to need a thorough retopology with working edge loops for anatomically correct deformations. The second character is a robot made out of metal, so it doesn’t need any. I am solving the silhouettes via displacement maps, which proved more efficient than using subdivisions, and relief detail using normal maps. Texturing for Character: In both projects, we need a photo-realistic render for video. I am providing it using PBR textures. The second project doesn’t need any subsurface scattering because is made out of metal. Rigging & Skinning for Character: Both projects require functionalities like switches for forward and inverse kinematics and some skinning. The first project is multiple times more complex than the second. I skin the first character using Maya Muscle and the second using nCloth.
In the first example (facades), my employer wanted to make a real-time version of the famous Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic. We needed to model every visible building using max 700 tris each. I am building them into a render time scene and animating a camera, using low polygon modeling techniques, i.e. no subdivisions, curved surfaces base only on soft edges.
For the second study, I am using elevations and floorplans, high polygon subdivisions and sculpting (watch my Modeling and Concept Demo for more details). In both projects, I am using PBR materials for the textures (Texturing Demo) and lighting the scenes using skydomes with HDRI and directional lights. Using nParticles and volumetric lights to add some visual effects (watch my Visual Effects Demo), Maya Fluid for mist, paintEffects for trees and flowers, Maya Fur for grooming and grass, animated displacements for water and volumetric lights and flares. I am rendering using layers and passes and compositing using The Foundry Nuke (take a look at my Compositing Demo).
In these examples, you can see how the textures, applied to shaders, show up again later, once rendered as passes, in compositing, allowing a second, more accurate, grading pass and interacting with masks and visual effects.
Basing the renders on concepts, via layers using passes (e.g. diffuse, ambient occlusion, reflection, subsurface scattering, etc.), I export my scenes’ pixel information using 32 bit exr format. This dynamic range resolution allows me to composite the scenes in a photo-realistic fashion and apply nodes and filters by rendering vector passes, e.g. motion blur or depth of field, in a fraction of the time compared to rendering directly on each frame.
Effective Animation and Visual Effects do not happen out of the blue, they are the result of accurate character and environment development, where art and technical directors make decisions before production phase.
Narrative Script, tells the story before drawing or modeling.
Color Script, making decisions on value and color before lighting or texturing.
Storyboard, composition, animation and cameras in a 2D visualization process.
Animatic, animating storyboard panels in 2D and 3D space to provide templates for animators and compositors.
Character sheets, including views of the characters from multiple angles, recognizable silhouettes, orthographic views for the modelers, facial expressions for modelers and animators, clothes and gear sheets for prop modelers and visual effects artists, etc.
Environment Sheets, including maps where characters can move in game levels defining what actions are possible and where they may take place.
Concept art, sometimes using paintovers on rough 3D models, showing general looks and fine details of the future production, providing a thorough template for models, textures, light sets and post-production.
You make every decision during pre-production phase in an animation project, before production, in order to keep it manageable. It is easier (and more efficient) to fix problems in 2D before they happen in 3D.
Character prep and execution. Concept art, modeling, retopology, human rigging, skinning, muscle, hair and cloth simulation, blend shapes sculpting for facial expressions, animation, vegetation simulation, compositing. 1:05 min.