Environment Reel

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  12 December 2007
Environment Reel


I just joined the forums tonight, so I figured I would jump in head-first and submit my newly cut reel for critiques. Primarily I consider myself a level designer, though I've included two character models in it.

I've got one semester left in undergrad, so any tips or suggestions are welcome--gotta get the reel up to snuff. I'm currently working on some Unreal Engine 3 projects, so I'll definitely be able to submit more focused wips.

Anyhow, a streaming quicktime is up on my portfolio site.

Or alternatively I'm hosting a WMV and AVI(MPEG4/XviD) versions at a higher resolution.



Last edited by Inksworth : 02 February 2008 at 02:37 AM.
  12 December 2007
Nice work but I think the Real is a little long, and the music needs to be a bit more up beat
I love Architecture
Hugh McCullom Blogspot
  12 December 2007
Take this with as grain of salt since I'm not actually in the industry yet, but a few things caught my attention that I thought would improve your reel:

First and foremost, cut out the characters. They're not doing anything to help you; they have very basic textures, the meshes are way too dense for the level of detail and the designs aren't interesting enough to grab the attention of the viewer.

That streetlight isn't interesting enough to have so much focus put on it in the first section of the reel. I'm not saying you should change the light, but I think you should probably focus more on the buildings and the assorted debris.

Since the docks and the street are both part of the same environment, you may want to show them both in the same segment. They seem a lot weaker if they're split up—at least in my opinion.

Lastly, there's a lot of black everywhere and not enough light to see things properly. A daytime scene might add a nice contrast to the two night scenes you already have.
3D Artist
  12 December 2007
You're right, it is a little long, most everything I've ever read about making an effective reel is keeping it two minutes or less. I was a little torn about that before I posted it. Thanks for the feed back.

No grain of salt to take! I'll see about editing the camera motion in for the street, as well as making the streetlight itself more interesting. At the time it seemed like a good thing to revolve around, being in the middle of the scene itself. Admittedly, having two scenes from basically the same area was more for focus reasons, but I'll make them a single bit in the future, once I finish up what I'm working on right now. Fortunately what I'm going to be finishing up here soon will be much more well-lit, being done in an engine that's not quite so dark (ie; not Doom 3, haha.)

You make a very good point about the characters, I will cut them out so that it's more focused.

Thanks a ton!
  12 December 2007
It would be nice not to have the fish eye lens, it distracts from the work, also if oyur going for environments, show wires for those models not just your characters. I will also agree compared to your environments the characters are really lacking. Remove them recut it to have the docks and the and street scene together and slow it down, don't rush through things. Take some time and show your environments off.

Something some of hte Rythm and Hues Guys said when they came up to give a talk at the school I teach at, if your real is good and gives information then they will watch it all the way through.

The one thing that I came away with from your reel was that you need to redo the shoulders on your character and dog to have it animate better when rigged (the edge loops aren't working, at least for me). This is of course a distraction from your environments which are much stronger, but you fly through them too fast. I can understand wanting to show lots of stuff in a short amount of time.

Take some time and take a look at some video from helicopter shots or just watch/notice your self when looking at buildings. Just pay attention to how long they are looking at things and focusing on things. How fast they move. This is a exercise in psychology, and noticing how long it takes the average person (or target audience) to focus on an object. If your constantly shifting focus, then its almost no better than putting up a bunch of screen shots and zipping through them and asking me to freeze frame parts of your reel to see something better.

In the end don't make the person looking at your reel do more work then they have to.

I generally didn't have a problem with the darker scenes, but use Dark Blue instead of Black.
There is no one right way to do anything.
Only the un-explored ways. =)
  12 December 2007

Even though I'm removing the characters from the reel, that's a really good insight (and, consequently it's actually more specific feedback than I got from from the labs at my school.) Really makes me wish I'd joined this community sooner.

