To create a digital set to match the image from an existing CG movie. The scene should include a natural phenomena, be modeled using only SUB-D's, and be apart of a five second animated set.
Step One: CG Movie Selection
We immediately left the gates running! We began to look up all the best animated films that come to mind. Eventually landing on the film Kung Fu Panda. We knew that our team wanted to create something with a complex model and a very textured and beautiful scene. We found two scenes that intrigued us.
Upon much discussion, we decided on the first image. It fit our scope of three weeks better, while showing off a range of skills. This scene also is more striking of an image.
Step Two: Splitting up the Roles
We then discussed our strengths and weaknesses as a team and decided our tasks for the project, beginning to end.
Matt: The rocks and staircase
Ryan: The moss, sculpted elements of the palace, and the palace foundation
Katelyn: The structural elements of the palace
Katie: The Tree
Matt: The stairs and foundation
Ryan: The rocks and moss
Katelyn: The architectural pieces of the palace
Katie: The palace patterns
Rolling Fog Effect
Step Three: Modeling Begins
We split up and went to work. Each person worked on their piece of the pie.
Matt created the stairs and rocks to go in front of the palace
Ryan quickly modeled the foundation of the temple using duplicate tool, then sculpted the "elephant" topper, the roof dragons, and the main detailed pillars in Mudbox. Overall, they are a tad messy-looking, but they are seen from a distance so they work perfectly for the scene.
Katelyn put her head down and created the structural foundation of the Jade temple
Katie modeled and textured the tree, and then created the leaves to match the reference
Step Four: Set Dressing and Reference Matching
Once all of the models were created, Ryan went through and created a master file and matched the reference as close as possible.
Once the scene was collected, Ryan realized that some parts didn't match up with the reference exactly. He then went in and addressed these issues in the model and tried to match this up as close as possible. Using the soft select tool, to achieve the bend in the roof, and the duplicate tool to achieve the railings, roofings, as well as, the multiple tiers.
The retouched version was then ready to be surfaced
Step Five: Surfacing the Scene
While the models were being finished, Katie went to town on the painted textures for the palace. She created the patterns for the lower hang, and tillable textures for the main faces, so that when the models were completed she could slap them onto them and adjust. She then began to create texture after texture, for the rocks, the roofing, and the door. She used a mixture of Photoshop, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, and RenderMan materials. Here are just a few of the hand painted textures.
At the same time, Matt was texturing the foundation and stairs to round out the textures.
Step Six: Adjusting for Incomplete Models
As textures began to be placed, we realized that a part of the stairs was incomplete, the roof panels were misplaced, and the moss needed to be modeled. Ryan tackled these. Not knowing the best way to go about creating this natural model. He asked his peers and discovered a technique called Metaballs. In which, you can create spheres that when colliding, morph into one another. This technique worked very well and the moss was created. The stairs were missing a simple addition of a cylinder, railings, and another layer of stairs, these were quick and easy. Lastly, the roof was a quick soft select to move it back into place.
Step Seven: The Rolling Fog Effect
Katelyn tackled the natural phenomena using maya fluid effects. She went in and tweaked the settings to achieve similar results from the still reference photo, to achieve the animated motion we were thinking of.
Step Eight: Finalizing textures
At this point, most of the scene is completed. The main remaining pieces are the final textures. Due to the large amount of different patterns and panels, Katie was continuously pushing out the texture, but they took time. Nearing the end, Ryan and her combined to finish the remains textures for the moss, pillars, and panels.
Step Nine: Lighting and Color Correction
As the textures were being finalized, the lighting was being tweaked along the way. Katie set up the initial lighting of the scene.then others got on an tweaked it to completion. As the lighting was nearing the end, the textures became less vibrant than the reference. Katie went in and adjusted those accordingly. She first matched the correct base color to the lighting, then went in and adjusted the texture to the new color.
