Monday, November 2, 2015

Bleach short

It has been a little quiet here, but for good reason.  Lately I've been busy not only with my own work, but also with background acting (aka an extra) for several films and tv shows, as well as working on texturing and lighting background elements for a pilot being developed at ECG Productions.  These other projects have taken a lot of time away form my own work, so I don't have anything new to show right now on it, but I do have something to show for all this time.  A CG integrated element into a live-action plate.
This is a really simple scene, with no camera tracking or anything.  And while it is not perfect, due to the tight time constraints and budget, I managed to give them something decent.

Essentially I was asked to be on set to help direct two short scenes for setting up digital elements.  The first was to build a 3D sign for a community.  While I feel there is still plenty more that can be done, I did the best I could in the time I had.  I had to add this sign to a flat plate, and try to blend it in seamlessly.  While it isn't perfect yet, and doesn't have any color grading on it, I'm satisfied with what I gave them.

Original plate (flipped)

Final render (color corrected)
 I used Maya with mental ray to build the 3D element and Nuke to put this together.  The confusing part for me was that the premultiplied element was coming in with a very thick white border, which I had some trouble removing.  I will take a look at this later and see if I can pinpoint the problem, either in the render or the composite, and find a better solution.

So other than that, I will still be working on my Starbucks piece which I hope to finish soon, and working on a new short short.  I hope to have 3 new pieces on my reel by the end of the year, so I better get cracking!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

WIP and updates, 10/3

So there are a few things I wanted to talk about briefly.  One, I have been doing a lot of background extra acting work and meeting lots of interesting people.  One of them suggest I look into the Air Force or the Air Force Reserves as a way of making some money, making ends meet, and maybe paying off debt.  It is not a small matter at all, and has huge ramifications, so I have taken the research and consideration very seriously and carefully.  If I do anything with that, it won't be right away, and will be after a lot of deliberation between my wife and I.
Second, I have a goal in mind for my demo reel.  I want to add at least 3 new pieces before the end of the year.  This is a tough goal, and one of them I would like to be a composite of a CG character into a live action background, this time a video with tracking.  It is a huge one, so I want to get started, and I want to make it short and sweet, something funny that will get lots of hits on youtube.
Third, I have been working on various aspects of the textures, this is going to take some work to get the level of detail I want.  So bare with me, and please give me good constructive feedback on anything you see as I go.  Yes I know it is too clean right now, but the next step is going to address that.
Finally, I might need to go back to the Starbucks where I took the original picture and capture an environment from a sphere, so I can use it for the reflection map, and possibly lighting (IBL).
That's it for now.  Don't worry about the Air Force, I've been talking to several people and decided it is right now more of a last resort option since I have some time.  Until such drastic measures, I will be continuing to work on refining my work, and making something really kick ass to show off.

The biggest changes this now are the addition of the white and green powders, as well as fixing the number of tiles and the size of the pattern on the floor.  I think I'll start on one side of the screen and work my way across refining the surfaces and then adding the grime/dirt/scratches/grunge after.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

WIP 9/30

Well all the rough textures are in place except for the powder, which still needs geo as well.  It shouldn't take too long, and a lot of it will be bump mapped.  Speaking of bump maps, I still haven't figured out why I can't get the Renderman textures to show any bump.  I'll keep researching...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WIP 9/29 - Bump

Here's the latest with the rendering today.  The background in supposed to have a bump on it, procedurally generated with a grid texture node, but for some reason nothing shows up.  I haven't figured it out yet and it is bugging me.  I have tried all sorts of things, and the tutorials online so far haven't been any help.  I need to figure this out because it is a very important tool.
Let me know what you think.

