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JamesMK
10-21-2003, 10:23 AM
James Kaufeldt has entered the ALIENWARE Challenge.

FINAL FINAL IMAGE UPLOADED::..

http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074373372_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074373372_large.jpg)

JamesMK
10-21-2003, 05:17 PM
Have to stay with my previous method, so I'll provide my concept in writing to begin with. I'm currently working on a submission for another contest, so it will be about one week before I can start on some serious work for this Alienware thing.

.: THE CONCEPT :.

Welcome to V.A.S.T, the Vector Anomalous Synaptic Transmogrifier - an all-encompassing omnipotent alien brain floating around in the nothingness of the ninth dimension. V.A.S.T is responsible for, among other things, thinking about what we call the Universe. We can only hope it won't stop thinking about it, since it will be the end of cosmos as we know it.

Anyway, inside this system all bets are off. We've got multi-directional gravity, bent lightrays and endless pools of orange and blue alien goo. (oh, a rhyme!)

The centerpiece of the composition will be a "neuron" the size of Brazil. The main drive behind the concept is a sort of mix between the book 'Eon' by Greg Bear and the drawings of Escher.

I'll be back with sketches in a week or so.

Good luck to all ye who enters this challenge!

JamesMK
11-11-2003, 09:16 PM
OK... Total renderblock... I've been doodling a bit with a few concepts, and they are, well, sort of decent, but to use a worn out phrase: "I don't feel it."

Unless something really revolutionary happens, I'm outta here...

I wish all you guys good luck, and may the best monkey win a spanking hot PC!!!

I'm going to use a buttrock now - :buttrock:

JamesMK
11-13-2003, 11:12 PM
Well... yeah... OK... I got my inspiration back for some reason. Decided to work with this as sort of a technical exercise... Might work.

Yes - I haven't uploaded the concept sketch yet, it's spread over a few pages scattered around my appartment - I'll have to get those things organized and clean them up a bit before I can post them.

The main concept is still the same (sort of) as I started out with, some changes though, but the idea is to show a location that could be perceived as a small planetoid turned inside out. The viewer sees the hollow insides, in which there are several huge tunnels leading into the core. The bottom of the volume will be covered with a sea of green, slightly luminous alien goo. In the ceiling there are some large membranes letting light from a nearby star into the area. In the center of the view we'll find a big organic lump fitted with some sort of gel-filled lenses casting a weird ambient light onto the surrounding objects. There will also be lots of chairs (sic) and stairs stretching in all directions in a generally strange way.

http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1068765119_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1068765119_large.jpg)

This is the entrance to one of the tunnels leading from the outside into the core of the complex.

JamesMK
11-13-2003, 11:21 PM
Here's a matching wire for the render above.

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/tunnel_habitats_wire.jpg

So far it's been nothing but straight polymodeling using a filleted cylinder as a template. Lots of instances, and a lot of manual greebling... No textures at this point of course.

JamesMK
11-14-2003, 12:45 AM
Okie - added some gravity-defying stairs here for an added sense of scale...

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/tunnel_stairs.jpg

JamesMK
11-18-2003, 01:35 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069119338_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069119338_large.jpg)

Just playing a bit with the sea of goo that's supposed to cover the lower part of the depicted area. This is a magnet tool edited disc with a serious amount of subdivisions, and 16 tons of various noise shaders in just about all available material channels including displacement.

The top image shows the result when the mesh has been put through a spherical warp modifier to give it some curvature.

sad
11-18-2003, 01:48 AM
your concept is very very interesting and it inspires me a lot. i´m glad your inspiration is back because i´m very excited to see what you will make of it.

JamesMK
11-18-2003, 08:10 AM
Well thanks, sad. Just keep your fingers crossed I don't get sidetracked again... When I fired up Cinema this weekend, I ended up writing a plugin instead of modeling... :shrug:

JamesMK
11-19-2003, 12:36 AM
Just playing a little here...

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/alien_plant1.jpg

JamesMK
11-19-2003, 10:50 PM
Still just playing really...

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/volumetric_buildings.jpg

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/greenlighters.jpg

eYadNesS
11-20-2003, 05:37 PM
Really very good JamesMK, I like it very much, unfortunately I leave this challenge because I don't have alot of time (I can't challenge you lol)...
I am watching you always JamesMK :)

Good Luck

JamesMK
11-20-2003, 07:13 PM
Thank you, eYadNesS... Too bad you can't continue yourself, would be interesting to see what you made of it. I hope I can complete it... having some inspirational problems... nothing that some hard work can't fix though.... Time will tell.

JamesMK
11-20-2003, 11:02 PM
Here's a construction used to support the inner space of the planetoid - not frightfully alien-looking just yet, but it'll come with some added detail.

This is one segment made out of ordinary primitives and a couple of splines. Make a crapload of instances, add a warp deformer and viola! A whatever-it's-called!

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/ceilingrig.jpg

adr
11-21-2003, 07:00 AM
hi james , your apdates are looking great , kep going man :beer:
cant wait for more updates

JamesMK
11-22-2003, 12:18 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069460299_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069460299_large.jpg)

Just trying out some different tricks with lights here. Turns out that volumetrics and colored edge fall-off on round parallel spots is a good thing for those sharp beamy rays of light. Might be useful later on.

Designer2
11-22-2003, 02:53 AM
:applause:
very good work i realy like all those ideas and 3d, i wish you added the stairs to give since of scale only, tell me you are going to remove it i don't like it there (opinion)... :wise:

Carry on, :bounce:

JamesMK
11-22-2003, 07:47 AM
Designer2: I appreciate any opinions, really. :thumbsup: And I have another plan for the stairs, so they won't end up where I put them initially but swirling around another object not yet modeled.

JayMan2889
11-22-2003, 02:21 PM
are you using c4d? if so u should write a tut :P

JamesMK
11-22-2003, 02:27 PM
>> are you using c4d?
- Yes I am.

>> if so u should write a tut
- No way, José... :D Just tag along with this thread... Although I will not exactly be describing everything I do step by step, but I'm not keeping any secrets either. Just ask if there's something in particular you want to know ;)

JayMan2889
11-22-2003, 05:16 PM
:( i really just wanted to know how to do that vortex, hehe, and yea ill be comin to this thread still :D::D:D:D gj on concepts and models

JamesMK
11-22-2003, 07:07 PM
@ JayMan - Well, to be more specific about the vortex - - -

The main bit was magnet tool editing on an editable disc, just to make some whirly wave shapes and the depressed area in the center. For the final look I used the procedural Cyclone shader mixed up with some FBM in a SLA Fusion and put that in the displacement channel. The same Cyclone appears again mixed up with some other noise type in the luminance channel. Then there's some Sema in the environment channel (that's those bright white maggot-like things floating around on the surface. I threw some other noises in the main slots of a Fusion, using a third noise in the mask slot, and slapped all of that in the bump channel for some subtle irregularity (mainly to break up the result of the environment mapping).

As far as concepts go, I'll be uploading some real sketches as soon as they look somewhat decent :D

JamesMK
11-23-2003, 01:50 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069552201_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069552201_large.jpg)

Just testing the gel-filled spheres for the central organic structure/entity. I thought it could be fun making them look a little bit like eyes, so I'm in the process of covering the "head" of this thingy with eyelids. Pretty tricksy to model, and I have to admit that the topology isn't entirely pretty... The look is sort of what I was going for though, so I'm happy so far.

EDIT: Initially I tried to get the intended look a bit faster by using splines in a metaballs object, but after some experimenting it was pretty much clear that there was no fast solution. Just plain old poly modeling did the trick. I basically made one "eye", duplicated it, arranged them next to eachother and scaled one of them a bit. Then I connected the meshes and started bridging the boundaries together. Once the two first were in place, I added another copy of the original mesh and stitched it to the previous... and so on. Not done yet, but I'm getting the hang of it.

JamesMK
11-23-2003, 11:32 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069587154_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069587154_large.jpg)

Most likely the ugliest concept ever seen by unprotected eyes. Put on peril sensitive shades. I managed to scan a few of my doodles and colored them up a bit just to show what I'm thinking here. You're probably thinking "what the hell is he thinking?" - Well, the 3D will look slightly better :D

Anyway, the overall layout is more or less clear here. We've got your average sea of whirly green goo at the bottom, a huge organic structure fixed in mid-air between the north pole and the vortex. Everything will fit into the inside of a spherical landscape.

Since I always want a background story, here's the

.:: BACKGROUND STORY ::.

What we are looking at is presumably an alien mining site. These guys travel through the galaxy searching for small planetoids with reasonable amounts of valuable minarals. Once they find a good target, they drill a couple of really big holes into the core of the body, insert large pipes that serve as a transportation conduit as well as habitat for the workforce. The weird organic structure, the origin of which isn't even known to the aliens themselves, somehow digests the planetoid matter and turns it into a powerful source of energy - the green goo [insert scary orchestra hit here].
As time goes by, more and more of the matter gets transformed into goo as the planetoid turns into a thin shell. The advantage is camouflage. Possible enemies will not see anything unusual on the surface of the planet.

Regardless of how silly all this sounds, it will at least provide me with ideas for what details and structures to add.

The place "seems to be unpopulated" because the aliens are all on vacation for the moment. It is "neither rusting or decaying" because it's really a well maintained workplace. They're just not there.

imscifi
11-23-2003, 02:53 PM
so i'm diggin the eye thing... looks like really cool marbles... and I'm sure that it's taking a while to make that...

oh one suggestion about one of the first couple of images.... you included stair cases... I just somehow find that very human... I like it better without it... but that's just my 2 cents... looks really cool.

Don't worry about your sketches... it's what comes out in the end that matters... (and to be quite honest... doesn't look that bad in my opinion)... looking forward to seeing more! :applause:

JamesMK
11-23-2003, 09:12 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069621921_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069621921_large.jpg)

Some tweaks concerning the gel shader for the eyes/spheres and an environment color test.

@ imscifi -> Thanks for your comments. You're the second one to make remarks about the stairs, so I'm pretty convinced they were a bad idea :D But it's really helpful to get this kind of pointers every now and then, so just keep it coming please.

matty2x4
11-24-2003, 11:24 PM
Hey JamesMK, thought I would check out your challenge.
Looking good! Really like the jel spheres, I think they will look good next to the mechanical structer of the round thingy, organic and non-organic. Hey was version of Cinema are you using?
Keep it up
Matty2x4

swag
11-24-2003, 11:29 PM
nice :) the last render looks very cool - lightning and shader works very well - :beer:

JamesMK
11-24-2003, 11:57 PM
matty2x4 -> Thanks - and yup, there's something about mixing organic with mechanic... Dunno, I just like that kind of stuff.
Using Cinema 8.2 XL btw.

swag -> Thank you - I'm quite happy about the gel and the lights. Don't know what I'll do to the "skin", but that's another story... Another day... I'm doing some environmental modeling now. Nothing show-worthy yet, but it'll show up sooner or later.

