Friday, October 31, 2008

Long time

I had a feeling this might happen. No updates in a long time. Things have eased up a bit today and I found some time to give a little udpate.

Gnomon has released my latest training DVD on Multi-pass Compositing. My first project at Digital Domain is on TV and before pretty much every movie now at the theaters. My first project was actually 3 commercials of which I worked on two. The first one is called "Mecha Mesquito" and is a commercial for the Honda Fit model car. The commercial features a bunch of cars modified to look like mosquitos complete with wings and legs made of car parts. They watch the Honda Fit drive by and begin chasing after it in the hopes of sucking the gas tank empty. At the end they become entranced by a building in the shape of a bug zapper and fly into it. The project was done mainly in Lightwave, with just some minor stuff in other packages. There were two other commercials in this campaign. The other I worked on is called "Defense Mechanism" and features the Honda Fit again but in a city with an underwater feel. All the other cars are fish like. The last I did not work on but had lots of bats flying out of the cars trunk.

After finishing that project I went on "overhead" which was a totally new experience for me. Basically you come to work and wait for someone to find work for you. I started to learn Maya in that time, but two days in they found a new task for me. The VFX supervisor on the film "Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons" came to me and asked if I could render the opening shot of the movie in 3ds Max using Vray. I can't give any details about the shot, but this was an experimental pipeline involving converting animation from another package into max on a VERY grand scale. Unfortunately, after two weeks of trying to make it work we ran into memory problems that just could not be overcome. So the shot remained in the orginal software package it was created in and I was put back on overhead. I was pretty bummed cause the shot is very cool and I really loved working on it. I got to see the final shot (rendered in another package) and it turned out fantastic. A part of me still wants to know what it would have turned out looking like using Max/Vray though. It had been looking really good before the memory cap.

After a couple more days on overhead I was put on another commercial project which again I can't talk about. This project is very cool though. I'm really enjoying it. I came to DD wanting to push myself to create completely photo realistic work and this project is turning out to be the closest I've ever come to that goal. Again on this project I'm involved with creating a pipeline for it which has been quite interesting. I've done quite a bit of scripting over the years in Max, but mainly creating tools that only I needed to depend on. I had a very nerve racking but also exciting experience on this project where we were going to be in serious trouble if we didn't have a particular tool created and I was the one to do it. It was a bit challenging to write this tool and the moment that another artists tried it for the first time on a worked. The few quite seconds before the tool was run for the first time in production was quite an intense moment. Seeing it work flawlessly that first time made my day and since it was the major stubbling point on the project and we had gotten past it made me feel like this project was well on its way to success. At the moment I'm wrapping up the last of the character modeling. Thats right....for those of you reading this who know me...I'm not a character modeler, but that is in fact what I did on this project. I modeled and textured 3 characters actually. They weren't all that difficult though. Mostly hard surface modeling. But it was something different for me. I've modeled only environments for the past 5 years.

Next week we begin rendering shots. I can't wait to see the shots start coming together.

Tim J