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WEEK 2: Creating a Solid Foundation

Updated: Apr 6

During week 2, our team primarily focused on refining our camera angles and previs based on feedback from the mentors and our professors. We decided to move the full stage shot to the end rather than the beginning to suggest that the viewer is arriving at their destination of the concert. By doing this, we were also able to "reveal" the stage slowly by starting with a steep, close shot of the train that doesn't immediately show that it's on a guitar and leaves the location ambiguous. We also wanted to make the guitar feel longer based on critique, so we used a profile shot of the neck of the guitar that gives an illusion of a longer track. Lastly, we eventually decided to flip the camera to the other side of the 180 line to show the stage and drum set in the background, creating more interesting compositions for each shot. In order to get the timing and speed of the train right, we had to use some tricks in Maya, like duplicating the train model and creating different versions/animations of it for different shots. Here is our first revised previs:


And here is our second after flipping the camera:

Next, Amanda added base lighting/shaders to the scene and we re rendered using viewport lighting for the next iteration of the previs.

I edited this and added a quick Nuke spotlight using a Godray node for the transition between shot 3 and 4.

We also realized that because our shots are very depth of field/focus driven, we should test that process as soon as possible. To do this, we decided to render a still frame of each shot in Arnold with a depth AOV for me to composite in Nuke. I also added some atmosphere using the depth pass and did some color correction to get a better idea of the lighting and overall mood we wanted to achieve.

Early Renders for each Shot:


With shot 2, we realized that the background was darker than we intended and was creating an ominous rather than exciting mood. For the next iteration, we plan to brighten it in lighting to create more bokeh effects and an easy-going feeling.



We rendered versions of shot 4 both with and without the chairs in the audience to see which one fit our idea better. Aside from our previs, we also worked on refining shaders to create our lookdev rig and Gen began working with CHOPS in Houdini for the guitar strings moving in time to the music. Gen also worked with randomizing the confetti size, type, and color further and creating a collision source with the stage floor. After both of those, Gen created a first version of atmosphere smoke for the stage. I created early shaders for the spotlight material (right) and amp buttons (plastic & metal):



We then created a turnaround lookdev rig with Amanda, Ken, and I's shaders combined:





Gen's second confetti test:



Gen's string test with full CHOPs animation:






Gen's first atmosphere test:






Overall Setbacks and Problem Solving During Week 2: Because we began working on this project completely virtually , we had a lot of setbacks during week 2 with wifi speed and transferring large files between team members. I also noticed that our naming conventions and folder structure locations were inconsistent and wanted to fix it as soon as possible. To do this, I created a Google sheets document outlining project guidelines and where to save files HERE. I also created a Discord server for our team during week 1 to store important links such as this document and the folder for each of our weekly presentations.

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