short concepts critique and feedback

Class critique feedback

  • the city could echo gross neural structures in its architecture –
  • the information flows could react to stimulus that the audience is able to hear in the sound design. This stimulus could be universal, which would further help to contextualize the visualization. I really like this idea. It seems Brechtian, and reminds me of the feedback of Jess in crit last week: Something I seem to like to do in my work is expose the artifice of the object – make the illusion consciously imperfect.
  • the buildings/city architecture could react to the information flows. I like this idea quite a lot as well – it’s accurate to the metaphor and adds visual interest.



Concept: In both cases, I’m hinting at a process without literally showing it. In the first, I’m trying to show the action of a hay baler while abstracting the machine itself. In the second, I’d like to make a parallel between the architecture of a city and the architecture of the brain. Information will look like traffic flows.

Premise: What if…these are non-narrative, so concept and premise are similar here.

Color plate:

Project 2, progress update 5

Continued working on glass, debris, and UV. Tweaked sun-and-sky a bit. The glass is being a giant pain; in order to get shards that follow the curvature of the girders, I have to split them by hand, sculpt them, re-topo them, and then vert-jockey them into place. I have a few ideas for a better workflow, but for now I know that works…it just takes forever.

Here’s my progress shot:

Project 2, progress update 4

From the list:

  • UV mapped and painted the large  HVAC pipe
  • Fought with Mudbox and crashing problems :/
  • UV mapped the floor
  • Refined the glass breaking
  • Picked a camera position
  • Organized my scene file into groups and layers
  • Imported the toy
  • Switched to Sun-and-Sky, which is what I’m hoping to use for the final. Started refining light settings.
The floor texture is strictly temporary, but I wanted something for some contrast/perspective in my test render. The only object that’s actually textured so far is the curved HVAC pipe in the right middleground.
I suspect I’m going to have to re-do the UV mapping on my toy, since I did the UVs originally thinking I was going to have a normal standing-running kind of character. So the UV seams are on the bottom, and unfortunately, I think that’s the part I want to have facing the camera.
Here’s the progress render:

Project 2 progress update 3

Spent pretty much the whole day in the studio. From the list:

  • Finished destroying the base
  • Cleaned up the base geometry so I only have what’s needed in the scene
  • Created lots of debris…tiny debris, medium debris…
  • Modeled a ground plane
  • Positioned, repositioned, and positioned stuff some more

Here’s a quick software render – no materials to speak of except a transparent blinn as a placeholder for the glass. I like how it’s shaping up.

Project 2 progress update

Stuff I did:

  • Modeled more environment pieces
  • found and tested scripts for creating rocks and for scattering them
  • started destroying the base
  • found more Mars references

I had originally assumed I’d use a backplate for the Mars part of the image, but I’d really like to try a time-lapse effect here. For that to work, the shadows on the rocks in the background are going to have to move, which means they need be included. I figured that if I could find a rock-generator and a scatter script, that would just about as fast as cutting out dozens of rocks in 2d and putting them on image planes. Plus, if the rocks have 3d geometry, I won’t have to deal with any shadow/transparency issues that might arise with 2d plane solution.

The scripts seem to work well. It will take some time to generate the rocks I need and distribute them, but that’s the way it works sometimes.

Here’s a quick sun-and-sky render. Obviously I haven’t finished destroying the base yet, and I haven’t even broken the glass wall. And I need lots more smaller debris. My approach there I think will be to create a bunch of little shards and then use dynamics to let them fall on my larger pieces that are already in place.

Project 2 progress/research

I’ve made a master to-do list, which I put into Evernote (best note app ever). From that list, I’ve:
collected references for

  • the toy texture
  • the pipes/industrial parts of the base
  • the big windows
  • the airlock door (note: I may not need to do this feature. I’m not sure it adds to the implied narrative. It would be fun, but that’s probably not a good enough reason to include it.)

I also finished the UV map for the toy and started sculpting a normal map and painting it. I found a neat stitch stencil for Mudbox that I think will work well on the normal map, and I started painting the diffuse map in Mudbox. I suspect the toy will end up being a mixture of Mudbox and Photoshop work, since lining up and distorting the bump map correctly for the cloth seems easier for me to do in Photoshop. Or possibly I’ll use a procedural, but since I have multiple materials in this mesh, that may not be the best approach.

I’ve also started some lighting experiments using an unexposed Mental Ray feature called Environment Lighting Mode that I found at Elemental Ray (here). Very cool – in my tests, it’s really fast for IBL, and if there’s sufficient complexity of surface textures, the noise fades very nicely. That means that I can use FG like it’s supposed to be used, just to smooth out the render and add that little bit of extra realism, and hopefully this will keep my render times in the not-ridiculous range. (Note: see also djx at for great Mental Ray content.)

I’m using some HDRI images from for testing. My lighting test renders are really basic and not that interesting, so I’m not posting any of those. The blog post I linked to above is a great resource, though.