Still rough textures, work in progress

The original photo for comparison.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More textures, WIP 9/28

As of right now, I've been putting in the rough placeholder textures.  Even though some of these look good, they aren't anything as good as I hope to get them to.  I still need to refine the textures/materials so they look exactly like the materials in the picture, and then i need to add all the dirt, scratches, etc.  While going through the scene, I've not only seen some geometry issues to fix and started fixing them, but I realized a giant error I'm not sure I want to fix.  It is not easy to see, which is why it might be worth cutting the corner, but the inner brown box that holds all the tongs and scoops (and the stuff within) are supposed to be 3 boxes side-by-side, and one is at an angle.  Not sure how I missed that before, but now that I see it, fixing it involved major overhauling of part of the scene.  I might go back and do this, but not yet.  It is something I will consider, but since it took so long for me to realize it, it isn't a glaring problem.
That being said, I am also struggling with the textures.  I put a granite texture on the counter top and it is not exactly behaving as it normally does.  Renderman is treating it differently so now I have to figure out how, if there is a fix, and how to make it look right.  But for now the placeholder is fine.  All that's left is the wall, the calk, the baseboard, the jugs on top (and their liquid), the small rivets, the limes, adding the geo and textures for the powders, and the background wall, which ultimately should have a metal basket and a lemon in it, which is something else I might add later, but now yet.
Let me know what you think.
(Also I think the IT is putting things in linear space, but for some reason it put this output from rgb and converted it as if it was linear, which darkened it.  So it is too dark now :\  I'll fix that.)

Converted on-the-fly from linear to srgb

Incorrectly converted from srgb to srgb as if it was from linear to srgb, making it too dark.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Materials in Progress... WIP 9/27

Here is where I am with the first step in the materials: rough blocked in materials.  Again, no lights, unrefined textures, no dirt or grime or imperfections yet.  Just putting something basic in place so I can start the process of putting things together.  Also it will be full of noise cause it's only a test render.

Tell me what you think so far.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

More learning

Again, not much to show yet... but I finished some tutorials and I'll be starting the texturing next.  I have a few blocked in materials.  My goal is to put in blocked materials, then go back and refine each one to look at realistic as possible, then go back again and add dirt. grime, grunge, etc. to mess it up a bit, and then do one more pass overall to make sure it matches close to the original photograph.  Here is the start of a very rough blocked in pass.  Lighting comes later.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Just a hint of color

Not much to report today, except I've been doing tutorials for Renderman materials.  Good stuff!  It'll take getting used to with some of the different parameters/attributes, such as presence.  Well at least here is a small section I was briefly experimenting with.  It is way too clean and not refined and has no lighting, as it is just blocking in something, mainly messing with the shaders.

Some color at last!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tutorials abound

Update for tonight isn't as exciting as I'd like it to be.  Had Maya crash and lost a bunch of work I did.  Oops.  Should have saved.  But I decided that most of what I was doing was flailing around in the dark with Renderman.  While that sort of technique is great and all, I figured maybe I should spend some time looking at tutorials on Renderman and the like.  I learned that since the newer Renderman versions (19 and 20) have come out, they've added a whole new rendering system.  The old one was called REYES (Renders Everything You Ever Saw), and the new one is RIS.  Might as well jump into the new one for now.
One of the cool things I found out was about the unusual Image Tool... or IT for short.  It is just like the render window Maya gives you, except a separate program Renderman uses.  And it has some cool features.  By default, everything is in Linear, with easy tools to adjust for srgb.  It also has a much better image comparison system, using catalogs and wipes, so you can compare between old and new renders.  It even lets you select objects and shaders in Maya from within the IT.  Very cool!
So for today, I don't have anything newly rendered to show yet, but I have spent many hours just getting used to the new interface of Maya 2016 and the new tools in Renderman.
I have to find some more tutorials on this stuff.  If anyone knows of some I can get access to without spending money, please send me a link and I'll take a look and review what I find on here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

WIP Sept 24, 2015

So, again sorry for the delay in updating this.  Here is the latest Work In Progress.  I will be doing more soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I'd like to apologize to everyone for my hiatus from this blog.  I've been busy but that is no excuse for neglecting my blog and my personal art.  I have been taking a bit of a hiatus, since I got so burned out after SCAD, but I am eager to get back into the swing of things.  I have a few things on my plate, and some new goals, but let me start with a quick overview of life after SCAD before I talk about what's to come.

