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tharrell
03-29-2005, 03:46 AM
Trey Harrell has entered the Master and Servant 3D.

Challenge Page (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/masterandservant/view_entries.php?challenger=6883)

Latest Update: Final Image: Self Portrait (Wired)
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116125109_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116125109_large.jpg)

Final image, with last of the color correction and perspective adjustment.

Title: Self Portrait (Wired)

Concept:

Once we enter college or the professional world, our pace of life gets accelerated to an unnatural rate.

Caffeine -- specifically my enormously expensive espresso habit -- helps me focus and keep working when I'm exhausted. It's a preventative cure for my headaches brought on from fatigue. It helps me unwind. It gets me out of bed. It keeps my migraines from coming as often.

It adds hours to the day, helping people find balance between work and life at the cost of our health and mental well being.

It's a vicious cycle.

The master / servant relationship has a couple of layers in this instance. The person begins as the master, using his servant -- the espresso machine -- to add hours to the day and help him keep going.

The caffeine then becomes the master, as the person is an addict and dependent on the coffee to keep going.

At the end, however, it's modern life that's the master as we end up addicted, exhausted, sick, and broken from our expensive habits and frenzied pace -- a pace that might not really be worth the damage done in the long term.

Creative Direction:

I was shooting to achieve an insane mood that's darkly funny in a surreal setting -- bordering on absurdity.

Influenced by the art direction in Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the oversaturated colors of Ronny Yu's early films (Bride With White Hair in particular), and the industrial design of the FrancisFrancis! company. They make beautiful machines, and I hope they'll forgive the characterization!

I wanted to straddle the line between photo-real and cartoonish. I shot for a composition and color balance reminiscent of a comic book cover. As such, I didn't add much skin detail, I exaggerated environment textural details -- particularly patterns and geometrics -- to almost toon-shaded line definition, and I pushed the slave's face and pose well past normal human limits.

I was going for really over-the-top silhouettes. I used an extremely wide angle lens to push my vanishing lines out of whack and distort the image.

I wanted to anthropomorphize the machine: make it a little demon face on second glance -- but an innocent and friendly demon -- he's just doing his job.

I used the basic design of a famous electric chair for the chair itself -- just for a slight psychological cue as to the situation.

The slave could break free if he really wants to -- but he's not really committed. There's a twinkle in his eye saying that he's enjoying the rush -- but how much longer can he take it before it kills him?

Software used:

- Maya 6.5 / Mental Ray and Maya Software renderers
- MJ Poly Tools
- Photoshop CS for textures and compositing
- Gretag MacBeth EyeOne Match (for color management and profile generation)
- A total of seven pounds of coffee beans were used as fuel over the course of this challenge

I used a Windows XP based workstation for the modeling work, every Mac or PC I had at hand (and a few I borrowed at the end) for satellite rendering, and a PowerMac G5 for the compositing and color correction.

This is the first real character work I've completed. My professional CG projects to date have been almost exclusively product work and FX. The deadline forced me to make compromises in my final vision so I could get this done. I've learned a ton about rendering in passes, subsurface shaders and clean deformations while working on this -- from trial and error, and from others participating in the challenge.

Thanks go out to CGNetworks and the sponsors for holding the challenge, and to everyone who gave me feedback over the last two months -- it's that feedback that kept me going.

I'm getting on a plane in a few hours, and it's time to let go now. There's a few things I'd tinker with and rework until the end of time if I didn't have a deadline. I pushed myself past what I thought was my best -- and as such, I'm very happy with the final piece.

Special thanks for comments, encouragement and crits to:

soapy, neeno, Alan Daniels, arlutik, d-tox, blackdragoncg, Wandddo, Gianluca, Mr Micro26, DaddyMack, monica.ta, Miyagi, Madlight_1988, jackmcfly

Mad props to Intelligentsia Coffee and their Black Cat Blend -- without which I doubt seriously I would have finished. If there was any doubt, this image is a self portrait.

Extra special thanks to:

Amy, Dennis, Damon, Brue, Tiff, Steve, Jefferson & Michelle for real time crits and encouragement. These are the ones who had to deal with sleep deprived me in real life as I focused on finishing this.

tharrell
03-29-2005, 03:53 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112072034_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112072034_large.jpg)

Initial, really rough and loose concept sketch. More than slightly biographical.

We all know how it starts. First you have a sip of mom's coffee as a kid, then you drink pots to stay awake and cram in school.

From there, it's just a small jump to making enough money to afford your daily double latte habit.

Soon, some of us find out what GOOD coffee tastes like and begin an expensive quest to purchase various devices in search of the perfect shot.

What then, when we find it? There's nowhere left to go.

We're slaves to the habit, the caffeine and the rush. And it'll never again feel like the first time.

I'm trying to cross the old cliche of the junkie in rapture cooking up a shot with a caffeine addict in search of the God Shot. Walking a fine line between confession and parody here, but would prefer to stay on the funny and true side of my (admitted) addiction.

tharrell
03-29-2005, 04:22 AM
This is my first challenge here I've participated in. Work's a little slow right now, so I think I can push myself hard enough to at least not be embarrassed submitting in front of some of the crazy talented folks we have around here.

Best of luck to all!

tharrell
03-29-2005, 10:34 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112139287_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112139287_large.jpg)

First of two potential compositional choices.

tharrell
03-29-2005, 10:38 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112139491_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112139491_large.jpg)

Second of two potential camera angles. I've quickly dummied up a set to scale, thrown an old rig in place for figure massing.

