Studio Two: Entry 1

The onset of Studio Two has introduced new possibilities in the form of bespoke projects. While I am not free to run completely rampant and attempt any creative project idea I wish, within reason myself and my peers now have freedoms to tailor our projects towards more personal goals and interests.

My initial reaction to this has been a ridiculous tug of war between a dream project brief and a more modest and practical project plan (especially one which would be suitable for Studio Two parameters). A lot of time in my first week has been spent pondering  how much I am willing to scale down, water down and in general compromise any creative vision i have for projects in order to get them made during my student career as opposed to the possibility they aren’t made at all (or at least delayed for what I imagine would feel an eternity).

For a week I also attempted to test this in a tangible way. This meant going ahead with concept development and project planning as well as pitching my idea for feedback.

Concept development and planning revolved around an idea for a VR video game. It would be a mix of a narrative driven experience as well as have elements from the FPS genre. The scope and complexity of the project was quite sizeable and immediately recognising this, a more modest version was conceptualised, and at this point I pitched my project concept to seek feedback.

My initial reaction to feedback was dismay. Despite my efforts to scale down my project appropriately and alter my goals where needed, I was made aware of a long list of factors i had yet to understand myself. Unknown factors leaves a lot to be desired in terms of certainty. This would mean a lack of certainty that I will have the skills and ability to complete my project (with or without help from others), as well as the time management factor as its own worry.

One final element of my thought process has led to the abandonment of my initial project idea and brief. This was consideration of what my personal goals for Studio Two would be. Apart from the obvious goals set within the studio unit, my personal goals for knowledge, experience and skill set became a focus for my project decision making. My initial project idea would tick off a long list of desirables as a learning experience. I would however be in danger of being spread too thin, and to what degree would I gain anything if I was to try and learn too many things.

And so, I decided on a completely different project idea, one which would result in an animation as the deliverable and also stick to the supplied default brief. This brief asked for an approximately 1 minute long animation containing both 2D and 3D methods, and my response was the idea to produce an animated 1950s style commercial.

My aims for this project will also allow me to achieve certain goals I am eager to add to my repertoire for the future. Improving my general animation skills for both 2D and 3D mediums is an obvious one but I am also looking forward to learning the conventions used in TV ad production. As an added bonus I am exploring 1950s TV as a theme and aesthetic style which is quite a novelty.

During the first week, while brainstorming and researching, I had stumbled across an interview with Ridley Scott (On storyboarding), which has lead me further down the path of contemplation about creative compromise and the creative professional in general. His comments on the matter, I greatly expect to pop up again and again in my mind during the course of the coming project.

In terms of progress, the art bible phase in pre-production is underway. I am paying particular attention to 1950s aesthetics, including colour palette, with a plethora of era accurate advertisements informing my character and environment designs.

 

Link 1. The art of story-boarding with Ridley Scott. (Eyes on Cinema, September 27th, 2014).

 

 

 

environment design
figure 1. Environment Design. (Wyld, 2017)

 

obsidian logo
figure 2. Obsidian Logo Design. (Wyld, 2017) 
colour palettes.jpg
figure 3. 1950s Colour Palette Experimentation. (Wyld, 2017).
Georgio
figure 4. Georgio Character Design. (Wyld, 2017).

 

 

 

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Studio Two: Entry 2 (TSM)

The TSM which has been conducted in week six has been a chance for reflection and feedback. This has been a great opportunity to gather information that assists in my understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. The process involved a discussion with lecturers and a run through of my self evaluation. As I expect is the experience of most students, I found this TSM to be slightly anxiety inducing.

I would blame this on the awkwardness that comes with the subjective nature of self-evaluation. I was however pleased that for the most part I have been able to identify many of both my stronger and weaker suits.

In general during my studies within animation the weaknesses that require the most improvement have always been clear cut and easy to recognise. I have also realised after this most recent reflection that they have remained fairly consistent. Within my reflection for Studio 2 specifically, I feel that my application of most categories belong in the successful bandwidth. I do not believe however that any of these skills listed in the TSM form I have “mastered”. The skill that I have placed in the un-successful category, and needs the most improvement is self confidence.

For the most part my responses within the TSM form in approximation, aligned with verbal feedback in the meeting. Leading up to the meeting, as I have experienced in the past, the feeling of doubt as to the accuracy of my self reflections became a nagging sensation. Despite my anxieties the meeting was indeed useful in the way both confirmation and even contradiction of my  perceptions came to light.

