Get a free HDRI every week from HDRI Haven

CG artist Greg Zaal has announced that he plans to release a new free HDRI each week through his website HDRI Haven.

Signing up is not required although you’re encourage to do so in order to support the artist.

The first of the files, a shot of a bridge over a pond at night, can be downloaded here.

The HDRIs on HDRI Haven are typically outdoor scenes spanning a range of weather conditions, shot with a high number of exposure values, and are available at up to 16,384 x 8,192px resolution.

Feel free to check out HDRI Haven and their large library of HDRIs.

Autodesk serves up some eye candy

 

Autodesk posted its latest games reel in time for GDC 2017, its all AAA titles and some VR work. The usual suspects such as Halo (Wars), Creed, Deus Ex and Battlefield are there along with indie hits such as We Happy Few and Firewatch.

In game play has gotten so good that it can be included along with cinematics giving the reel a definite appeal to the gamer. Of course our focus is on the Autodesk tools and the process.

by Chris Kennedy

Read more about Autodesk’s tools for game design on their website

Seeing Tomorrow VFX – Part Two: The Making of Metal and Men

Independent Filmmaker Series

Some time ago we were approached to conduct a workshop on successful workflows in Shading and Material construction for Independent Filmmakers.

PART ONE: The following videos (see below) represent Part One of the Workshop which deals will laying a solid foundation for Independent Filmmakers to be able to follow. Part Two, which is more of an application workflow tutorial is in production now. SEE BELOW FOR PART ONE VIDEOS

  • Designed for the Filmmaker who wants basic education on Shading Next Steps
  • Foundation aspects of Shading and Material Creation
  • Role of Production Design
  • Use of Color Palette creation tools
  • Identifying Render Engines

PART TWO IS IN PROGRESS AND WILL BE RELEASED THROUGH INDEPENDENT FILM SERIES NEXT WEEK

  • Step by Step Vray Shader Creation
  • Creation of Color Palette
  • Texture Material Creation in Photoshop and Mari
  • Diffuse, Normal/Bump, Reflection/Spec Map Creation
  • Scene Reference Linear Workflow Explained
  • HDRI Light Setup

If you have been invited to ask a question, for the workshop, please use the link here: Send Shading and Material Questions Here or Send an email with your shading question to operations@madwerkz.com subject line: IFS Shading Video Question

 

Medium Rear Shot of Communications port
Medium Rear Shot of Communications port

The IFS Price for the Video will be $34.95, follow the link belong to get the video from us at a discounted rate. If you would like to advance purchase the IFS Shading Video, go to the SideBar and Choose BUY NOW.


 

THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS ARE FREE:

PART TWO IS IN PROGRESS AND WILL BE RELEASED THROUGH INDEPENDENT FILM SERIES NEXT WEEK

The IFS Price for the Video will be $34.95, follow the link belong to get the video from us at a discounted rate. If you would like to advance purchase the IFS Shading Video, go to the SideBar (Right) and Choose IFS Shading Video and click BUY NOW.

Seeing Tomorrow VFX – Part One

 

Wide Medium Shot of Jezebel Gerri
Wide Medium Shot of Jezebel Gerri

Freedom

Seeing Tomorrow is a thrilling science fiction cable/web series, set in the near future. The three part series, produced by Donna Dabbs and Joseph Primes of Triangle Park Entertainment. Written by Mona Golden and directed by Joddy Eric Matthews, Episode One finds a lonely accountant, Joseph Primes who orders a simple lunch date with a Companion, artificial life-forms that serve as cures for an increasingly disconnected world. In walks Nina (Katrice Headd), a Companion with a complex past and a plan that takes Jeremiah on the ride of his life.

“Science fiction often gives society a chance to look at difficult concepts such as freedom and death without compromise, that’s what this film does. At its core, it’s a film about rights, the right to be free, to live, to determine your own destiny” remarks Producer Donna Dabbs.

Central to the plots storyline are the deeds of global conglomerate, Blade/Hrushu and two of its products, Urban Law Enforcement Drones and the Gerri Robot. “These two characters are important to our story” stated Matthews. “Even though we were operating with a really low budget, the creation of these assets needed to be done at a high level to sell the story” he added. To that task, Animation Supervisor, Chris Kennedy set forth to complete a daunting effort, create engaging images on a virtually non-existent budget.

Medium Shot of Jezebel Gerri
Medium Shot of Jezebel Gerri

The Gerri Robot

In the Film, The Gerri Series robots were created by Blade Technologies in 2014 and were constructed as Robotic platforms that would serve a multitude of different services ranging from being soldiers in the military to working in the service industry.

“In concept, we decided that the robotic should rely on as much real world design and functionality as possible. Not scientific accuracy but something a consumer could see as real.” remarked Producer Joseph Primes.

