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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Space Mining Engineer Concept Development

The following images show the start of my process for tackling this specific character development, beginning with collating references and moving on to thumbnail sketches which are diluted to the strongest three, refined and then montaged to a final concept which I will take into 3D and iterate as I work.

The bust development shown in a previous post is the characters bust and will act as a base for the 3D development of the overall character concept.

Mining Truck concept kick off

As part of my self negotiated unit I will be looking to develop my hard surface modelling skills by developing a concept for a giant mining truck based on an alien planet, to coincide with the female character posted below, this will be her vehicle and will help to give a back story to the character.

The reference sheet shows real world earth movers which will form the base for the concept, the idea is that I will use the wheel base for the foundation of the design as a feature production would be able to source one of these vehicles and use it for filming and projecting the CGI concept truck in post production, using a technique called match moving.

The initial sketch concept shown here was created prior to the main brief being finalised as a test piece or warm up for the work to come. The concept requirements are that the truck should have a substantial deck area with a large living quarters to the rear, an airlock must be introduced, but this will need to be at a lower level that shown on my initial concept to avoid having too much climbing to access it in the harsh alien environment.

My next task with this concept is to use one of the references as a base to create a more accurate concept to fir the brief before moving to 3D and blocking out the hard surface model.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Female lead Character Bust Wip 01

1st post for this current project, producing a 'Strong Female Lead Character' in a complementary acknowledgement to recent classic roles such as Ripley in the 'Alien' Franchise, this bust will be recycled for another upcoming project, the visualisation of the Norwich Castle Keep in its original period setting;

Bust Work In Progress, Z Brush BPR render and Photoshop Composite:

The main forms are in place but the eyes still need further adjustment, once the main issues are resolved I will add skin pore detail, wrinkles etc. I then will be experimenting with the 'Fibre Mesh' feature of Z brush to simulate the hair


Here are some progress sketches and 3D mock up for 'Bertie', pitch work for a small robot companion hand made by a minor based on a remote planet, for his young son back home...

The images in reverse order show a mock up of the head of one of the sketches from the 2nd sketch sheet, this was modelled in Z Brush and rendered in key shot, the final 3 texture variations were composited in Photoshop, balancing the renders with and without lighting in the eye areas. Further notes above each image:

Sketch thumb sheet 02: more specific 'Gargoyle' look explored as requested by the client, reference sheet below.

My initial sketch thumb sheet shows a range of possible approaches as per the reference sheet below, I was aiming for a child friendly companion robot as unfortunately the brief was very vague and had little information on the robots appearance or the child's age etc.

Friday, 29 May 2015

No Cigar...

No posts for a while as I have been collecting myself post hand in / short listing events recently.

I have decided to try posting interesting finds on here as a source of reference for myself as I look back through the blog.

This fractal shape fantasy blew me away:

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Spit Paint warm up_Captive mermaid

Gonna try and do regular warm up sketches, 'Daily SpitPaint' group on facebook is a good inspiration and some unbelievably talented artists on there.

Todays chosen topic was 'Captive Mermaid', felt great to do something different!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Interdisciplinary Group Critique_7th May

A positive critique and feedback session as part of the MA schedule, a key benefit of which, as the title suggests is the 'interdisciplinary' aspect where a mixed group of MA students from all disciplines review and give honest opinions to your work.

In a some what harsh but holistic approach I was asked to show my final production and receive critique from the group without being able to comment. As this was my first foray into the world of sound production I based my sound work on a slowly animated reveal of a fantasy environment.  The final submission piece can be seen here:

After setting up my work I pressed play and sat squirming for just over 2 minutes while the group silently observed my work.  After the animatic finished there was a deadly silence for a few seconds before Paul, the session leader offered up the work for critique.  Initial comments included:

'Initial calming feeling becomes more sinister with the progression of the soundtrack'

'the imagery and sound were matched'

'...left with a sense of expectation, wondering what will happen next.'

I was awash with a massive sense of relief as my general intentions were carried across and a group of commentators with no specific understanding of my practice clearly identified my implied concept. The concluding discussion was invaluable with my personal battle of searching for my place in industry nearing an end.  It now seems clear that my skill set is in the generation and development of concepts to brief, with my ongoing task being to continue to research top industry professionals and identify their ongoing developments in working practice and innovation, at the same time taking what is applicable and complementary to my own working practice.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

ECU & Wide shots

Close up and wide shots from the start and end of the final animatic production:

Monday, 4 May 2015

May the 4th

The deadline is looming and I have to cap my time on the environment visuals to leave me with this week to finalise my sound mix as well as a few other tasks...

I have tweaked a cropped image of the scene without the framing archway as that is more relevant to the moving image that will be submitted, I also realised the composition was slightly out with the arch and will have to adjust in the final cut animatic.