Within the meeting it was discussed how my time management skills are successful, and I explained my TSM form response in regard to how I feel I could improve. Along with my own reflection, it was also commented that allocation or ratio of time for various tasks could be optimised. An example was explained to me of script writing during the pre-production phase. Much time labouring over versions of the script minimised time spent on other tasks and interrupted my production pipeline workflow. I will keep this in mind, and implement in future projects.

Other important points within the meeting involved discussing my problem solving skills and working well under pressure. The nature of what would constitute good problem solving skills was discussed. Sometimes it is more useful to find an alternate path to a goal then to try and overcome a roadblock which presents an ever-growing list of problems. This idea is one which I will remind myself when any future problems develop during a project. I have noticed that I have a tendency to attack a problem as though there is a single solution. I am aware that if I am to step back and re-assess my  options I could possibly find a plethora of strategies. Personally, this applies most of all to use of software. While struggling to force a program to do as I wish, I forget there may be another way to achieve my aim.

During the course of the weeks leading up to the TSM, it is fair to say that I had handled roadblocks to my progress. Despite this, changing my attitude and opening myself up to the idea of multiple solutions I understand will benefit my workflow greatly in the future.

On the subject of working well under pressure, on reflection I am decently satisfied, and the feedback I have received has been a boost to my morale. While I have not been entirely satisfied with my responses under pressure it has been pointed out that I have carried on with my project steadily and with an evolving plan. At this point in the TSM I have shared my internal thought process when working well under pressure, and I am confident after discussion that I will be able to further my abilities under pressure. After the TSM it is still clear that continuing to use and improve my project management strategies will support my improvement of this skill.

Overall, the process has confirmed many of my own reflections, this in itself has given me satisfaction in knowing my own analysis of my application of the listed skills, and my own plans for future projects are accurate enough to be useful. It is also a relief to have confirmation that my self reflection is not full of delusions. The specifics have also further illuminated the subject of improvement. Knowing that there were areas in my application and having feedback specifically on these areas has moved me closer to a clear plan for the future.

Studio One, Week Ten

At the end of week nine we had the opportunity to make use of the HTC Vive (HTC,2016) and try out some VR games. This has been my first VR experience, and it was far more entertaining than I had expected. Before trying VR I assumed that the infancy of the technology would create a feeling of gimmick. I had expected to enjoy the experience but did not expect the environments in games to be immersive and such a short amount of time, addictive. This VR experience has made me eager to see the collaboration between our studio and the games students in it’s completed form.

I have also thought more about my recent enquiries about the role of a game artist. The opportunity to take a look at VR firsthand has made me eager to further work in projects that would make use of VR. I have also spoken to one of the game students about the game students side to our collaborations. Their own games which will be combined with our game environment requires texturing, which I would like to contribute to. Sadly, I don’t think this is a possibility with our current schedule, but I shall be seeking out collaborations with game students in the future to develop my texturing skills for video-game production.

VR aside, glass textures have caused some problems in sketchfab (sketchfab,2016). When first starting to use sketchfab I have noticed that there are two system for texturing display settings. These are “classic”and “PBR”. I had looked into which would be better when seeing this for the first time. For most circumstances it is best to use PBR. This was confirmed with one of my group members who had also looked into it.

We do not have our environment with all its textures uploaded as yet but we have been testing various assets. The first thing I have uploaded is my biopod. In our group we had discussed whether the assets should be uploaded as a single or two objects with seperate textures. I have already tried one object with one corrusponding texture and it currently works.

Something I was surprised by is the difference in texture appearance between setchfab and 3dsmax. Specular levels dont seem to control very precisely. Using metalness and gloss levels in PBR settings, I  can achieve an approximate on what i would like, but the metal caps on the biopod asset have a laminated look which is disappointing. The scratch details i have added on the glass of the biopod are also very subtle on sketchfab in comparison to 3dsmax. As we have been warned, the appearance of textures in sketchfab is

We will nee

Studio One, Week Nine

This week we present our projects to the game students. The purpose of the presentation is to share our progress and to familiarise the game students with our game assets. This group of students are mixed between a programming and design specialisation.  As I understand it, there will be a collaboration whereby our game environments will be used within the upcoming projects in the games studio unit. This collaboration will result in a collection of mini games to be (possibly) assembled into a VR package. This is, as I have previously mentioned very exciting as video games and specifically VR is something I would like to become involved in.

