Friday, 10 May 2013

Thank You

It's been a long and strange journey with Krokodi, but it's finally come to a close.
The final outcome has changed so much from my original idea, created back in the summer of 2011 after a binge on Neil Gaiman novels.

It's interesting to watch the will and hard work of others pull your idea in different directions, until something you created loses the feeling of preciousness and evolves into more of a device for a team of creative people to make use of and make their own.

The final version of the film has been skilfully assembled by Lilly and will have to stay unseen by you guys online until it's been shown at any festivals, if any of the applications are successful.

If you can't wait that long, come along to see it and the rest of our films at the Degree Show. Opening night is 17 May, and it runs for a week after that.

Thanks to the people who stepped in when help was needed. Thank you to my team mates for keeping the momentum going when things got tough.

Thank you for following our blog, your feedback has been great


Sunday, 5 May 2013

1 Week till Deadline

Continued to render out remaining shots. Handed over a few more shots to Gary to composite while I continued with render set-ups. Last shot submitted to Renderfarm on Tuesday. Had some refresher training on how to use Final Cut Pro and the Edit Share in the Edit Suites. Also seeked help from the technicians to help explain what settings I should be rendering individual shots and the finished film out of After Effects as. Composited the last 3 shots myself.
For the background in Shot 23, because the camera moves around the tree, a normal Matte painting in the background did not look right as it stayed still. I then tried keyframing it to match the camera movements, it improved slightly but still did not look right. I therefore went back into Maya and created a sphere, I deleted all parts of the sphere that were not seen in the shot, I was then left with a curved plane in the background which I UV-mapped and applied the Matte painting to. When the camera moved now the Background moved at the speed and distance it is meant to:
Composited still from Shot 23
Composited still from Shot 23
Composited still from shot 27
Composited still from Shot 32
Finished the edit of the final film – just the credit sequence and sound to add.
Finished editing the credit sequence on Thursday.
Received the sound sequence on Friday and added it to the final film using Final Cut Pro. Rendered out the Animation Codec version and the H.264 formats and submitted them to Edit Share for Assessment.

- Lilly

2 Weeks till Deadline

Monday – Setting up and rendering 4 Official stills for festival submissions and promotional purposes, which took all day as each still had to be rendered off at the right dpi resolution and re-composited. I picked 4 stills that showed off different assets of our film, the Van, the Hunter, Dee, Krokodi, and the 2 environments:

Ben set up the remaining shots to be animated in the swamp environment.
Handed out Shot 27 to Birte to animate.
Claire finished animating the shot under the Van and will be doing some more animation for Krokodi.

Tuesday – Finished compositing Shot 7 - Added in the crossbow, blur out the background so focus would be on the Hunter and the Poster:

Set up Shot 12 to render (very similar background as Shot 10):
Hunter_Master (Burger with black hole shader)
Claire has been given shot 32 to animate the Hunter flying through the air.
Jack has been given Shot 23 to animate the Hunter hiding behind the tree with the crossbow.
Rendered the remaining passes for shot 10:
Character_AO pass
Final Composited Frame - Background with added Lens Blur to help audienc focus on the characters in the foreground

Composited and edited the first half of the film (which unfortunately I can't post here yet because that would be showing too much of the film before Degree Show :p ) and sent to Dawn Campbell to start work on the Sound Design.

Wednesday – Setting up Shots 22, 29 and 33 to render. Submitted AO passes of each shot to the Renderfarm. Re-rendered Dee’s eyes for shot 8, to brighten them up in the composited shot:

Ben suggested that we should add some shake to the camera in Shot 29, so I added some animation to the camera that Ben had already animated moving backwards for this shot – to add shake and impact during the “jetty slam” shot (the pole in the foreground has since been removed as it was too much in the way of the shot):

Thursday – Re-composited Dee’s eyes in Shot 8, which look much better brightened as you can see the glare in her eyes and expression better:
Darker eyes in original render and comp
Brighter eyes in the final comp.

Collecting AO passes for shots 22, 29 and 33:
Shot 22: BG_AO
Shot 22: Hunter AO pass (Jetty and Van with 'invisible' Lamberts applied so the shadows of them still show on the Hunter)
Shot 22: Jetty_AO (Van, Hunter and Krokodi invisible)
Shot 22: Van_AO
Shot 22: Krokodi_AO
Shot 29: BG_Trees_AO (Background AO was a separate layer as I was planning on blurring out the background to keep focus on the characters. The AO has to be separate as well as the Master layer because if lens blur is just applied to the Master layer, the AO is not affected which creates a halo effect around the object, therefore in comp I would pre-compose both the AO and Master layer together and apply the lens blur to that new composition.)
Same with the middle ground trees AO for Shot 29 - I planned to add a little bit of lens blur , but not as much as the background, to help create depth. The rendering process requires you to think about how a scene will be composited and therefore what layers you will need, therefore requires a lot of planning and organisation.
Shot 29: Character and Jetty AO
Shot 33: BG_Trees_AO
Shot 33: Character AO
Shot 33: Tree AO (by separating it, I only had to render out 1 frame)
Shot 33: Jetty AO

Asked for animation updates from Birte and Charlie.

