Unit 4: Story-Telling

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, January 28, 2010 0 comments
The last unit is over and I'm ready to begin the next. The outcome of this unit: Story-telling is to produce a one minute pre-visual CG animation based around the three random words that we received last week. We also begin our next theory unit, which I think is Modernism, based around 'The Time Machine', which luckily I read last month, which should help. I'm going to start some research into my three words, though I am quite certain what each of them are!





I don't want my story and animation to be generic, so I will try and break away from the typical cartoon character ghost. Such as the one above.

Environment Unit finished

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, January 23, 2010 1 comments
The crit went quite well today, although I feel quite drained this evening, I think it was the combination of energy drinks from 8 A.M and celebrational beer from 4 P.M. There wasn't a huge amount to celebrate, butI felt the crit went well and I received mainly good reviews from both the tutors. I worked the hardest I've ever worked on anything this project, and I've realised, that if your concept is good, the rest will follow with hard work and technical endurance. I am very much looking forward the next project, and am hoping to put as much effort in again towards my result. For our next unit: Story-telling, we all received three slips of randomly selected paper; a character, an object and a place, whichwill correspond to our story in our animation. Mine were:




With a selection like that I will struggle (and refrain) from making a serious animation, I am thinking I will create something comedic but still aim for a strong story element. I am looking forward to my final grade for this unit, Iam just hoping my essay does not let me down.

Some other observations from the crit today are that Ruben and Leo had some very atmospheric and well-thought out work, Ruben's was very realistic, logical and detailed whilst Leo's was very enticing and seemed almost like a real place. All-round I think a lot of effort went into this Unit, I also really liked Richard's mirror-room as I saw it progress through the last stages, as well as Simon's train station. I thought the range of ideas and places that surfaced really showed people's different imaginations, and hope that there are many briefs in the future which give way to our own broad ideas.

A group of us spoke to Phill 'Photoshop Phill' Hoskins after the crit, and it turns out he isn't scheduled to teach us again as the last two units were his speciality. He did mention that we might have him again in the future, but for now, we'll have other tutors. This is a shame as he taught us all a lot, especially about composition and general photoshop use and I do hope he returns to teach us more before the end of the course (As I know a lot of others do) 

Tableux Vivants: Final Piece

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, January 21, 2010 9 comments

The concept behind this piece is a deserted London street. There are clues about what may have happened, the bank has been damaged, there is rubbish strewn on the ground and a pushchair has been left in the street. This is ambigious as the viewer can only speculate about why the street is barren. The fog brings in a eerie effect,and could even be read as being part of the 'disaster' itself. The London skyline is portrayed in the background, but it is not lit, perhaps the disaster spreads to the whole city, or perhaps it is an isolated incident on this one road. The light on the right-hand side could still be an abandoned building with the light left on, or perhaps there is sign of life.

 I included all these objects to create a very ambigious image.

Essay - Doctor Who

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, January 19, 2010 5 comments
I've finished my essay, clocks in at 1650ish words. I've still got one more object for my scene to model and then the backdrop to add in Photoshop. Tommorow will be a long one I think.

I've been putting off starting the essay until this last week, but today, I have manned up and opened a word document. I've stuck to my original essay theme of The Uncanny in Doctor Who, focusing on two episodes.Firstly, the episode 'Blink', written by Stephen Moffat and secondly, the first modern epsidode of Doctor Who; 'Rose', written by Russell T Davies featuring mannequins that come to life and are possessed by 'Autons'.


The 'enemies' in these two episodes definitely link to the Uncanny,being normal everyday still objects which suddenly have life and intent. Phil advised me to find a story mentioned in Freud's essay on the Uncanny about carved crocodile figures which move and have a will of their own. I have had no luck finding this, just a few references to it so I don't think I have enough to include it in my essay. I will keep looking though.

Also; the next person to tell me Doctor Who is only for kids gets a headbutt.

Maya Tutorials

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, January 18, 2010 0 comments
This weeks tutorials that Alan has provided explain Maya's hypershade a lot more, showing the depth of shaders you can create for so many different things, I can't wait till I can play around in it for future projects.


Blood Cells

Pirate Cove:

Maya Lighting

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, January 16, 2010 4 comments
Edit: Getting there!