Below shows the cropped scene with the full scene in grey scale showing the frames for the short animation.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Audio Mix Session #1

After dabbling in Audacity by cropping my Foley recordings down to the most suitable clips, it was time to bring the final sound bites into Logic Pro to mix the track for my pre vis animatic.

As this was my first proper dabble in the Logic Pro Software I called on the help of the NUA studio technician Sam Barnes who was kind enough to hold my hand through basic editing and manipulation of the tracks.

I was referencing a personal favourite song of mine from 1995 by FSOL (Future sound of London) called Amoeba:

The track begins with a female vocal chord which has been manipulated and repeated to create a rhythm, I wanted to replicate this for the opening sequence of my shot to create an element of sophistication and ambience. Initially I had recorded my own vocal which I was hoping to manipulate to work, however it quickly became clear that it was not going to work.  Fortunately Logic comes with pre recorded female vocals that can be laid down using the key board, once I had overcome the interface I was able to compose 2 tracks of vocals which I edited to replicate the intro of the FSOL piece.

Once I was happy with the female vocal as a base I began to bring in the various Foley sound bites to layer up the mix.  by the end of the session I had imported and arranged the wind, water and stone atmospherics, these will need to be tweaked in order to break up the frequencies by adjusting the EQ levels, I was also advised to move the sound between the left and right sides of the speakers to help fill the space the sound is representing.

Below is a screen grab of the results of the 1st Foley session:

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Deity DD

The culmination of my British Museum Sketch Study combined with a life class session to match the pose.

To be composited into my scene as the ghostly Deity figure floating above the Sanctum Pool.


Monday, 27 April 2015

Temple Guardians_Update

Time is running out and this fella had to be sped up, although a final combination of test renders of 4 materials proved a good combination. I had always intended to try and create a Sci Fi variant finish to the original (reference montage below,) heavily weathered and patinated Bronze, this was a fairly educated test thanks to the previous rendering mock up.

With extra time I would continue to composite by painting more detail in Photoshop, this is unlikely to happen before deadline, will get it into the scene next and match in it with a colour and atmospheric pass...


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Goddess Temple_Inner Sanctum Concept Composite Wip 6

The latest work in progress of my temple sanctum, next elements to work up & include are the framing archway, guardians and Goddess deity.

Goddess Temple Sanctum_Wip Dump

Been busy beavering away on the temple environment mock up for my Goddess bust.

Took my time learning / getting the hang of the ZBRush 4R7 update, having a pleasant time putting together the pieces and mocking up in Photoshop.

My process to date has involved the initial rough sketch of the master-plan which was iterated in sketch form before the 4R7 block out and basic lighting / material render.

Using multiple 3D renders to composite in photoshop, painting and adding photographic texture, the intention being to frame the piece with the arch way from the initial concept framed with a pair of Guardians which I have been working on separately ( see previous ;D)

The composite WIPS (work in progress) shown below shows the stages from the 3D render / 1st pass to a more developed composite with photo texture and digital matte painting.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Material render tests and composite

Ran a few specific material test renders of my latest guardian work in progress.
Composited the varied finishes in Photoshop for a potential science fiction stone / metal finish - more experimentation to follow:


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Foley Session 02_19th March

The second round at Foley was specifically booked to capture a more specific water pouring sound to accurately match the imagery of the mirror pool / waterfall in my final scene.

I had sourced a metal tray / flower pot base to replicate the pools material, it was also complementary in shape which should help on some level of detail..!?

With the assistance of Sam Barnes, Studio technician, We captured four takes, the 1st of which being a test run to set up the recording levels and experiment with the pouring height and speed. I realised with the 1st take that we had to go back to pouring from the watering can used in the 1st Foley session as the bucket I initially used was to difficult to replicate a steady controlled pour.

The 2nd and 3rd run were a lesson in controlled water pouring whilst trying not to breath in the direction of the mic as well as not clanking the headphone cable against anything...

The 4th and final take was the most successful with 2 clear patches of smooth babbling with a hint of pour, next move is to look at audacity and start the editing process of all the suitable sounds captured in the 2 Foley sessions.

I have also sourced some royalty free stock sounds that will serve as layering for my editing process:


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Guardian Wip 03

Submission deadline looming has put the emphasis on getting a clean render of this ongoing piece:

Thursday, 12 March 2015

12th March 15'' Visiting Lecturer_Barnaby Templer

An insightful lecture / workshop with Barnaby Templer from Phonic Studios, Barnaby introduced us to some of his varied works in Film, music video and animation, also giving us the chance to share our work and get crucial feedback in the remit of sound.

With my very limited knowledge of sound and its terminology, most of the topics covered were virgin territory. Similar themes did pop up though such as attention to detail and a concrete understanding of fundamentals being required to produce successful outcomes.

Another key point of the day regarding my work specifically was the importance of a compelling back story to add substance to the developed visuals and entice the audience to want and wonder for more.  Something I had been considering recently after the same feedback from other tutors.

