The Time Machine: Final Animation

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, May 28, 2012 2 comments
The Major Project is now officially at an end, so I present my final submission material.

Below are three high-quality stills from the final piece:

Here is the first mock business card, which is a rough design, and I'll hugely improve it after this submission.

The Making of Document for 'The Time Machine':

Making Of

I had an idea for some showreel-type material, showing shot breakdowns. This would ideally be mixed with a turnaround of the time machine, which I will work on over the coming weeks, along with re-rendering mine and Richard's minor project. This is the first version, will need to be improved, but I think it shows the idea. (Still processing, but will be done soon)

Finally, The Time Machine animation:

Major Project: Submission approaching!

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, May 27, 2012 13 comments
If only the Time Machine I designed was real, I could pop back a few weeks and gain some time, but thats not likely to happen, which means in a few hours it'll be submission day and the end of our three-year degree. My animation needs a few tweaks in the editing, but it's at a point where I'm happy to submit, knowing there are things that could be improved over time (and hopefully will be) and anything from now would be a bonus.

I've spent the last few days editing and tweaking compositions. I reached the point where my shots were completed and they needed to be edited, when I started to play with the soundtrack which sort of changes the portrayal of the environment, and it took a slightly different direction than I thought and  first planned. The original idea was some gentle classical music, building up to the machine, but my final edit seems a little more intense and possibly a bit dramatic, which I'm not too fussed about,  as I think its better to try and pack a punch than a tickle, but we'll see.

Below are some shots from the edit. Tommorow I'll post up everything I've put together for the submission, including the Disc and Box Art i've printed along with the final piece and Making of.

Major Project Update: One Week to Go

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, May 18, 2012 1 comments
It's been a while since I've shown my progress, so with only a week or so to go, I assume this will be one of the last updates. Things are coming along, and I can see a blurred finish line in the distance, but I've still got a lot to do before crossing it. This week has been a mix of rendering (my room sounds like Heathrow), modelling and tweaking existing shots. I'm at the point where I've rendered the bulk of the shots, and am now pushing the rest (mainly the Time Machine shots) until the point where I need to commit and render the remaining. Below are some shots that I've rendered, but haven't been through the After Effects conveyor belt, so post-production tweaks aren't there yet, including 'god rays' through the window and maybe some lighting / colour tweaks.

With a week left, I think it'll be consisting of last-minute modelling to make sure there's no empty spaces, additional render layers (such as smokes/sparks) and a lot more fan-churning to get the last shots together. Below are some shots comped quickly in Photoshop as well as a smoke test I worked on today.

The smoke below is still a work-in-progress. The method I've used is Maya dynamic smoke on a separate render layer, which also contains the objects that the smoke will intersect with. The objects are set as a Matte Black Hole and then the smoke is rendered with an Alpha. In After Effects, i've then used that smoke render sequence as a Alpha Stencil on some stock footage smoke, to improve the look, while keeping the dynamic animation. It still needs work and I'm sure there are ways to improve it. If I have time this week I'm going to delve a bit deeper into it.

Only 4 seconds below! But it'll finally be in about three or four shots. The shot itself is far from final, the furnace will have a better fire-effect and some more detail.

I know there are no shots here of the most important thing.. the Time Machine. But I'm refining those and I'm hoping the next update will have them completed.

Back to work..

Major Project: Update

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, May 11, 2012 5 comments
The past week has been quite intense, I've been trying to push my environment further in places I had already produced, as well as creating some new props and models for later shots. I've begun to render the first few shots of the environment, setting up render layers and noting what needs doing in post-production. I'm now focusing on the 'workshop' area of the animation, which still needs a lot of work. Lighting has been a bit of an issue recently, battling with render times, but I think i'm getting closer to a final set-up.

The next two weeks will be spent finalising the building, textures and lighting as well as cluttering it up, for a more realistic atmosphere as well as adding animation and effects. It will be a very busy two weeks, but I'm hoping with some care and a bit of planning, it will be close to how I envisioned it earlier in the project. I've had a fair share of problems, with  Maya pulling some dodgy crashes (which in turn corrupt the scene) so I'm now safely-paranoid: saving often and backing up everyday.  I think the post-production list will be pretty hefty, which I'm hoping will give the images a 'pop' and a bit of quality control with rendering should also help.

Below is the Workshop as of now, the plan is to block off the view of the machine completely until it is very close, with the camera panning past an object to finally reveal it. A lot more clutter and detail is needed in this room, as well as better shadowing to make the lighting less flat. The idea is to make it smokey, with machinery moving and clunking, in contrast to the study. I'm hoping within about a week, to have this all done, so I can focus on the last stage. I also have some more props rendered.

Environment Update

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, May 02, 2012 1 comments
I've been working away on the environment, adding in some more props, tweaking the lighting and inserting some foliage. I've been experimenting with 'Xfrog 4' a vegetation/flower plugin which I received free on a disc with a copy of CG World magazine. Its much quicker than building the plants from scratch and uses a series of Alpha maps and stem curves to create some nice looking plants. Ideally I would have created these from scratch using planes, but this is much more time-efficient.

Next up, I'll be revisiting my time machine, and setting up the next half of the scene (the blackness in the background of some of the shots below) which will be more industrial and will contain heavy machinery as well as ultimately the machine itself. I still have a lot to do, but over the last week or so, progress has been quite quick and I'm hoping to pick up the pace once more.

I've also tested a quick Depth pass on the last image below, which I think adds a much more realistic look to the camera and makes things more atmospheric, this will be used on all the shots.

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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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