Yes he's back

On a rainy day

Back from the Kingdom

where I left mine

New mini tutorial

it's so good to be lazy

New making of!

"Vite Marty! Monte dans la voiture!"

What is Sanfoneiro Creation?

!Warning! Artists association

Facial Mocap WIP - Round 2

Including spiky CG hair

Versus VFX finally explained

And there's even a PDF version!

lundi 25 août 2014

Zetman - WIP reborn

Now Versus II project is done and published (already 1.77M views!), other pro works completed, a new schedule better organised, I can finally go back on the Zet project.
Like if there have never been a two years break, I continued the work where I left it, the texturing work on Alpha's weapon is now complete.

I also went back on the rain system with pflow on some new tests:

dimanche 3 août 2014

Modelling tips - Create a hollow sphere

My friend Jentina was looking for a solution to model a hexagonal shaped object, so I look at the problematic with her and here is the solution I found:

 1/ Create a GeoSphere with Geodesic Base Type set on Icosa.

2/ Add a Turbosmooth modifier, Iterations set to 1.

3/ Convert the Geometry to and Editable Poly

4/ With the help of the Graphite modelling tool bar, on the Selection tab, choose the selection by Numeric, type a value of 5 and select "<" option, that way it will select all vertices that have less than 5 edges connected to them.
Then, invert the selection.

5/ Still in sub object mode "vertex" hold CTRL on the keyboard and click on "Edges", it will select all edges connected to the selected vertices.

6/ Hold CTRL on the keyboard and click on Remove to remove unwanted edges and their vertices.

7/ Select all polygons, hit the menu icon next to "Inset", choose "by polygon", put the desired value.

8/ Leave the sub object selection and add a Mesh select modifier, choose polygon, it kept the selection history from the edit poly sub object mode.

9/ Add a Delete Mesh modifier.

10/ Add a Shell modifier and put whatever value you want for the final look of the sphere.

11/ Add a Turbosmooth modifier to get nice round holes in the sphere.

12/ That's it. You can play with the number of segments in the shell modifier to get sharper edges on the holes.

A video that resume the process:

jeudi 17 juillet 2014

An unexpected Making Of

"Unexpected Gifts" is a VFX based short film. It's a proof of concept for a future short film including object tracking and facial motion capture effects.
(A video compilation of VFX explained in this making of is available at the end of the article)

1/ Méliès process

Before shooting this film I made many tests about object tracking using a single camera as in the following videos:
After understanding the basic workflow of object tracking I moved on the props building stage with the help of a friend, based on the CG Keyblade I modelled.

On first tests, the wooden Keyblade only had black dots painted on, I had troubles in the tracking process so I also painted white dots and then everything worked fine.
I also wanted to shoot the entire process in 1 shot, Keyblade+head tracking and facial motion capture, both at the same time. Unfortunately my compositing skills aren't good enough to remove a heavy facial mocap rig from footage like this. I'd like to make some changes in the design of this helmet in the future.

In the end I shot the facial mocap in a separate session. Here is the witness camera that also recorded the audio.

The film was shot with my old Hacked GH1 and a 20mm F.1.7 lens. I did shot a 360° HDR image used for lighting and reflection in the render process, again with the GH1, Peleng 8mm lens and Nodal Ninja 3 pano head.

Once all the footage was shot I could start the tracking process, nothing complicated here as everything was well planned in the shooting process.
(More informations about the head mounted cameras helmet can be found on my blog.)

The Moon head is based on the scan of my own face made for an early project, it was achieved with Agisoft Photoscan, same for the teeth for which I had help from my dentist. I painted the replica she created with a random pattern to get more details in the scan as I read in the CG feedback forum, that method works really well, I never had that much detail in a small scale object like this before:

A last word about this first shot, the hardest thing to manage was the chain at the end of the Keyblade. I spent days on the simulation process, I tried different world scale, settings etc. It always ended up exploding the chain at some point in the shot. I even thought of using a cloth simulation with a skinwrap modifier but it looked horrible.
The solution: I used hinge constraints between chain links, that explains why it looks weird when you focus on the chain animation.

2/ The fake world

The following images show the shaded and wire view of the 2nd and 3rd shot of the short.
UG_MO_Wire_01 UG_MO_Wire_02 UG_MO_Wire_03 UG_MO_Wire_04
It was fun to create "every day" models again. Most of the elements are based on real objects populating my desk and room, the Revoltech Rei Ayanami was useful.

(WIP of the CG props - For the crumpled paper ball , I invite you to follow that nice tutorial from Matt Chandler)
However I noticed some interesting things when working on these 2 full CG shots with Mental Ray:
  1. Rendering procedural maps takes more time than rendering bitmaps. For the table model, I used a cellular material for diffuse, glossy and bump slots. I thought it was totally normal to wait 20 minutes for my image to be rendered (Hey, we're on Mental ray ;)), then after a mistake I discovered it was not normal at all, so I baked the cellular maps to bitmaps and the render time dropped under 10 minutes/frame, which is still insane. It must be something pro peoples might know and I, noob, just discovered.
  2. Using Render Elements takes a hell of a long time in Mental Ray. No comments.
  3. Motion blur Tips: We all know rendering motion blur takes years, even with unified samples. Exporting a proper velocity pass to be used in post with plugins and without artefacts is impossible, of course Spotmask plugin is here, but as explained earlier it takes a hell of a long time to render passes in MR. My solution: once I comped all my base elements together, I rendered them as an image sequence and projected it on the original geometry of my 3D scene using camera mapping, the material was auto illuminated, I deactivated all the lights and exposure controls then I turned on motion blur. I only used that method for the 3rd shot and it worked great, at 10 seconds/frames I got real 3D motion blur. That way if you feel there is a problem with the motion blur settings, you can adjust them, launch the render again and only wait a few seconds to get your motion blurred render. I used the same process for the Zdepth pass.
  4. Use Quicksilver renderer. It was the fastest way to render my Zdepth pass, only seconds to compute full HD images. I also used it to render the wire and shaded turntables of this making of. (Quicksilver render has other interesting uses I'll talk about soon on my blog.)
A brief note on texturing: I changed my wokflow for a faster one. Until now, when I was working on a complex model with multiple parts, I had separate texture files for each part (no wonder why it took so much time to create textures for my old projects). For Terra's Armor and Keyblade I merged objects together, armor elements, suit elements etc. I extracted UV information, then detached the elements again. That way I get constant look from one part of the armour to another. I feel noob for using this method up to now, I thought it was used only for single mesh low poly objects for video games.

The motion for each camera used a different method. In the 2nd shot it's a keyframed camera with noise controllers in position and rotation. In the 3rd shot I shot with my GH1 a piece of my room full of contrasted elements to get a realistic hand-held motion, I adjusted the camera angle here and there to match Terra's animation.
Terra model was created from Tetsuya Normura's artworks and Birth by sleep references. I adjusted the body proportions to make it look more like a real human wearing a costume.
Same story for the 2 keyblades. (After some thought, End of The Earth Keyblade could be less thin.)
Terra's just a guest in this video but I had fun on some render pieces during the creation of the model:

All this Making Of videos and some more:


That project is not related with Square-Enix company.
It's a pure fictional and parody project.
All the CG elements seen in the film and in this making of have been created by myself.
- Nicolas Brunet / July 2014 -
(proof reading: Nick Tregenza)


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