Friday, August 28, 2015

The Plagaran Sandstorm of '98


In a once-in-a-lifetime photo, the Great Plagaran Sandstorm of 1,898 M.E. is depicted as it is about to engulf King Valley, the only visual documentation of the event known to exist.

Until its destruction in 2,005 M.E., the planet Plagarus was a center of macabre activity.  Serving as the graveyard for the Thrassi Republic for over a 1,000 years, it fell into disuse when its star, Plagara Majora, began to enter its final phase of life.  Things rapidly deteriorated for the once grassy world.  Its temperature increased exponentially, driving the local ecosystems into mass extinction as grasslands turned to dust-bowls, and seas turned to vast, empty chasms.

A grisly practice of grave robbing ensued as looters descended on the dying world, stripping the billions of graves there of any commodities they could find.  Most of the grave robbers congregated around King Valley, which was the place where the Thrassi kings were interred in elaborate tombs set into the carved walls of the valley.  Riches of untold value were reputed to be buried there.

On a spring day, in 1,898 M.E., an epic sandstorm engulfed King Valley for almost a day. Estimated to be two kilometers tall, it was evidently created by powerful solar-generated updrafts and apocalyptic atmospheric turbulence.  The result was the deaths of about 200 grave robbers, consigning the men to the very cemetery they were pillaging.  For over a century afterward, up until the day the planet was finally obliterated by its dying star, the stories of the Storm of '98 were nearly legend.  For a long time afterward the storm's effects were immortalized in local sector idiom.  To “reap the sandstorm” meant to suffer terribly painful consequences, often followed by gruesome death, due to short-sighted greed.

This image depicts the last moments of the infinitesimally small, unseen men who died clutching the trinkets and artifacts they so craved.  They were surrounded by colossal monuments which seemed to frown down upon them as if in scorn for their greedy avarice, heedless of the warnings of impending doom, a testament to the irony of their deaths on a cemetery planet.

--------------------

Scene modelled and rendered in Blender 2.75, with Cycles. Post Processing: Blender, After Effects CC 2016, Gimp.

Was done in several passes. The ground had both a color and Z pass, as did the clouds. The two ships were later composited in AE.

This scene was designed to test out Blender Cycles' volumetric rendering. There are some issues with it (not withstanding incredibly long render times), but the results weren't too shabby. The sandstorm was created by two models, both using several Displacement modifiers using simple cloud textures. It wasn't too bad.

I'm not thrilled with the image, but ran out of time on it. Hopefully people like it and the story accompanying it.

Thanks,
Dan

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Opening Logo and King Valley Previs

Hey everyone.  Oodles of new stuff coming down the pipeline.  Today, with the move to 1080p, the King Valley scene from Plagarus was just not doing it.  So, decided to bite the bullet and rebuild the scene from scratch using better materials and geometry.  The WIP results of this set so far:



Also, my company logo is about 5 years old, so it's time for a little change and some sprucing up.  It's not terribly great, but it's an improvement, I hope.

As usual, all made in Blender.  But the post processing is now done in After Effects CC 2016.  The lens flare in the logo is provided by a plugin from Video Copilot.


Don't be afraid to watch in 1080p! It's quite a bit nicer. :)

Dan

Friday, August 21, 2015

Plagarus Part 3 Work

Still plugging away on the ol' project.  Not sure if I'll ever finish, given other, more important responsibilities, but, alas, I'm not giving up! :)


Got a lot of animation still to do.  But it's considerably easier, now, with the updated armatures for the two main characters.  Now, to update the rest of the characters before I've got to use them...should be fun.


Design for Padoen's hover bike:


Still to do:

1.) Loads of stuff.  Most notably, finishing a short fight sequence (ugh...), remodeling the exterior desert landscape, which is in bad need of repair.  It stood up fine in the 720p renders of Parts One and Two, but in 1080p resolution, the desert landscapes just don't stand a chance.  Every imperfection shows up terribly.

Hopefully it'll be good.  It's showing promise, but a lot of work to do.  Just wanted to show I'm still plugging away on this thing. :)

Dan

Dan

Friday, July 17, 2015

Commission Work

Received permission from the guys over at HiFi 3D to show the fun I've been having on their project up until now.  I've been commissioned to provide modelling for digital sets for their project, an indie film called Gingerbreed: The Motion PictureHere is a link to the project website.

Client provided over all set direction, as all the sets must interact with live action actors.  Therefore, at points where there is interaction (i.e., doors, consoles and whatnot), dimensions and placement of items must be precise.  Modelling only has been completed at this point, and they provided me with some preexisting geometry to use, and I built on that as I went.