To save on cost, MadWerkz used an existing frame and built on it, reconstructing it’s polygons to be more robust and to ready it for UV layout, to which Chris knew would be difficult considering the models initial state. “It was very time consuming to layout the UV’s since the model contained so many little parts.”

The look development and Vray shader construction was handled by Matthews himself. He states, “The color palette behind the Jezebel robot in Episode 1 is tied to the Cajun themed restaurant, which employs a rich purple and gold yellowish color scheme. Working from the original concept, this particular Gerri Series machine had seen years of service and to illustrate this we used deep scratches and food smudges to convey this to the audience.”

Medium Rear Shot of Communications port
Medium Rear Shot of Communications port

To aid in the up close realism, Kennedy developed several files of decals to add to the Robots look. “Most of them, you’ll never see but it sells the realism of the material. Which Joddy simply had to have.”

Rear Shot of Communications port
Rear Shot of Communications port

That also mandated textures that reached 8K in pixel size in order to accommodate the numerous close-up shots needed. “We needed the image to stand up as real close-up.” added Texture artist Jim Hagar. The ideal tool for the character texturing would be Mari, but because not everyone was experienced in its use, Mudbox and Photoshop were the primary texturing platforms. “Jim did a great job in finding these high resolution metal textures and I painted them, adding scratches and several dirt layers”. The final outputs were linear 16bit Tifs, ranging between 8k to 4k diffuse, specular and normal maps for each metal object. “It wasn’t unheard of for the file size in Photoshop to exceed 2 gigs” stated Matthews. The textures were combined in Maya using custom Vray metal shaders, some of which were supplied by Paul Dreisen or built by Matthews. “We wanted the Jezebel Gerri to made out Aluminum, but not reflect all the interior of the restaurant, as we felt that would look fake”, remarked Primes “I think the final render captured that effort perfectly”.

Close up of Head
Close up of Head

The final renders were accomplished in Vray using a Dome Light and 2048 pixel HDRI Textures along with Vray area lights for some of the directional highlights mimicking the restaurant lighting setup. “Most of the highlights come from the HDRI Lightmap so the render time was pretty good at about 8 minutes a frame”, states Kennedy.

 

Police Drone in front of Jezebel's Restaurant
Police Drone in front of Jezebel’s Restaurant

Police UAV Drone

“Very early on Joddy and I spoke about the fact that the police UAV drone needed to be believable as an urban law enforcement tool but not betray its owner’s future military plans.  In other words it had to be constructed in such a way that people would respect it and see it as a possible weapon of war, but not run away in terror from it”, stated Chris.

Police Drone
Police Drone

Different concept ideas were pitched concerning the ship’s overall design and everything from propeller-based engines to jet based engines was discussed. The final product ended up being a car size craft that employed a propulsion based engine set up and a sleek, steel/aluminum body design that civilians would respond well to. The drone employs an arsenal system, camera, motion sensor and two separate engines that can rotate independently of one another. The design decision behind the independent engines was made to allow the drone to be capable of hovering in place, tight cornering while patrolling the streets, and high velocity take-offs.

Police Drone
Police Drone

The color palette for the UAV drone was constructed in a way with colors that were easily identifiable with police vehicles but also would standout with civilians. With this, red and black colors were selected to be added to the plastic rib backing on the drone while the rest of the body would sport a grey, scratched steel and aluminum material.

The drone was constructed in Maya with Look Development completed in Mudbox and Photoshop. The ship was rendered in Vray with HDRI textures acquired onset.

“As producers we’re really happy with the work of Joddy, Chris and the gang at MadWerkz in bringing this story to life, especially given the budget and time frame” adds Primes. “It looks outstanding and we think audiences will really enjoy Seeing Tomorrow!

To see the film, visit seeing tomorrow on facebook: seeingtomorrow

Welcome, To The Future: Cost effective pixel creation

Director Joddy Eric Matthews has teamed with Writer/Director Steve Lidrbauch to produce a provocative music video for indie music group, Seconds Before Landing. The song, Welcome, To The Future is the first release off their new album, The Great Deception, melds a combination of viral videos, 3D CG, particle animation and stock footage.

“I tried to write a visionary story, that would fit with the Producer’s vision of what the song was really about. They have a huge following in Europe and I tried to use that knowledge to aid in delivering the message they wanted to tell” says Lidrbauch.

The initial draft of the song contained about 25 HD stock images of a man or people in a gas mask or surrounded by smoke. “The budget wouldn’t support it, and as much as we loved the concept, some of the imagery was over $400 per clip! We needed other options.” stated Producer John Cristino.

