[latest update: 26/09/2012 - phone number updated to AU]
VFX showreel covering the usual core skills learnt during the Visual Effects Production course at Escape Studios, London, and refined over six months of subsequent hard graft, and learning how to make Mental Ray sing properly..
>> Shot 01 - Natural History Museum set extension (00:01 - 00:10)
Demonstration of matching in CG both from a lighting and texturing perspective, but also in terms of copying existing architectural style (e.g. stained glass rear windows are replicas of windows elsewhere found in the museum, and the archway detail is derived from the architect's original sketches) and tracking sufficient to allow stable placement of additional CG on surfaces and to create a stable cutout for cleanup of plate elements and replacement with brickwork and a long extension archway.
Shot broken down into three separate zones of work (front handrail, cutout, rear extension) to allow maximum flexibility in re-rendering elements, and to allow for per-zone control of lighting to speed up rendering as needed.
>> Shot 02 - West 12 corridor (00:10 - 00:17)
Shot tracked quite heavily to allow for placement of CG objects on all major surfaces, along with supporting a detailed environment rebuild for light simulation and accurate reflection/shadow management - in particular, the cleanup of pre-existing reflections and adding new reflections on the left hand side fire door.
Due to issues with shadows and shadow ray penetration of walls, heavy use was made of the MIP matteshadow material and a direct light simulation to accurately place direct shadows and modify indirect light as a result of the new CG elements.
The plate itself suffered from a poor white balance and no reference white/grey balls were available so synthetic white and grey balls were inserted and the light rig was tuned by eye so that the synthetic reference responded in a consistent fashion. These were later used to key a global grade to try restore the white balance.
>> Shot 04 - Houdini/Volumetrics (00:17 - 00:30)
First major foray into using the Houdini/Mantra setup and volumetric rendering with clouds, and stretching some mental muscles to produce a controllable lightning system. Self-shot footage - done in a sequence of clips for each action and stitched together to form the sequence - with a locked off 500D. Twin emphasis in this shot was to set up and render a volumetric element with control, and also to play around and get to grips with Mantra and building custom networks in Houdini as a precursor to creating artist tools.
On the volumetric side, the cloud shape is initially defined via arbitrary geometry and uses particles and metaballs to provide a transition from the emitter, and a degree of 'squishability'. Conversion to a volume and addition of procedural noise is through a volume vop shader and rendering takes advantage of Mantra in micropolygon mode along with the new pyro shader.
Lightning is created via an L-system for general shape which is then fed into a custom VEX network to control aspects such as bolt length along path, tint, width, and whether or not to use a pulse along the bolt tip (to simulate the bright leading points on lightning) or the major energy discharge path (the main strike when a bolt connects from cloud to ground)
>> Shot 03 - Product shot, Tresemme (00:30 - 00:35)
Completely synthetic product shot with particular emphasis placed on timing and light management, and an opportunity to try out the mental ray fast skin shader to replicate translucent plastic.
From previz and storyboarding shot broken up into phases, and light rigs built up and split into animated and static groups with bulk control in Maya. Resulting per-light group renders were recombined in Nuke along with additional elements and control passes to allow a rapid turnaround and an ability to fine-tune detail (e.g. phasing and de-synchronisation of the metal label highlights, and comp level control of the falloff curve on the reflections) and shot animation timings (e.g. being able to blend light ramps and blur the transition phase in Nuke via curves rather than requiring re-rendering).