In terms of the fish-eye effect you mentioned, I was capturing the video directly from Doom 3 with the default field of view. I believe the default angle is 85-90 degrees. I'm pretty sure I can alter it in the game settings, though. What FOV would you reccomend? I'll try reducing it by about 15 degrees at first, and see what hapens I think. I'm not particularly catching the distortion myself, but I've been staring at the material for a lot of hours so I may just be used to it.

I'll see if I can't relight the streetside/docks to have more ambient blue-ish shadows rather than Doom 3's default stark black.

Thanks a ton for the excellent critique!
  12 December 2007
I, also, am not yet in the industry, so I'm only talking from what I've been told by industry people:

forget about 2 minutes, 1:30 or whatever. Of course, you don't want it too long, so 2 minutes would be a max cap. The thing to keep in mind is: Only show your best work, and don't bore the viewer. I've met art directors who tell me, he literally goes into meetings with boxes (or gigs) of reels with 2 or 3 other decision makers. Their time is far better spent actually working on their game, so if they get bored in the first 15 to 25 seconds, they skip it. Always best foot forward. Always your best work, and don't show anything that isn't good. If you're in consideration, they will pick apart every frame. If that means you have a 50 second reel, so be it. As long as it's the best 50 seconds you've got.

I just watched the reel, and I agree with above, the scenes are long. It's quite dark all over, as well. If you don't want to try for a lighter shot, maybe get some shots of objects at a closer level, with more direct light.
  12 December 2007

Thanks for the input! I'm working on recutting it, along with a some significantly brighter work, though I won't be able to do a whole lot until after Christmas. Currently my only computer access is my laptop, which doesn't have the power to do much of anything constructive.

I did cut out the characters though, got that done before heading out of town.
  01 January 2008
Just watching it now, and here are my notes about it:

1) The first scene with the street lamp. It really doesn't look all that special, cut it. Or at least shorten it down a lot and stick it somewhere else in the reel (not at the start since it's not that much of an epic bit).

2) The wooden round circular arena thing looks pretty cool, although rather plain and repetitive. It only has the wooden path that goes around and leads down to a wooden floor? The chains are nice though. But yeah I think the camera may have moved a bit too quick (disorientating/dizzying) and the whole scene was rather long. But interesting concept nonetheless!

3) The dock scene. So much texture repeating there. The main thing that stands out to me is the light/white-ish grime or whatever on the wooden planks on the docks/piers. It has the exact same detail every 3 meters. I really suggest changing this! At least make it more discreet or something. (Nice water/lighting though)

And as a final note, everything you have in that reel looks pretty much the same. Same lighting, same sort of textures (wood especially), and same sort of time era. I'm not in the industry yet but I do know that when they're out looking to hire, they like to see that the artist is capable of doing a wide variety of things well, and not just one specific thing. (Unless that company is all about doing that one specific thing).

Hope that helps.
Keep it up.
  01 January 2008
I agree with Gregor. There's a lot of texture repetition in evidence in all of your environments. I also see some scale issues. In the street scene, the crates looked really big next to the buildings - and the papers scattered on the ground looked big as well and there were too many of the same ones. I think I noticed repetition of the posters on the wooden fence too.

The pit environment - it's not impossible of course for the moon to be that big above it but it's making the environment look tiny to me.

The Docks environment definitely needs some variance. All the docks look like repeated geo and the whole scene is too regular and democratic (if that makes sense). Mix it up some - create new assets if you have to, to make it look more "lived in". It looks a bit too pristine right now.

You're doing good work though. I like the mood you create with your lighting. Good luck!
"Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
  01 January 2008
Thanks a ton for the input, guys!

I'm currently working out some new stuff so I can break up the style a bit. Also going to keep in mind the crits on any new stuff I do, while I try to fix some of the problems you all pointed out.

Hopefully what I'm working on now (will post a WIP once it's far enough) will be quite a bit more interesting than what I've been doing so far.

Again, thanks!
  01 January 2008
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