View Full Version : {Any Advice} Project Prejudice - Short Video - All Assets Original

06 June 2010, 04:16 AM

This thread is about a 60 second video I am creating for a school project. I don't have a name for it right now so I just call it Project Prejudice, as preconceptions are the main theme behind this video and it sounds kinda bad-ass. I'm fairly new at this and this is a pretty ambitious project for me but I want to see how far I can push this, how much I can do, and how good I can make this before the end of august.

The aspects I want to focus on the most are modeling and rigging, with secondaries being matte painting and texturing. I will be using 3ds max for modeling and animation, photoshop for texturing and matte painting and combustion for compositing. Do I need to use premiere after that to put the whole thing together or will combustion be ok?

Quick review of the story:

A boy is balancing precariously on the ledge of a rooftop. The sound of creaking leather. Cars bustling by below. His arms are extended, his mouth open, laughing, flying. He seems so small from below, as if a single gust of wind could send him plummeting to his doom. A slam as the stairwell door is violently thrust aside and into the wall. A thick, dusty leather boot crushing the gravel. Gelled spikes, an aggressive green. Wiry muscled biceps, skin veined with brutal tattoos. The interloper strides forward, extends his arm.

Time seems to slow to a crawl as the boy loses balance and begins to fall.

Completing it's motion the man's hand takes hold of the boy's shirt and pulls him to safety. But rather than depositing him on the ground. The man takes his son into a fierce hug. He turns the boy around and drapes his arm along his son's shoulders. They stare out into the city.

Ooof over. Sorry about that, writing's not my forte. But that's the basic idea. I want to give the public the impression that the father, Sam, is some hood, hired killer or other malefactor then turn it around on them to show that their own preconceptions are what gave them that impression. Or something like that anyway.

Still here? Wow, thanks. Ok. Moving on.

Character profiles (Short version):

Samuel Finnegan (age 34)

Tall, tough, wiry. Bright green hair. Spiky mohawk.

Born in Calgary, Canada. Son of a cop gone bad. Chris Finnegan was a violent man with a bad drinking problem. He took bribes and filched from the evidence locker almost as often as he beat his wife and son. In his teens, Sam ran away from home. He was involved in a gang for many years, where he met his wife to be. He accidentally killed a friend in a fight and went to prison for a few years, two weeks before the birth of his son. In prison, he was rehabilitated by the warden, an old chief of police who knew his father before he went bad. As soon as Samuel was released he rejoined his wife and their newborn son and they fled Sam's old gang, crossing the country by train, to make a new life in Montreal.

Thomas Finnegan (Age 10):

Slight, short, a bit malnourished. Dirty blond hair, hazel eyes.

Son of Samuel. Bright energetic lad, seemingly unaffected by his impoverished environment. He seems to have adjusted to Sam quite well. They have a strong bond. Tom enjoys being outside and playing sports. He prefers to play alone. He wants to be a pilot when he grows up. Despite his energetic nature, he rarely speaks more than a few words at a time but nevertheless manages to convey earnestness and innocence.

If you read this far, respect, much appreciated, and if you don't leave a comment you just wasted however long it took you to get this far, so please do!

Based on the above, Samuel should look troubling and menacing yet carry an element (probably in his face I think) that shows his compassionate, caring (maybe even playful?) side. While Tom should be a cute, adorable kid, yet with something a bit creepy about him.

This is the progress I have made so far.

Storyboard -
(Photobucket Slideshow, if it moves too fast press the stop button in lower right corner of image) (

Early Set (

Early Samuel (Missing hands and feet) (

Thanks again for reading this far. I will be posting some more tomorrow when I get back home. I hope to have hands and feet done for Samuel V1 and to have most of Thomas V1 done.

All comments, crits and advice most welcome. In particular though, any tips on work flow highly appreciated, as I'm not quite sure how to tackle something this big efficiently. I want to do some zbrush work on the characters if time permits, I would love tips on that too if it's not too much to ask as I'm not very familiar with it.

Cheers everyone, hope this wasn't too boring.

See you next time!

06 June 2010, 10:16 AM
If I understood correctly you only have a couple of months to finish this. You could dive into the quality of any one of the aspects of your endeavor to raise the bar. You wont finish the project though.

Take your zbrush stuff for example. You could jump into the sculpting, creating a good cage for your character, get displacement and normal mapping down, plus textures and you would be a couple of years down the road (if you are really quick) without even touching rigging, animation and good rendering and post work.

Your stuff is pretty basic atm, maybe it would be a good idea to try and get the project done without going into too much detail. You will certainly learn a lot. You will also have a better idea of how much work it is.

Have fun man.

06 June 2010, 11:32 AM

Kanga - Thanks for the advice. Appreciate your taking the time to look that stuff over. I would've liked to be able to focus only on one aspect but I'm required to hand in a 60 sec video with only original content and containing a significant portion of character animation. My teacher wants us to do a bit of everything.

I will have more soon, just having a bit of trouble getting Sam's hands and feet to look like I want them to, going to go over them with my teacher this evening. Wish I had more time to go over the clothing to give it some folds but I need to get Tom's basemesh done by thursday to stay on schedule.

