Stina and the Wolf project work
Although I have been overseeing the Environments team, and Most of my creative work on the film so far has been related to the creation of the story mountain; the mountain where most of the film is set.
It has also included a trip to Switzerland where I took 10's of thousands of photos for reference.
To get to this stage:
The initial mountain form was create by Paul Charisse in Softimage. I tried to sculpt with this (Summer 2012), but found I was getting inconsistencies, often where I didn't need it, in both the texturing and sculptural form. Having discarded this approach I went back to the base mesh in 3dsmax, using the built in tools to reduce the polycount. I then manually rebuilt the poly flows across the entire mesh. Reduced the overall poly count to around 10,000. Created a set of UV's as well.
Once I had done this, I started again in Autodesk Mudbox sculpting detail in, and gradually building up the complexity and subtle detail. It became apparent though, that I was not going to be able to use Mudbox to create the texture file. This is because I needed this as high detail as possible, and the only way to create higher pixel count textures in Mudbox is to have multiple UV's or us Ptex, neither of which is supported by Arnold - our production renderer (at the time of this work).
As a result I took the now 6.1 million polygon mesh into Zbrush, and created a full texture using the polypaint/spotlight features. However not having used Zbrush for a few years I didn't realise that at some point the UV's had been lost. Result of this was that the entire polypaint was of very little use, as although I was able to use Zbrush to recreate a bunch of Uv's they were very poor.
I took the opportunity to look into using Mari, but it became clear that do not have computers able to keep up with its needs or my expectations for this kind of work and application.
So, with more care I traced the problem back to Mudbox which had the uv's up to the 5th level of subdivision. After this they simply dissapeared when the mesh was exported out either as FBX or OBJ. Fortunately I was able to create a new set of UV's in max on the base mesh, saved this off and applied to the model in Mudbox at the lowest level.
I then re-exported the mesh out to Zbrush, and this time checked the UV's were still in place before repainting the polypaint. The result was that I was able to hand over the full resolution mesh, and an 8k texture map from Zbrush, along with a 300k Polygon version of the mesh from Mudbox along with Displacement, Ambient Occlusion and Normal maps etc.
The image above is of the 300k poly mesh, with the displacement and diffuse maps. I combined the diffuse with the ambient occlusion and increased the resolution to 16k bitmap. Paul has then created shader networks in Softimage and combined this with my work to create the result.
The next part of the project is to sculpt and create the top part of the mountain, specifically the village area. I have found that there are new tools in the current (as I type) version of Mudbox that allow me to duplicate parts of the mesh as well as the ability to have 8k textures per channel. I am therefore doing a 'low' poly sculpt of the overall area, and then duplicating areas that need high levels of sculptural detail (basically near the ground). These in turn can have new UV's if needed and be subdivided even further.
I have also been fine tuning the village layout further, after concept art and a basic layout where created by David Sadler-Coppard. This layout will drive the rest of the creation process for the model/environment team. Further to this I have also been trying to make a break down of all elements that need to be created for the village environment.
I spent a significant time organise our resources ready for the new term, as well as working with Simon Eden to draw up a list of assets to make for the film, both natural and man made.
Sept 2013 onwards
Since the start of the new term I have been helping our new Models department lead, Simon Eden to consolidate the former departments of Models and Environments, into a single team. We have also been actively recruiting new team members. Frustratingly I damaged my Elbow which has significantly slowed down my ability to create assets.
I intend to start working on the 'Stina' project in the near future.