I haven't finished all my modelling/texturing for my scene yet, but I have decided to light it so I have a better idea of what my final result will look like. Since my first concept I wanted the street to be very foggy and the distant view obstructed, so I've been looking into the enviromental fog in Maya.

My first attempt was to have one building lit, as if to suggest there is still life, but this could also mean that the power is still on but the building is desolate. The glow is a bit high in this image, I'm still fiddling with that.

I next tried using the enviromental fog in the Maya Software render settings. It came out looking very weak, I tinkered with the settings for some time, but it still seemed to just look like an overlay on the image. I also found, that Mental Ray's render options has no Enviromental Fog settings, but if you create it in the 'Maya Software' render options and then render in MR, it keeps the fog.

My next attempt was to use the 'Physical Fog' enviroment setting, which seems to create dense fog which 'wraps' around the objects, much more realistically. My first try was very dense and thick, I also added some streetlights on the left which are light very dimly. (The line down the middle is because I rendered it in two-halves)

Lastly, I played with the fog settings to create something I'm happy with. It may need a bit of tweaking once all my objects are finished in my scene, but for now, It creates the atmopshere I wanted. Although the street-light isn't glowing (I think because I rendered it in two-halves again)

The grey background will be Matte a painted after the finished render to create distant buildings rising out of the mist.

Maya Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, January 15, 2010 5 comments
The render-time for my scene is getting a bit long, it took almost two hours earlier, probably down to rendering on my laptop. It shouldn't matter though, I'll just leave it churning when I want the final render. I've still got a to-do list for the scene, I have most of the buildings done, I just need to add the destruction and the mess.

Phill Hoskins showed a great method for creating a matte city background for our scene, which will definitely come in use. Next I'm going to change the left-hand side building into a bank with an ATM, which I have modelled, but not added. I also have some money to scatter on the floor.

Render so far. There are a few errors in this image that I need to fix (A few windows missing and objects a bit wonky)


I am a Criminal

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, January 15, 2010 6 comments
I needed to create a £20 note texture for my scene, as I want some money to be scattered over the ground from an ATM, however, Photoshop decided it was a vigilante and pointed out that I was counter-feiting money.


Maya Tutorials

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, January 15, 2010 0 comments
I haven't posted up any of the Maya tutorials on this project yet, but I'll add them on before next week.

Double-Sided Shader Book

Water Reflections Leaf

Poltergeist (1982)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, January 13, 2010 0 comments

I missed the showing of Poltergeist on Monday as I was marooned in the snow, but I found a copy and watched it yesterday evening. The story revolves around a typical American family; a home-maker wife and an estate agent husband who live in a newly-built development with their three children. Like a lot of the other films we've watched this unit, the family very stereotypical. The strange events begin when a storm hits and the youngest girl of the family, who is only five, starts to talk to 'people' in the television, which no other person can hear. As the plot progress, more strange things happen in the house, such as chairs being moved and balanced, leading to the family moving. This doesn't help, as the trouble still occurs.

When a tornado hits in a strong storm, the youngest daughter goes missing, and the boy of the family hears her speaking on the other side of the Television. This leads to the family calling in a group of paranormal experts who witness complete mayhem in the house. I thought the film was very subtle until this part. In the scenes with the chairs moving, the camera cuts away when they move, however, when the paranormal experts look on, the film shows objects flying around the room, which breaks the build-up. Another expert is then brought in to rescue the daughter from 'the spirit plain', this pshyic turns out to be no other than Kim Jong Il.

I thought the film was enjoyable, it was obviously very far-fetched, but the acting was believable and the plot was fun to follow. A lot of more recent films have obviously borrowed from this, the newest I can think of is 'Paranormal Activity' which took a very similar approach (Although a more subtle) I really liekd the setting, of the new development and the slight-twist of the house being buried on the graveyard, which disturbed the dead.

I have a copy of Blue Velvet, the film I missed on tuesday, so I'll watch it and post something up.


Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 0 comments
I'm posting up a few thumbnails from last week that I forgot to upload. I've also got a concept piece but I never finished it, I will post it up before the end of the project though.