On reflection of our presentation, our group provided too much information on aspects of our project that would not be of help or interest to the games students, and it become obvious where our focus should have been. It has definitely been something we have learnt from as it was glaringly obvious where our presentation content could have been chosen more appropriately. Feedback from one of the games students also help, and we have been told that the main thing is to include as much content and info about the game assets themselves. What the assets look like, poly count, style choices and how they should function within a game.

While we had focused too much on pre-production, we had spent little time displaying our models, texturing and previz.

The presentation was daunting but I believe that the next time we would be able to have a more concise and relevant presentation at the ready, one which would be more useful in a professional setting.

After this presentation I have focused my time on my allocated texturing. This specifically includes architectural surface textures, decals, and  shared base textures, as well as my assigned assets. I will also ensure that there is a consistent aesthetic in the textures created by my group members.

Apart from tweaking the shared base textures, and creating a blood splatter decal, I have also been working on the first pass of the diffuse texture for the bio hatch. My original goal as texture arbiter was to aim for a style close to Goldeneye Source. I have questioned whether this is a recent enough example to use, and whether or not it is a suitable benchmark. As I feel unsure still I will seek feedback.

The process of texturing the hatch has involved using one of the base metal textures i have created and made seamless. The base textures are sized at 2048 x 2048 pixels. I have then placed a caution label onto the hatch. The aim for this texture has been to create a asset which looks like it belongs not only in a science lab but also in a larger facility which crosses several industries. The fictional Xentium Laboratories and the treatment continue to inform my decisions. The overall look should communicate a functional robustness. I have also had to consider where and how to include general wear, scratches and dirt. As it has been stressed many times in studio this should follow a logic, or the illusion of being believable will be broken. This logical wear and tear can be difficult to create and it is obvious that there will be iterations to come before I am satisfied.

biohatch-image
(wyld,2016). Exo (working title). “Biohatch” model screenshot.
biolift-image
(wyld,2016). Exo (working title). “biolift”model screenshot.
curved-table-image
(wyld,2016). Exo (working title). “curved table”model screenshot.
pillar-image
(wyld,2016). Exo (working title). “concrete pillar”model screenshot.
spot-light-image
(wyld,2016). Exo (working title). “spot light fixture” model screenshot.
strip-light-image
(wyld, 2016). Exo (working title). “strip light fixture”model screenshot.

 

References

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (working title). “Biohatch” model screenshot.

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (working title). “biolift”model screenshot.

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (working title). “curved table”model screenshot.

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (working title). “concrete pillar”model screenshot.

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (working title). “spot light fixture” model screenshot.

Wyld,A ( 2016). Exo (working title). “strip light fixture”model screenshot.

 

Studio One, Week Eight

This week has seen a slow in our project progress because of a submission outside the studio unit as well as preparation for an upcoming studio presentation. The presentation is to be given to the games students as we are to collaborate. I am quite excited for this collaboration as there is the possibility of bringing our combined creation into VR.

Apart from preparing our presentation,  I have been tidying my assets, with help from group lead to get them green-lit. During studio sessions in the last couple of weeks we have had feedback regarding poly count. While modelling is not something I wish to specialise in and is something I still feel a slight disdain for, I wish to improve my skills. I have found it difficult to keep my model “clean” while modelling and reducing the number of polygons is quite tricky. It is hard to retrospectively augment a model which has issues.

As my knowledge grows it becomes easier to see where problems will arise down the road. however I feel I know just enough sometimes to know that I have not modelled something the most optimal method, without knowing exactly what the most optimal method would entail. My intention is to immerse myself in more modelling tutorials.

This week I have had the opportunity to discuss options for my learning pathway and how this can be tailored towards my goals in terms of my future role in the creative industries. Having the opportunity to create a video game environment has helped me to clarify what I would like my goals  to be. I have very much enjoyed the process so far, and the studio scenario has strengthened my liking towards a career in the video game industry.I have been given information this week about what would be involved in being a games artist.

From what I can gather a games artist is more useful when having multiple skills, whilst still specialising within their own skill set. At this point in time a combination of concept art, modelling and texturing seems like a skill set I would like to develop as far as possible. I know that out of the three skills I am far more interested in concept art and texturing , and this has not changed  since the beginning of our studio project.

I will keep these things in mind as the project continues.