I was advised, given the fantasy / science fiction aspect to really push the audio, helping to 'get the story across in every way possible' including generating a sound for the eyes illuminating in the opening shot.  We worked out a plan to really sell the mystery of the imagery that will be revealed in the final animatic, by breaking the soundtrack into 3 parts, firstly a serene inviting sound as the opening shot reveals the Goddess bust, building to a change in pitch and tone as the priestess is revealed activating a sense of drama, to be concluded by a dramatic highlight as the camera pulls through the entrance arch to the sanctum and shows the guardians either side of the opening coming to life!

Other general points from Barnaby included the order for sound in production of layering vocals at the top, with music, effects (physical sounds), atmospherics, and Foley at the base. Low, mid and high range sounds to be treated separately. Barnaby recommended 'Iris' software by Izotope as a good way to manipulate Foley for my specific requirements, he also suggested 'Boom Library' and 'Hiss & Roar' as web sites for stock sounds.

Overall it was a very inspiring and motivational session, helping to emphasise the importance of a strong soundtrack and synchronised effects.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Schedule Draft_Unit02

As this post would be otherwise slightly dull, I decided to brighten it with a shot of my Clear Resin cast from my research into practice unit.

Unit 02_Draft Schedule MKI

Project Start:
Introductory Lectures:
Research into relevant reference:
Foley session 01: see blog post
Research of relevant reference:
Looking at 'Audacity' software as an entry level to basic manipulation and stretching:
Foley Session 02: water attempt 2 with specific equipment, beast breathing & other identified sounds 
Use of Audacity to manipulate and develop Foley session sounds.
Ongoing research into Sounds of Star Wars, Avatar and other Science fiction and relevant references.
Lectures from Sound professionals @ NUA
Production of animatic(s) Guardian & potential temple block out, time permitting.
Post production of sound design timed with realised animatics.
preparation of material for submission

Ongoing studio work:

Software introductions and learning: Audacity etc...(list!?)

Developing an understanding of Z Brush 4R7's new hard surface modelling feature.

Guardian Bust:
3D block out of Temple Environment

Life Class, Pose session, Model Booked
On going freelance: end of ITL, Illustration

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Foley Day 01

'First time for everything' today, with an exploration into 'Foley':
Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality.[1] These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience.[2]It helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.
Foley artists recreate the realistic ambient sounds that the film portrays. The props and sets of a film often do not react the same way acoustically as their real life counterparts.[2] Foley sounds are used to enhance the auditory experience of the movie. Foley can also be used to cover up unwanted sounds captured on the set of a movie during filming, such as overflying airplanes or passing traffic.[2]
The term "Foley" is also used to describe a place, such as Foley-stage or Foley-studio, where the Foley process takes place.

The start of my 2nd MA units practical sound recording aspect, As my studio work is at an early stage I had a rough idea of general noises that will be required for the 'Animatic' I am looking to produce.
Breaking down core sounds for the ambient noises that will help to create immersion within my production, with the intension to use the rough noises as a base for manipulation such as stretching and reverb. 

My list of noises and attempted Foley'ing went as follows:
Breeze / wind noise: Breathing through closed lips with varying levels of pitch, introducing a vase and cardboard tube to add reverb, playing with distances and angles combinations of both objects. 
Atmospheric / additional element to wind noise: Using combinations of various grades of sand and gravel, with additional elements of stone and brick, rubbed and scraped together.
Rustling foliage: Initially I gathered dry leaf and rubbed between my palms with the intention to push the basic sound in post production, I will possibly use different types of leaf and varying ages of decay from fresh to crispy, this will hopefully give me more range if the 1st sound is limited.
Water pouring / moving:  Beginning this experiment by pouring from a watering can into a bucket, the 1st half of the pour was unusable where as the end of the pour with the sound muffled by the fuller bucket gave a subtle babbling noise which should hopefully act as a good base.
I introduced a glass vase into the bucket to get variation in the initial pouring sound, again the beginning of the pour into the empty vessel was unusable, but again near the end of the pour as the vase filled, there was a subtle but ideal babbling.
Whilst performing this sound aspect I was thinking of a large metal, shallow bowl I have at home which would be ideal as it replicates the actual pool base seen in my environment, will make a note to bring this for the next session!
Fantasy Flower sound: My intention was to create a light pinging, hi pitched frequency sound to emulate a glowing / fantasy flower with its own resonating energy source.  In the Foley equipment storage was a small and unusual instrument made of a number of metal picks angled into a small hand sized piece of wood, the sound seemed ideal as a base to tweak.
Chanting / humming:  To give an extra element of fantasy and complement the atmosphere of the environment I pan to introduce a vocal element, trying to string out my own vocal tones was difficult and this may require some stock sounds to use instead.

Homework / study: http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/avatar