Maya Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 3 comments
I haven't worked too much over the last couple of days, I missed Monday's lecture as well, I was stuck in Maidstone, but I'll be back in Chatham tommorow. I still have a few more buildings to model and then I'm going to try and improve the textures. I've put in the underground sign and railings, but I'm thinking it may be too far from the camera, so I might re-arrange the scene a little bit.

A few textures:


I'm working on a corner building at the moment, which was quite easy as I used the same window for most of it. I'll be adding more detail, such as Flags and ground-floor windows.

What I have so far is below. The light is a little bit bright in this render, but in the final one, I'm planning on having fog so it will be much dimmer. I'm also hoping to post up some concepts tonight.

My Concept

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, January 11, 2010 0 comments
I've been posting up progress on my project in Maya and explained breifly my idea, but I haven't gone into much detail about what I want my image to achieve. As the brief is to create an image that tells a story but has ambiguity I'm taking the path of creating a 'disaster' scene of a place that used to be alive but is now dead, as a few other students are. We were told Gregory Crewdson was the genre-defining artist to look at for this project, so I wanted to create an image that had similar themes and aspects to his series 'Beneath the Roses'.

Crewdson's art is very American, focusing on the surburban and rural towns and laying a strange blanket over them, making them seem detatched and alien. This is where my idea stemmed from, I wanted to create something with a similar feel set in London, a city closer to home.

Something I really like about Crewdson's images are the use of Mist in the mid-distance, it isolates the scene from the outside as well as giving it a very strange feel. I want to use a fog-like substance in my scene, implying the fallout of a catastrophe or perhaps just weather and nature taking over the abadoned city.

The focal point of my image is still to be decided. It will be something showing abandonment, as if everybody left in a hurry. The 'story' element of the scene will be portrayed in leaflets scattered over the ground, they will not be readable but will suggest some sort of mass exodus. These are the ideas bouncing around in my head, I know the feel and the effect I want the image to have, I'm just trying to turn that into actual objects and design the scene.

At the same time, I don't want to repeat the mistake that Phil pointed out in my first project, of including too many references implying a similar thing, so it may be that I will decide to simplify it, and just have one main focal point.

Maya Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, January 09, 2010 2 comments
I haven't worked much on Maya today, I was too busy pelting snowballs, but I've managed to create another quick building for my scene. Below are some renders of it, I still need to texture the lower story. The glass will be reflective so in the final scene it shouldn't be visible inside.

Research: Reign of Fire

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, January 09, 2010 1 comments

I wanted to look a few more films with destroyed London as a theme, so I found an old copy of 'Reign of Fire'. I hadn't seen it for about five years or so, and it wasn't as bad as I remember it being. The premise is that the world has been attacked by a species of Dragons which have re-surfaced from underneath London, it is set in 2020, where most of the world's population have been fried and eaten by the beasts. It is set in England, with a group of survivors living in a castle in Northumberland lead by Christian Bale and Gerard Butler, who both have big bushy post-apocalyptic beards and dress like Elbow.

The plot is OK, I remember it being ridiculous and over-the-top but I found watching it again enjoyable and compared to a lot of films made in the last five years it's not THAT bad. I took a few shots of London, where the final scenes are set, where the main characters go to kill the 'male' Dragon who is getting a lot of action impregnating thousands of females.

Also: Is there a single film starring Christian Bale where he doesn't get topless?

More Maya

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, January 08, 2010 6 comments

I'm happier with this lighting, it seems a bit more natural, whereas before seemed a bit bright and dusky. I'm still fiddling with the glass, I might look into Mental Ray glass textures rather than the normal Maya ones, but I'm not sure hw long that will add to render times.

EDIT: Street Progress. The further away from the camera the buildings are the less time and detail they take, so the progress is a bit quicker now. Still have to start the other side of the street though!


I'm struggling a bit today, it may be because of the shitty weather or the fact I only slept for a few hours, but my day is definitely going better than Phil's as I'm not stuck in a Spanish airport (Though at least he has seen the sun recently). I've taken a break from the buildings to work on the London Bus, but it is not going too well. I've never modelled a vehicle before so it is looking a bit square and doesn't have much charm. I'm hoping to improve it using textures. Here is what I have so far. I still need to sort out the textures on the windows and the wheels.

The reason for the box is because that is where the bus will be hidden, it will be crashed into a shop.

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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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