Next step is the modeling of the espresso machine.

tharrell
03-30-2005, 01:25 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112192743_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112192743_large.jpg)

Initial massing of the espresso machine / monster -- dials and hoses still to come. Default DGS and Blinn shaders, nothing fancy -- but it's important to check high quality test renders as reflective items have the tendency to look a bit whack if you don't catch uneven verts early in the game.

All pieces started life as Nurbs geometry, converted to Sub-D's for sculpting and texturing ease once masses were about right.

On a side note, I usually randomize a few verts in Z when I'm dealing with a flat, reflective, metallic surface as very few things on earth are perfectly reflective and straight. A few imperfections go a long way to sell the shader.

It's going to be loosely based on a Francis! Francis! X2 machine, but I'm taking a lot of time anthropomorphizing it to the edge of the absurd.

soapy
03-30-2005, 03:48 PM
I gotta hook up to any thread that has a expresso machine monster! hahah, I like the idea a lot. Maybe you could add a Starbucks mug or two on the counter, or paraphenalia from other evil coffee empires.

cheers and good luck.

tharrell
03-31-2005, 05:28 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112250516_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112250516_large.jpg)

Cranked a bit tonight on the machine character.

I'm walking the fine line between exaggerated realism and making the viewer laugh at the absurd face on second glance.

It's meant to be funny and a little bit psychotic. I'm laughing at least!

Just basic DGS and blinn shaders in there -- no spec, diffuse or weathering yet -- but I couldn't resist turning on the blinkenlights.

Neeno
03-31-2005, 05:36 AM
dude dude dude.. thats the funkiest espresso machine i've ever seen mad stuff here man dude.. give this to your local appliance company you could make a fortune eheheh funky as dude... looking great

tharrell
03-31-2005, 05:44 AM
Thanks for the kind words.

Actually, it's based on an amalgam of real (super cool) machines by an Italian company called Francis!Francis! I've just taken liberties with the proportions and placement of the bits to draw out the inner demon!

http://www.wholelattelove.com/francis.cfm

tharrell
04-03-2005, 06:47 PM
I went as far as to model most of the kitchen environment, and I played with the camera angles a bit more and the whole thing was striking me as far too mundane.

Right now, I'm researching vintage hospital and asylum photos -- the art deco style of the espresso machine should be a good match with scary 30s-60s hospital machinery and sets. A lot better creative possibilities for the mood, color and lighting of the scene as well.

I've got a very green-tinted feel in mind right now -- similar to film stock that's been cross-processed or had a bleach bath.

I figured that if I'm pushing this to the edge of the absurd, a plain 'ol kitchen set does nothing for the mood, theme or emotional content but add realism -- which I'm not really going for.

There's interesting possibilities in actually getting the raw plates written to film (with my old-school film recorder) then rescanned after getting some chemical processing done if I can't achieve the quality of light and color that I'm going for in Photoshop. That might add some nice, organic feel to the piece -- although I'm not sure that time is on my side to tinker with it that long.

tharrell
04-03-2005, 06:55 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112554520_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112554520_large.jpg)

I worked most of yesterday starting to create a realistic kitchen environment, but a good night's sleep and a healthy dab of inspiration have me changing direction a bit. This will just be too plain, and add nothing to the mood of the piece.

Posting as a WIP image for posterity, however!

tharrell
04-05-2005, 12:00 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112659206_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112659206_large.jpg)

I've been struggling with the composition of the scene pretty badly up until now. It works well as an illustration, but I'm coming to learn that having the main characters in your scene (1) inanimate and (2) comatose can cause problems when you're trying to achieve a dynamic feel.

Today I was kicking around the concept with some coworkers and one mentioned that having the machine leering over the guy's shoulder would work better as a composition -- and it quickly made it to the point of an electric chair type staging.

From there, a new composition/staging with the same core idea was born.

Props go out to Damon for this gentle nudge. Beers on me in six weeks, man...

tharrell
04-05-2005, 04:19 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112674791_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1112674791_large.jpg)

Initial poly modeling of the chair contraption -- based very closely on a famous electric chair from Sing Sing prison (thanks Google!)

I've shortened the back a rung so that the machine will sit at neck level with the main character.

More mitering, bolts, nails, tubes and straps will come when I dress the set later. Besides, I need a break right now -- staring obsessively at archive photos of electric chairs for the last few hours has gotten to me!

Next step: initial UV and texture pass for the chair, floor and backdrop, then on to modeling the main character. Undecided if I'm going to model him in place or rig him, what with the awkward pose and cloth wrinkles. Probably a combination approach.

Alan Daniels
04-05-2005, 04:38 AM
I just joined the challenge myself, so I hope I'm not too late in adding this, but I just had to say that I love your idea. It got a good laugh of me. I want one of those espresso machines! :applause:

tharrell
04-09-2005, 06:46 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113029202_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113029202_large.jpg)

Busy week at work -- no time for updates till tonight.

Quick sketches of my caffeine addict that I'll begin modeling tomorrow.

I think I'm going to shy slightly away from realistic and go for somewhere between real and a caricature from a form and coloring perspective.

Something about the pose I'm ending up with is reminding me a bit of Alex getting reprogrammed in A Clockwork Orange.