And finally a special for you guys - some intergalactic space noodles::..

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/sema_particle_noodles.jpg

JamesMK
11-25-2003, 01:47 PM
Stardate 2667.9

Orange afternoon starlight cascading through delicate membranes above the wildly whirling synthetic swirl of energy in the sea below.

The executive chief of operations, a green and yellow squiggly thing by the name of Dooz Sluggybuns, is making final preparations in order to take the entire processing system off-line for the holidays.

Even though he has done this many times before, he is still a bit nervous that the procedure should somehow fail horribly. Though it never has - not on his watch.

Knowing what exact steps are required to shut down the main digestive entity also means that a certain nervous energy is to be expected. For instance, to prepare the entity for further instructions, it is necessary to manually invert the spin of ten specific subatomic particles in its cerebral tissue. It goes without saying that this requires very steady hands and a decent pair of tweezers. Dooz Sluggybuns does not handle this personally, but he is still responsible for any mistakes. The actual operator, called 'Twister' by his closest friends, is sufficiently pumped full of morphine to stay cool and mellow. It works fine, but it is always a pain getting him to wake up in time to do his thing.
- - -
Some thirty hours later, most of the primary systems are shut down. A soothing silence slowly creeps out of the rock walls and elegantly lets itself be pulled in towards the gravitational center of the growing void of Sluggybun's twentyfifth consecutive mining site - a small planetiod just outside the third planet orbit of Proxima Centauri.

An enormous rig of blindingly bright artificial lightsources stretch their glowing photon swords out from zenith, and casts its harsh rays on the miners below as they move uniformly towards the exit.
- - -
As Dooz straps himself into the seat of the transporter an hour later, he suddenly gets a distinct feeling that he forgot to do something. A second later he is pushed backwards in his seat as the transporter thrusters violently catapults the ship away from the planet system and into the blackness ahead. The planetoid quickly turns into a barely visible grey pinhead far behind, and Dooz tries to shake his feeling of doubt.

The entire crew and workforce will be away for a month, leaving the mighty digestive entity to rule over the mining site all by itself. If Dooz indeed had forgotten something, it would not be possible to do anything about it anyway.
- - -
Two days later Dooz finds himself comfortably resting in some sort of chair on a beach overlooking a pink ocean on the recreational planet of Edd. In an identical chairlike thing next to him lies a daft chewing-gum bimbo named Chrstn. Her green hair shines like poison through the yellow transparency of the Xeno-Colada in Dooz's upper left hand.

Most of Chrstn's eyes are closed, so she does not notice as Dooz carefully moves his other two left hands towards a few of her boobs scattered all over her under a luminescent bra looking like a topological 3D map of a bowl of meatballs.

Unfortunately, his right hands simultaneously rocket towards the back of her biomechanical crotch-armour and start trying to unlock the access hatch.

This does not pass Chrstn by unnoticed.

- Hey, she says, don't get any ideas, Buster... Most of the verts in the area you're heading for are welded shut anyway.
- Shut?
- Shut.
- Shit.

As Dooz starts retracting his hands and arms, a large heap of muscular tissue with a mean look on his face appears hovering above.

- Duh babe, he starts, dis dood butherin'ya?

Dooz doesn't quite manage to catch what Chrstn replies in time before that huge titanium reinforced fist slams down on his head and effectively dislocates all of his facial bones approximately 30 centimeters back into his brain.

- Yah baby, says the heap. Dat should poot his lites out.

Lights. Out. Dooz struggles for one final breath of air to deliver his last words.

- Got it! I forgot to switch off the lights. I hope that doesn't mean we'll be infested with a bunch of CG-monkeys trying to render the place.

ravioli_rancher
11-25-2003, 06:25 PM
James,

Screw the 3d. Cgtalk needs a writing contest. All words must be rendered online in these forums.

99% of all stories will naturally ooze towards sexual frustration and mass extinctions.

Sex and Death, man. That's all the entertainment anyone ever needs.


Onto your work:

Your doughnut-like processing plant is excellent. And if you eliminate the stairs, at least replace them with some other minutely detailed contraption. The difference in scale between structures is engaging.

That said, the sameness of the white window / light fixture panels across the surface makes it seem too much like a circular array. Definately nothing devestating, but, getting freaky with something is seldomly a negative experience (unless, of course, you're an alien foreman named Dook cranking out you're moves on an octo-ocular bovinian beer hussy.)

On a side note that nobody except me wants to hear, Maxon and Cinema4d (and artists like you) are making some serious noise. Unfortunately, I own lightwave. Paid $900 for that piece of crap, and while Cinema is getting plugins like Shave and those incredible Mesh Surgery tools, Lightwave is going down the toilet, taking previously free plugins off the net so people can buy them in the next upgrade.

Hey, James. I'll trade ya.

Just keep Dook rotting in his demoralizing ether. That guy was a paranoid creep.

There. I've insulted enough hard working people. My day is starting off swell. Back to my septic cave!

JamesMK
11-25-2003, 07:12 PM
Right on - see you in the next writing contest.

...and you've got a point about the repetitions in the circular thing. I'll have to remember to fix that sooner or later.

Cinema is a great piece of software. If you knew how little I actually paid for it as well, I'd have to get myself a panic room to cowardly hide in as you rush over here with a huge baseball bat ready to swing.

JamesMK
11-25-2003, 10:07 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069798037_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069798037_large.jpg)

A bunch of these will be scattered around the area.

EDIT: Oops. Submitted this tagged as "Concept sketch" @ the challenge site... Can't edit there, but I fixed the subject line here at least...

JamesMK
11-25-2003, 10:11 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069798284_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069798284_large.jpg)

A bunch of small buildings on cliffs arranged (in mid air for the time being, the ground to be connected later) together with one of the main pipe thingies. Trying out some small foggy lights and wondering if not blue might be better than green. Who knows.
This is cropped and shows only the lower 1/2 (approx) of the intended final render.

imscifi
11-26-2003, 01:34 AM
Just a quick comment... I like that machine (the cylindrical one) as a floating item...not embedded in the ground... I thought it would be attached to something on its sides... like legs connecting to the ground or walls or whatever... just my opinion... And are you going to develop the pyramid cliffs anymore? They look very plain compared to the other machine I mentioned before. Ok that's it from this peanut gallery!

Looking good!

ravioli_rancher
11-26-2003, 01:51 AM
James,

Getting hit in the head with a bat smarts something fierce. I'd much rather go after the hype squad over at Newtek.

Or I'll attack my own noggin, for falling for all that nasty brainwashing. Advertising is a menace. I mean, really, who the hell is going to pay $6,000 for a computer?

Clearly, nobody here.

I myself ought to hide, threatening such powerful nerds.

Competition is supposed to be a good thing. Unless you choose the wrong side. Then its lousy.


Blah!


You're latest post has many nice pyramids and a nice semi sphere.
An excellent tactic to dimish similiarty of shape is to stick half of the object in the ground. Good move.

Seriously, though, your work is alot of fun to examine, even if only a test.

For texturing will you be using Body Paint 2, or was that not part of your super secret, rage inducing deal?

Oh who cares? Just post more of your work. But, take it easy on the pyramids. And avoid dancing Egyptians. Those would call for savage club to the noodle.

JamesMK
11-26-2003, 07:41 AM
imscifi -> It will become clearer what's going on soon enough. Since none of the actual terrain is in place yet, I assume this looks very confusing. Patience! :)

pasta_wrangler -> Nah, BP2 wasn't part of the deal unfortunately. Me goes texturing the old-fashioned way I'm afraid. But I'm used to it - haven't been spoiled by 3D paint apps yet... My PC doesn't exactly unleash my creativity either (view sig) so some of the low-polyness of certain features is very deliberate - otherwise I won't be able to render anything in the end.........

sad
11-27-2003, 02:47 PM
your creativity and very unusual yet productive approach have made it: i´m starting my work on the challenge. thanks for the hard kick in my butt because this cool thread has been a huge inspiration for me.
i like your ideas and your models and i´m looking forward to see the steps that will hopefully follow.:wavey:

btw. i think you can underline the size of the 'universe-think-about-itself-device' by the use of a lower camera angle.

so cool, dude:applause:

JamesMK
11-27-2003, 04:25 PM
Well, thanks a lot, sad. I'm honored to constitute a kick in the butt for someone. There's a first time for everything :D

Looking forward to see what you'll come up with! It's pretty interesting to see how difficult this AW theme actually is. At first sight it's pretty straight forward, but as one starts thinking about it there's nothing simple about it. I'm constantly in doubt and I've quit working on it in my mind several times now... (particularly after last night's render session.... Hmm... not good. But I've got a new trick up my sleeve. News will follow.)

sad
11-27-2003, 04:40 PM
sounds good! i´m excited what news you´ll bring up:wip:

JamesMK
11-28-2003, 12:32 AM
I modeled some terrain and ran some tests yesterday, but it all turned out looking pretty lame. Perhaps I could have managed to get a decent looking final product with a load of cool shaders and lights, but I decided to start over with some other approach.

Luckily a sudden outbrake of Escher-mania in the C4D forum (thread) (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=105719) last night gave me a much needed injection of new energy - I recalled this amazing Escher drawing called "Three Worlds" which focuses on the duality (or 'triality' really) of the concepts 'above' and 'below' where they all merge in the surface of water.

So, I'm grabbing some inspiration from this (I always found that drawing to be somewhat magical) and will change my scene a bit. In the end it will be the same elements I've planned all along - an alien liquid, the tunnel portals, a spherical interior carved inside something - but I'm turning the camera down towards the surface of the liquid and let the contents of the scene be mainly seen as a reflection from above or through the refractive transparency. And for the final touch some neat alien things floating on the surface itself.

A rather rushed concept render available below. This is the first time during this challenge I've felt that I'm getting close to my initial vision, so I know I'm on a roll now. There's still a load of work to do, but within a month or so we should be able to see some decent results.

The biggest remaining problem is the "vastness factor", the scene feels rather tight and enclosed now, but as long as I can fix that somehow, then the rest is merely a question of hard work.

http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069979578_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1069979578_large.jpg)

DimitrisLiatsos
11-28-2003, 08:02 AM
I know what u mean about having problem with the "vastness factor" JamesK...i have the same thing since i have to replace my astronaut somehow with something else to show scale of the place in my composition..but anyway...i like your last test very much....


p.s : :eek: i just read the specs on your pc...man you are an athlete...:thumbsup:

JamesMK
11-28-2003, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by DimitrisLiatsos
p.s : :eek: i just read the specs on your pc...man you are an athlete...:thumbsup:
Well... If nothing else, I've learned the hard way how to build things to a slim memory-profile :D It doesn't take much to make rendering close to impossible.... Good luck 'vastnessifying' your own piece btw - I'm sure you'll solve it elegantly in the end.

splinermann
11-29-2003, 03:34 PM
Congratulations on your image. It is nice to see another person with a crappy computer. (I have 600 mhz 256 ram no graphics card). Lets exchage ideas about using such a machine eficiently.
In terms of vastnes to your scene i suggest examining your lights and depth of field, becuase it looks like a macro shoot.
Try rendering your foreground without DOF and bluring the background to get a stronger contrast.
Check http://www.rustboy.com/rustweb.htm in the making off section the slide 8 has some very interesting tips.
anyway your render is one of my favorites.
good luck

Natess44
11-29-2003, 05:25 PM
You have a 433!?! I feel for you. If I tried making graphics like that on my computer it'd even slow down and it's about 3 times the speed. :D Of course I did manage to run win2000 on a 166 with only 8 mb ram..hehehe.

