‘Time to Fly’ was our third and final Bath and Forck Production project together as a team. It is a story of a flock of New Zealand native Tui, in which they set out a great journery across the land as they set their tree free from the danger of human destruction. Through the film, we wanted to display our team’s belonging to New Zealand as well as adding a subtle environmental message to give audience something to ponder about.

The project heavily involved live-action integration, thus we have incorporated our previous research’s spherical HDR robot into pipeline to take HDRI for any on-site location we filmed. We also incorporated HD pipeline into our project, and we opted for 32bit EXR output render from Maya to contain its maximum information, which then led our compositors to switch to Nuke, a far superior compositing sofware than After Effects.

As for myself, I was responsible in co-leading Animation of the project as well as extending my assistance to help the Modelling Lead. To model and animate the Tui as realistically as possible, we met up with bird curator of Auckland Museum to take closer reference on anatomy and feathers of Tui bird. As well as the physical reference, we also built up our own video archive of Tui and other birds with similar flying pattern from online science community. Some of the footage among the archive were of my own recordings, as I was fortunate enough to have two Tui lingering at the backyard of my own home.

With enough reference on feathers, we’ve also built archives of different body feather alphas, which in Tui’s case was 13 types. On top of that there were over 20 addition of wing and tail feather alphas to add onto archive. So with enough information, our TD was able to carefully recreate the feather distribution of Tui using particle feathers generation as well as simple transparent maps on wing / tail feathers.

As a result we have successfully created digital version of Tui as realistically as we hoped for in our given time of 7 weeks production schedule.

Another thing to note for in this final project, was the fact that we’ve actually incorporated several footage of miniature tree roots and earth that we have manually built and filmed in a controlled studio environment. It was simply great, since we were actually utelizing similar method as what Weta Digital and Weta Workshop have been doing with their film production in the last decade.

Without a doubt, this final graduate project marked as a stepping stone for all of us as we soon embarked our individual unique journey into the real world of visual effects wizardry.

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(click above for full resolution viewing)

For the 2nd year 3D Graduate Production course, one of the key skills I aquired was the knowledge in mentalray. We used it extensively on three Bath and Forck Production projects later on, but the very first time I utelised on was the individual Still Life creation project.

At early stage of this individual project, I went to our school’s production studio to spend a good solid 5 hours of photo composition shoot of Japanese riceball dish. After I was satisfied with the composition of photo, I then moved on to recreate the image in 3D as realistically as possible using Maya and mental ray.

The end result was achieved by multi-layering a total of 10 different passes. Please click the picture below for viewing of passes:

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