I think I'm okay with that (unconscious until now) nod/reference for this I think because I'm walking the tightrope between funny and scary and that particular silhouette will read really quickly for his emotions -- hopefully on the funny side -- and alternately it's such an archetypal pose that people should "get" instantly.

tharrell
04-09-2005, 10:16 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113084980_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113084980_large.jpg)

Beginning servant modeling.

Using reference pics from fineart.sk for the head.

I'm trying a hybrid of Krishnamurti Costa (Machineflesh android woman) and Jason Osipa's (stop staring book) head boxmodeling styles -- the face is going to be 'pushed' a LOT further than I usually go -- he's going to be in pretty serious agony/bliss, so I decided to study up about edgelooping for ultra-clean deformations. Most of my CG work to date has been product stuff, and very few of my characters so far have progressed past the dummy head stage because they wouldn't deform nicely.

arLutiK
04-10-2005, 12:33 AM
Very nice modeling :thumbsup:

tharrell
04-10-2005, 08:02 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113120165_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113120165_large.jpg)

More modeling on the servant.

I played with the head a little more, and decided to tweak it until it was a self portrait (the concept is a confession, right?). Besides, I can get much better reference of myself with just a digital camera.

Rough, initial blocking on the body, arms and hands. I've used the initial blocking to quickmodel a t-shirt and jeans with maya cloth. Just created panel curves, ran a few frames of simulation, deleted history then went in and sculpted a bit with artisan.

Neither the jeans or undershirt are going to be terribly visible in the final, so I didn't see the need to agonize over them -- detail can come from texture here.

d-tox
04-10-2005, 08:25 AM
MOdel looks very good! I wanne see this texture and finished, should look great :buttrock:

Alan Daniels
04-11-2005, 02:39 AM
Yeah, looking great so far! BTW, Jason Osipa's "Stop Staring" book is worth its weight in gold, isn't it? I have my copy open as we speak.

(Well, typing, not speaking, but you get the idea). :D

tharrell
04-11-2005, 03:41 AM
Gotta say, I absolutely love that book. I picked it up around Christmas time and haven't done any character stuff since then. I really like Krishnamurti Costa's boxmodeling approach -- so I've tried to duplicate Jason's edgeflow doing boxmodeling techniques. I've never been comfortable extruding an edge at a time in open space like Osipa and Julian Mortimer teach. I'm more of a clay molding type.

Regardless, the first time I played with the rigs out of that book I was hooked. They deform as fast as you can scrub and the jaw/fleshy eye setup in there is worth the price of the book alone. Blendshapes are such an ugly solution for faces. I'm glad the industry is heading toward muscle based deformations.

On another note I also just learned the "collapse hierarchy" trick so that Mental Ray will render sub-d's with tris and n-gons. It makes the mesh heavier, but it's worth it (I try to stick to quads, but I put too many edges in when I have to close every single loop -- and tris are great for wrinkles!). I'm sure this is common knowledge somewhere, but I figured the more people that find out about it, the better.

blackdragoncg
04-11-2005, 09:43 AM
Far out Trey, I really like your concept and your models rock :thumbsup: Looking forward to seeing this one at the finish line...good luck to you mate..l8r

tharrell
04-12-2005, 05:28 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113283722_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113283722_large.jpg)

Initial color and bump tolerance tests for Mental Ray's mi_sss_fast_skin shader.

I've put a very quick color map in the overall slot based on camera projections of my own face.

I've also painted in a little detail in a bump map, with initial skin pores and modified that for use as an initial spec map.

Moreover, I've run a test to see if Maya Fur will be usable for the bedhair look I'm going for. The first test isn't too bad, but it's got more than a little bit of Keith Richards in it. In a bad way.

At any rate, I'm really pleased with the skintones under my studio lighting rig. I'm curious if the subscatter shader would flicker when animated. I wonder if we'll all react to glowing ears how we do to lens flares five years from now? heheh.

Next up, the eyes are a little dead, and I think I'm going to go in and modify the lips and jaw some more. Something isn't looking right about them and I can't put my finger on it.

d-tox
04-12-2005, 03:36 PM
great shading ! love the textures :buttrock:

tharrell
04-12-2005, 05:32 PM
blackdragon: Thanks for the kind words. It's funny how challenges like this can really make you push yourself farther than you think you can go. I'm learning a ton, particularly in the modeling arena right now. It's really nice to see some of the lighting technique I've been working on with my product stuff translate over to character work too (my studio light setup worked beautifully with the SSS shader with very little tweaking). Hope to see you on the finish line as well!

d-tox: Thanks! I'd be embarassed to show the actual texture maps that were used in the last update. They're really really fast (like 20 minutes fast) and rough unwraps of my own face that I just took with a cheapo digicam yesterday. Something about the SSS plug-ins softens everything though so bad seams and ugly cloning artifacts aren't really noticeable -- might be the closest thing to a 'make it pretty' button in all of Maya, if it weren't such a pain to work with.

Those are really meant just so I get the saturation and tonal ranges down for the different SSS layers, get the bump tolerance set right and get the scaling of the SSS backglow set in the right ballpark.

I'm going to temp in the rest of the scene textures next, then posing, lighting, and the real texturing comes when I've got my framing down.

There's some stunning work already this early in the challenge. I'm going to have to polish the hell out of this thing to a level I've never done before to be able to compete!

