Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another Tiny, Tiny Update

So it's a....steam engine tractor-y-type thingy now!?!

Yeah. So get over it already.

I'm somewhat embarrassed that my updates are so freakin' tiny, like "hey, I spent 15 minutes modeling, check it out!" That's what they feel like and, in many respects that what they are. I've been prohibited by various personal issues (none bad) from working on this much at all lately, hence this cool object - one object in an entire scene of objects - is turning into a Sisyphean hurdle. I should be able to knock this sucker out in a couple days, tops, with room to revisit it later for tweaks.

But this is the pace it's coming along at. I have to just deal with it, model when I get time, try to make more time and stay positive that his project is, indeed moving forward. And I have to keep posting. This blog is a great tool for me to gauge how the work is going and unless I'm using it, ain't nothin' getting gaged.

Oh, and why am I still working on this when in my last post I said I was moving on? Well, me & James, we talked and coming out of it, it seemed best to take this sucker closer to final before moving on. So, in three or four months, I'll have a finished model of the steam engine/clocktower. Hooray three or four months! (That's supposed to be sarcasm. Let's hope that time bears out its un-seriousness.).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Don Ho Loves Tiny, Tiny Bubbles...

...and I apparently love tiny, tiny updates to the clocktower.

I'm officially making the decision to move on. The clocktower isn't done but right now I feel like it's as done as it needs to be, given how "undone" so many other parts of the scene are.

A quick to-do list for me when I return to this is as follows:
  • Add more steam engine elements to the top of the train car.
  • Add tubes plugging this whole assemblage into the pavement surrounding it.
  • Add detail to the body of the train car.
  • Remove polys that no one's ever gonna see.
Those refinements are all well and good and I'm happy to do them but I've spent enough time working on this and I've been away from the scene proper for far too long. I need to spend a little bit of time with the big picture, to make sure that all this modeling has someplace to live.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Am Taking Too Long... finish the clocktower.

Nevertheless, here are a couple more WIP's.

I'm just trying to streamline it a bit and have it make a bit more sense. More of the pipes are actually connecting to tanks and boilers and whatnot and the smokestacks all connect to something that, in some world, might conceivably create smoke.

The uber-basic peaked roof is a stand-in. That's what I've got to sort out next. After that, the train chassis gets a 2nd pass. Then I'm moving on to a building or something else in the scene. Frankly, I need to kick my arse in gear and put this sucker to rest.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

City Building 6

The official name of this building in the scene is "CB14". That sounds very cool and a bit like a spy film, but it stands for "City Building 14". In any case, it is finished. At least for now. Further revisions will have to wait until we have a few more shot elements in place. As we complete pieces, it is becoming obvious that we may have to shift a few things around.

It is difficult to sense scale when you see something like these renderings, which are completely out of context. But this building is fairly large. For a point of reference, the railings along the staircases are almost 3' tall.

Maya on the Mac

...I don't know why I install Apple's software updates. All they do is f-up my Maya experience. Oh, and Logitech's dropping the ball too.

Yesterday my right-click button stops functioning properly. "Huh, that's odd," I think. "Maybe I should check to make sure that I have all the correct drivers." Bad idea. After updating my Logitech drivers and restarting, my middle-mouse button's not working. A quick trip to the Logitech forums shows that there's a known issue with their most recent software and the most recent Apple OS update.

Christ on a crutch.

My next computer is either a dual-booting Intel Mac with a copy of XP Pro, or one of those sweet Dell M-90's.

For the record, I am accepting donations for the new computer fund.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

So, this is the deal. I'm loving the occlusion renders and the more time I work on just the model, the more I like it and want to tweak it out in dozens of different ways.

Oh, and one thing RE the two frames above, they show a slight difference in how the back of the clock mechanism is treated. In the top one, the clockworks are fully exposed. In the lower one, I've built a back plane for the clockworks. My thought behind that was that it might mellow out the complexity somewhat and allow the clock faces to read as coherent shapes. I don't know if it works at all.

But I get a little bit worried when I throw it into the scene. I've got to take into account that the level of detail on it vs. the rest of the buildings is huge, but sometimes I wonder if it doesn't fit.