After I graduated from SCAD, I started preparing for SIGGRAPH, where I volunteered over the summer of 2014.  I had to do whatever I could to make money to save up for the trip but ran into some health problems that got exacerbated while there.  I've been recovering ever since then.  Shortly after, I participated in the Atlanta Underground film festival, where I managed to get my short film, "Lost Light" into the animation category.  I started up a personal art project and began local networking at various events, such as Film Bar Monday, My Animation Life, and others.
Through such networking, I meet a group of people who participated in the 48 hour horror film project, where I acted as the visual effects supervisor and artist, as well as compositor.  I went on to help with another contest, this time for Doritos, where I held a similar role.  Somewhere during this time, I participated in GENERATE, the 24 hour animation and visual effects contest, as well as the 48 hour Global Game Jam shortly after.
I was lucky enough to work with a good friend of mine, Chad Cox, on some freelance projects, making videos for companies.  I mainly did modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, and compositing for these.  As I struggled to find more freelance work, I took up Lyft and Uber driving to make ends meet.
Life threw a few curveballs my direction during this when we had to spend a few months packing and moving to a new apartment, and then surviving an unexpected flood.  Once we got resettled (and replaced all the damaged items), we took in a roommate to help with rent, and I began more freelance work again.
It became apparent to me that my computer was now no longer up-to-par for the work I was doing, when a scene needed to be rendered overnight took over a day to finish.  I took this opportunity to rebuild my computer, which I only recently finished, and upgrade to Windows 10.  Now that I have worked out most the bugs, I have been struggling to get certain programs back on, such as Renderman.  That is currently where my co outer situation is right now, mostly where it needs to be but still some things to work out.  However it was worth it, my render times went from 27 hours to 3 hours!  Unfortunately, during this, my wife was laid off, forcing me to spend all my time working on making money, and finding a full-time job.  I took up working as an extra for films and television as well.
So that is where I am, looking for work, struggling to continue my own art projects, while "background acting" on the side (which usually takes up an entire day) when I'm not Lyft or Uber driving.  Meanwhile, I've been learning new software, such as 3DS Max.

That brings me to the future.  I have been signing up for interviews and looking for work.  Wi no significant income, I need to spend all my time on finding work, which means my demo reel and personal art projects are once again.put on the back burner.  One potential job would pay me entry level work but doing the things I don't want to do anymore, things I left behind on Virginia when I moved to Atlanta to study animation.  It's work, it pays, it has basic benefits, but I have to decide this week if it is a good fit for me.  I admit I can do everything they need, but I am already depressed thinking about the work, as it reminds me of all the jobs in my past I didn't enjoy doing.  I went to SCAD to get out of that, but it is trying to pull me back in.  And the sad thing is I need the money bad enough I might just have to take it.

I am hoping something else comes my way, so I can get into the industries I'm interested in: Games, Film, or Television.  But as I keep working on getting my computer software installed, and doing whatever I can to make ends meet, I am going to pick up my own art again this week.  I have new goals I would like to set starting today, regardless of my work situation.

For starters, if I find no job, I want to spend 30-40 hours a week working on my own art, or at least figuring out the technical side of it.  If I find a job, I will spend at least 3-4 hours a day during the week working on the same thing.  If I get stuck in another job I don't like, I will spend more time looking for another job as well.  I also plan to join some feedback groups online, such as 10,000 hours, who can give me feedback on my website (any suggestions for sites or groups to join would be great), as well as using CGSociety and others to show the final work.  I will also update this blog daily!  YES, DAILY!

Why daily?  I need the motivation, the feedback, the incentive.  I am spending too much time looking for work, or trying to make ends meet, and not enough on my art.

What's the art you ask?  Specifically, 2 things, each with many parts.  The small projects will be to take photographs of environments with different lighting setups, and recreate them as accurately as possible in 3D.  This involves photography, real-world lighting, photo editing, modeling, texturing, shading, lighting, rendering, compositing, and if I have time, animation.  The second is to make a few short animated films.  I have 2 in production now, but neither are very far along.  This is more collaborative, and requires a group of people to work with.  I have a few people interested, and some online groups that have projects I hope to find time to participate in.

So for that's it for now.  Look forward to the first new entry in my relaunched blog starting today, yes today!  As soon as I can, I will be back home, figuring out Renderman and hopefully getting a leg up on my current Starbucks scene.  I have a lot to do, and I'm afraid my days of sleeping almos full nights are over.