But that's the fun, right?

Wandddo
04-12-2005, 05:41 PM
Very nice modelling man! The textures are great too... I liked the mesh, very clean:thumbsup: :thumbsup: And finally the hair are well done. Keep on going friend
Cya

tharrell
04-15-2005, 04:39 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113539960_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113539960_large.jpg)

Final massing on the servant's head. Textures and shaders still temped, although I probably won't polish those any more until I finish posing, lighting, and have my final composition blocked out.

Hair is pretty close to final, temp glasses are in so I can get a feel for personality. I need to redo the eyes as the retinas are a little too big, although they're not dead looking any more.

All the nitpicky that's left is beard stubble, eyelashes and eyebrows, and I think I'll save those for the final polish phase as I have the tendency to obsess over little details like that and would prefer to get the big stuff out of the way first.

Gianluca
04-15-2005, 03:53 PM
hi tharrell, nice texturing your wip! so good

Micro26
04-15-2005, 04:02 PM
outstanding modeling and shading :thumbsup:
Some eyebrows and its woow:scream:

Alan Daniels
04-17-2005, 03:41 PM
All I can say is that your WIP model is coming along really well. :thumbsup:

tharrell
04-17-2005, 09:14 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113772476_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113772476_large.jpg)

I've realized that once I get him posed, I'm going to want to tweak his facial expression quite a bit, and play with different ideas.

To that end, I've created pretty exhaustive muscle-based blendshapes for the mouth area of the servant.

I pushed and pulled verts, used soft deform, and rigged a jawbone in order to create all of the 'centered' versions. The left and right symmetrical versions were created using Jason Osipa's joBlendTaper.mel -- an awesome tool to really quickly create symmetry in shapes you're planning on using for blends.

I'll be doing the brow and eyeshapes next, followed by a set of custom shapes for the neck -- something you don't often see in a facial rig, but I'll probably have his neck stretched pretty far back so I think it's needed.

It's worth mentioning that these are set up as parallel blends -- so each shape node adds to the face as a whole and can be mixed more convincingly.

tharrell
04-17-2005, 11:57 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113782269_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113782269_large.jpg)

More blend shapes for the eyes and forehead.

Between the wire deformer and soft mod, these went extremely quickly. I basically blew through the whole face in about 8 hours.

I'd probably take a lot more time finessing the shapes if I were to be animating the servant. As it is, I'll probably have to sculpt some fixes once I've got the emotion I'm going for.

tharrell
04-18-2005, 12:26 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113783999_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113783999_large.jpg)

Final blendshapes for the neck, other than more correctives once I get closer to final.

These are subtle tensing of the neck muscle groups, as well as a corrective double chin for bunching action.

Looks like I might have time to rig this guy up and play with some faces tonight. Stay tuned.

tharrell
04-18-2005, 03:18 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113794334_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1113794334_large.jpg)

A few little tests of the facial rig that I set up today. They're meant to be pretty absurd and somewhat cartoony.

I wanted to see how hard I could push the shapes before the face starts to break apart, and also check for modeling errors in the heavily used base shapes.

The left mouth character lines are a bit odd, and I need to polish the forehead wrinkles some more, but I think I've got a pretty versatile setup now that'll get me 90% of the way to conveying over-the-top emotions I was looking for.

I wanted to be able to push his face farther than a normal human -- I wanted Jim Carey -- and I think I got pretty close for a first pass.

Going to start blocking out the final composition next.

arLutiK
04-18-2005, 07:16 AM
Wow very cool expressions you've got there nice work :thumbsup:

Neeno
04-18-2005, 08:05 AM
great progress so far.. expressions looking good man .. fantastic.. and i think you have achieved that cartoony like expressions you were after. the second one and the second last on on the top row are just fantastic!

tharrell
04-18-2005, 08:22 PM
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

It's really hard to go for cartoony and photoreal at the same time. What I'm coming up with is really close to the pictures in my head though, so I'm happy -- that's always my goal!

The second and fourth heads were actually test expressions for the scene -- surprise and agony, really. The third and fifth were just tests of a sneer and a 'that smells bad' emotion -- the others were tests of stretching the mouth creases, eye squints and neck tension.

A little more about my methodology for making the blendshapes:

At the core, it's pretty close to what's outlined in the Stop Staring book (I swear I don't work for them, it's just an amazing book and workflow). I've added a little more control on top of that setup with some custom blends for eyelids (including some physically impossible stuff like separate X-wide keys for top and bottom lids for cartoony looks) and the neck tendons because they're going to be really prominent in the scene and they add a *lot* to stuff like agony, pain, anger.

The jist is that you separate mouth, eye and forehead up, down, in, out muscle movements (at last count I had about 65 targets, but they were rough enough to crank out in a day) -- so instead of making an 'angry' blendshape, you'd mix a little bit of:

- browsMidSqueeze
- browsMidDown
- eyesOutUp
- squint
- sneer
- eyestopXwide
- mouthIn
- upperLipCurl
- neckSidetense

And you've got a reasonably good angry that you can now make more interesting by tweaking other groups.

I'm really fond of moving the jaw in, out, left and right, as well as operating each eyelid separately (ie splitting top and bottom left and right instead of having a 'blink' and a 'wide' -- mine go from X-wide to normal to close to closesquint).