JamesMK
11-29-2003, 06:33 PM
splinermann -> I'm glad you like it so far. And having a sub-standard PC sure makes it necessary to approach things a bit differently. What I'm doing now (and have done in the past) is basically to use low-poly geometry whenever I can get away with it, plan ahead for final compositing and limit the use of high resolution bitmaps as far as possible.

Low-poly works for most background things, of course. The problem is that I really prefer to get the details right using modeling rather than textures, but sometimes there's no other way.

Compositing helps a lot. Most of the time I will render out the background models and use that image as a background plate when it's time to render the main subject and foreground objects. Currently it seems that I will have to split this challenge entry into two background plates, one midground, one foreground and one or two effect passes.

My current RAM allows about 500K polys at rendertime, if I go beyond that I get excessive swapping or a crash. My GPU is a GeForce 2 /w 32 MB and I get sort of a decent viewport speed up to around 50K polys. 100K is kind of painful, and only useable when it's time to arrange the objects. So I'm obviously forced to hide stuff all the time in order to do anything. Gouraud shading is out of the question once the scene starts to get crowded, which means I spend countless hours doing testrenders.

High-res bitmap textures is the only way to get top-notch results most of the time. But they also eat a lot of RAM. So I will frequently try to make procedurals instead. Saves memory, the con is that they render very slow....

Natess44 -> Win2K on 166 / 8 MB!? Must have taken 30 minutes just to boot! :D I used to run W2K on my box, but then I realized that using NT4 would free up a whole lot of resources better used for modeling and rendering. I don't remember exactly, but since the downgrade I've got around 50 MB more free RAM to use once the OS has loaded. I often kill the explorer.exe process before starting to CG - saves between 2 and 5 MB... :)

Natess44
11-29-2003, 09:50 PM
Nope it just took 10 minutes to load win2k and 1 minute to load win98. It ran faster than my mom's 400mhz with 256mb of ram! :D Must of been really good quality stuff when it was new!
...
Well anyways back to your image. The last image is awsome so far. It sorta reminds me of a stargate in a pool of metalic goo. :)

JamesMK
11-30-2003, 01:25 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1070155501_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1070155501_large.jpg)

Testing testing... It looks a bit busy right now, but I'm happily using a lot of saturated lights. I'm a bit of a coward usually, going for desaturated yellows most of the time, so this is a lot of fun. I think I'm approaching a state of 'immediate impact' - - -

matty2x4
11-30-2003, 10:07 AM
hey hey, loooooking good!
Although I think the white highlights on the water are a bit hard looking, they kide of leap out of the piccy leaving the areas around them behind. Other than that is lookin good. Oh one more thing, um those pannels at the back with the square block patterns on them... I think they make the scene look a bit small, like they are just pannels on a wall. Sorry but I dont have any sugestions on how to maybe fix that, having scale problems of my own challenge...
Keep it going
Matty2x4

JamesMK
11-30-2003, 10:33 AM
Thanks, matt - I know what you mean about the panels. I'm going to cut a hole there showing something huge outside. I greebled those polys a bit just because I was bored with the smooth nothingness of the original sphere :D

I have a plan. I'll model and render four alien landscapes, map them on planes behind the portals. That just has to work.

JamesMK
11-30-2003, 09:43 PM
http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/triality7.jpg

ravioli_rancher
11-30-2003, 10:20 PM
James,

Once Disney builds its own space shuttles, the first thing they will do is build magic castles and "Small Small World, Afterall" rides everywhere.

When they are proven to repel alien invasions, military consortiums will began funding their proliferation. Nuclear and biological warefare will become obsolete. Slow moving, overly musical amusement rides will be the prevailing force, and allow humanity to conquer other worlds by giving all indigineous lifeforms awful headaches, and forcing them to retreat to new, less hospitable worlds and dimensions.

Your entry will provide the visiual inspiration and conceptual spark. Well done!

Goo is good. Bubbles and froth might provide for a little extra horror and mystery. Maybe your Anancephalic man can be seen bobbing in his wheel chair beneath the processing plant, singing along with the suds. Or making his own type of bubbles.

Hmmm. I don't think anyone yet has introduced fart bubbles into this contest. I plan on beating you to it.

Carry on!

JamesMK
11-30-2003, 10:32 PM
Originally posted by ravioli_rancher
I don't think anyone yet has introduced fart bubbles into this contest.
Consider it done.

Bubbles is a good idea though - farts or otherwise.

imscifi
11-30-2003, 11:04 PM
Wow. Ok now this is kickin ass! :applause: ... what else can I say... (hmmmm maybee I should pull out) damn.. excellent work... I will be much more patient... much more patient! :buttrock:

splinermann
11-30-2003, 11:21 PM
we should do a low poly club sometime.

great render the new camera angle makes ti look much more alive.

HAve you thougth (as in think) about putting the well maped into a flat plane to render faster.

anyway nice progress

JamesMK
12-01-2003, 01:28 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1070242125_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1070242125_large.jpg)

Some weird mountains to go as a backdrop in a hole in the wall of the upper left corner of the previous renders. Probably.

JamesMK
12-01-2003, 06:35 PM
OK guys, I'm pulling out from this challenge for a while - a couple of weeks at least - to work on some VFX-shots for a music video.

Hopefully I'll be done with that around christmas, so I might have time to finish my entry anyway.

flyingP
12-01-2003, 09:43 PM
I should browse more often, have just seen this James, play some more please I find a lot of these most interesting. Just one thing though I think you need to play a bit with perspective this doesn't seem to have a "vast" effect so far. I think you need maybe one dominant element there is no real contrast at the moment I feel.

Cheers.

JamesMK
12-01-2003, 09:49 PM
You're correct there, FlyingP... Just thinking about the elusive vastness is giving me nightmares. I hope that the upcoming break to another project can give me a fresh view on the matter once I return to the challenge.

Nice to see you around here, btw - the usual C4D-crowd is rarely seen in these parts of CGTalk :)

flyingP
12-01-2003, 09:53 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
Nice to see you around here, btw - the usual C4D-crowd is rarely seen in these parts of CGTalk :)

Hahaha CGtalk is just too VAST.

JamesMK
12-01-2003, 09:59 PM
Arrhh! That word again - you just made me pop another vein in my brain.... Think it blacked out my typing lobe unfrowetenalys yuh bstradh!

flyingP
12-01-2003, 10:01 PM
and I thought that was the hole in the head. :)

flyingP
12-04-2003, 08:25 PM
Hey James I know you are busy with other things, but I have just been looking at this again. Just a thought to the vastness question, you may need something which has a recogniseable scale, let it be a figure, spaceship, whatever, just that it lets each of us say(think) OK I know how big that is (should be), place that in relation to the other objects and you should be getting closer IMO.

cheers

JamesMK
12-04-2003, 09:52 PM
That's exactly what I was playing with initially. I had some gravity-defying stairs tangled up in that circular array piece of machinery thingy. The problem was that nobody really liked that approach, so I got rid of it.

But you're dead-on correct about the principle, and that's what makes the challenge very tricky. Since you are not supposed to have anything recognisable in the image, only really alien things, then there is no decent way to provide a scale reference. This is why there is such an abundance of mist/distance fog in many of the entries :D

flyingP
12-04-2003, 10:57 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
This is why there is such an abundance of mist/distance fog in many of the entries :D

:D I can see I am going to have to have a look at the others.

In recognisable I don't really mean something that someone has actually seen before, lets say something more psycologically recognisable if that makes any sense.

JamesMK
12-04-2003, 11:04 PM
Yeah, I see what you mean. I'll have to think long and hard about this as soon as my little excursion into the realms of cheesy FX has come to an end.

And, just to clarify, I'm not in any way implying that there is anything wrong with fog and mist. Just so you know.

flyingP
12-04-2003, 11:16 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
And, just to clarify, I'm not in any way implying that there is anything wrong with fog and mist. Just so you know.

You're quite right, to be honest it's not an easy brief on this one.

JamesMK
12-04-2003, 11:40 PM
>>> to be honest it's not an easy brief on this one.

Nope, that's what's so funny really. At first glance it seems really easy, but after a while it turns out that building potentially cool characters and similar type of models is actually a lot easier (not saying that it is easy, but you know what I mean). Doing stuff entirely without any sort of real-world references or recognisable sci-fi inspirational sources is a total pain in the rear.

.... I really REALLY have to think this over. Later on. I'm building houses now, OK? You're messing with my workflow, pig-thingy ;)

matty2x4
12-05-2003, 11:25 AM
I have used a walkway/platform thingy... do you think thats real world referance???? heck even Aliens need to get around! Oh and I know what you guys mean about the fog and volumetric lights I am getting more guilty of that every time i amke a change.... oh my poor laptop when it comes time to a final render!
Matty

JamesMK
12-05-2003, 12:38 PM
Hey, Matty, don't worry!
I'm just talking out of my ass anyway.... Just keep doing what you're doing, mate!

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 01:29 PM
I'm almost done with my VFX work, and there's still 20 something days left before deadline..... Hmm.... I've been browsing through the thumbnails over at the challenge site and there are not too many submissions that really make me go "whoa!" yet..... Well, Pufferfish and OZ seem to be pretty well on their way I must say..... Maybe I should gather some energy to start working on something here.

Seriously though, I've been looking through the stuff I've done in this thread so far, and I'm pretty sure it's time for me to start over from scratch in order to make something decent here. Question is if there is sufficient time for such a venture....

I'll go back to the drawing board and sketch up something and see where it takes me....

I've said it before, and I'm saying it again: This challenge is a very, very difficult one.... Pretty sure most of the participants have come to the same conclusion by now :)

Back to pen and paper for me now. Wish me luck!