See the video here: Welcome, To The Future

Creating cost effective pixels

Co-Director Joddy Eric Matthews decided to create the various imagery of a person with a mask in 3D. “It allowed us to mimic most of what Steve envisioned at a smaller budget”, quipped Matthews. We always wanted to show a human emitting smoke or material from the mask instead of filtering it as it entered the body, doing a fully CG environment allowed us to control the situation more fully”.

Finished Playground and Jail Cell

Animation Lead Chris Kennedy oversaw concept of the videos jail cell and playground of desolation, both of which were modeled in Maya by Matthews over the course of a few days. The human skeletons and a lounge chair, last minute additions by Matthews, were the only stock models added to the design. The mask was quickly modeled and UV’d by Kennedy in 3D Max and sent to Maya for shading. Texturing was also handled in Maya via Mental Ray’s Mia Material shaders. “We had some thoughts about using Arnold, but since time was short we decided to stick with a more proven workflow” says Kennedy.  Lighting was accomplished using Final Gather, Mental Ray’s Portal Light solution and several Area Lights using CIE Blackbody using Quadratic decay rates. Each Camera used the Mental Ray lens shader, mia_exposure_photographic in order to get the closest exposure match to a real camera as possible. “The initial render is really dark. We under lit the scene at 800 ASA and 5.6 since we knew we would be adding a ton of atmospheric layers in post.” stated Matthews.

CG Breakdown

Modeling – 3D Max/Maya
Animation – Maya
Lighting – Area Lights/CIE Blackbody/Portal Lights/Final Gather (100 rays)
Camera – MR Lens Shader/Mia_Exposure (800 ASA/F5.6)
Render – Mental Ray

A custom Trapcode Particular particles script that allowed for the creation of a hundred thousand particles per frame allowed for the emitter to be set up and designed in a day. Three emitters, each sync’d to the Bass, Treble and midrange of the song, generated between 8,000 to 120,000 particle per frame. Turbulence and Physics were added to influence direction. The final composites were sent to Adobe Premiere CC for editorial.

Welcome To The Future has logged over 30 Thousand views worldwide since it was releases a day ago.

Title: Welcome, To The Future
Artist: Seconds Before Landing
Producer: John Cristino
Directed by Steve Lidrbauch and Joddy Eric Matthews
Creative Director: Joddy Eric Matthews
Animation Lead: Christopher Kennedy
Particle Animation: Joddy Eric Matthews
Editor/Colorist: Joddy Eric Matthews

Creating a Deadly Comic (Animated) Open

Frame from Open

MadWerkz animation and graphic artist Jeff Black recently finished (6) six amazing hand drawn and inked comic book style illustrations for a series of Short Opens being produced by MadWerkz Films.

DR_Open_teaser_480

The Open directed by Joddy Eric Matthews, which took 12 weeks to complete was a study in the old school, hand drawn approach meeting the digital age. “I use a tablet and pen, often, but to get the personality of the live action characters into these drawings, I needed to feel the paper and the pencil in my finger. I needed tactile response.” says Black.

Full Page artwork for Open

Even though each drawing was hand crafted and inked, more like a paper based comic, they were quickly scanned and colored in Painter and Photoshop in 16bit resolution. Effects such as dot gain, splatter effects and lens flares were added to the layered files as they were sent into After Effects for Motion graphics artist Jason Mithell, whose scene quickly rose to over 100 layers in some places

The layered PSD files, imported into After Effects as compositions, were quickly turned into 3D layers, animated and rendered to 16bit 2048 DPX and Apple ProRes 422 10bit files for lay back to the editor.

Jeff is currently in development for MadWerkz Films motion comic, “Trinity: HellWater” a prequel to the live action film “Trinity”, set to film in the fall. The motion comic, unfolding over five episodes, will see Mr. Black serve as Animation Director.


 

A new take on an old story

The compelling open to a Project Gilgamesh sampler was completed by visionary Artist and Director Joddy Eric Matthews. The particle animation streams, synced to the haunting music of International Artist DBR, each consisting of over 12,000 particle per frame, was rendered using trapcode particular and uses custom scripts in Adobe After Effects. The destruction wave which creates the logo, which was supplied by Studio C, was done was custom expressions. The finished open was added to the online edit of Editor Lee Will of LeeWillEdit.

Click here to see movie


 

3D State of Mind

Helmed by Director and Animator Joddy Eric Matthews and featuring amazing compositing work by new Visual Effects Artist Brian Beba, we created six 4 to 8 minute 3D Stereoscopic movies for transformer giant SD Myers, was created in 3D using Autodesk Maya and composited in Adobe After Effects. Beba, handled over 100 gigs of information and created several custom stereoscopic rigs in After Effects.

In order to get accurate models of the companies various products completed on time for the quick turn around, we called upon the amazing talents of artist Doug Kiley and the great teams of TRGReality (www.trgreality.com). The completed videos were authored to BluRay 3D and s3D digital files for digital delivery.