Friday – Set up and sent to the Renderfarm shots 29, 33 and 3:
Shot 3: Boots_Master
Shot 3: AO_Boots
Shot 3: AO_BG (separated as the background will be blurred - Hunter's boots made invisible)
Shot 3: BG_Master
Render layers separated for easy adjustment of colours in post:
Shot 29: Hunter_Master
Shot 29: Krokodi_Master
Shot 29: Krokodi_Eyes (for adjustment in post to make brighter)
Shot 29: Jetty_Master
Shot 29: BG_Trees_Master
Shot 33: Krokodi_Master (Jetty with Black hole shader)
Went over the compositing process I have been using for the film with Gary who is helping out with additional compositing.
Guided Birte in the finishing stages of the Shot she was animating.
Gave Gary shots 29, 33 and 3 to composite.
Animated and added in the Arrow animation to go with the Krokodi animation Birte completed:

Weekend – Near disaster with laptop this weekend, entire documents library somehow accidently ended up in the recycle bin! It was saved and a backup of my laptop carried out straight away - Phew!
Finished the edit of the first draft of the whole film. However tried to downsize the file to allow it to be sent. Because of all the rendering and compositing I have been doing my laptop then ran out of space! So done a big clear up on the laptop. Spent the weekend again in the Maya Lab.
Discovered the compressed files I had used in the first draft of the film that had been sent to the Sound Designer was at 29.97fps instead of 25. Converted all files back to the correct settings and re-sent the file as soon as I could.

Easter "Holidays" - Week 3

Monday – Set up renders for Shots 1, 6, 9 and 11.
Gave feedback to Rob on tree textures for the swamp.
Quick UV-map issue that was missed with the Hunter was solved by Laura.
Set up render for Shot 11 but won’t be able to render out the Master layer for Dee as need the “Crocodile Arms” texture for Dee:
AO pass for Shot 11

Rendered and composited Shot 1 - Rendered off the Master Background, Specular, Reflection, AO and Depth. Composited it, ready for the Hunter’s hands and poster to be added in later:

Shot 1 - AO pass

Shot 1 - Depth pass
I noticed with the lighting of buildings going down the street were lit up too much on their edges (mainly on the doors and windows) and were taking attention away from the Van which should be the main focus of this shot. These buildings are meant to be in shadow from the buildings opposite and the setting sun. To fix the problem I used Light-linking in Maya to select certain buildings and select which lights should only be affecting it and deselect the lights that shouldn't be affecting:
Lighting before
Lighting after

Tuesday – Submitted Shot’s 9 and 11 to the Renderfarm, which I got back quickly. Submitted Shot 6 to the Renderfarm for the AO pass.
For rendering Dee's Master layer in Shot 11 (where Dee has started turning into her crocodile form) I adjusted the lights linked to her in the environment:
Dee before additional lights added
Added area light from below - Dee is meant to be scary in this shot as she is half turning into the krokodi creature, therefore I looked at lighting techniques used in Horror films. The use of Under-Lighting, where the main light source comes from below, is used to disfigure the face and cause a feeling of  unease. 
Finished compositing Shot 11:
Dee Master layer - I enhanced the green lights I had already added into the environment  to emphasize her transformation and the supernatural element of this shot
Shot 11 final composite
Composited other shot’s together – but they are still missing elements due to things such as the Hunter Master layer as textures not completed yet. Rendering off as much as possible, such as AO passes for the Hunter character, to keep production moving along.
Tried to start animating shot 4, but Hunter’s face exploded when scaled, problem fixed by the method of reapplying the blend-shapes into one group using Front of Chain.
Got some smoke effects to add to the grill where Dee is cooking in Shot 6.
Received Krokodi rig from Nikki and she demonstrated to me and Ben on how to use the rig.