TheFirstAngel
12-29-2003, 02:00 PM
Hi James MK,

If your last post is your finnished VFX, I think you still can do much to get more out of it. The lightning and texturing consumes lowresolution model's lack of complexity in most cases, and your all over light actually (maybe you have too much ambience on?) does not support the look in a very lucky way. The volumelight has way too much contrast, a VL is good to set accents, if it's too dominant or here to hide stuff you missed the meaning of it. Try to finetune. Why starting on something new when you can work out this?
20 days are still (as you said yourself) a lot of time and the dead of a good work is too early to be selfsatisfied, work on the details and you'll get way more out of your composition.
As Steven Stahlberg once said, THERE IS NO FAST 3D THERE IS JUST GOOD 3D.
I interpret this in staying selfcritical and as 3d is a continious process of refining a scene in small steps that every single of it needs full attention, to use time as good as possible.
Looking at your composition, I also think you can still work out many things such as lightning, fog, DOF, textures, and get much more out of your work.

Hope you don't take me wrong now, it's just that I think there are many talents in here and 20 days are stilll enough time to let those who take things serious and concentrate on their work can bring out their potential and grow over themself and to give an alloverjudgement in that early stage is quiet arrogant..
And never underestimate a early stage. Every artist has his ways to create things and the last word will be spoken in about 20 days.
Cheers and good luck anyways

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 02:27 PM
The VFX I'm talking about is an entirely different project that's been keeping me away from working on this AW challenge entry, so it doesn't really have anything to do with this thread at all... I guess that wasn't very clear :)

And no, I'm not trying to judge the other entries at all really, I guess I'm just talking about the concepts per se... I definitely didn't want to sound arrogant in any way, but in all honesty there's quite a lot of similar concepts floating around and very few of them are jaw-droppingly good. Incremental improvements on a scene can only make the concept clearer and more refined, but it usually doesn't get any better than the concept itself. N.B I'm not talking technical quality here, but simply the abstract power of the concept, the idea.... I'm judging myself too here - my concept sucks ass, that's why I never got "the feeling" while working on it....

But I agree that the last 20 days will turn a lot of things around in a dramatic way - no doubt about it. And there are tons of guys with a much more impressive track record than mine (which is virtually zero and not very high-quality at all), so I'm totally aware of the situation. Nevertheless - some overall critique can't be a bad thing, can it?

Reading this back before posting, it sounds a bit "flamey", but I'm not about that at all, honestly.

Peace and good stuff to all! :beer:

TheFirstAngel
12-29-2003, 02:44 PM
Maybe I got you 300% wrong then, never mind!:rolleyes:

The theme is hard I think and original is always just the first....
Well, if you decieded to work out ideas, bring in some major point or whatever, this sure is great. Well, wish you inspiration, hope you let your mind fly to some breathtaking alienplanet and bring back a bunch of amazing and innovative never before seen ideas for a matured concept...:wip:
Goodluck and peace...!

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 02:49 PM
No prob, Angel.

Btw, the current state of your entry looks really promising. I got a sort of ROTK-big-green-thing-going-kabloiee-into-the-sky feeling from that luminant smokey pillar going up into the air there - that can't possibly be bad, can it?

And good luck to you too. Stop me now, please - need to go sketching (um, have some dishes to wash first actually....)

flyingP
12-29-2003, 03:24 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
(um, have some dishes to wash first actually....)

Left long enough that can also become quite an alien environment :eek:

Was wondering when you were planning to get back into this, I'm keen to see with what you come up next.

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 03:28 PM
Originally posted by flyingP
Left long enough that can also become quite an alien environment :eek:
Lol... I'll just leave it alone until january 20 and take a photo of it... I will probably need two weeks to fake a wireframe shot in PS :D

flyingP
12-29-2003, 04:09 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
I've said it before, and I'm saying it again: This challenge is a very, very difficult one....

Have to agree with you on that one too and personally I feel it will be almost damn impossible to come up with something that isn't in some way recogniseable. That is assuming you are trying to take the line of thought I think you are taking.

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 04:25 PM
Sort of... One part of the problem is the recognisability (is that even a real word?) and the other problem is the vastness. Combine these two things, and you've got something entirely impossible on your hands (vastness requires a sense of scale, which in turn requires reference for scale which means something recognisable - it's a catch 22 situation). Basically, something has to go...

What I'm doing now, as a preparation for new concepts, is to break down everything in a sort of logical deductive way to come up with some "rules" for things like: What colors are the "biggest"? Why, abstractly speaking, does a mountain or a canyon look bigger than a pair of sneakers (with no other objects to compare it with)? If there are some particular features making this happen, can they be abstracted and alienized? Is a green puddle of jelly goo alien or just a puddle of goo? Is the atlantic ocean vast, or do I just think it is because I know that it would take several months to swim across it?

It's come to the point where I don't think anything is vast anymore, not even pictures of grand canyon :D

flyingP
12-29-2003, 05:44 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
It's come to the point where I don't think anything is vast anymore, not even pictures of grand canyon :D

It's all relative James. In such a case though and considering that the final image is 2D although you are building it in a 3D world I'd say it's going to be more a case of getting the right perspective. Try to think of it so, where am I the viewer standing in relation to what I am seeing, when you are standing at the base of a mountain it looks big, on the other hand seen from a few miles in the air above it...

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 06:44 PM
Originally posted by flyingP
It's all relative James.
You're right, of course. The question is how to successfully convey it.... I've been messed up for life :D Everything looks flat and small now... Oh, the pain! I'll quote The Tick: "It's the pain that hurts the most!"

...... grumble....

flyingP
12-29-2003, 07:07 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
You're right, of course. The question is how to successfully convey it....

Nope... not telling, that's your job. :D

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 07:17 PM
Nasty! *we crawlses back to our preciousssss cave, mumbling curses*

tr1cky
12-29-2003, 10:28 PM
Hey man, why no updates? I think you can get more out of your image by bringing some elements to greater contrasts. Lets see an update before the contest's end!

JamesMK
12-29-2003, 11:02 PM
Easy now, tr1cky thingy... :) Updates are on their way - or rather new concepts.... Any day now. I'm sure there will be lots of action in here during the remaining 20 days...... Well, it's either that or I can publicly announce this as the official AW Challenge Chat Thread! Invite all your friends! *chirp chirp chirp [crickets]*

JamesMK
12-31-2003, 12:42 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1072874573_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1072874573_large.jpg)

OK, starting over! New concept that feels a bit more promising... I'm thinking something like an alien coral reef, underwater setting - the structure is possibly inhabited by parasite alien beings (which we won't see of course)... 20 days left - this will be an interesting start of the new year..

TheFirstAngel
12-31-2003, 01:52 PM
Goodluck than and a Happy newyear, Make me go wow!:wip: :buttrock:

JamesMK
12-31-2003, 02:10 PM
I'll certainly try... Happy New Year to you too!

PS: Don't get too plastered - it's quite impossible to model anything then... :D

TheFirstAngel
12-31-2003, 02:19 PM
I'll try to keep that in my mind in about an hour (have to bring up some finnished Graphic design to a customer in an hour which is an OldHippie, hardcore potsmokin' Niceguy and takes me much to say no everytime) and the wild night in front of me... But same to you of course, have a good spacetrip into 2004 http://www.click-smilies.de/sammlung0903/spezial/Fool/leb.gifhttp://www.click-smilies.de/sammlung0903/spezial/Fool/alc.gifhttp://www.click-smilies.de/sammlung0903/spezial/Fool/wink.gif

JamesMK
01-02-2004, 01:24 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073006683_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073006683_large.jpg)

Building some various biotech-coral kind of things, applying them along splines arranged to match the intended "pose" of the entire structure.... This particular image matches the "thigh" so to speak - So far it's a little bit like putting small pieces of meat and vegetables on a skewer. BBQ anyone?

Designer2
01-02-2004, 10:57 AM
hey James, Brilliant, keep up very impressive, you know the only thing i suggest is to let the place appear very huge it is now looking like small room unless this is what you are up to, as i can see you did some mountains that's what stops me a bit and try to find out what are you up to?

good work so far. rock on :buttrock:
:eek:

JamesMK
01-02-2004, 11:18 AM
Designer2 - Thanks for your comments - - - I struggled a lot with the vastness factor in my previous stage, it didn't go well... so this time I've planned ahead, I hope :)

I'm thinking this slightly antropomorphic mineral structure is sort of tangled up between two rockwalls, it's an underwater kind of scene, and we'll have a dark abyss below and some caustic lights coming in from above. Hopefully it'll work out better this time....

Designer2
01-02-2004, 01:45 PM
as i can imagine out of your words, you are up to great piece, you know you are using a natural phenomenas which we see always such as caustics out of glass or something and such as light beams....so on, making those phenomenas huge and extremely big would be challenge on its own, I think this is the problem you are facing right now just try to add maximum details you can afford to make them looks tooooo much in one image so they will appear as if they were in a big world, making them larg with little detail will give the illusion of small place...

looking forward to see more of your wonderfull work... :applause:

JamesMK
01-03-2004, 12:02 AM
Designer2: Thanks again... I'm kind of on a roll here, so it might work out this time. I won't have time to start over a third time, so keep your fingers crossed :D

http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073088140_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073088140_large.jpg)

So far only 4500 polys - 30 000 at rendertime with expanded instances and subdivisions.

JamesMK
01-03-2004, 12:04 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073088283_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073088283_large.jpg)

My favourite visible parallel spots from previous experiments. A preliminary procedural texture (but I'm pretty happy about it anyway) - one keylight and one fill.

TheFirstAngel
01-03-2004, 12:26 AM
Looks good indeed. Makes me curious how the composition will look like. I like the idea of an underwatercomposition, the caustics n stuff. Well, great start so far, keep it up man!:thumbsup:

JamesMK
01-03-2004, 12:56 AM
1st Angel - Y'all wait and see... Glad you like it so far.

http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073091415_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073091415_large.jpg)

Just PS-doodling a backdrop concept...

flyingP
01-03-2004, 11:37 AM
looking good James, keep on rolling.

JamesMK
01-03-2004, 11:01 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073170877_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073170877_large.jpg)

Once my viewports look a bit like Stalingrad around 1943 I know that things are beginning to get detailed enough... Some more stuff, then a clean start to build the backdrop and foreground elements.

JamesMK
01-03-2004, 11:04 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073171082_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073171082_large.jpg)

Getting closer to the finished mineral structure here. When designing characters I usually enjoy giving them a large potbelly.... Though this is technically NOT a character, the structure has a certain intentional antropomorphic appearance, so I automatically gave it a potbelly too.... Then I blew it up. I usually don't do THAT.

TheFirstAngel
01-04-2004, 03:15 AM
Hi James!

I looked intensively at your new composition.Great structures, great effects. The details it look fantastic.
My only suggestion is the arrangement of the elements: Was the arrangement chosen by purpose? It looks like a stickman, in this case with a bursting belly and I ask myself if the arrangement wouldn't look better getting out of "humanoid" shape...
Whatever, its a really great work and can't wait to see your next steps!:thumbsup:

jaygee
01-04-2004, 08:52 AM
whoa its a guy! thats cool! perhaps an origin of life concept? i like the exploding belly and the lights shinging out... sort of like the eplxoding smiths from revolutions... excellent excellent!