Each of those muscle groups have the default 'center' version that I create, as well as the left and right side only versions that I have a script generate for me. Unlike some other workflows, I keep my center version in my blend mix. Why? It makes it super easy to push a certain blend to 200% for a cartoony, impossible, rubber-face look.

100% leftouterbrowup + 50% centerouterbrowsup = 150% (exaggerated) left and 50% center -- and my sliders still work without having to manually type 1.5.

DaddyMack
04-18-2005, 09:17 PM
Hey tharrell, this is coming along really well! Your character and his rubbery face are great! Keep itt coming:thumbsup:

tharrell
04-19-2005, 05:18 AM
Thanks for the encouragement guys. It's nice to know I'm not the only one having fun looking at this stuff day after day!

Before I forget, I'd like to just get down here that I've found the solution to an extremely annoying problem.

When you use an SSS shader for the skin, you can't add beard stubble or eyebrows in to the main skin shader, because it'll get too soft and just look like a shadow -- which is a pain.

Yeah, you can run another render pass with a different shader for compositing, but I really like seeing my stuff interactively while I'm working on it. Particularly eyebrows which are a huge emotional cue.

I combed every book and forum I could find, and most of the answers were along the lines of: make a cluster for every point or CV on your eyebrow object and contrain it to clusters or a wire on the head.

Yuck. I think not. As a programmer in a former life, brute force solves like that are really ugly to me.

Turns out a simple wrap deformer works perfectly. Normally you use wraps to shrinkwrap sub-d's to rigged low poly cages. This does the opposite. It wraps the eyebrow low poly objects (and soon my stubble object) to my sub-d head, which in turn is wrapped by my low-poly head. Eyebrows and eyelashes follow perfectly -- just like if you'd used a closest point on mesh script.

It's really obvious, but I haven't seen mention of it, so there it is for posterity. Hope someone else finds that particular answer far quicker than I did!

tharrell
04-24-2005, 07:24 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114327441_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114327441_large.jpg)

Progress after an evening of mapping some UVs to the chair model and Photoshopping textures.

The scale of the machine is a little large at the moment, and the lighting most definitely isn't there, but it's a start.

To do: equalize the redness in the wood maps, and also bring down the wear on the seat area. A little tweaking on the bump maps won't hurt either as it's rendering a lot soft at the moment.

I'll probably finalize the maps once I get to the rendering stage and I do a bit of set dressing with bolts, etc.

Thinking I need to add some dirt and corrosion to the machine. It's far too saturated, shiny and clean at the moment.

tharrell
04-25-2005, 12:53 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114433596_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114433596_large.jpg)

First pass at key lighting in the scene, and I'm playing with a Hitchcock camera angle. If I'm pushing this as cartoony as the image in my head, there's no point in using restraint.

I found a few issues with some of the textures on the chair, and I've started with texturing the environment.

Alan Daniels
04-26-2005, 04:46 AM
First pass at key lighting in the scene, and I'm playing with a Hitchcock camera angle. If I'm pushing this as cartoony as the image in my head, there's no point in using restraint.

Ahahaha, awesome. I love it. :applause:

tharrell
04-26-2005, 05:16 AM
Heheh... glad you're laughing, Alan. That's what I'm shooting for.

In other, decidedly unfunny news, I'm running a test right now of my almost final lighting rig and environment. Eight hours a plate didn't seem so bad at 1280x960. :banghead:

My meager math skills just came to the foreground a few minutes ago when I realized that final render resolution is going to have to be about nine times what I'm working at. Times the six passes that I'd planned on (beauty, spec, ref, ambient occlusion/FG(for color bleed), volumetric effects, z-depth for depth of field fakery). Times two plates for background/machine/chair and dude. It's not really multiplying the workload by the hundreds because the separate passes will render pretty quickly and I can farm passes out to different machines, but it's got me started worrying about time.

Time to start making BOTs (do they really save that much time?), cheating my volumetrics (big expense savings there) and knocking down my soft shadows and reflection recursion. I hadn't even gotten to the point of considering rendering DOF, although the thought of a touch of real motion blur crossed my mind earlier this evening.

Yikes. Any thoughts on other ways to cheapen up the render load? I'm running Maya 6.5, doing the Mental Ray thing.

Thanks!

tharrell
04-28-2005, 12:23 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114647823_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114647823_large.jpg)

I'm pretty happy with the all-around key, fill and gobo lighting values and tonal ranges I'm getting now, and I've done two treatments of a rendered background plate to refine my green/red/blue shades for final.

Textures for the wall, molding and wall tiles are just about final.

Once I dirty up the floor tiles, I think I'm done with my background plate.

Tech details on the lighting rig:

I'm using four area lights at very low values placed like fluorescents for low-level fill lighting to help with my contact shadows.

In addition, I have a single very hot key spot overhead with a very subtle volumetric fog attached to it. I don't want to upstage steam coming out of the machine.

I've got one highly (170% white) incandescent nurbs plane as a 'soft box' fake for speculars on the wall tiles and espresso machine. Finally, I've created a barred window gobo that I've attached to a spot light to fake dawn light through a window.

Interestingly (to me at least!), I decided to force an improper and completely impossible light cast on the walls and I've distorted the perspectives and vanishing lines on floor and wall after seeing the silent masterpiece Cabinet of Dr. Caligari again the other night. It's my homage to somnambulists in particular and the aesthetic of german expressionism in the art deco era in general.

