Modeling: Standard Measurements

Week 05

This time around, for the apartment blocking for the animatic I looked up some standard measurements for floor to ceiling height and door height.

Room height should be between 2.4m to 2.75m which I found here:

Height and size regulations for rooms:

Information on doors:

Habitable room and ceiling height:

When I was creating the measurements of the last apartment that I blocked I made the ceilings taller than this but I suppose measurements can change depending on the architectural style,  like high Georgian ceilings.

Storyboards and Hitchcock

Week 05

This video has a useful side by side comparison of the storyboards and the the final shower scene in Psycho (1960) (Alfred Hithcock and Saul Bass). It’s interesting to see how the storyboards capture the key facial expressions and actions of the scenes but then the final camera work takes extra shots to develop/take advantage of other compositions on set.

Who Directed the Shower Scene in PSYCHO? from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.

I found this other article with examples of storyboards used on Hitchcock films.

I liked the simple use of tone on these and how some of the backgrounds are impressionistic but still effective.

Sound Design for Animatic 01

Week 05

For the sounds, I made a list of everything I thought we would need, bookmarked the best clips I could find on into a folder and then downloaded them all for Sorcha to pay around with when she was editing all our animatics together. Sorcha and Andrew Coyle also made recordings for some of dialogue that we would need.

Foley/Sound list

  • Buzz of automatic lights coming on in hallway
  • Ringtone – retro games,
  • Footsteps on wood or carpet
  • Key jingles and turning
  • Door opening
  • Click of phone going off
  • Television sound – what would Julie be listening to? A presenter at concert awards, an anime battle with superheroes, cooking show with cat host, ice cream advert, news flash, ‘lonely nights in’ tv show, something Julie can respond to, a quiz show with funny questions, a quiz with questions reminiscent of the year they met,
  • Crackling of fireplace or low roar of fire in hearth
  • Premonition: ? Swish, roar, scrape of rough material, clacking, yawning winds, whirlpool, suction, sighing (QOTD flashback noise),muffled voices, fuzz, indistinguishable words, rewinding tape, clocks
  • Traffic outside
  • Rain hissing against the window, storm
  • Muffled steps on carpet
  • Cat purring
  • Sofa fabric and subtle creeks moving
  • Clicks of steps on kitchen tiles
  • Opening fridge door
  • Clink of bottles moved in fridge, clunks of moving trays/tubs in fridge

This is my folder of clips so far:

Both Aidan and Molly weren’t too fond of the idea of lots of voices during the premonition and thought it too horror. There’s still a lot to develop for sound alone.

Dark Noir

Week 05

This is another animated short that Sorcha showed the team.

Dark Noir from Gillian Glendinning on Vimeo.


Not only does it have beautiful lighting and textures but it is also a great example of how 2D animation can be mixed with 3D. The fluidity and surreal quality of the creatures is inspirational for how we could make the premonition scenes and transitions into the premonitions. We admitted that trying to achieve that level of 2D animation quality would be a bit daunting but we are keeping it open as an option.

Le Gouffre: Painterly Camera Projection

Week 05

Sorcha found this short film from Lightning Boy Studio, Le Gouffre (2014). Molly, Aidan, Sorcha and I have been discussing for a while how we would like to create a painterly look, especially since our visit to the Ulster Museum and seeing Rembrandt’s self-portrait. We agreed that Le Gouffre is a good example of the direction that we would want the painterly look to take.

Le Gouffre from Lightning Boy Studio on Vimeo.

I found this blog post, Week 55 – Camera Projection Technique,  which goes into detail about how Lightning Boy Studio create the textures for Le Gouffre. They create a scene with low detailed textures, create a new camera which covers all of the the views from the shot camera and then use this for creating a render which is painted over in Photoshop. This painting is then projected on top of the scene.

They use this technique so that their computers aren’t overloaded with large texture sets. This method also gives them control over the amount of detail in fore, mid and back-ground.

I’m not sure if we should try and use this technique for the pitch video or try and create a similar solution which will work in real time.

The Art of Storyboarding with Ridley Scott

The Art of Storyboarding with Ridley Scott


Week 05

This week we are focusing on creating storyboards to show a scenario that demonstrates the choice mechanic in 13 Songs. I consider storyboarding an important skill that I haven’t got the grip of yet. With this scenario between Julie and William, the challenge is to make a quite mundane scene really connect with audience while still remaining interesting visually. This short video from Ridley Scott has a few directions to think about/look into.

I like how attentive Scott is to the shape that light makes. Even from the storyboarding stage, Scott is crafting the scene with an attention to how light will shape the composition. Even on a car journey he is “reading the performance of light on objects”.

Storyboards help Scott to articulate exactly what he wants to achieve with the team.

Look at what Hitchcock did with storyboards.

Get rid of the white immediately. Bash through and get the idea down straight away. Then there is something to improve upon. Storyboards get you sucked into the scene so that you can see opportunities e.g. acting and staging.

Even two talking heads can be made more interesting but they can also be interesting by themselves. You should know when to pull back.

Landscape Sketching with Nathan Fowkes

Colour and light design will of course be very important in the user experience. The quick colour and light that I painted over my 3D renders still feels very unnatural and doesn’t capture the best mood and quality of light that the scene could have. I saw the video above on Bobby Chiu’s channel and really love the quality of light that Fowkes creates by layering of textured light over less saturated hues.