JamesMK
01-04-2004, 09:31 AM
1stAngel - I truly appreciate you've taken your time and looked closely at this. Everything about the arrangement of elements is indeed intentional. The stick figure theme will get somewhat obfuscated as the rest of the details get attached to the structure, but I still want the stickman silhouette to be present - just less obvious.

I really had to extract a new concept out of some sort of real shape - the alien amorphousness of my previous attempt didn't get me anywhere, so....

jaygee - Thanks dude! "Origin of life concept" isn't too far from the truth, actually. Once I added the exploding belly I realized it followed some sort of 'cosmic creation' theme... goes well with that line in the challenge brief "- - - like something was created here."

jaygee
01-04-2004, 09:33 AM
hmm im thinking that your thinking something like a volume light shadow on the figure? cos that would be insanely cool! :D

JamesMK
01-04-2004, 02:24 PM
jaygee: I have been thinking that, yes... But then again, the plan is to have some pretty strong underwater caustics coming down from above, and maybe there is a slight risk that the overall amount of volumetrics turns everything into an unreadable mess of light FX... But I have not entirely ruled it out yet, I'll just leave it for the final render experiments.

JamesMK
01-05-2004, 01:25 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073265908_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073265908_large.jpg)

Something for them poor aliens to live in... If they ever come home that is. Haven't seen them around so far.

JamesMK
01-05-2004, 01:28 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073266133_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073266133_large.jpg)

Only procedurals here (too, I might add. My box couldn't handle any bitmaps large enough at print resolution, so I'll have to stick to procedural shading all the way). This is mainly a few tons of Buya algorithmic noise in color, diffusion, specular and bump channels, plus some more noise multiplied with a falloff gradient in the luminance channel - incidently more or less the same setup as the shader for the rest of the structure.

JamesMK
01-05-2004, 01:32 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073266348_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073266348_large.jpg)

Changed the lighting a bit... don't know if I like it better than the old setup yet. For the finals I'll do a multipass render anyway, so the individual lighting levels don't really matter...

On top you'll see the friendly alien neighbourhood... Slightly twisted, but I'm sure they've got really tidy lawns. If we only could see them. Good thing I didn't make any.

flyingP
01-05-2004, 09:08 AM
Some VERY nice modelling going on here James, I'd be curious to know how you have done some of that. And I really rather like the idea.

Cheers

JamesMK
01-05-2004, 09:35 AM
Thanks, flyingP!
The modeling isn't too complex really.

I could break it down like this - there are basically three different categories of stuff going on:

1. Spline guides - Mainly linear splines representing each "limb", and one smooth cubic for the backbone. Some of these are stretched out and given a visible geometry by using sweep nurbs: these are the "wires" in the scene obviously. Copies of these, not stretched but matching the intended length of the "limb", are left in the scene to hold the other things in place.

2. Mineral/Coral segments - A bunch of rather simple polygon objects with various holes and matrix extruded protrusions. I made six slightly different segments and manually positioned them, one by one, on the limb-splineguides using an align-to-spline expression. They are of course instances of the original six segments, to allow easy global changes later on.
I did not use the spline tangent to orient them, since that didn't look natural enough - so I merely used the splineguides to get the correct position. Then I manually rotated and scaled each individual segment (there are a lot of them)
A few of these segments contain an array of fourteen (two by two with different radius and distance) visible parallel spotlights with red->blue inner/outer custom colors.

3. The city on the head - More or less the same technique as 2 above. Low poly stuff with insets, a frozen polygon selection for the glowy window material and some matrix extrusions for the slightly eastern-inspired roof decorations. A few different master sections like that, instance duplicated on top of each other and separately scaled/rotated until I had a few different buildings with an appropriate height. I grouped nine such buildings together and used a combination of taper, twist and bend deformers to get a nice sense of twisted alien chaos and your average defiance of the laws of physics.

Aside from this there's the exploding belly - a magnet deformed sphere with some locally increased subdivision in order to get a sufficient number of small fragments coming from the explosionFX deformer applied to it. There are two volumetric omnis inside of it, with different colors and slightly offset from the pivot point.

Umm... That pretty much sums it up :)

jaygee
01-05-2004, 09:38 AM
whoa! it looks great m8! the buildings look kind of oriental almost... and the guy looks like a stick figure, one of those used in that shadow puppetry? i dunno but it looks great! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: keep up the G-R-E-A-T work!

delirium
01-05-2004, 02:07 PM
dunno how you make those lightning effects (is it only volume light?) but it looks really cool! modelling also very good. i love your style, i haven't seen s.th. like that yet. :bowdown:
keep it on!
delirium

JamesMK
01-05-2004, 07:18 PM
jaygee, delirium - Thanks a lot! I'm very happy about the fact that there seems to be a lot of room for individual interpretations here... Usually a good sign.

Oh, btw, the lighting fx is only volume lights, no post tricks yet... Most of the lights aren't even truly volumetric, only "visible" (meaning you can see the beam but there are no volumetric calculations).

jaygee
01-05-2004, 09:13 PM
hmm is that only possible in cinema 4d? or is it perhaps doable in 3ds max?

Goul
01-05-2004, 10:53 PM
the modelling is awsome , the lights effects are great...
Can't wait to watch your final picture ! :drool:
Curious to see what you will imagine for the background

JamesMK
01-05-2004, 11:08 PM
Goul - Thanx... I'm struggling with the background right now. Not happy yet. Hopefully I'll post something later tonight...

Originally posted by jaygee
hmm is that only possible in cinema 4d? [visible non-volumetric lights] or is it perhaps doable in 3ds max?
Have no idea actually, my knowledge about Max is seriously limited... It sure renders faster than true volumetrics anyway.

Designer2
01-06-2004, 08:16 AM
i like this exploding look lighting effects, this is realy cool James keep it up.
:thumbsup:

eska
01-06-2004, 11:44 PM
Hi
New member(me) wonders how just SIMPLE TRYING here and there, brings always to such beautiful results.
Keep going man:bounce:

JamesMK
01-07-2004, 01:20 AM
Designer2 - Thanks dude... Working on it!

eska - You know what Yoda says:
"Do, or do not. There is no try." :D

JamesMK
01-07-2004, 01:28 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073438899_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073438899_large.jpg)

Testing the imaginary caustics from above. Didn't crank up the sample quality enough, so there are some artifacts...

I also messed up the alpha a bit, so the "old" volume lights look really weird. I'll be fixing that later on - just wanted you to see the intended atmospheric feel here...

JamesMK
01-07-2004, 01:34 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073439268_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073439268_large.jpg)

Been working on the backdrop... The size of the scene is now starting to turn my P.O.S. PC into something slow and crawly, so in order to populate the background with a huge number of buildings, I had to resort to billboards.

I'm far from done with this particular feature, so there are not a lot of houses yet... I've only rendered out two different billboard textures yet, so I have to do a lot of that too in order to get a decent amount of variation.

I've also used big one-poly planes on different Z-distances, facing the camera, frontal-mapped with a copy of the background gradient, lowered the opacity and used them to create a fake mist. I find this is better than ordinary fog because it gives more control. It also renders a lot faster than volumetric fog shaders.

TheFirstAngel
01-07-2004, 02:07 AM
Hey James!
Well, next look next thoughts. The backgroundcity looks a bit chaotic yet. I know, it's an underwaterscene, and when I walk over the countryside, i love cornfields waving in the wind. I seen the same movement in underwaterdocumentations on seagrass.
As they seem flexible, I could imagine, they react on underwater streams in the water like that. Even chaos has a matrix to let things interact with each other.

If your computer gets slow, try to work xrefstyle, build groups and make nonrenderable lowpolyobjects in the same mass and position for them as placeholders, and hide the highpoly objects away when you don't work on them (have to do that too, does not help in rendertimes but helps much in workflow).

Stay freaky and keep on rockin'!

:wip: :thumbsup: :wip:

jaygee
01-07-2004, 02:36 AM
mmm... freaky and alien. perfect! :P :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

JamesMK
01-07-2004, 12:23 PM
1st_angel - Low-res proxies is a good solution for sure. Anyways, I just had a new idea for the background, so I might try the xref style and give that a shot tonight.

jaygee - Good to hear!

JamesMK
01-08-2004, 01:10 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073524220_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073524220_large.jpg)

Rendered out the final background image at full resolution after having put a gigazillion of buildings in place.
Rendered at 2700 px width in 2 hours.
I ended up using billboards/sprites because I simply couldn't render more than around 10 buildings with real geometry... Not enough RAM + swapspace... And as you can see I wanted a lot more than 10 of these...

Next step is to add more stuff to the main mineral structure, work some more of the lighting and finally figure out something to add to the foreground.

flyingP
01-08-2004, 07:22 PM
Can't wait to see the finished version of this James, it has REAL potential, BTW thanks for the modelling breakdown and sorry for taking so long to reply, got a bit busy there but my son here at last :D

cheers, and keep up the great work.

JamesMK
01-08-2004, 07:33 PM
FlyingP - Thanks dude, and don't worry about late replies...

Tons of congratulations regarding the arrival of your long awaited son! Those 9 months of rendering usually feel very long too, particularly the last month seems to last forever. Hope all is well with him and his mother. Good luck trying to get some sleep for the next few months :D

BClaw
01-10-2004, 04:20 AM
Your work is absolutely incredible! :bounce:

Designer2
01-10-2004, 09:43 AM
hey James, very incredable progress, you have nice work just keep on it. ;)

JamesMK
01-10-2004, 11:26 AM
BClaw, Designer2 - Thanks for your appreciation! Updates are on their way. I've been sidetracked doing another project for the last few days, so I haven't been able to do any work on this piece... But it looks like I'll get some spare time tonight - keep your eyes open... :)

JamesMK
01-10-2004, 11:08 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073776118_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073776118_large.jpg)

A cutout from the full-size (almost) background.

JamesMK
01-10-2004, 11:09 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073776185_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073776185_large.jpg)

A cutout from the full-size (almost) background.

JamesMK
01-10-2004, 11:11 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073776263_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073776263_large.jpg)

A cutout from the full-size (almost) background.

rickycox
01-10-2004, 11:30 PM
That's looking great, love the dynamic feel that you've got there. Can't wait to see the final image.

flyingP
01-11-2004, 12:27 AM
This just keeps getting better James :thumbsup:

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 10:17 AM
riki, flyingP - Thank you... So, I might be on the right track here?

Well, I'm pretty happy about it so far. Feels like the final image upload isn't too far away.

I'll make a full composite later today, with the main layer included on top of the background - the full resolution version of the main thing has been rendering overnight. Then I'll play a bit with some post, and I'll probably want to add something to the foreground as well, but I've not decided what that will be yet. I have a few ideas to choose from, we'll see...