Wednesday – Shot 21 is ready for rendering as I completed the lighting for the shot in the swamp. The lighting can be seen in the finished shot below. I used greens and blues in the lights to bring an eeriness and mystery to the Swamp environment. I also mimicked light shining through the trees by adding area lights to parts of the Jetty and on the Hut. I went about lighting the swamp the same way I did for the town so even though both environments are very different, they still were lighted the same way to feel part of the same film. By first lighting the whole environment with directional lights and then 'painting' with light by adding in point lights and spot lights to pick out details within the environment and create bounced light from the main light source. The time of day is evening/night so dark shadows help show this and keeping all the colours of the lights in cold tones:
Screenshot showing the lights in the Swamp Environment (main directional lights in top left corner, the rest of the lights I used to 'paint' the scene with light)
Quickly put together a texture for the swamp water as I needed the texture and it had not been done. As the water plane geometry is very big in the environment, the texture needed to be quite high resolution, the first resolution I tried added 2 minutes to render time. As this project is under a strict deadline, I am constantly trying to find ways to decrease render times such as finding the right texture resolutions and correct render settings.
Part of the giant water Matte painting texture
Setting up shot 22 for Claire to animate:

Added headlights to the Van by parenting spotlights to the van’s headlights, so they move with the Van as it drives into the swamp in Shot 21. They light up everything in their path but I also added fog to the light so the viewer can physically see light emitting from the headlights:
Light can be seen from the Van's headlights

Trying to organise the texturing of the crossbow and who will be working on it or who is available to work on it.

Thursday – Compositing Shot 21, created Matte Painting for the background behind the trees.

Rendered off multiple layers and composited together, which allowed me to edit the colours better in post and put fog layers between trees, the hut and jetty. Also allowed me to blur just the trees in the background to create some depth in the scene:

Jetty and Van AO render layer
AO background without jetty, so only 1 frame needed to be rendered, still have the shadows from the Jetty by creating a Lambert shaderr, turning transparency values to full and applying to the Jetty.
Fore-ground Trees Master layer
Middle-ground Master layer
Background Trees layer
A frame from the Master Van layer
Final Composited Frame (showing lights and fog effects)
Including the tree on the right that is affected by the Van’s headlights. The Van is meant to be approaching from the far left offscreen. However the Van starts driving in just offscreen which means the tree is already lit up from the headlights. So to create the effect that the Van is driving in from further away, I rendered out the tree by itself, unaffected by the lights. I then added this to the comp and keyframed it’s opacity to blend into the lighter tree, creating the effect of the light getting stronger on the tree but the Van gradually approaching.
The red arrow points to the tree that is being lit up by the Van's headlights as it approaches the scene. Showing parts of the environment being actively lit by moving objects in the environment helps to integrate the animation with still backgrounds.
Added in the fog and mist layers that Anna created:
Fog effects created by Anna
Fog layer added in the composition. Moving along the bottom of the screen it really helps add to the swampy atmosphere, it also helped make the water look as if it's moving which helped give character and life to the environment.
Tried adding fireflies moving in the shot using CC particles in After Effects, however they seemed to be too distracting while moving and took attention away from the Van. I also tried leaving them static but that jsut look unnatural:

This is the final shot for the opening scene of the swamp:

Gave Charlie some feedback and advice to help with the walkcycle animation of the Hunter’s boots.
Got an animation update from Claire, then I realized that the shot she is working on needs the crossbow in it.

Friday – Having realized yesterday the need for the crossbow in the shot Claire is animating, I opened the crossbow file to check it before sending to Claire. Noticed that the UV-map was distorted (which may have been from when the model was adjusted), also checked this by applying a checker texture to the object:
Checker test texture looking very distorted
 I quickly re-UV-mapped the crossbow and started to texture it, as I needed the crossbow to add into all relevant town shots which were just needing the crossbow to add in and be complete.
Finished UV-map

Checker test texture looking much better

Added lights to the Swamp Jetty shot.
Tried to fix the Hunter's missing geometry in Claire’s animated shot 22, due to problems because it was animated in a newer version of Maya:
No head!
Weekend – Working in the Maya Lab over the weekend. Working across 5 different computers at one point, all of them rendering out something different, required a lot of concentration, multi-tasking and organisation. Also continued with compositing more shots.
Finished the Crossbow texture, creating metal-like textures and leather for the strap, painting over them in photoshop to add a slight painterly texture to it to fit in with the rest of the film:
Painted UV-map for the bow

Painted UV-map for the Crossbow and arrow

Finished Crossbow with textures applied:

Setting up shot 11 to render Dee’s Master layer after adjustments were made to Dee’s “Crocodile Arms” texture. Shot 7 rendered out:
Now that the Crossbow was completed I was able to render out the Crossbow Master (Hunter with Black hole shader so crossbow layer can be added easily in comp) for Shot 7
Character AO pass re-done to include the crossbow which had been missed out before
Worked on re-writing my Program of Study Document, as one of my specialist skills for assessment has changed since Christmas.

- Lilly