December 14, 2010

Texturing And Lighting In A Real World Project

Texturing And Lighting In A Real World Project: David Arkenstone’s Myths and Legends DVD Video

After we had an agreement to work together on that project, David informed me about Myths & Legends which is also one of the biggest projects he attempt. Myths and Legends album will contain an audio CD, an ambient CD which is for playing simultaneously with audio CD, and a DVD which will contain individual videos for each song.

When the time we started to correspond about the El Dorado video - I was actually working on some personal images created with the inspiration of his music already. First thing I've done is sending those previews to him and he enjoyed them and sent me his marvelous musical piece El Dorado to me also helped me out to find more information about that legendary city of gold. As an Atlantis inquisitive I was mesmerized by the legend of El Dorado. I scratched the things come to my mind and it was very crappy drawing - but worked fine to clear things up. After I started to work on 3D environment for El Dorado, David Arkenstone asked some elements for other videos. A Palace for Song of Sheherazade, a temple, statues, and a female character for Temple Of Isis.

After we cleaned up everything necessary for the videos I'll work on - I started to model the necessary elements. It was challenging part to me but I also enjoyed it a lot. I learned a ton of new things also used my imagination to make conceptual modeling which an area I was dying to work on. Most pleasuring part of the entire project visually there was nothing but ideas and it was great to see some of those ideas shaped in 3D.

During the work, rendering animations became a serious problem because of the hardware I was using. I was using an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ with 2 gigs of ram and Nvidia 6600 video served as my design machine and my old Intel Pentium4 2.40 with 1 gigs of ram and Nvidia 5200 served as a render slave. My rig was fine to work on illustrations but when it came to animation they weren’t powerful enough.

Gladly David has a friend named Johnny Wilson and David put me in communication with him. I wasn’t heard his name before but when I went to his web site I saw some amazing credits which exposing he is actually working on Hollywood! It was another wonderful moment because working on Hollywood was my greatest dream (still is). And having collaboration with someone from there was very exciting.

Johnny Wilson kindly took the responsibility of the motion graphics and also animating my stills besides his other responsibilities such as actual set building and directing.

And here on this article I'll explain the texturing and lighting process on a real world project - which is in this case Temple Of Isis video.

Temple Of Isis

Temple Of Isis is my favorite song on the album. It was really fired me up when first time I listened to it and next thing I know I was modeling a temple! The song was really boosted my imagination.

Of course before starting to work on it I examined all kind of Ancient Egyptian architecture on my Art History books. They also helped me to prepare necessary textures. I used Planar Mapping tool of Maya mostly – it is a great tool which lets you do manipulate textures on the surfaces as you desired. I’ve got rid of the unnecessary stretching and distortions with that method. Also I worked faster that way; I didn’t have much time to use UV mapping methods at the moment. Paint Effects also helped me to create the fire on the torches. Also fire rendered separately to help the compositor to animate them.

Besides the temple itself I also rendered sunlight for the opening of the video which was very easy to create with the optical effects of Maya. Also a hall of statues for the end of the video. I used similar techniques with the temple itself on modeling and texturing.

For the Isis character I used Poser. Modeled her crown simply on Maya and imported to Poser and placed to the top of her head. There’s also a lot of Photoshop post work and painting on her hair and cloth.

Static images are created for this video wasn’t on small sizes. They were over 4920 pixels wide and let the compositor pan and zoom in to them. Also they were able to animate the separate layers which made scenes look richer.

Because the need of the large images at the end; Global Illumination wasn’t an option for lighting the Temple scene. Instead of that I preferred to add a couple of lights with different intensities and colors. It will be a night scene and the main light of the temple must be coming from the torches.

First I placed three pieces of point lights to the top of the temple with intensity of 0.050 with a pale blue color. And then added four point lights to the areas near the walls where torches placed and near the walls behind with warm orange color and intensity of 0.050. Note that all of those lights casting Depth Map Shadows with 1024 of resolution and filter size of 3. Before, on a personal scene like that – I used ray trace shadows but on the Temple Of Isis I was planning to render the scene out with Software Renderer of Maya so it was easy to me to handle and manipulate the Depth Map Shadows.

For the back of the temple I placed two point lights in far corners with very dark grey color and intensity of 0.050 to create sort of rich light ambiance. Also those grey lights are casting soft Depth Map Shadows. The idea here is creating a night atmosphere with lightened only with torches and I had to create a bouncing light feeling and an ambience for the mood of the scene.

Torches were the most important part for me – I had to make them look realistic. I created the flames with Paint Effects and placed point lights in them. Those point lights have quadratic decay rate and a high intensity like 100 with warm orange color. The reason was imitating the real world behavior of the torch light and also paint effects are not able to cast lights by their selves. Their light must hit the areas where flames are close and fall off suddenly on the far areas from the flames, so quadratic decay rate worked well on my scene. I used depth map shadows on those torch lights too with 1024 of resolution and filter size of 3.

I preferred to use Blinn type shaders to create most of my materials for the scene. With a bit of reflectivity, Blinn shaders were interacted well with low intensity lights and created a feeling of light bouncing on the dark areas. That was exactly what I needed. And that’s because I didn’t used any decay rate on my fill lights. I wanted them to interact and bounce between Blinn shaders and with each other. It was more like painting the mood of the scene with lights. I prepared all necessary file textures and bump maps by myself with using Photoshop.

Entire scene rendered with Maya Software Render on Production and Highest Edge Anti Aliasing Quality. Ray Tracing was set to on with quality setting of 10 on Reflections, Refractions and Shadows.


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