Side note : I'm very glad I decided to scrap my initial idea and start over - it's been quite easy to work on these new structures and layouts simply because the new concept actually works, at least in my mind. So there hasn't been any hesitation about what to do next, just efficient work and a rather constant progression. Just checked the date and realized that I started from scratch with a clean slate only 10 days ago. Must try to remember, for future reference, how much I need a working concept before actually doing anything :D

Dreamabyss
01-11-2004, 10:32 AM
James,
I have been lurking and following your progress. I was just going to say that it was a good thing that you changed directions at the last minute even at the risk of running out of time. I liked your first concept but this one is much stronger! There is a lesson in there to learn for everyone...that first or second ideas aren't always the best. I guess that's why when I went to Art School that they made me do hundreds of thumbnails BEFORE settling on a theme. Often we are so anxious to get started that we don't pull the best ideas out of our heads.

Good luck with the final comp...it's getting down to the wire eh? I am anxious to see it.

I also want to add that I think it is amazing the work you are doing with so little hardware. Another lesson for all of us!

Keep going...your almost there!! :applause:

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 10:43 AM
Dreamabyss - Thanks for your comments :thumbsup: I much regret the fact that I've never attended a real art school - if I had a couple of thousand thumbnail sketches stuck in the back of my head I might have started out on the right foot here already in november :D - There's always a lesson to learn somewhere, isn't there?

Thanks for your thoughts yet again.

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 01:13 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073826802_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073826802_large.jpg)

Part of the backdrop structure explosion.

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 01:25 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073827516_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073827516_large.jpg)

Lets see if I come up with something more. It's final today anyways.

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 01:30 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073827823_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073827823_large.jpg)

Here's the "head" at full print resolution.

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 06:33 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073845990_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073845990_large.jpg)

A full-res detailed view of the "foot"

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 06:37 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073846229_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1073846229_large.jpg)

And a final full-res cutout, this one from the exploded area of the main structure.

cobalt1410
01-11-2004, 08:37 PM
All I can say is WOW :thumbsup:

miketche
01-11-2004, 08:55 PM
James, I just found your Alineware Thread and looked through it and I must say I think you've truely achieved a vastness and WOW factor in your image. I think you were wise to scrap your original ideas and start fresh.

That is probably something I should have done. My finished image is the first thing that popped into my head when I read the discription for the first time. I Probably should have worked out my ideas a bit more and did more scraping and thrashing.

Anyway, you've really got something great here.:buttrock:

And don't be to hard on yourself about your PC Specs. I'm still using a 233 iMac with 256 Mb ram and 4 gig HD. Now tell me that don't hurt.:cry:

JamesMK
01-11-2004, 09:03 PM
cobalt410 : WOW is good. I like wows.

miketche : 233 iMac.... you're right, it hurts like hell just reading something like that :D

Dreamabyss
01-11-2004, 10:58 PM
Incredible!!! What an imagination you have! With this composite, you have put yourself in a good position to win that computer...and you did it in less than two weeks. Good luck on winning!!! :beer:

TheFirstAngel
01-12-2004, 04:11 AM
Damn that's good! Hey James, this really bigtime rocks!
Things have a fantastic dynamic now and the backgroundobjects are bigtime cool as they are in some kinda natural order now...
Love your new work, there's no compare to the one before!
Keep on Rockin!!!!! Best Luck!:buttrock:

Pufferfish
01-12-2004, 07:54 AM
Oh man! You surely have gone far from your first idea. This looks brilliant! That scene... it has quite much going on. Total space war :) Very cool structures and I like the "insect" feeling your work has. Also those light rays... hmmm almost like underwater, you thought of that?

Great new start or should I say end :) Good work, interesting to see how far you take this, it surely has loads of potential.:thumbsup:

swadepgh
01-12-2004, 08:37 AM
Wow, this is a huge achievement. It is looking great! You have so much detail in your images. Best of luck. :beer:

JamesMK
01-12-2004, 01:04 PM
Dreamabyss - Thanks a lot! I hope you're right about the possibilities of a winning position (though I tend to assume that someone else is always going to end up with something infinitely better than my entries)

1stAngel - Thank you, you're well on your way with a good one yourself!

Pufferfish - I'm glad you like it - And you're right about the underwater feeling, it was one of my goals with the coloring scheme and background composition with multiple levels of textured mist as well as the somewhat caustic light coming in from the top left area. Your entry will be something out of the ordinary as well as far as I can tell!

swadepgh - Thanks, and good luck to you too! About the level of detail, I was actually a bit surprised myself when I rendered out the full resolution versions... My stuff usually look like sh*t when I render them really large :D But I guess it was the fact that we all knew from the beginning that it had to be very hi-res... requires a lot of detail...

JamesMK
01-12-2004, 07:30 PM
Just remembered... The short story I wrote before actually belongs to the first concept - - - So, here's a new one to go with the new (and final) concept:

The Tachyon Synapse Anomaly

Escape pod descending faster and faster through endless layers of clouds, light and radiation.

Then everything slows down, a low-pitched splash, more like a stretched out roar of thunder.

I am sinking.

Slowly gently further down into a clear liquid... perhaps a gaseous substance gradually turning into liquid as my descent continues.
Subsonic thump: setting down on something - not solid ground, but somewhat similar. I am a gentle motion in a streaming zone of... I don't know.

Releasing the protective shields to get a clear view of the outside environment. Everything is pitch black. Slowly going brighter, crawly beams of light pushing themselves into the cockpit.

I decide to check my instruments, but the readings make no sense at all.

Then it hits me: The world has not slowed down. It's me - my mind is speeding, hyperdrive. I am faster than anything else. Everything I do, every thought passing through my head, it's all faster than the speed of light. I can actually see beams of light as they grow closer towards me.

There is something out there, something huge and incomprehensible.
I do not know if it is mineral or vegetable, dead or alive.

Then explosions. The infinite loud noise, flames and fragments frozen in time, suspended right in front of me.

I am too fast, moving in a stillframe. In the corner of my eye, I realize those structures appear to be moving. Maybe.

It looks like they are... dancing?

Cullen
01-14-2004, 12:06 PM
wow.

how did i go for soo long not being active on your thread (even whenyou were active on mine)... i thought I had subscribed to it... even though you have finished...it is not too late to coment.

wow.
there is soo much detail in this image, and is not like any image here. Your work in progress is full of inspiring material for me and heaps others here.
very impressed.

JamesMK
01-14-2004, 12:57 PM
Cullen,

thanks a heap. No, it's never too late to comment. Incidently I've reopened the files so to speak, and I'm doing some further improvements. Meaning I'll upload a new final image (the final-final hopefully, tee-hee...)
I was a bit too quick on the TIF-upload there, too tired to even imagine working any further on the image at that point. But a short break from it cured that. So there's still a little more stuff coming.

About keeping track of the entries in this challenge - it's impossible! I'm still stumbling over four-page threads I've never seen before.... I've tried to select a few to follow, but then I too forget to click that subscription link, and... yeah, you know...

I'm very glad you like it anyway - your's turned out excellent and indeed very original as well, thus, I'm honored!

ficolo
01-14-2004, 12:59 PM
Nice bio-structure.... Great Work!!!!!:beer:

JamesMK
01-14-2004, 08:22 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074111735_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074111735_large.jpg)

Added some more background elements and remade the post-processing.

Several reasons for this:
1. I wanted to emphasize the diagonal feeling from top-left to right, as well as the ballet theme I imagined after watching the last render a few times, so I added a second structure (upper left) and rotated it to fit the flow.

2. Looking for some more drama, so I went for a stronger contrast tweak and went wild with the dodge tool for a while.

3. Needed a bit more color, so I've enhanced a few areas with rather clean primary colors.

JamesMK
01-14-2004, 08:23 PM
ficolo - Thanks dude. I really enjoyed your entry as well. :cool:

Just an addition to my post above - I'm currently trying to change the pose of my foreground structure to fit better with the tweaked background. I'll probably redo the lighting a bit as well, but most of all move and rotate things a bit to get away from the rather stiff and centred composition of the last "final" render...

Soon we'll hopefully see a final final render :D

tr1cky
01-14-2004, 08:29 PM
Wow, that's pretty cool, has a retro arcade feel to it for some reason.

cobalt1410
01-14-2004, 10:31 PM
so much detail, excellent modeling work!:thumbsup:

Dreamabyss
01-14-2004, 11:59 PM
Hey James,

Love the new comp! But...since you are putting more emphasis on the environment you are losing the detail of the structures. I think that is a shame because that is the best feature (IMO) of your piece. Is it possible that you might be over-thinking it and losing track of your objective? Or are you finally deciding on what your original intention was? As for me..I dunno...I might be wrong as this lastest comp is really nice...but it's also a departure from the close-up and intimacy of the last comp. Just do yourself a favor and hold the comps up side by side and decide if you are truly going in the right direction.

Carry on Mate! Either way you choose you have a winner on your hands. :applause:

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 12:24 AM
Fear not, Dreamabyss! That was just the new background layer - I'm redoing the foreground right now (will be done rendering when I wake up)... So, the "old" foreground layer with the main structure will still be there, slightly reposed to look even better (or less sucky) than before... Aye. The new full comp will appear tomorrow around this time. Cya!

rattlesnake
01-15-2004, 02:35 AM
WOW this image looks awsome, great work, i followed your thread but i never had something to add to others commentaries, this time i dont care if somebody say it beferoe, exellent work, the concept is great:thumbsup:

TheFirstAngel
01-15-2004, 03:23 AM
Yeah, really cool and outstanding original. Can't wait to see how things get together here! You're on a fantastic progress, and I hope you will tweak out things that all of yout beatifull details appear the final in the best light! Looks great, keep on rockin' Matey!!!!:beer: :buttrock: :applause: :thumbsup:

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 08:35 AM
Thanks guys! Update with the tweaked foreground coming up in around 14 hours from this.... *beep*

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 09:38 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074202726_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074202726_large.jpg)

.... more to follow...

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 09:41 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074202874_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074202874_large.jpg)

... full image coming up in a little while...

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 09:44 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074203069_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074203069_large.jpg)

This might be the final result. I'll probably let it rest for a day or two before submitting - it would be rather embarrasing having to upload a third full resolution TIF :D

Feel free to comment.

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 10:41 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074206465_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074206465_large.jpg)

... or maybe this one. Changed color balance and adding some noisy streaks in overlay mode. I quite like this version.

So, whaddaya say?

JamesMK
01-15-2004, 11:30 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074209454_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074209454_large.jpg)

...or this... This particular minute, I'm leaning towards this last one.... Oh, the confusion. Like The Tick said: "It's the pain that hurts the most." :D

Help!

eska
01-15-2004, 11:39 PM
Hi

You are right, the last one - lives!
That's the fact and that, man, excellent artist you,....
should follow.
Best of the best
:bounce: :bowdown: :wavey:

TheFirstAngel
01-15-2004, 11:56 PM
Even if I love blue very very much, I'd go for the last one, it has an emormous power almost apocalyptic.
Congratulations on your fantastic work mate, it big time rocks!!!:bowdown: :buttrock: :beer:

JamesMK
01-16-2004, 12:38 AM
I really appreciate your input guys. It's invaluable during these last days of horror.