Computer Stats:
Intel 5820k i7 6core 3Ghz processor
ASROCK X99 extreme4 motherboard
16 GB DDR4 RAM (2400)
500GB SSD + 4TB HDD (plus 500GB Ubuntu boot disk)
CoolerMaster Storm case
ATI Radeon 5770HD (<- needs serious upgrade).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Follow up

So some good news finally, the flood damage has been repaired in the apartment, and our insurance has come through with enough to cover all the lost and damaged items.  Luckily, our table is able to be restored, but we are considering putting a glass panel to help protect the wood, which absorbed a lot of water and ended up cracking and parts of the finish chipped off.  So I am off to repair the wood, the finish, and get glass or Plexiglas to protect it.  I have a lot of cleaning and shopping to do now though, so I am going to be busy for the rest of this week cleaning up after all the workmen and such.
My plan is to finish by this weekend and then get back to animating, modeling, learning, rendering, etc.  Not to mention job hunting.
I'll keep you all posted.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Life comes in waves...

As I have noted in the past personally, life and all that it brings with it tends to come in waves.  Sometimes literally.

I will not say that I have had the worst time, or even a really bad time, but I have had better.  And all these not so great things (and the great as well) have just taken time away from what I have been wanting to do: 3D art.  So a (really) quick run down of all I've been doing and all that's happened.

I went to SIGGRAPH as a volunteer in Vancouver last August.  Great fun, lots of cool people, worth the trip, but I hurt my foot pretty bad.  Then, I freelanced for a while and did the whole "looking for work" thing.  I wanted to keep working on the current file on this blog, but I was waiting for the new free Renderman to come out so I waited and worked on other things.  I will post some of it in a little while.

After a while, the freelancing ended up getting put on hold as my wife and I decided it was time to move to save money.  After all, student loans are starting to come in.  So the moving process started, and we ended up with a new place just down the road that will save us a pretty bundle every month.  I started working on a new demo reel you can find on my website, and went to the SCAD career fair in Savannah, where hurt my foot... again.

There, I got to talk with some really awesome people from Floyd County, Method, Primal Screen, Turner, and more.  Despite my foot, I had a great time and got some leads out of it.  As a result, I started to learn 3DS Max as was recommended to me.  Maya isn't the only 3D software package out there, and several companies use 3DS Max instead.

As I'm doing this, my actual move takes place.  Stressful.  Things get lost/broken/whatever as always happens during a move.  About two weeks later, I finally get my computer running again but didn't have the time to keep learning things.  Finally, Renderman comes out, I manage to download it, but got too busy with unpacking and setting things up that I didn't have time to play with it yet.

That brings me to this month.  Let's see, I volunteered for the Atlanta Film Festival, and while I had a great time, one of the patrons outright stole my jacket (the only one I have that isn't falling apart), my sunglasses (the only ones I have that weren't stolen or lost), my earphones, my car keys, my copy of my wife's car keys, my apartment key, and my mailbox key.  About $700 of replacement in all, right after the move which cost more than we planned for.  So as I am recovering from the theft, we decide to plan a house-warming party to help give us incentive to finish unpacking so we can get back to job hunting/freelancing/artwork.  We buy some new Ikea furniture for the unpacking just as I come down with a cold.  Immediately after that, I hurt my foot again.  Immediately after that... the wave literally hits.  My upstairs neighbor decides to flood her apartment, my apartment, and the apartment beneath mine.  Things are still being worked out, walls and ceiling being torn down, carpets being dried and replaced... but the real torrent of water poured like an ice-bucket challenge from a garbage bin onto my entire entertainment set up.  TV and all.  So now I've been dealing with that.  Another $5,000 bill.  Still have to work things out with her insurance.

However, I am getting fed up with all these distractions, intentional or not, major or minor.  I need to get back into things, and so I am going to make myself work on both this Renderman file (the Starbucks scene) AND learning 3DS Max (which could lead to a job).  I am going to stop letting things get in my way, and just do it!

So like I said, busy, bad luck, but not the worst by far, just distracting and time consuming.  I will be back!