Step Ten: Rendering and Compositing
We decided early on that the best way to render was in layers. Because the camera doesn't move, we only need a single frame render of the house. The other part of the scene is the fog, which we decided to render out with the rocks and stairs to simplify the scene and to negate the background fog.
Step Eleven: The Final Product
Create a set extension to match a still frame from a B/W movie. The modeling must be done using only NURBS, and combined with a real-live plate that we took ourselves.
Step One: B/W Movie Selection
I began to search the internet to find a compelling shot from an old black and white movie. I searched through many movies including Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, and the Grapes of Wrath. I finally landed on the 1960's Psycho. A classic movie that features a large house behind the Bates Motel. I then was tasked with creating that house and then compositing the rest of the elements into the photo.
Step Two: Reference Collection
After selecting the image above, I began to look up reference from multiple angles of the house. Being a famous house, it was not that difficult.
Step Three: NURBS Modeling
At the announcement of only able to use NURBS to model, I was quite unsure of how to do any of this. I had absolutely no experience with NURBS and hardly knew what they were. But I faced it head on and began to test what each command does and looked for tutorials online to help get started. I started creating the wall and window of the lit side of the house.
Using curves and projections, this modeling technique threw me into the unknown and out of my area of expertise. However, I began to pick it up. I created the window and that side of the house, then was able to take those foundational pieces and duplicate them over and over again to create the main frame for the entire house.
Then it came down to a matter of going in and adding the details. Creating a duplicate special for the spikes on the roof, tweaking the window and window frame positions for each window, and creating the individual circular window in the front. But this quickly formed 90% of the house.
Last was the front porch. After creating the spikes on the roof, this was a very similar process. I started with revolving around curves to create a post and then using a duplicate special for each of the beams to create the equal spacing and the number I want. The only thing I actually had to really create individually fro the porch was the wheels at the top of the posts. But upon completing these final steps the house was completely modeled.
Step Four: Perspective Matching
Now that the model is complete, I then placed the reference image into the scene and tweaked the model a little here and a little there to get it to match up as close as it could to the reference.
Upon seeing the house in the frame of the photo, I realized that the house only took up a small portion of the whole scene. Therefore, it didn't show off my work as well. So i switched photos and took the same house and found a closer shot, showing the house off more.
Step Five: Adjusting for the new photo
With this new photo, I now had to match the house I created to what it looks like at this point in the movie. Taking a closer look, I also realized that the house isn't exactly the same from picture to picture. The stairs infant are completely different, the window frames are in different positions, the roof spikes are different, and just small things here and there I had to change. After I then matched up the new perspective.
Step Six: Modeling Some More
I decided once everything was ready to begin surfacing that I could model the building on the right edge of the screen quickly. So I did some quick duplicating and modeled the right building to fit the perspective of the already completed main house.
Step Seven: Surfacing... finally
Looking at the house in the photo, there isn't much small details that you can see from so far away. This made my life a lot easier. I simply had to create three or four main textures and tweak them for the whole house. I needed a wood siding, a hexagonal roof, a trim, and a single wood beam texture. I created each one of them procedurally in Substance Designer so that they could easily tile onto the house in the way that I needed them to.
Step Eight: Lighting
The first image that I was going to create had a super simple single light source set up. I then switched photos, and the lighting immediately became much more complicated. With the different lights around the front illuminating the dark faces and a light coming from the lit window. As well as the second building in the front, with its own set up.
Step Nine: Quick Composite
I then decided to get a good idea of where everything is with a quick composite of the different elements. I took my personal photo of shrubs on a small hill, placed the rendered image from Maya on top, and then took the original stairs from the reference photo on top of that. From this composite, I got critiques as well as a clear picture of what I needed to change in order for it to become as accurate as possible.
Step Ten: Touchups, Tweaks, and Iterations
I took the critiques and started to spotlight each element and create the best output possible. I took the textures and added details to them, tweaked the model proportions to align them as close as I could, and really tweaked the lighting to make the object not look CG,
The Final Product