Right now I would like to sum things up by saying "woijaf ghjhfoijjyYY wzzrlfrrt ftang wurgle schplonk"... then follow some good advice from my good friend flyingP - and let it rest for a day or so and look things over again with a fresh pair of eyes...

I should have settled for the initial final image - but this process cannot be stopped now once it's started...

rickycox
01-16-2004, 02:35 AM
That last one hit a chord, I think you're on the money there. The warm tones look much better. It's looking like a masterpiece, excellent dynamics, just a few minor tweeks here and there, but nothing major to speak of.

Well done :applause:

rattlesnake
01-16-2004, 03:30 AM
WWoow, with the pass of time i get far and far away from wining, is not fair why some people have just all the talent, it could be distributed so some of us can get a little bit:bowdown: the last one is just amazing, no crits , just say, your work really rockss!!:buttrock:

Pufferfish
01-16-2004, 08:13 AM
damn! Looks stunning!

Closeup shots are cool and your last image works like a charm!
Don't see anything that should be tweaked! Me likes it!
My turn to give you the official bounce! :bounce:

Perkele to you too! :cool:

flyingP
01-16-2004, 09:12 AM
I'd say that last one gets a :buttrock: !!

JamesMK
01-16-2004, 09:57 AM
Hmm... I see a pattern here - maybe the last one then, that means I could calmly fiddle around with it in 2D for the entire weekend fixing those tiny things nobody will notice in the final result :D I like that... Cup of tea, photoshop, dogs sleeping on my feet until they go numb (my feet, not the dogs)... Sounds good to me.

eska - It's really good if it lives, as you put it. I like that.

1stAngel - The blue one is a problem, I like that too, but it's also rather cold - though that was my initial idea, but after seeing the warmer version it's hard to go back... If it indeed has "an enormous power, almost apocalyptic" I guess that could be a useful feature to induce a maxed initial impact.

riki - The red-yellowish warmth is kind of convincing to me too... Thank god for post-processing, eh? :)

rattlesnake - I'm glad you like it. And don't beat yourself up like that, dude - You're doing a great job yourself, and that HUD overlay is quite a stroke of genious in the way it subjectivizes the scene.

Pufferfish - Well, if I'm to trust someone's opinion in particular here, it would be you. Ei saa peitää! (that's the other finnish phrase every swede knows :D [To non-scandinavians: Unfortunately it means 'do not cover' and hardly fits well in this discussion].)

So - - - unless something massively weird happens, I'll polish the last version until a warm blanket of general happiness covers my head with a feeling of bubbly incandescent fairies and hairy ewoks skipping through my synaptic network - then I'll upload the finals. And that will be the end of it.

JamesMK
01-16-2004, 10:03 AM
Oh, flyingP! You posted while I was writing the reply above.

If that's a seriously meant buttrocker, then I couldn't be happier! You know your stuff, dear sir. (Or maybe you're starting to fear I'll go mental on yo'ass and decided to take the safest way out of here :D - kidding! )

So, move along, folks... There's nothing more to see here... Back to the cave, two days of peaceful photoshopping, and we'll meet back here again - and I promise, cross my heart and hope to die, it will be with a final (no, really) final image!

saturen3
01-16-2004, 02:32 PM
:scream: realy unblievable
your work has many details on it.Such as pufferfish you are a hard worker.How many layers has it ?
I think that you have had long render times on your system.Did you use after effects for post-production or only photoshop?
anyway great work :thumbsup:
good luck to you dear james.:bowdown:

JamesMK
01-16-2004, 03:46 PM
saturen3 - Only three layers total. The background layer needs 7 hours to render, the others were faster, around 2-3 hours. Photoshop only for post processing. It takes around 5 minutes to open the master PSD... :scream:

Good luck you too!

Dreamabyss
01-16-2004, 10:36 PM
Hey James...no need to reply...just keep Photoshopping. All I wanted to do was give you a big thumbs up!!:buttrock:

I like all of the images and I'm in agreement that the final one is more dramatic. But I still like the blue one for the underwater feel...that seems to get lost when you go to the new color scheme. Whenever I have a hard time deciding on a final design..what I often do is leave a screenshot of any final comp I'm working on open on my monitor for a few days. Whenever I turn on my monitor or walk into the room it's the first thing I look at. I make a mental note of how I feel each time I first look at the image. After taking a break from it, if I look at it and it makes me go WOW...then I know I'm done. I know you value everyones opinions here...but ultimatley you are the one who has to decide on what's the best version that fits your vision. Must be nice to have something so original to make that choice from. You can't lose either way. :)

I'm looking forward to seeing the final but I might wait to look until they officially make the announcements for the public to see the final submissions. This way I can make some popcorn and see it along side all the other great entrys. :applause:

JamesMK
01-16-2004, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by Dreamabyss
Hey James...no need to reply...just keep Photoshopping.
- - - Whenever I have a hard time deciding on a final design..what I often do is leave a screenshot of any final comp I'm working on open on my monitor for a few days. Whenever I turn on my monitor or walk into the room it's the first thing I look at. - - -
Eyo... Actually, I'd like to reply anyway (sorry!) because this was a very funny thing to read. I usually do that exact thing too - dumping a cap on the desktop, and then I sort of sneak up on it from time to time, like almost jumping into my room all of a sudden to catch the image by surprise :blush: ... Rather silly, but it does work quite well.

If that "graphical ambush" doesn't result in me thinking 'whoa' within a couple of seconds - then I know it's not quite there yet.

Har-har! Oh well, back to my PSD stuck in glue....

JamesMK
01-17-2004, 09:02 PM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074373372_medium.jpg (http://www.cgnetworks.com/challenge/entries/3/132/132_1074373372_large.jpg)

I can't think of anything more to fix now - so I guess it's done. This is the final final.

Umm... Viola! Cha-cha-cha.

A lot of the tweaks I've done for the last two days are unfortunately impossible to see in a low-res JPG...

JamesMK
01-17-2004, 09:30 PM
Official credits
Since I'm definitely not touching this anymore, it's time to say thanks to the following:

CGNetworks - Yet again, an excellent Challenge full of new knowledge, great art and loads of friendly and helpful people!

My wife - For putting up with me during these long evenings and nights, and for helping me out in my time of desperation trying to find a new concept in the beginning of january. She had a lot of good ideas that made this piece a very interesting thing to work on.

FlyingP - For providing lots of valuable theoretical stuff I'm far too unfamiliar with.

And then all the rest of you who have given me feedback on all this crappy stuff: (in order of appearance)
sad, eYadNesS, adr, designer2, JayMan2889, imscifi, matty2x4, swag, ravioli_rancher, DimitrisLiatsos, splinermann, Natess44, the1st_angel, tr1cky, jaygee, delirium, Goul, eska, BClaw, riki, Dreamabyss, cobalt1410, miketche, pufferfish, swadepgh, Cullen, ficolo, rattlesnake and saturen3.

And finally to everybody else who simply have been peeking into my thread from time to time.

And that's it!

Now I'll just sit back and wait nervously.
May the best stuff win! Good luck to all!
May the second best stuff end up... umm... in second place!
May everyone win a lot of new skills, experience and online friends!
May the force be with you!

...

saturen3
01-17-2004, 10:11 PM
:thumbsup: And special thanks from me to you and all of the friends.
You have a stronge and hard and high detailed work that guides me to increase my knowledge about 3d more and more.
good luck to you and your family because of this hard working.
:wavey:

swadepgh
01-17-2004, 11:49 PM
One more thing...The final title of your piece is very clever and intriguing.

:thumbsup:

Dreamabyss
01-18-2004, 12:08 AM
James!!! I couldn't help it...I had to come look at your final. Beautiful! Amazing! Intriguing! Mysterious! Inventive! Wow!! Yaaaay! and woot woot!!! :buttrock: :bounce:

It was fun watching your piece evolve and I learned a lot that I want to apply to my own processes. Thank you for that! I especially enjoyed reading your often funny posts. I could get a real feel for your personality and it came out in your work...that is, if a person was to look at the originality of it. I bet you are a lot of fun at parties! :beer:

You really have something to be proud of and I wish you all the luck in the final competition! Now the hard part begins ;)

splinermann
01-18-2004, 12:11 AM
Man once you get that sweet workstation (hopefully in this challenge) you are going to be unstopable.
Your picture is by far my favourite.

I don´t know exactly how to say it, but I thik your picture is one of the best pieces of art that I have seen in the sence that is defenetly something, but doesn´t resembles anything.
i know you must had some reference or inspirations at least, but I don´t see them (that is a good thing)

rock on man:thumbsup: :bounce: :applause:

DSedov
01-18-2004, 12:49 AM
GREATE Work. I think your art is what pumps up my creativity and makes me work more and more on my challage entry.

chrish
01-18-2004, 12:56 AM
kinda looks like a voodoo doll exploding from vampireism, thats what I see anyhow,, great stuff

Cheers,
Chrish


:applause:

View My Alien Worlds (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=113220&perpage=15&pagenumber=1)

JamesMK
01-18-2004, 01:14 AM
Thanks all!

As for the question of references - since I actually haven't mentioned anything about those earlier - there aren't any real references of course, that would sort of defy the purpose of the theme... But inspirations are unavoidable, and a picture tells more than words, so the answer is in the JPG below:

http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/references.jpg

TheFirstAngel
01-18-2004, 01:35 AM
Ahwe Yesss! For you a GALACTIC WOOOOOOW! Burst the House Mista BOmbastic!!!! Yes Sir James, It's absolutely awesome, Big huge fantastic, powerfull, breathtaking drop dead gorgous High End CG Art and I'm Lovin it!!!

Congratulations on your Masterpiece, it simply ROCKS bombastic!!!!! Big time my Friend, Big time!!! Best luck!
:bowdown: :buttrock: :beer:

JamesMK
01-18-2004, 05:48 PM
Angel - Thank you for that mind-boggling amount of praise.
I do not deserve it!

Back to my post - - - I've just uploaded a larger and not-so-hideously compressed version for those interested in taking a slightly closer look.

It's 900 x 1231 px and around 0.5 MB - Grab it here! (http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/mid-res.jpg)

BClaw
01-18-2004, 06:10 PM
Very nice work!:bowdown: I really like the energy your entry has. :bounce: It looks like a very dynamic (and dangerous!) alien landscape.

Good luck in the judging! :applause:

flyingP
01-18-2004, 07:02 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
Back to my post - - - I've just uploaded a larger and not-so-hideously compressed version for those interested in taking a slightly closer look.

It's 900 x 1231 px and around 0.5 MB - Grab it here! (http://w1.480.telia.com/~u48033445/aw/mid-res.jpg)

COOL, amazing just how much detail one didn't notice before. Has even more impact at higher res. :applause:

Defonten
01-18-2004, 09:41 PM
Hi James! Really love your composition! Very dynamic and spectacular! My congrats! Good luck man!

