Master and Servant 3D Entry: Trey Harrell

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  05 May 2005
Post Effects and Compositing: Slave body and head compositing

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

I'm waiting until the very end to "marry" the slave and IV shadows to the rest of the scene, as I'm probably going to be tweaking the IVs and hands right up until the end.
  05 May 2005
Post Effects and Compositing: fur render & composite

Fur hair composited.
  05 May 2005
Hopefully going to get the arms, arm straps and hair retouches up and posted tonight.

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

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

Lots and lots to do the next two days.
  05 May 2005
Post Effects and Compositing: servant -- arms attach & retouch

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

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

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

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

Last edited by tharrell : 05 May 2005 at 03:58 PM. Reason: Overzealous PHP addslashes()
  05 May 2005
Post Effects and Compositing: IV Drips, reflection plate, ground shadows

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

Once those are done, on to depth of field.
  05 May 2005
Post Effects and Compositing: Final Draft 1

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

If anyone has any suggestions, now's the time! I'm going to be playing with a touch more volumetrics, but there's a possibility that this will end up being the final.
  05 May 2005
Post Effects and Compositing: Final Draft 2

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

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

I'm pretty pleased with it as it stands, so whatever I get done before bed is icing now.
  05 May 2005
Final Image: Self Portrait (Wired)

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

Title: Self Portrait (Wired)


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

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

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

It's a vicious cycle.

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

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

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

Creative Direction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Software used:

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

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

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

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

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

Special thanks for comments, encouragement and crits to:

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

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

Extra special thanks to:

Amy, Dennis, Damon, Brue, Tiff, Steve, Jefferson & Michelle for real time crits and encouragement. These are the ones who had to deal with sleep deprived me in real life as I focused on finishing this.
  05 May 2005
Trey, wonderful and creepy (even if i wish I could do that some morning) image, the expression of yourself is amazing, great work overall

Master & Servant

my site

  05 May 2005
awesome work man!
Nice lighting and rendering.

Good luck!

BLOG: Chapter 56
SHOP: Prints
  05 May 2005
Arlutik, Goro:

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

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

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

  05 May 2005
happy holiday and really good image you got here...
just me... and my GP...
Sometimes life is at its cruelest just before it is its most kindest
  05 May 2005
High(er) res final

I just posted a 1200x1600 higher res version of the final to my website.

If you're interested, click here.
  05 May 2005
Trey: You probably won't read this until you get back from vacation, but congrats on your final image! It really is wonderfully absurd, just the right blend (pardon the pun) between nightmarish and amusing. Well done.
  05 May 2005

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

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

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