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.