That film was really instrumental for helping me develop my personal aesthetic in my early years, and the subtle skewing of reality was a nice mesh with my theme.

tharrell
04-28-2005, 05:08 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114664911_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1114664911_large.jpg)

Same treatments as the prior version, this time with 'props' added in and kicker lighting added for foreground elements.

Dirt on the floor is looking better now, although a tad procedural to my eye. I'll save that for my tweaking once all of the elements are in place, though.

newellteapot
05-04-2005, 10:24 PM
Hi Trey,
looking at the long queue in the local Starbucks every morning, I think that your concept reflects reality quite a lot!
You and Alan Daniels picked this interesting side of the theme, and that's how we are slaves to an unnatural pace of life.
Very interesting, and very good espresso machine!

Good luck!
Monica
http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=233738

tharrell
05-05-2005, 04:56 AM
Monica,

Thanks for the reply. Speaking of the UK, I was horrified last time I was on that side of the pond to see Starbucks taking over London and Edinburgh. I've got a soft spot in my heart for Pret -- crap coffee, but great sandwiches and yogurt. Hope they survive the onslaught. That big green chain hasn't been at all friendly to competition over here. :hmm:

On to progress...

I've been experimenting with rigs and weight painting for the last few days. Definitely not my forte -- but luckily I've just gotta get the guy into a reasonable pose and I'll just sculpt fixes for deformation errors.

I've done a bit of tweaking to the mental ray performance tab, and I think that my 1.5 gigs of RAM is going to be enough to render out complete master shot passes at final resolution. Good thing, as the reflections in particular make me nervous about rendering elements in layers.

Should have an update or two by tomorrow night.

tharrell
05-06-2005, 04:31 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115353862_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115353862_large.jpg)

Four slightly different camera angles, with the slave in-scene.

My first and second choices right now are #2 and #1 respectively.

I think I need to prop the machine up a bit so the filter handles aren't competing with the slave's head space, because it's reading kinda strangely in #2.

I've lost a bit of mass on his right arm and shirt during the posing process, so I'll have to go back in and fix that.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get convincing wrinkles out of the shirt. If not, I'll have to remodel it.

Miyagi
05-07-2005, 07:16 AM
Hi Harrrell!

Nice concept...It relates very well to myself since I've got this challenge...I think you right about your choice and machine placement...the light and shading of your scene are awesome:thumbsup: ...Not much to say just keep it up and best wishes.



MyMasterAndServant (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=224272&highlight=Rogerio+Masao)

tharrell
05-08-2005, 06:04 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115532278_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115532278_large.jpg)

4000x3000 resolution render of the background plate.

I was hoping to render the entire image and then selectively adjust the pieces with alpha masks because of the amount of reflective items in my scene, however this has proved far too memory intensive and I'll be rendering plates and then compositing them.

This is the first of four master plates I will need to render.

tharrell
05-08-2005, 06:09 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115532561_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115532561_large.jpg)

A pass diagram depicting how I'm achieving my final look.

I may run a reflection and specular pass for the tile, time permitting, after the rest of the elements are laid in.

Three of the six plates here were rendered (beauty, atmospherics and occlusion) and the rest were duplicated and adjusted layers with masks.

tharrell
05-08-2005, 07:16 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115536607_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115536607_large.jpg)

Rendered additional spec and reflection passes, faked depth of field with a Z-depth render.

Very, very subtle spec and reflect highlights on the tile reflection and window cast were added, and I used the Z-depth pass to slightly soften the image.

I'm not on my calibrated color machine at the moment, but I'm fairly happy with the tonal ranges now.

aliasali
05-08-2005, 09:09 AM
hmm,great job on lighting and poses,i liked it...keep it up:thumbsup:

tharrell
05-09-2005, 05:08 AM
Madlight / Miyagi:

Thanks for the comments -- nice to see more people dropping by here.

Rendering is über slow at this point, so no updates tonight. I think I've gotten my mentalray satellites mostly stable now, so hopefully no more crashes. Once I'm done with the chair and mega-reflective machine, things should speed up a lot on the character, luckily.

I've been playing with some 2d fluid effects for steam out of the machine, and it's looking pretty nice. A lot nicer, in fact, than the 'real' steam photos I took to try my hand at sprite billboarding. Something about the unreality of the hyper-swirliness generated by the 2d cheat really matches the mood of the scene. :eek:

I've also started doing a little set dressing while waiting on renders -- power cords, a little more believable dirt on the floor, etc. Starting to shape up pretty nicely -- I should have a pretty major update tomorrow night, assuming that the satellite render doesn't crash this time! :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

jackmcfly
05-09-2005, 07:04 AM
hi..... excellent lightning...cool tone....great creepy feeling

tharrell
05-11-2005, 02:31 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115778682_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115778682_large.jpg)

I've finally managed to get the machine and chair to render at 3000x4000 resolution.

It seems that Maya 6.5 and the DGS shader have really serious bomb issues if you're rendering reflections on backfaces. Somehow a few of the normals on the machine got flipped -- causing renders to crash at 95% for the last week.

Anyhow, here's a quick snapshot of where I am at the moment.

Onto the slave and IV tubes now...

arLutiK
05-11-2005, 05:42 AM
Trey, know exactly what you've been trough, I had to lower my setting so much.

