Monday, August 27, 2007

Overall Scene Progress

Here are some stills from the scene camera as they stand at the moment.

Here are some stills from the scene camera as they stand at the moment.

Updates to the Hill (BTW CB14 and CB15)

Well, I sat down to work on my current building (CB 14) but as I had said before I was going to work on the hill behind in tandem with the building, since CB15, CB14, and the hill all are elements in a large part of the shot. After working out the dimensions with my stand-in scene (mentioned here) I roughed in the hill and built a walkway which passes through the space between the 2 buildings. I also added a short wall almost at the top of the hill, just to extend to depth of the scene.

All of these details need refinement so, this is still just a rough blocking in of the next level of detail and composition.

The renderings here show the refined area.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh, I Know You Love My Little Updates!

This is somewhat close to where the camera ends in the final shot.

This is just another angle, showing the new brackets and maybe some other new stuff. As I model this, I re-look at lots of pieces of geometry and I worry that I'm going to have to remodel tons of this thing when it's time to UV map & texture. I may be wrong. But, let's face it, I am not "Mr. I've Been Poly Modeling For The Last 10 Years." This thing has got to be full of rookie mistakes. I just hope they're not so large as to be deal-breakers on down the line.

One or two more posts and I'm moving on, I think.


Monday, August 20, 2007

The Hills Have Eyes (or CB 15 WIP 4 continued Pt. 2)

Another part of this shot is the hill which can be seen between the buildings as the camera approaches the window on the left. Since our original scene was so basic, I had to do some gymnastics to figure out just how much hill needed to be developed. Now that I have it isolated; I will work on it in tandem with CB 15, to help insure that the placement is correct. To this end I created a new scene with: The scene camera, CB 14, and CB 15. (Most of the stuff in the top picture.)

CB 15 WIP 4 continued

A few renderings from the scene camera - To see some of the alley in context.

CB 15 WIP 4

Well work continues on this building.. Mainly the wall which faces the camera (As mentioned previously) Not much to explain here, just building up the overall details on the wall closest to camera in this shot. (Well I guess I should explain that the things that look like curtains will be corrugated metal.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Lamp Pass

I took the night off of modeling last night, but tonight I decided to take another pass at the lamps and the main wheel. I'm digging the changes, but now I need to go back and redo the smaller wheels. They look kind of like, uh, crap compared to the new wheel.

That's about it...though I did spend some more time with that MEL script. It's pretty boss. If I'm not careful with it though, it leads to some crazy-dense meshes, much denser than necessary for hard-surfaces. But what I'm liking about it, is how you can add edge loops to your low-rez mesh and immediately see the change in your smoothed model. It's helping me understand where to use edge loops to get the shapes I want. Not so much a modeling tool, in this case, but a learning tool.

Learning is good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How Do I Know I'm Cool?

Because I'm blogging about a MEL script written back in 2001.

Yes, it's Connect Poly Shape 3.0, written for Maya 4.0 by Dirk Bialluch, who is a certified Maya Master. Well, it may be old, but it's pretty damn swank. It provides a crazy-useful toolset for creating and manipulating low-poly meshes and associated higher-poly smoothed meshes.

Full disclosure, all I've done so far is DL the script, drop it into a shelf and play with it for 3 min. But if that 3 min. is in any way indicative of how useful this script'll be over the long haul, then damn!

Carry on.

Adding Lanterns

Tonight I played around a little bit, adding detail to the front of the train car. All three lanterns won't wind up on the final model. They're on there now so I can look at different sizes and placement. I'm liking the shape of the top one the best. It's really the only one that has much of a shape. The other two are closer to the reference materials I've been able to find but they really don't stand out at all as being interesting to look at.

One thing that may end up being an issue is, what's the source of the light coming from these? James and I had talked earlier about every streetlamp having its own steam generator. That could be overkill on these lamps, but maybe something as simple as a pipe from the main boiler to the lamps would be enough. I'll give that a shot and see.

I think next steps are re-addressing all of the wheels and then figuring out axles & transitions and things. A lot of that will be hidden, but it needs to be addressed, at least a little bit.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Adding A Cattleguard

The cattleguard is the big addition for this post, not a very big addition in general, but it's what's new. It was a tricky thing to build and I'm not sure that I'm going to keep it in its current incarnation. I may rebuild it after looking at some good train reference.

Obviously there's only half a train here, but once I get it in a good place, I'm planning on mirroring the geometry over to the other side.

Okay, more to come.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

2nd Pass At A New Train Body

So the deal is that I had to rebuild the geometry of the train base. The way I'd built it before, relying pretty heavily on the Bevel Plus tool, wouldn't support the level of detail this shot is going to need.

Today I rebuilt the body about three times, trying to get a decent base mesh. It's not that complicated of a shape, but I was having a fair number of issues with it. Here's the wireframe-on-shaded.

I'm not entirely happy with what I've got here, particularly the lower wheel supports. The smoothing on them is rather unattractive. But I've got an unsmoothed copy saved if I feel like I can't save this one. The railing was just done on a lark. There will be a railing, but probably not one with the snaky endings you see above.

Progress does indeed progress - very, very slowly. I'm dying to take a week off of work and concentrate on this project only but I don't think it'll happen too soon.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Train Base Tests

Two build-outs of the train body, still grasping for what it's gonna look like.

I have found some inspiration, however, in the form of The Lore of the Train. I found it at my local used bookstore (The Iliad, one of the top three used bookstores I've haunted) for a measly $10. I wasn't looking for a train book but there it was. Alas, I have no scanner, but trust me, it's filled with brilliant line orthographic line drawings of some really incredible trains. I am using an illustration of The North Star, built in 1837 by Robert Stephenson and Co. as my main reference as I move forward and I think that it's really going to make all the difference.

The model above needs a ton of smoothing and more detailing but I'm really happy with this mini-breakthrough. Next steps include changing the wheels, adding another railing, adding elements to clearly delineate the front from the back and more and more detailing.

Gonna call it a night for now but expect more updates this week.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

CB15 WIP 3

So, continuing from the last post, here is the window in position. From this render, you really get a sense of the variety of detail levels this building includes. The first floor of the wall facing the camera (the one with the ornate wrought iron widow covering) will be detailed to a fairly high level. In other areas (almost everywhere else) the building is only seen from a distance, making additional modeling detail unnecessary.

Due to the very high poly count of the window, it was modeled in a separate scene file. While I was putting the window together I set up a small backdrop to test how things were progressing, and how well the window would work in context. Here are a couple of those test renderings. Again, these are only tests and do not represent the look of the final scene.

CB15 WIP 2

These pictures are elements of the wrought iron which will cover the window the camera passes through. These are a great example of what I was talking about in the previous post regarding the challenge of having multiple levels of detail within a single building. In the case of these elements they will be very close to camera, and as such they are extremely high resolution. I have included a snapshot of the mesh to illustrate this point.

The second picture is an example of what this might look like with texture and lighting in place. This was done to insure that the model would hold up to scrutiny in its final form. Just something quickly put together for test purposes.

CB15 WIP 1

This is a sample of the next building underway in the project. This building is the one the camera passes through before revealing our heroine. After panning along the front of Building CB14, the camera enters this building from the small square window visible in the second image. It then briefly arcs through the building's first floor and exits through the wide bay window at the front of the building. This building is interesting because it contains many different levels of detail, according to which parts are visible throughout the scene. Some elements exist only to create interest when the building is seen from far away, while other, more detailed elements will be seen up close. So the challenge is not to over develop elements which will not be seen in the shot.