Sunday, 9 January 2011


At the start of this unit I was worried as I still didn't know which direction I wanted to go in the industry, I enjoy all areas and want to do everything but after a one to one with my tutor I finally managed to narrow it down to the rendering and post-production side of the industry. Personally I find it more accessible as it allows for other skills to be pulled from outside of the area I've chosen to study, it is a skill set that can come under pressure as it gets used late in the pipeline as the deadline nears but I found all of these factors come together to add a greater sense of satisfaction when you get to see the finished piece of work.

When I started researching the skills I wanted to develop I took into account one of the things my tutor said to me which was try finding an image and deconstructing it the way a child takes toys apart to see how it works. The way I used this advice was by looking into compositing first so that I could understand how each pass goes together and what passes can be used to add different effects. I also found that this helped me when it came to setting up the render passes and layers as I now understood how I could make the layers more effective in the end.

The main tutorials I used were a selection from the escapes videos and a couple from 3D world magazine which I found were both very helpful.

 When it came to putting my research in to practice I wanted to try compositing a digital character into photo which I had taken myself so that I could setup the scene correctly with measurement and light angles etc. Unfortunately I was having issues finding a realistic looking character for Maya so I decided to go with a more fun idea which was also relevant to a recent project by the mill (which is one of my top 5 companies I would like to work for). I decided to go with a dinosaur as its challenging as it doesn't really belong and its is also organic rather the cliché of constantly trying to make a car look real. Below you can see a few finished stills that I have done and hopefully later today I will have one moving.

Overall I have to say this has been one of my favourite units so far as I finally have a good enough understanding of Maya that I can finally have some finished looking work and I think now that I know what direction I want to go in as well I'm enjoying it even more. I feel that I have learnt a lot this unit and have finally started to gain a more advanced understanding of areas I want to work in. I believe that the most useful thing I learnt about was render layers as it really cuts down render time and makes mistakes so much easier to fix.

I also found this has helped me a lot with my other project as I am in charge of the rendering. Although my other project is far more stylised understanding how a the passes work has helped me to take the work to a more professional  level and improve the overall quality.

Below you can see 2 images, the first is from my second year piece of compositing and the second is from the work I have done this year I think there is a big level of improvement between the 2.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Rendering Skills

Here you can see 2 images I created using photos from my garden and a dinosaur rig I got off Creative Crash (I did intend to originally use a human character but i was struggling to find a good quality Rig for that so all that mattered was that it was an organic model)

The first image was more of a tester for the rig seeing what I could do with some basic renders no shadow so not to complex to start with. This was quite fun to play with seeing what kind of look I cant get with the model.

This image was more challenging as I started playing about with the shadow a lot more, I also tried using a ZDepth pass to give a bit of Depth of Field to the tail tip. I'm also enjoying the compositing a lot more now that I have a better understanding of how it all goes together.

This image shows the main passes I used for creating this image. The first is Ambient Occllusion, then ZDepth then the Shadow pass and finally diffuse.

One of the problems I found with this image was that the background was to blurry so no matter what I did the composit didn't look right

This is just a render I did to see how it would look moving, first thing i would say though is please excuse the animation as I was focusing on the other aspects of the shot. it was quite amazing the difference in render times when doing the individual passes compared to rendering the whole image as I tried both for an experiment, it was probably an hour for the passes where as it took 2 hours for the straight render which never looks as good anyway.

Dino Comp from Samuel McGuire on Vimeo.

Render Layers Tutorial

One of the ways I find it easier to learn is to work backwards for example leaning rendering and compositing and so I started by looking a compositing tutorials to understand how its all gets put together whats layer effect what and how theyre put together. The tutorial I did below is how to create and setup render layers, i had a few problems as the tutorial was with Maya 8.5 and im working in the 2010 edition but I easily found the solution online.

Below you can see a selection of screenshots from what the tutorial showed me. now having more of an understanding of render Layers and Compositing the next post will be of my own work.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Compositing Tests/Tutorial

This was a tutorial from 3D world magazine I did to help me understand how the passes all work with each other and how they can effect each other as well as how to make subtle changes easily because the render was planned out properly.

Concept Development

Animation development

I know the timing is a bit off but i was more trying to concentrate on the key poses as animation is a key area I'm trying to develop this year, also I decided to have a quick play with lighting while doing this as a remind to basic lighting controls. Although I think alot of the styling of this will come down to the texturing.

More Concepts

This is just a few more concepts I did. I have been trying to develop my drawing skills in my freetime but unfortunately I dont have the money for life drawing classes at the moment.