Having started a VFX course here at Escape Studios, I’m keeping a diary to share with you on how the course is going. Here's my update from week 11!
Particles. I've been waiting for this lesson since the start of the course. It's a glimpse of what will happen on the TD course and the lesson was brilliant. We did various exercises which were all fun. I am going to use this technique, with a bit of tweaking, on my final project to create dust/debris falling from the floor above my secret space. I took notes and also took part in the exercises. I have everything I need to add that sparkle to my project now. I think it was Mies Van Der Rohe who said "God is in the details" and I'll test that tonight on my project if I have time.
Mudbox. We had a new teacher today who taught us how to use mudbox. We jumped straight in with the controls and into an exercise which was really good fun. We all used the wacom tablets and pens to create our textures and this was the first time I really used one thoroughly so it was a really good learning point for me. We did lots of cool texturing and made some really large textures with relative ease. We looked at the pros and cons of zbrush and mudbox and even mari. Using new software came really easy and mudbox really is easy to learn. Lots of my peers are already applying their new found skills on their projects in the afternoon when we switch from learning to project work.
Project work day. I managed to successfully track a really awkward bit of footage with Mark's help. He encouraged me to persevere and it paid off. I DID track it in the end and solved the camera and lens distortion. I unwarped the footage and I now have my backplate to add to my completed CG geometry. I rendered the CG and took it into nuke as I did with the backplate then merged them. I used a luminance key to do the lions share of this project and that will be evident on my showreel in a weeks time. It's looking good and I have only to do the particles and it's done...well I say it's done all the time and something always crops up to knock down the best planning.
More Mudbox. Was a really fun day again. More exercises and an in depth look at the software. Nice to add another string to my bow. It's going to be really useful to know when the time comes to make applications for work and go to interviews too, not to mention when starting work and being able to contribute straight away. Project work went well and as I guessed there were things on my project which needed attention, such as lowering the saturation on my materials that were too bright with overly rich colour. People are staying behind after class to continue work and there is a really nice bar downstairs too where people gather. It's a relaxed atmosphere and perfect to spend some time in while your work renders. It's a good place to meet people on other courses and share ideas and techniques, while having a few games of pool.
Last day of Mudbox. We looked in depth at taking files from Maya into Mudbox. We went back and forth with displacements and textures and the practice really helped me learn the pipeline. We also took into photoshop at the end of the lesson, which was also good to learn. We looked at Mari for an hour in the afternoon and I was delighted to get extra time to practice because it too is such a cool piece of software. Nice to know the basics for that so I can build on it in my own time if I need it. I didn't realise just how much we had learnt until I looked around the class and saw my peers creating some fabulously detailed textures for their projects and applying them like they had known this technique for years. The standard of teaching at Escape is super high and I count myself lucky to have learnt from the best. Project work now. Rendering again. Saved tons of time today by baking a final gather map. I set my render settings to render every 20 frames and only render the final gather map. This created the map which I will use in my final batch render. I set it to read the map instead of recalculating final gather on every frame. I also reduced the size of my render. It changed from an hour per frame to about a minute per frame which allows for adjustments that won’t take 2 days to realise. We are using brilliant computers with 12 cores that make rendering a short process.