 

 

 

Studio One, Week Seven

After week 6,  I have started modelling and continue to study up on texturing and plan how our specific project will be textured.  I am also receiving help with my modelling to improve efficiency. I am thankful for this as I know I will be able to concentrate on texturing. the models i now am in charge off are mostly modelled but need refinement and tidying. I have received tips and help with ensuring my models are ngon free. I have learnt that when creating quads and tris to remove ngons it’s always best to use the vertices which already exist. Part way through modelling I have realised that it is best not to attach elements, and so when modelling my hatch I have used the pro-boolean tool to combine the base of the hinge with the main body of the hatch. The pro-boolean tool proves quite useful as using the union option, extra edges are created instead of having an object which is simply pushed into another as you would have with the attach tool. I have also played around with other setting within pro-Boolean such as subtract. I have noticed that the topology is not ideal but it is a quick method to achieve desired shapes.

Problem solving within 3ds max in the past few weeks has proven tedious however I have had moments that I am pleased with ideas that are simple but help efficiency. A perfect example is modelling one of my assets, a curved  table for placing monitors. The table is butted against the curved wall in our biosphere space and to ensure the length and curvature to be correct for a snug and correct fit  have modelled from a copy of the wall. Copying and scaling, I then modelled knowing the back fits our space.

In terms of texturing i have been putting into practice the decisions made regarding such practicalities as the texel density which we will use. Looking into the matter, this is something which varies from project to project, with no real one standard. It seems sensible to start with a density higher to anything we will reasonably use, which we can export and reduce later as needed. Considering what we are aiming to accomplish I am starting our textures at 2048 x 2048. At this stage I have been experimenting with various base textures, mostly for architectural surfaces. Our generic base concrete texture has been made seamless, and has been redone from scratch as the first version did not fit within the style we are aiming for. Now that I am satisfied I have been brushing up on how to create the other maps needed for texturing beyond the diffuse. Playing around with levels I have tweaked the concrete texture to a point I am happy with and have moved on, several textures are currently being adjusted (base textures and decals).

caution-sticker-v1
(wyld,2016). Caution sticker decal.
concrete-v1
(wyld,2016). Concrete base texture Version 2.
concrete-v2
(Wyld,2016). Concrete base texture version 2.
metal-v1
(Wyld,2016). Metal and warning strip version 1.

 

 

References

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Caution sticker decal.

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Concrete base texture version 1.

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Concrete base texture version 2.

Wyld, A.(2016). Exo (working title). Metal and warning strip version 1 .

Studio One, Week Six

After finishing the art style guide and environment map, I must turn my attention to my assigned model sheets. There is a change in my priorities. I would have liked to had more time to design my model sheets however as art style arbiter I have also been assigned the job of finalising the schematic design of  our environment through the environment map as well as the art style guide. These are both necessary components in the pre-production phase.

I have learnt that it is best to ensure that communications and resulting decisions made are factored into adjustments of written task management, for example gantt chart. It is easy for decisions and conversations to be left behind along the way if you are not in direct control of such documents.

These tasks have taken priority in my schedule. Unfortunately the art style guide has taken a large chunk of time,  in order to develop our intended aesthetic and style. I had been communicating with group lead and had been instructed to take this and the environment as priority. The environment had gone through many iterations as it was critiqued and refined during studio, with feedback being considered during the creation of the following version.

While there has been much back and forth between myself and team lead, with a change to my assigned priority tasks, this had not been factored when it came to the gantt chart.

Moving on from this, I am working to complete my model sheets as quickly as possible. It currently looks as though I may need to rely on concept sketches I have made if we are to move on to the production phase and model.

While doing my model sheets I also have a few assigned tasks. One of these small tasks is brainstorming names for the fictional corporation which features in our game idea. Some examples of names which do not exist as yet as companies are Lumos Corp, Oracle 5 Labs, Tritium X Corp. The one which I am leaning towards however is Xentium Laboratories. I have also searched for fonts which can be used in our project as public domain. It has been narrowed and I will be using a font called “Furore” (Dunham, 2016). With the name and font I have created a fictional logo. During my research phase I have noticed that game environments often have these small details to allow the space to feel tailor and believable rather than generic.

prp_Logo_Xentium Laboratories_AlexW_V02
(Wyld, 2016). Xenium Laboratories Fictional Logo.)

 

 

References

 

Dunham, E. (2009). Furore font free by Jovanny Lemonad. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/furore

 

Wyld,A (2016). Exo (Working title). Exo style guide.