Slán Final Animation

This is our final 15 second animation before revisions:

This is our revised version:

Lighting and Texturing Slán Plus Revisions from Feedback

Scene 01:

We were told to bring back the contoured lighting that we’d painted in our greyscale animatic. For the first scene I tried to make the light catch the curve of the hill more but I didn’t want to bring too strong of a light into the foreground as the sun was low in the sky and the darks in the foreground created a feeling of depth. I had tried sculpting a much earlier version of the hillside with light over Easter but it didn’t work very well (plus my hill model needed some smoothing):



It also became apparent from these tests that if too strong a light was shining on the trees that their colours could unbalance the scene quite easily. Composing the different assets together was difficult and I was worried that everything was looking flat. I had started to make different trees that looked more wind blown and pointed within the composition (like in the greyscale animatic) but then Clare managed to compose the assets in such a way that they didn’t look half as bad. These were my lighting tests (ignore the edge of the sea lol):

My trees and clouds made this scene harder to work with as all the files in the layered shader seem to increase render time a lot. Alec showed me how to bake the separate tree textures in render layers which might have made it faster. However when I tried it a second time the alpha refused to bake even though I had the setting on:( It’s something I’d like to look more into as the long render times makes it a lot more difficult to test different lighting setups and tweaks. Having a layered shader also complicated things for Mark when it came to making Anam disappear at the end so that didn’t happen. This is the revised lighting for scene 01:


The second years pointed out that the sky was looking very stretched in some of the scenes. The stars also became too large in some instances as they were painted directly onto the background and we had to scale the sky so that the camera wouldn’t catch the edges. I made a longer rectangle plane, brought it’s UVs into Photoshop and duplicated Abigail’s sky across and made the stars smaller on a separate layer so that we wouldn’t have to scale and stretch it as much. However this revealed more of the colours in Abigail’s sky so that the palette is slightly changed in our revised version and there’s more detail in the sky. Haha it really is reminiscent of the aurora borealis. I worry that we’ve not limited our palette enough but at the same time we have managed to create a fantasy feeling that we wanted.

The texture that I painted for the soil rendered very pixelated. I think it’s because the camera is zoomed in very close to a small area in order to frame the potatoes. I ended up using a Maya mountain texture instead.

We also had to fix the grass planes in this shot as when I duplicated Abigail’s grass I neglected to separate them in the z-axis which caused them to flicker in the animation (at least I think that’s why).

Scene 02

For scene 02 we were quite happy with the contoured lighting that we managed to get. This is the texture for the cliff that I prepared (the different textures are saved as separate files with alpha for masking in Maya). Haha the grass brush looks a little silly, like an Hawaiian printed shirt so I didn’t make it stand out. I added paths to the cliff to hopefully lead the eye and suggest others have travelled this way. I also added gradients to the front of the cliff to hopefully make it appear that it’s catching the light more.

Abigail then set up the rest of the lights and spent some time making sure that the shadows of the rocks weren’t too black (bounced light from the sky). She also did a good job of making sure that Clare’s boat had some atmospheric depth affecting it, making it appear further away and bigger by adding a lighter valued shader. James suggested that our cliff was looking very smooth so I went back and bump mapped one of the textures.


In our first rendered animation the particles that Mark set up unexpectedly rendered black. Clare tried turning all the lights off and noticed that they rendered brightly again. I looked it up and found in Maya’s user guide that if you render a scene without lighting Maya will create a directional light that’s parented to the camera so this must have been why the particles worked in Mark’s test renders and not the main scene. I shone a directional light onto the particles and light linked it onto them only which seems to work fine. Then the brightness of the particles can be controlled by the intensity of the light.

The first time around we forgot to add the clouds to this scene which made it discontinuous with the next scene. I like it without the clouds too but for the sake of continuity….oops. This is the revised version with the extended sky and clouds added:

Scene 03 (or scene 02 shot 02)

For scene 03 we noticed that Anam’s silhouette was getting lost a little against the background, especially as the sun set. Mark had tried picking her out with light but I think the values and textures in the sky maybe overpowered her a bit….?

Mike suggested that we include part of the monument in this shot to give it more context. Clare set this up and Abigail added more texture and light to the underside of the monument. We had discussed adding stronger rim lighting to her ears and face but placing the monument behind her made her pop more anyway. Clare also added more ships to the composition on Mike’s suggestion to show the large scale emigration.