Digital sets are listed in the order they've been worked on.  All modelling done in Blender 2.7x, to be exported to Maya for further work on shading, materials and lighting.

BRIDGE






The Bridge set had to fit inside the preexisting geometry of the front of the spacecraft that was already designed.  Additionally, all of the consoles, chairs and doors had to be exactly placed so that human actors could interact with them seamlessly.  Careful placement of interior elements made this possible.

MESS HALL


The Mess Hall turned out to be my personal favorite at this point in the ongoing project.  The client requested that there be as much non-tessellated detail as possible, to accommodate the close-ups that would be required in the scenes featuring this set.  Numerous greeble details sufficed for that purpose.  The couch turned out to be the greatest challenge in this set.

HANGAR COMPLEX









The Hangar Complex is actually two sets connected to each other--a large storage chamber, and a smaller chamber attached to the first level of the hangar.  This room had numerous pieces that were already constructed that the client requested to be extrapolated through the rest of the room.  These meshes included the main floor, the crates and the corrugated exterior walls.  Only one corner of the room was modeled.  The rest had to be modeled from scratch. 


Still work to do on the project, so more updates on the way whenever I finish them.

Hope everyone is doing awesome.

Dan

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Uploaded Model

Well it's been a bit of time since my last update.  I've been extremely busy with commissions, and haven't been able to share much of it since I'm under NDAs.   But, a little bit of a respite this week, so I decided to finally finish the ship interior I was working on earlier this year and upload it to the various storefronts.

I give you the Spaceship Interior C HD!



















Dan

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Commission Project: WIP, and New Workstation

Finally, a commission I can actually share WIPs on.  Here's a set I've been working on, and is nearing completion.





This is a digital set for an indie film currently in production.  The challenge lies in the fact that there are several parts of the set which must be interacted with by live action actors.  Two actors will be placed in this scene using green screen.  Both are interacting with consoles which are very specifically placed.

In addition to the actors, there will also be three monitors which will be present on the practical set.  This requires close coordination with the client to make sure our camera angles and placement of the practical (real life) assets coordinates seamlessly with the location of place holders on the digital set.

Thankfully, there are no moving shots in this scene.  All shots are from a stationary camera.  There are four vantage points.  Camera information must be shared between the digital artist and the director so that he knows how to shoot the live action parts in a way that seamlessly mesh with the digital elements.  The information involves exact coordinates of the camera, rotation in degrees, lens angle, focal length, even what brand of camera was used.

Without this careful sharing of information between digital artist and director, it could lead to discrepancies between the digital and live action aspects of the finished shot, even the slightest of which having the distinct probability of destroying the credibility of the shot.

To conserve system resources, only what is absolutely necessary is actually modeled.  The set itself is simply this:


High resolution videos are used as the textures for some of the screens.  These are 600 frames long and are looping.  A render at full resolution for background plates will take about a day to complete.

And now, the new workstation I built.  It was time for a serious upgrade.  Ever since my other current client had to order me a new workstation from Boxx (which, by the way, I highly recommend that company), because the previous machine was no longer making it, I've been wanting to upgrade.  This was my chance.

New Workstation Stats:

Intel Core i7 4790k 4.0 GHZ quad-core processor
Nvidia GTX 980 ACX 2.0 4GB GDDR5
ASUS Z97-A motherboard
16 GB DDR3 dual-channel RAM
240 GB SSD
Antec P-100 Case

Some nifty unboxing/construction pics:

Everything arrived apparently undamaged
The CPU - Intel Core i7 4790k 4-core CPU 4.0 GHZ

CPU seated on motherboard.  Yes,  I accidentally touched the surface of the CPU and had to clean it using 91% alcohol
CPU cooling and RAM banks added

Motherboard, with power supply and graphics card installed in case.  Ready for wiring

Fully wired up...scarey moment of first power up approaching...

It worked despite the extremely unprofessional, untidy construction environment!
I apologize for the extremely unprofessional photography...as well as my equally unprofessional temporary testing set-up in my parents' living room.

And testing:

Nova Bench Score.  It was really hurt by the small size of the SSD partition which I have Windows installed on

Windows Experience Rating

BMW27 Benchmark test.  Time: 1:31.24 (GPU). (Benchmark Download Here)
So, not too shabby, I guess.  It's a good upgrade and should last a good while.

Hope everyone is doing great.

Dan

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