I'm thinking of using mainly shaders for texturing so I can have more time to detail the characters, is that a good idea? Or should I use the texture to give the details? I'm also thinking of doing a few quick and dirty paintovers to try out a few colour palettes. Would that work and should I paint over a few shots or should I focus on the master since it shows most of the environment anyway?

Thanks in advance to anyone who has any advice.


06 June 2010, 02:05 AM

Small update. Just finished creating a quick orthographic side view from the Andrew Loomis child proportions chart. I'm going to use this to get the basic proportions down for the Thomas basemesh.
How's it look?

Loom10+.jpg (

06 June 2010, 06:45 PM

Sorry for the wait between updates. Put together some basic lighting for the environment.

Strange issue occurring with my renders though. The images are significantly darker in the Render window than on the image file saved by 3ds max. I've attached an example of this in case anyone wants to take a stab at helping out with this. I thought it might be a gamma problem but fixing that didn't help, I'm at a loss on what to do about this.

In the meantime this is what I was able to render out (the purple shoe and background buildings are just placeholders, so I didn't really worry about them when I was lighting). I'm having trouble making the lighting more dramatic without making the image too dark, any tips on this would be key.

Comments or crits?

Slideshow: (

06 June 2010, 08:33 PM
Ideally you should be outputting to tiff still sequences and importing them as clips into your post app. I dont know what is causing this but the brighter image is better than the murky screenshot. Usually you test render to get an image close and then apply changes to the sequence images to taste, saturation, contrast, brightness, and a million other things. Tiff (targa) is uncompressed, jpeg is a compressed format. Starting from a compromised product just isnt done!

07 July 2010, 12:12 AM
Thx for advice.

Been sitting on these for a bit, never quite got around to putting them up. Will try to update faster next time.


Lighting V3 (

Lighting V4 + Background buildings from street map. (

Samuel with new jacket and boots. Gave him a bracelet too. (

C&C always most appreciated.

07 July 2010, 02:33 AM

Finished V1 of Thomas basemesh. Thomas is Sam's son so I tried to tie them together by giving Thomas sharp features like Sam's. I'm thinking Thomas looks too old though. Any advice on that much appreciated.

Here's a quick slideshow (3pics) (

07 July 2010, 04:34 AM
I had to do a project similar to this. We were introduced to the basics and expected to crank out an animation with what we learned (which wasn't very much). My advice to you is to keep it simple and focus on the story. I tried to do too much in the time given and got really caught up in the technical things and the story got lost. This is really true when you're expected to learn a bunch of new things AND animate 60 seconds (which is a lot more work than it sounds like).

That said you're a lot further along than I was and you're off to a great start.

07 July 2010, 06:19 PM
Thanks Killahpriest for the advice and encouragement. It is a lot more than I initially thought, but I'm learning a ton from this project.

The modeling is done. Moving on to rigging and animation. I put together this little plugin over the past couple of days to help me manage my scene. Hosting it here in case anyone wants to play around with it. (

07 July 2010, 06:37 PM
Wow, so much work and so little time. You're doing pretty well though but it's obvious that you're gonna have to drop quality to get it done. Which makes it kind of hard to crit. One could say that your character is very low detail and totally off proportion but on the other hand you just need to get an idea across so having correct (or even appealing) characters may be secondary. Going into ZBrush seems like a waste of time on this project. You're not gonna have time to get everything to a detail level where it's required. Unless you meant to use ZB to just push and pull around the current mesh (no detailing).

It's too early to comment on the lighting without the characters in place.

What do you mean by using shaders for texturing instead of textures for detail...?

Modeling is probably the fastest part. Beware of getting stuck in texturing and animation. And don't forget that you need time to render this stuff too.


07 July 2010, 01:06 PM

Thanks for the comments!

I'd be really interested in knowing which areas you think are off on the characters. I'd like to study those areas for my next model, if you have the time to post a quick reply.

After discussion with my teacher, we thought it would save time to use procedural shaders rather than build my own maps from scratch for the environment. I will be painting my own maps for the characters. Thoughts?


07 July 2010, 05:24 PM
It's a little hard to crit specifics given the darkness and small size of the images but things I can see are:

the body looks very square and straight. You may have had a side and front reference but I don't see an S-shape to the spine, and its almost a straight line from the chest to the pelvis which makes it look like he's holding his breath and kinda sticking his butt out. The squareness of the torso comes from you fitting the polys into the orthographic ref pics front and side but not looking at the perspective view's silhouette enough.
The hands look quite small or at least the fingers do.
I can't see enough of the head to tell.

I think the main problem is that you're following the front and side ref closely, placing the polys in there but not looking at your model from all angles.


07 July 2010, 11:11 PM
Just letting you know I'm still alive and this project is not dead. I'm in rush mode right now trying to put together something to hand in to my teacher and finishing up my reel. I'll post some updates when things have calmed down a little.

Thanks a lot for the crits Wiro, I looked over my work and I think I understand some of what I did wrong. I will integrate this into my next project.


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