Week 05: The Lights Are On...

Week 05: The Lights Are On...

The fifth week of the Maya Core evening course is equivalent to day five of the intensive day time class, so we have now covered one week of the comparable daytime course. The advantage of the evening course is you have more time to soak in the deluge of information showered onto you, but the daytime class are constantly thinking in Maya so perhaps absorb it more thoroughly.

But as Mark rolled out Monday’s class, he said this week we would focus our attentions on the art of UV’ing. This has nothing to do with ultraviolet, but rather it involves creating a flattened surface (along the U&V axis) which can be painted, and then wrapped around a 3D object. The process is fairly convoluted and quite hard to get right, so we began by creating a model of a wine barrel to practice upon. I assure you the task was not a barrel of laughs, as I attempted first to select the right surfaces, as different areas of the cask needed different shape maps. We then had to project the correct maps onto the right plane, all the while trying to make them appear seamless.

There is a vat of information to consume, but I don’t fear being the butt of class jokes for appearing dumb by asking basic questions, for I’m sometimes quite slow to follow basic instructions. However, my colleague Kris confessed he appreciates my questions as he occasionally gets confused as well, but he doesn’t need to ask them, because I’ve usually requested if Mark could recap already. Having said that the exercises are well devised, structured and taught, so even an amateur like me can appear to be a super Cooper in Maya!

Maya model of wine barrel

                     Toby Young - super Cooper!

I’ve scraped the barrel of puns for that class, so moving on, we checked in to the studio on Wednesday evening to discover the secrets of lighting. Mark talked, very thoroughly as always, about the intricacies of light and how we can recreate it in Maya. We used a chessboard complete with pieces to trial different light settings, then adjusted the lights intensity and direction to create different moods. With a simple three point lighting system, we set up key, fill and rim lights and looked at the effect they produced through cameras set to different focal lengths.

Grading the colours of the lights creates contrast and emphasises foreground and background, and we began to understand the tricks of the trade in Hollywood. Mark pointed out how king of the action Directors Michael Bay, used blue light for the background, and orange for the foreground in films such as Transformers, to achieve a cinematic effect on screen. However, a grand master I’m not, and sometimes I failed to get anything lit at all! It seemed the lights were on, but nobody was at home.

Our homework over the weekend is to set up lights around the chessboard, and render out our results to compare and judge in next week’s class. But I wonder what a rookie can achieve, compared to my neighbour Alan who’s experience towers above me? After all, his many years’ working on film sets as a model/prop maker means the game is surely up for a pawn like me in this contest.


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Toby Young
Fri 2 Mar 2012: 12:08pm

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