Let's go back to your image, that chair is really nicely done, and I love the expression it almost has, can't wait to see the man on it finish, but what I love the most is our background it's amazing. Great work on the modeling and texturing.

tharrell
05-11-2005, 05:19 PM
Arlutik,

Thanks for the encouragement. I've been staring at this thing for so long, I'm really having a hard time seeing it objectively any more.

I've become a die-hard render layers in multiple passes convert now, especially with all of the rendering trouble I've had. It's just a ton more efficient at this resolution to have multiple plates of each element and do the bulk of the fine tuning in post.

I'm thinking I'm going to render each final piece of my character out (shirt, head, arms, legs) separately as I'm done with them just to get the render times reasonable (hours vs. days). That way I'll have more flexibility to go back and rework parts after I've at least got the whole thing composed -- which is my major hurdle right now.

I've also turned to using the Maya software renderer for beauty passes instead of mental ray, for speed reasons alone. I'm still using MR for skin, occlusion and shadow passes, though. It seems like every major crash bug I've had my last few projects has been with reflective materials in mental ray, so I'm doing Maya reflections from this point on, now that the machine's done.

--T


Trey, know exactly what you've been trough, I had to lower my setting so much.

Let's go back to your image, that chair is really nicely done, and I love the expression it almost has, can't wait to see the man on it finish, but what I love the most is our background it's amazing. Great work on the modeling and texturing.

tharrell
05-12-2005, 05:54 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115877267_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115877267_large.jpg)

Rendering of the slave's body, shirt and jeans. Hair and arms are next, then IVs.

tharrell
05-12-2005, 05:58 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115877522_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115877522_large.jpg)

Addition of the slave main body plate, glass lens plate and material touchup plates to the main composite.

I'm waiting until the very end to "marry" the slave and IV shadows to the rest of the scene, as I'm probably going to be tweaking the IVs and hands right up until the end.

tharrell
05-12-2005, 01:29 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115904559_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1115904559_large.jpg)

Fur hair composited.

tharrell
05-13-2005, 04:51 AM
Hopefully going to get the arms, arm straps and hair retouches up and posted tonight.

I'm really impressed with the speed of the mi_sss_fast shader. It really hates transparency recursion, though, as I found (won't refract through glasses, so I had to cheat it) -- and it comes out really soft -- I'll need to render another non-scattered pass to add back in some texture, arm hair and beard stubble.

Wow, I've only got until Saturday night to finish, as I'm headed out of town and won't return until after the challenge is over.

Lots and lots to do the next two days.

tharrell
05-14-2005, 03:57 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116086238_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116086238_large.jpg)

Attached the arms and restraints, added beard stubble pass and adjusted the hair plates a bit to make them blend a little better.

I was hoping to have him strapped to the chair in chains, but I spent so much time trying to get clean deformations on the forearms and wrists that I think my opportunity has passed if I'm going to finish this tonight.

Next up, IV drips, shadows, depth of field and final volumetric pass.

I've got to be on a plane in about 18 hours, so it's crunch time!

tharrell
05-14-2005, 10:28 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116109691_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116109691_large.jpg)

More layers added. Still waiting on the chair and drip/slave shadow plates to render.

Once those are done, on to depth of field.

tharrell
05-14-2005, 11:44 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116114298_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116114298_large.jpg)

Last of the shadows have been added, slight retouching on the slave, depth of field and center of interest added via a z-depth gaussian fake.

If anyone has any suggestions, now's the time! I'm going to be playing with a touch more volumetrics, but there's a possibility that this will end up being the final.

tharrell
05-15-2005, 01:03 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116119032_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116119032_large.jpg)

Color and gamma adjusted on my calibrated workstation, a little drool added, and tape quickly modeled, rendered and put in place to hold down the IV tubes.

Waiting on a volumetric and fog shadow pass to render to decide if I need to tinker any more.

I'm pretty pleased with it as it stands, so whatever I get done before bed is icing now.

tharrell
05-15-2005, 02:45 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116125109_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/9/6883/6883_1116125109_large.jpg)

Final image, with last of the color correction and perspective adjustment.

Title: Self Portrait (Wired)

Concept:

Once we enter college or the professional world, our pace of life gets accelerated to an unnatural rate.

Caffeine -- specifically my enormously expensive espresso habit -- helps me focus and keep working when I'm exhausted. It's a preventative cure for my headaches brought on from fatigue. It helps me unwind. It gets me out of bed. It keeps my migraines from coming as often.

It adds hours to the day, helping people find balance between work and life at the cost of our health and mental well being.

It's a vicious cycle.

The master / servant relationship has a couple of layers in this instance. The person begins as the master, using his servant -- the espresso machine -- to add hours to the day and help him keep going.

The caffeine then becomes the master, as the person is an addict and dependent on the coffee to keep going.

At the end, however, it's modern life that's the master as we end up addicted, exhausted, sick, and broken from our expensive habits and frenzied pace -- a pace that might not really be worth the damage done in the long term.

Creative Direction:

I was shooting to achieve an insane mood that's darkly funny in a surreal setting -- bordering on absurdity.

Influenced by the art direction in Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the oversaturated colors of Ronny Yu's early films (Bride With White Hair in particular), and the industrial design of the FrancisFrancis! company. They make beautiful machines, and I hope they'll forgive the characterization!

