Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Dumbo has a great animated circus steam train running through the movie - and if you're like me, everywhere you look you proclaim, "I want to model that!". Preferably not out loud. The old steam trains of the past have such great personality and character with random pipes and bells and horns sticking out in all directions. The new bullet trains are all streamline and business. No contest which is more fun to play with.
So what's a train without a station to pull up to? Keeping with the Disney/British Empire theme, an obvious choice was the beautifully eclectic entrance structure of Disney World's The Jungle Cruise attraction (check out the reference plate below). It's a beautiful open-air safari outpost building with savannah shutters, ticket counters and period luggage ready for the ride. Nobody does detail like Disney. Next up was adding a few local touches like the tiny station name Ntungamo (an actual stop on the uncompleted rail line in Western Uganda), and local Acacia and Baobab trees native to the area.
Trees and bushes were all hand-modeled in SpeedTree (used in Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc) and grass patches loaded into Maya with V-Ray proxies kept my computer from smoking and passing out. Some might ask, "Hey! Where's all the textures and lights?" Sometimes it's fun just to model - on to the next project!
Monday, October 1, 2012
I was walking down a Brooklyn street one day and came across this amazing little bistro called Moutarde. I have no idea what that means. I don't even remember the food, but the facade struck me as just beautiful. Like most artists with their heads in the clouds, I didn't see a Brooklyn cafe in front of me- I saw a sleepy and quaint town in the Parisian countryside where everyone knows each other and nobody moves away. So naturally I went home and gave it a shot.
|I don't recommend modeling every brick in the road.|
Since this was made so long ago, I would change a zillion things in here. Add some leaves, forgotten bottles on tables, perhaps a gaunt french waiter smoking a cigarette in the doorway. If you look closely at the car, it looks like the front axle isn't even connected to the rest of the car! No wonder it hasn't moved all this time. Here's some more reference I used while making it.
|I wonder if he's on Adobe CS5 or 6?|
Since the design is so heavy, you have to find a balance between what elements to bring forward in opacity and what can be pushed back to almost invisible. Priority hierarchy is paramount. Basically, dozens of elements were created as separate black and white mattes and given their look and animation in Nuke. This way we can lookdev and change whole color schemes with the flip of a node.
Working with that crew was an amazing experience - if you want to see the whole shebang in action, here it is: https://vimeo.com/44039267
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Picture it: the setting sun in the outskirts of Cairo. The dusty and intrepid archeologists are off enjoying a well deserved pint of the local poisons after stacking all their stolen loot in the back, ready for shipment back to King and Country. Seeing his chance, the mummy flips the inside latch and prepares his headlong flight into the desert, bandages waving in the wind!
Since Indy Jones was such a big inspiration for this, there all kinds of little nods to the films scattered about. You might notice the BMW-style German trucks, Henry Jone's Grail Diary on the crate, and the Holy Grail itself half-buried in the dirt below. The map is era-authentic of Cairo, and the jugs and vases are textured directly from existing artifacts. I'm a big fan of accurate, time-specific detail. Even the model of the lantern does not violate the decade. I usually pick a year in the design process and try my best never to violate it.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Granted it was 1939, but the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz never really looked to me like he could actually work. The Scarecrow could BE a scarecrow if he had to... and the Lion... well, never mind the lion. But what a waste of design potential for that Tin Man! It makes me wonder of the studio artists had ever seen Metropolis a decade earlier.
Ignoring the eyebrow-raising notion that a man of tin can rust himself immobile in mere seconds of precipitation, I decided to make my own! Enter our hero, taking a well-deserved break when he feels (hears?) a raindrop.... reaching up instinctively like we all do... maybe a few drops more... and BAM! The workday ends abruptly.
I threw some little details in here taken from both the book and thin air. Obviously the trees have sleepy faces as in the film, and apples are scattered about for a singing Kansas schoolgirl to find later. I kept the funnel hat and placed a birds nest on his shoulder with some eggs to denote a stillness quality of the scene. The woodcutters wagon advertises a barely legible "Emerald City Lumber Company" logo.
I suppose Warner Brothers thought the origin of the Tin Man too gruesome to talk about in the film - apparently the Witch enchanted the man's axe to slowly chop off his limbs, which he replaced over time with metal appendages. Sounds like a solid Workers Comp case to me.
I love old movies - Frank Capras, Jimmy Stewarts, Ingrid Bergmans, Cary Grants, Humphrey Bogarts, Bing Crosbys - so basically every CG project I undertake is a period piece. Why make something contemporary when you could just look out the window?
This is a throwback to those great pulpy invasion movies of the 40s and 50s when the world was was looking up (in books, no doubt!) cryptic new words like "Radioactive" and "Mutation". There's zillions of little details in this and future postings that are chock full or contextual nuggets - most of which never see the pixel resolution to be recognized! Hence, this handy blog where I can expound to the random, sleepless populace clicking randomly and dangerously enough to stumble upon my little art corner of the web.
So what's in here? Besides the stainless steel robotic hero tearing down the main boulevard of Anytown, there's the Beacon Theater. I used to live right around the corner of the famous Upper West Side venue in Manhattan - so what better name? On the marquee is advertised You Can't Take It With You with Jean Arthur and Lionel Barrymore, doubled with Angles With Dirty Faces with the incomparable Cagney and Bogey. I thought those two cinematic choices seemed apt for tonight's events.
|Reference Contact Sheet|