  • Primarily in nature the beauty is in the greys – warm and cool greys.
  • Paint the colours in the way that they really exist e.g. lay down the warm local colours and then paint over with the cool shadows.
  • The deep shadows are almost always a deep warm colour e.g. the crevice in a log.

For this scene with backlighting and a warm sunset:

  1. Start with vibrant warm tones.
  2. Start to apply greys, letting the highlights and brightest tones shine through.
  3. Add subtleties to the darker tones.
  4. Apply light over the forms.


Image from Fowkes’ DeviantArt journal:

Level Design in a Day: The Level Design of Gone Home

Johnny shared this talk with us from GDC: Level Design in a Day: The Level Design of Gone Home

I admit that I haven’t put much thought before into designing for environments which are interactive and explorable. This is a new challenge for me and it was interesting to see how the layout of an environment needs to be considered in order to control the flow of user experience. I’m looking forward to seeing how our team of story, level, art, code and sound designers will be dealing with this extra layer of consideration.

Using the level and environment design of Gone Home as an example:

  • The space is designed so that it feels non-linear and real, even though a birds-eye view reveals that the layout could not exist in real life.
  • In a real house layout, the progression of the player is more difficult to control. Many doors would have to be locked. Gaynor shows his own example of a central hub where the player can branch out from. Also consider what is visible to the player from the central point alone.
  • Look for house plans with interesting and surprising layouts e.g. sprawling Victorian houses that fill the landscape that they inhabit.
  • What is the player experience/flow that we will have to build for?
  • Fill the grey box layouts with furniture, textiles and other paraphernalia that creates a lived-in feeling.
  • The taste and furniture needs to represent the taste and financial position of the owners, all the way from the creation of the house to modern day.
  • Make large spaces more intimate. Pull the spaces in. (Craig says this in relation to the bedroom example).
  • The bedrooms show the characters distilled.
  • What kind of doors fit with the architectural style?
  • Symbolism and allegory.
  • Research technology of the house’s era e.g old victorian heating system. Educate yourself and know specific search terminology. Take a field trip for research.
  • Library – go there for more unique references that everyone else won’t find through google.
  • Think of how the floor plans and angle of hallways can add interest to your rooms.
  • Do even more research than you think is needed. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
  • What can you get away with on the macro versus micro levels? Create a layout which makes sense functionally e.g. the foyer leads to the stairs which leads to a hallway which leads to a bedroom. If the kitchen leads to the bedroom the player will start to question the layout and reality of the house.
  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. A teenager’s bedroom is ordinarily very cluttered but you need to consider the rendering constraints when trying to replicate this impression. Abstract the feeling from the space and strip the scene down to what is needed to create this feeling. The more simple an image is the more you can project your own vision onto a space. Think of the simplified language or symbols needed to get the idea of a character space across.
  • Buy old magazines from ebay for research. Do I remember seeing these things growing up?
  • Do you want to use very obvious symbols or more subtle ones? For example, Victorians attached different meanings to flowers which Craig took into account when she was designing some of the motifs for the environments. Not all players are expected to pick up on such subtle symbology.

Scene Blocking: Apartment 3D Paint-overs 01

Week 03

These are my 3D paint-overs/concepts so far. I mostly focused on mood, light and colour for these but not yet texture.

For the sitting-room/kitchen shot I was trying to develop what we had discussed as a team about the visual reflection of Julie and William’s relationship on the environment. Sorcha had suggested using details such as a one-seater versus separate chairs to show distance/separation. For the two shots below I looked at the idea of a cold modern look versus a warmer, lived-in feeling. Julie’s departure from William’s life could literally drain the colour from his world. On the other hand, a more modern look could show William’s maturity versus a messy student flat.

For the attic area shot I was trying out an open-plan layout between the bed, work and stair areas separated by a screen (Japanese-like except with more local folklore illustrations?). The idea was also sparked between us that Julie and William could share each others worlds through the colour of their surroundings and the colour of their hair. Julie’s blue hair could be complimented by warm lighting and William could have red hair which is complimented by the blue light of technology. This could also signify them been separated/in their own worlds.

For the exterior shot, I was thinking how in Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), that Kiki lives above a bakery. I like how this gives her room a sense of location and character and also makes her life/environment less isolated from the rest of the city; it’s not just in a void. This got me thinking of above Starbucks on Arthur Street near Victoria Square for some reason. Sorcha suggested that it could be above a record store instead which I think is far more interesting and could play more into the story/music scene aspects. Sorcha also showed us some references of how much character a record store can have. For the design, I tried out some architecture elements from the old building across from Starbucks and imagined it above a record store. I was trying for a twilight lighting set-up where it’s just dark enough that the glow of the electric lights are visible but I realise now that the sun is probably too high in the sky for that. This image in particular caught my imagination from Metropolis (2001): .

I like the feeling of close streets and busy lives.

My sets are feeling quite sparse so far so it would be great if we could get more of the setting-character nailed and think of more interaction orientated designs.

This is my project folder for the scene blocking/layout that I did in Maya if any of you want to play around.

(The human models used for scale are from the Joe Daniels Body Mechanics Rigs pack:

Breaking the Fourth Wall

Week 02

Sorcha, Aidan, Molly and I discussed how breaking the fourth wall might be a useful tool for introducing comedy or giving extra insight into how the characters feel.

Sorcha suggested looking at High Fidelity (2000)

House of Cards also came to mind for good examples of sharing looks and talking directly to the audience.