JamesMK
01-19-2004, 08:24 PM
OH MY GOD! The timing, the timing!

[what's he on about now then?]

Guess what, MY MONITOR JUST BLEW UP! ...Well, not exactly blew up like in an explosion, but it made a few angry relay clicks and then just died on me... Seems impossible to revive it...

So, why am I saying this?

The simple fact that I actually managed to finish and upload my entry two days before my system died instead of the other way around.

This is historically interesting, because just before I started working on the previous challenge (the Sideshow) my PSU died and I had to run around trying to find a replacement. Then, only a couple of days before that challenge started, my main HD crashed and burned as well (taking every shred of CG I've ever produced with it - no backups) - Once I started working on my stuff (with a spare 3GB HD) that time, I was pretty sure nothing else would go wrong.... But guess what? IT DID! Just as I was preparing the final renders, some strange hardware failure stopped everything. A few frantic days later I managed to identify a faulty RAM-block, yanked it out (leaving me with those stunning 192 MB I've got since then) and magically managed to make those final renders....

Basically, I have to assume that something good has happened since the god of PC hardware decided to let me finish the AW channel first, and then kill my monitor afterwards....

Now I'll be forced to make a strange time-share thing with my wife and borrow her monitor every once in a while - for an indefinite period of time. I can't imagine which particular part of my PC is up next for automagical destruction... Place your bets!

This rant is over now.... Sorry, just had to let off steam.

Lots of greeeeeaaat entries uploaded now - good luck to everybodyyyyyyyy!

eska
01-19-2004, 09:11 PM
Hi
But you still managed to achieve everything.
You know, sometimes bad things happen,
and sometime good things happen.
It's an ongoing cycle. Somebody, perhaps the PC God,
makes us aware of the fact that every great creation is difficult, that every extraordinary work is not just talent, but also the efficiency of management of everything around us.

You succeeded, and therefore we "stay" now in front of this masterpiece. So keep rescuing your PC's, keep creating extraordinary work, keep going, and I wish you the biggest luck in the world for you and your family and your PC.
Best luck of all
Suzana

Dreamabyss
01-19-2004, 10:46 PM
Hey James,

Too bad one of the criterias for winning the contest is not having a need for a new system. With your excellent composition and definate need for a new computer... you would be sure to win! :)

JamesMK
01-19-2004, 10:53 PM
Dreamabyss - He he, I wouldn't even have to make any image at all, just give them my PC-specs and grab the box on my way out :D

eska - Thanks for that perspective. You're right of course! Yay!

rickycox
01-20-2004, 02:12 PM
Sorry to hear about your 'puter james, but I think your in there with a fighting chance. This is definately one of the best I've seen.

Good luck mate :beer:

JamesMK
01-21-2004, 08:18 AM
Thanks for your support, Ricky - there might be a second hand 17" thrown in my general direction soon (birthday coming up on january 24) -

That aside, I love how you comped the sky area of you final image - very cool, wish you the best of luck!

flyingP
01-21-2004, 09:01 AM
Originally posted by JamesMK
there might be a second hand 17" thrown in my general direction soon (

Just make sure you catch it then :D

JamesMK
01-21-2004, 09:07 AM
Bwaaah haaah! LOL, really.

swag
01-21-2004, 10:01 AM
JamesMK - wau i look at the mid-res and its fantastic - so much style in this work :thumbsup:

JamesMK
01-21-2004, 12:32 PM
Thank YOU swag!

Damn, almost four years of struggling with this blimey 3D stuff, finally I've got style! :beer:

JamesMK
01-21-2004, 11:12 PM
Yay! Picking up a new (well, used) monitor tomorrow... Thank god for sudden birthday donations... Then I'll be able to look at all the entries on slightly fresher phosphors than I had before - maybe they will kick even more ass then!

Dreamabyss
01-22-2004, 01:48 AM
Hey James! I couldn't help but notice the flurry of new posts from you....not that you weren't a prolific poster before... but now that you are done with the challenge... it appears that suddenly you have extra time on your hands! ;)

I was so inspired by your work that I took a look at one of your other projects...The Anencephalic Man :eek: Nicely done!!

What's next for you? Maybe a break?

JamesMK
01-22-2004, 07:34 AM
Heh... Well, I do have more time on my hands now... Catching up a bit I guess.

I'm glad you like the Anencephalic - I learned so much while working on him, it was really my first serious shot at a full character (usually always leave them unfinished when I'm half way through :blush: ).

Next up, well a break from 3D at least - though not willingly, but I'll be forced to work with a little bit of web related stuff for a few weeks...

Xtronik
01-22-2004, 09:56 AM
Outstanding masterpiece and excellent compositing !

Great work James

Hope te best!

Chris :)

Dreamabyss
01-22-2004, 10:00 AM
Yeah...I'm getting ready to attempt my first full character and was stuck on coming up with something interesting and creative. Then I saw Anencephalic and it inspired me with a similar idea. I'm thinking a cross between a mental patient and Gollum type character sporting a freshly done lobotomy. I have already thought of a title..."Be careful with that axe Eugene!" :scream:
Inspired by an old Pink Floyd tune from the 70's.

Thanks for the inspiration James and keep on making it cool.

JamesMK
01-22-2004, 11:41 AM
Xtronic - Thanks a lot, and my best wishes to you as well!

Dreamabyss - Looking forward to see that - please drop me a PM if you start up a WIP-thread somewhere (it's so easy for one of those to slip by unnoticed). Pink Floyd rules - you cannot fail!

TheFirstAngel
01-22-2004, 06:13 PM
Just came back, took me a bit to handle the submissiontroubles and I'm not sure if it worked, b ut its up there since yesterdy, so, there's nothing more I could do...

Just came to wish you best Luck mate, and thanks for all your cheering words, your great and most inspiring progress and the outstanding powerfull and brilliant result!!!

RAGNARÖK man!!! this is the Bombastic final of a fantastic and unbelievable second run worth more than 100000 times!
Best Luck mate!!! :buttrock::beer::wavey:

JamesMK
01-22-2004, 06:26 PM
Thanks a million Sasha - you know I wish you the very best of luck as well! You fought well to the very end - having technical problems during the last days is not fun at all.

About the final zipped TIF submission... Well, even though I've submitted twice, and my FTP program didn't complain about anything, I'm also not 100% sure it has arrived, if the archive was OK and so on.... Pretty cool not having the faintest idea! Though I'm sure that the glitch is merely PHP-related (seems like they've forgotten to read-enable the thumbnail directory), and the file is probably there in good shape...

But still, what an anti-climax it would be if it turned out not to! :D

I guess we'd better make a joint finger-crossing venture and hope everything is in order for your, mine and everybody else's submissions. :thumbsup:

eYadNesS
01-22-2004, 06:32 PM
Great work, I like it very much :)

JamesMK
01-22-2004, 06:39 PM
eYadNesS - I'm pleased to hear that, Eyad - - - correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that you can hardly wait until the next classic challenge starts, right? ;)

eYadNesS
01-22-2004, 11:46 PM
Your work is very cool, your picture is background into my PC right now ;)

Ya I'm waiting the next challenge, it will be cool if I challenge you again :D

I will not lose, hehehe ;)

JamesMK
01-22-2004, 11:58 PM
>>> your picture is background into my PC right now

Oh, I'm honored! Let me know if you want a special edit to fit the screen ratio a bit better.

>>> Ya I'm waiting the next challenge, it will be cool if I challenge you again - - - I will not lose, hehehe

He he :D ... We'll see about that, mon enemi.... We'll see...
*the glove has been thrown to the ground, rusty spears driven deep into the dry grey soil, beams of sunlight scatter ominously through the dustfilled air... Sound of crickets and horses way off in the misty distance, farting... uh-oh... CUT!*

eYadNesS
01-23-2004, 03:41 PM
Oh sorry I don't reply for you that because I was busy :D

>>> Let me know if you want a special edit to fit the screen ratio a bit better.

Thanks very much, no need for any edit :)


Don't be sad, I'm trying to understand what the picture mean, but really nice style, I think I should read all your thread, maybe I will tonight ;)

JamesMK
01-23-2004, 04:00 PM
>>> Don't be sad, I'm trying to understand what the picture mean

To be honest, it doesn't mean anything - just my shot at some dynamic eyecandy :D Sure there's a sort of background story about parasite aliens building their own terrain by growing corals (alien corals of course ;) ) which they excavate and inhabit... But it doesn't go further than that.

As a totally uninteresting side note I just made a decision to exclusively go for "high concept" artwork from now on. I've realised that as long as the technical quality is on par, the concept is the only thing that can make a real difference. Everything lives or dies by the concept. I can't believe it has taken me almost four years to figure that out... :rolleyes:

>>> I think I should read all your thread, maybe I will tonight

I bet that could give you a few laughs!

iv4n
01-26-2004, 01:22 PM
nice work, I made some liquid too,

here my alien... (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?postid=1092740#post1092740)

Pufferfish
01-26-2004, 01:50 PM
Originally posted by JamesMK
>>> ...To be honest, it doesn't mean anything - just my shot at some dynamic eyecandy...


Less meaning = more interesting.

The more room you give for the viewers imagination, the more alien your work is. In this challenge, "alien" was the key word :)

Your work surely stands out from the mass and is one of my favourites. You managed to build a very balanced composition.. Again I have to say , it works like a charm.:bounce:

-j

JamesMK
01-26-2004, 05:46 PM
iv4n - Thanks, you made a good job yourself, particularly for a five day crunch!

pufferfish - That's an interesting point, Jari... I didn't really think about it that way until now - I guess it doesn't hurt to be honest about the concept :D --- -- - That aside, I'd be surprised if you didn't end up #1 - -- --- Now remains only the ominous serenity before the storm :)

JayMan2889
01-27-2004, 03:13 PM
gj, i like your final piece, very interesting. Gl in the voting

Doubt
02-02-2004, 01:56 PM
Dude, your final piece is the bomb man! I have a lot of trouble just letting my brain just wonder when doing 3D, I respect the fact that you can create such sweet looking wackiness!

Good work--

JamesMK
02-02-2004, 02:07 PM
JayMan2889 - Thanks dude!

Doubt - I like it that you like it - that's a sweet looking umm... T-shirt by the way... :D

ZazMan
02-04-2004, 06:54 AM
Hey Nice work, Sorry I didn't get to see more of this early!!! :applause: Best of luck to you !! like the feel of "action" in your work!!!! :thumbsup:

ZazMan

saturen3
02-04-2004, 09:26 AM
:wavey: Hey James

How are you dear old friend ?:thumbsup:

JamesMK
02-04-2004, 10:37 AM
Well, Ali, I'm fine - a bit bored perhaps, waiting for the final decision you know :)

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