In the last three frames I threw on textures that were already in the scene, but that are by no means final textures. I guess that helps a little bit. Still, the whole structure is so spindly and intricate and....just plain odd. Of course, it's supposed to be odd. It's a different object than all of the others in the shot. But there's a line between being different and being part of a different world. I'm afraid that I'm really close to that line.

One last note is that the camera move may need to change a bit. The last frame is not from the active camera and it's really the only one that lets us see the tower.

Hmm. A lot of second guessing, a lot of thinking that sometimes your babies are monkeys. I'll explain what that means a little later.

City Building 5

Here are a couple of renderings of the progress made on the building. There is still lots to do, but the form is really starting to shape up.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

City Building 4

Here is the same building - a little further along:

This is the same building, with an angle similar to the end of the shot.

City Building 3

This is a rough shot with the two new buildings in place.. No lighting to speak of, and as you can see some of the placement is far from perfect. At this stage we are just replacing our Lego buildings with the actual models to refine things and get them into the scene to see how they are working out. The previews that follow are for the building in the far left.

This one is behind the clocktower for a large portion of the shot, But the camera comes very close so it will need a big chunk of time before it is completed. Right now it is still at the earliest stages. Obviously since no work has been done on lighting or texturing, these still look very low rent...But not to worry the detail (and beauty) will come with time..

Finally, a post of this model in a bit more detail:

Clocktower Updates

I'm too tired to talk much about these. They show some improvements but also need work. I'll get on that as soon as I can.

Monday, July 9, 2007

City Building 2

Here are some renderings of the nearly finished building model.

This represents the second or third-from-highest level of detail we will be modeling into the foreground buildings of our city scene. Models with this level of detail will be used for medium shots.

Once this model is brought into the main scene, some additional steps will be taken to integrate it into the scene itself, such as power lines, dirt buildup around the building's base, and a few outlying props to really sell it.

In the case of this building, such props would include barrels under and around the water collection system, and a specialized dolly to move the barrels. Final details will include some of the power lines and pavement details as well. With additional refinement to be done as needed.

As will be the case with most of these buildings, many of the final steps will be handled based on the building's position in the scene with respect to the camera's view & other buildings in the scene.

For now now no additional detail has been added to the rooftop, as I am not sure if it will ever be seen in the shot. The roof extension which has been added to this model really exists to carry our European / Mediterranean art direction throughout the model, and to increase the interest of the building's profile.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

City Building

This is a concept skematic Barry worked up to describe the structure of the city buildings in more detail:These screens show the 3D model in its current state; I hope to be finishing it up soon. After our discussions concerning some new additions to the buildings I will be adding just a touch more detail, in terms of power lines, and a support structure for the drainpipe and water tank. As a final touch I will put a few crates inside the exposed space in the second level, as well as adding an internal staircase from level 2 to 3.

This is a quick render of a building I am working on for the city space.

Modeling Clock Faces

I jumped from the rough clock face Illustrator designs into the modeling and I'm okay with the results. I'm not through the moon, though, as the scale on them probably needs some tweaking. It's hard to tell how much of the detail I've put into these is going to show. If it's just going to get lost, all those beveled edges and extra gears are gonna have to go.

I'm also wondering if the style I picked is too complex for where the tower sits in the scene. I'd been thinking that as it's so large (to scale the clock face is a good 5' tall), I could use one of the more detailed clock concepts. I'm not sure that that's the case, looking at this first pass. Still, I don't have the back of the clock faces figured out, nor are there any textures on these. There's probably a lot I can do to make these current designs work a bit better in the scene. I will try and do some of that tomorrow. No promises, though, as it be a holiday and all.


Oh, one shout-out I wanted to toss out was to Davvey, over on Highend3d. I used his pretty amazing Gear Generator MEL Script for some of the cogs in the clock face. I didn't dive too deeply into it but what was great is that it gave me correctly interlocking teeth on a couple of the cogs. Thanks, Davvey!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Clock Faces, Round One

I'm too tired to type much, so I'll let these incomplete clock face explorations do the talking.