Hard Surface Topology for High-Res Film Models.

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  02 February 2013
Hard Surface Topology for High-Res Film Models.

I am currently revamping my portfolio, with a heavy emphasis on film. I've worked in game production for years and am very accustomed to low poly modeling. As far as film production, specifically with hard surface modeling, is it the correct procedure to add an edge on each side of a corner edge so that it chamfers correctly in Zbrush?

I've included an image that better describes what I'm referring to.

Is this the correct pipeline as apposed to setting smoothing groups and turbo smoothing based on that?

I'd appreciate any info on correct modeling procedures for film.

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  02 February 2013
Topology is irrelevant for hard edged or non-deformable objects. What is relevant is poly count and if the smoothing of the object creates pinching or artifacts at rendertime.

I say polycount is relevant only because your example would be inefficient, better is to smooth it once and then delete the redundant geometry and keep the edge loops that will maintain the beveled edges and UV seams.

So model at low poly in your example, smooth it 2x and then delete geo and cleanup. What is going to happen is the pipeline will need hiRes models that are still light in polycount because things are going to add up pretty fast once you include characters and environments.

Because everything is software rendered, it just needs to hold up to the render...so distant objects will be realtime res....and objects close to camera need to be hiRes...so you will need to show that.

Also, Zbrush is NOT modeller....its a tool in the pipeline of course...but if you want to apply for a modelling job you need to have traditional 3d software skills without Zbrush. The majority of jobs wont allow for 40 million poly models etc etc so studios want to see that you can do stuff without it.
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  02 February 2013


I really appreciate your input on this. Would you say it would be a negative to use zbrush as a way to render the higher res version of my models? I was planning on showing grey scale models with and without wire frames.
  02 February 2013
Hey man,

What sorts of things do you plan on modelling?

Zbrush has a pretty nifty rendering engine, but I wouldnt see a reason to export to Zbrush just for that.

  02 February 2013

What I'd like to do for instance is build the Star Wars X-wing, in such a manner that if I was working at ILM it would fit right into their pipeline. I'm so used to working in low-poly meshes, it's hard for me to know how far to take things when they are used for film.

  02 February 2013
Hey man,

Obviously I don't work at ILM, but you probably won't need ZBrush if you want to model something like that.

Andre Cantarel post a lot on the WIP forum. He's done tons of vehicle modelling work on feature films.


He might be willing to offer you a few lines of advice if you sent him a polite PM.

  02 February 2013
I think it's entirely dependent on how the asset is going to be used in the shot. You don't want to spend either the time or the polygons on stuff that won't be seen, but for film it's still better to err on the side of too much detail instead of to little.
  02 February 2013
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