I wanted to straddle the line between photo-real and cartoonish. I shot for a composition and color balance reminiscent of a comic book cover. As such, I didn't add much skin detail, I exaggerated environment textural details -- particularly patterns and geometrics -- to almost toon-shaded line definition, and I pushed the slave's face and pose well past normal human limits.

I was going for really over-the-top silhouettes. I used an extremely wide angle lens to push my vanishing lines out of whack and distort the image.

I wanted to anthropomorphize the machine: make it a little demon face on second glance -- but an innocent and friendly demon -- he's just doing his job.

I used the basic design of a famous electric chair for the chair itself -- just for a slight psychological cue as to the situation.

The slave could break free if he really wants to -- but he's not really committed. There's a twinkle in his eye saying that he's enjoying the rush -- but how much longer can he take it before it kills him?

Software used:

- Maya 6.5 / Mental Ray and Maya Software renderers
- MJ Poly Tools
- Photoshop CS for textures and compositing
- Gretag MacBeth EyeOne Match (for color management and profile generation)
- A total of seven pounds of coffee beans were used as fuel over the course of this challenge

I used a Windows XP based workstation for the modeling work, every Mac or PC I had at hand (and a few I borrowed at the end) for satellite rendering, and a PowerMac G5 for the compositing and color correction.

This is the first real character work I've completed. My professional CG projects to date have been almost exclusively product work and FX. The deadline forced me to make compromises in my final vision so I could get this done. I've learned a ton about rendering in passes, subsurface shaders and clean deformations while working on this -- from trial and error, and from others participating in the challenge.

Thanks go out to CGNetworks and the sponsors for holding the challenge, and to everyone who gave me feedback over the last two months -- it's that feedback that kept me going.

I'm getting on a plane in a few hours, and it's time to let go now. There's a few things I'd tinker with and rework until the end of time if I didn't have a deadline. I pushed myself past what I thought was my best -- and as such, I'm very happy with the final piece.

Special thanks for comments, encouragement and crits to:

soapy, neeno, Alan Daniels, arlutik, d-tox, blackdragoncg, Wandddo, Gianluca, Mr Micro26, DaddyMack, monica.ta, Miyagi, Madlight_1988, jackmcfly

Mad props to Intelligentsia Coffee and their Black Cat Blend -- without which I doubt seriously I would have finished. If there was any doubt, this image is a self portrait.

Extra special thanks to:

Amy, Dennis, Damon, Brue, Tiff, Steve, Jefferson & Michelle for real time crits and encouragement. These are the ones who had to deal with sleep deprived me in real life as I focused on finishing this.

arLutiK
05-15-2005, 08:42 AM
Trey, wonderful and creepy (even if i wish I could do that some morning) image, the expression of yourself is amazing, great work overall :applause:

Goro
05-15-2005, 12:32 PM
awesome work man!
Nice lighting and rendering.

Good luck!

tharrell
05-15-2005, 01:39 PM
Arlutik, Goro:

Thanks for the kind words! I'm really relieved to have made it to the finish line on this. For a week or so there, I couldn't get a single thing to render without bombing.

Sitting here in an airport on a layover, I'm off on vacation with a big weight off my shoulders.

I probably won't be checking in very much over the next week, but congrats to all who have finished, keep hammering at it for those who haven't and I hope to see everyone at the finish line when I get back.

Peace.

makaron
05-15-2005, 01:56 PM
happy holiday :) and really good image you got here... :applause:

tharrell
05-16-2005, 01:09 AM
I just posted a 1200x1600 higher res version of the final to my website.

If you're interested, click here (http://www.treyharrell.com/finalms.jpg).

Alan Daniels
05-19-2005, 10:02 PM
Trey: You probably won't read this until you get back from vacation, but congrats on your final image! :thumbsup: It really is wonderfully absurd, just the right blend (pardon the pun) between nightmarish and amusing. Well done.

tharrell
05-21-2005, 07:36 PM
Alan,

Thanks for the encouragement. It got a little tense there trying to get the piece finished before I left on holiday.

Hope to see yours as final not too long down the road as well.

--T

smaddl
05-21-2005, 07:54 PM
first time i see your work. it's great. very expressive. i immediately thought on electric chair. i guess that's what you wanted the first impression to be. didn't read the whole explanation. a bit hard for me now, but the coffee machine idea is very nice and tricky in a good way. well done final. good luck :thumbsup:

Adam-Z
05-25-2005, 09:41 AM
It is all about expressions and emotions. I like the concept but one thing is distracting me a bit - his clothes seems a bit too dark. I still like lighting idea, the focus on his face and his hands but cloth seems to absorb all light around;). Really good job. Waiting for othere;)

Adam-Z
05-25-2005, 10:42 AM
I really like of lighting idea and how you put emotions in this image. Very expressive (face expression). Just one thing distracting me a bit. cloth looking a bit too dark, as is absorbing all light around;) But still the focus on his face and his hands remind me about scary and misterious mood. Really nice. Keep working;)

tharrell
05-25-2005, 01:00 PM
Adam,

Thanks for the crits.

You're right of course about the shirt. I ran out of time to get it looking really nice, so I think I made it a black hole unconsciously during post while I was trying to pull focus up to the eyes and away from the shirt (which is pretty weak) -- there's a plate a few pages back showing the shirt with at least a little diffuse on it heheheh.

Guess I'm going to have to focus on cloth wrinkles for my next project so I can be proud to show them. :D

Thanks again,

--T

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