Scene 04 (or scene 02 shot 03)

For the last scene I think I didn’t give enough time to go back in and darken the cliff’s light gradient that worked for the second shot. I think the contrast was weird as a result and maybe hindered lighting the forms for Abigail the first time around. The stars were very apparently scaled too much in this scene also. It might have worked but Mike pointed out the big one as being distracting.

For the revision I darkened the cliff texture and tried to make the cliff and monument forms feel more 3D with light. Abigail also suggested that I add some more detail to front of the cliff.

Mark also tweaked my lights a little to make it more night time like and removed a light that was too strong on Anam for the new closer camera shots.

After Mark added the new animations to these scenes I also had to go back in and make new cached nCloth simulations for the cloak. This was going okay until I got to the last scene where the cloth simulation wouldn’t play back at all. This was very frustrating but it eventually worked when I imported Anam and a new cloak into a scene by themselves, cached the simulation alone and then re-imported it into the scene. Mark then added the final particles and I don’t think we were ever so happy to press render on Friday night/Saturday morning. Abigail and I also learned the pain of not saving often enough and loosing work that night. I think we were just too tired lol.

UV Layouts

These are the UVs I unwrapped (with a combination of cylindrical and planar mapping) and laid out for Abigail’s rocks and monument models so that she could texture them.

Alec mentioned that for next time it would be simpler to unwrap one rock, duplicate it and then modify it slightly so that the UVs would be almost fully unfolded and then repeat for the other rocks instead of starting from scratch for every rock. I also saw on digital tutors that you can transfer UVs between objects but it wasn’t working for me when I tried it on the rocks.

2D Clouds

I tried to make swirly clouds that would fit with the stylised look we were going for. I did a quick sketch over the playblast first to see how they’d fit within the composition. I also considered how I could paint a gradient mask in Photoshop to light the bottom of the clouds in Maya.

I’m not sure if these were the best idea. Although they suit the stylised look they also make the sky look flatter. There might have also been some cast shadows happening in some places<.</>.>

Greyscale Animatic Drawings

These were some of my progress drawings for the greyscale animatic:

Anam Textured

Gah I kept messing up today with the UVs and ended up going through 3 different versions of this because I didn’t realise how warped the texture got at the seam. Anyway this is what I have after todays work. The textures are set up so that all the colours can be easily changed in Maya if need be.

Anam Cloak nCloth

This is the cloak that I modeled to go over Abigail’s model of Anam and then converted to nCloth. I had started this by cutting a plane into the shape of the cloak out flat thinking that it would be easy to fold loosely in place for falling over the character. Duplicating the faces of the torso and extending the geometry down turned out to be a much easier solution and I then tried to reroute the mesh so that hopefully it deforms more cloth-like.

Screen Shot 04-20-15 at 12.22 AM

Ambient occlusion<3 It looks like I might have to apply it to the output mesh separately to the input mesh.


nCloth version:

This is what the nCloth looks like on a plane that hasn’t been shaped:

These are tests with Anam. We might get a better result if we apply one of the cloth presets or I can play with the cloth thickness or other attributes.

This is where I tried to make the collar stiffer by adding ‘point to surface’ nConstraints:

Moar Trees

This is one of the 2D trees that I didn’t upload last time. I liked the red outline that happened from having an incandescent red material underneath the other colours. I was trying to shape it more so that it would point towards the character in the scene also.


Today I UV unwrapped Clare’s 3D tree and tried to apply similar textures to those on my 2D trees. I think next time I’ll have to plan ahead a little more and place the seams in a place that the camera won’t see.



Look at the difference between 540 and 1080 quality in these two renders. The 1080 one took about 10 times longer at 26mins 5secs. I’ll have to figure out what Alec was telling me about baking textures if we want to render at this quality but quicker.



Texture Tests: Trees

These are some trees that I’ve been experimenting with over the past few days by making alpha channel shapes in photoshop, plugging them into materials and layering the materials in layered shaders. It’s interesting to see how different coloured lighting and camera angles can affect the scene also.

I was occasionally getting this problem where if two planes with transparency maps plugged into their transparency channels were overlapping, the plane nearest the camera would start to show opaque edges again like this:


I tried going through the different options in the material attributes, the group shader node, the lights and the global render settings but no luck. I posted about it on CGSociety and someone suggested that I use mia_material_x and use the cut out opacity attribute instead. It doesn’t seem to work with the .tga files that I’ve created but I’ll try again.

Texture Tests: Painted Cubes

These were some tests I did to see how painting on UV snapshots in Photoshop and importing to Maya works. I was also trying to see if I could make a traditional media look work in Maya and had some fun layering my texture with different textured materials.