The final version ready for the assessment next week.
Make sure you watch it in full HD 1080p to see all of the glorious details. And also turn up your speakers for those sweet rockin’ tunes!
After the previous entry here I have watched the animation on different computers and from that I found out that the dark end of the brightness scale is too bright and because of that it was possible to see the shadows of the light cones and the edge of the floor. The last remaining 0.1% was to adjust the black clip of the grade node in my Nuke file. Dark areas are now black and the contrast is a bit steeper. It’s also hiding the simple interior a bit more so that’s good.
I also showed the final animation with the music to the musicians last night. They approved.
I’m all set for assessment! Hopefully there will be a set of good speakers to make the music sound as good as possible.
So I had a chat with Alistair Riddell earlier today. He had a lot of excellent tips and knowledge about mixing audio, as expected!
The reason for the muddy sound in the previous mixdowns was a combination of many factors. I’d say the most important was editing the low frequencies of the bass drum and the bass guitar track by turning the frequencies lower than 30hz completely down. Also a good idea was to duplicate one of the drum tracks and panning them to the sides to give the sound a sense of space. Guitar track was also tweaked a bit, mostly turning down the lows and amplifying the higher frequencies. On its own the guitar sounds a tad weird but when it’s played with the other tracks it fits in there a lot better!
I also applied some color grading into the animation to boost up the brightness and color tones. While writing this I’m rendering the animation out with the credits and the music track. Maybe some more adjusting if I can think of something to fix but other than that I’d say I’m at 99,9% done!
I lured the musicians Sim, Ben and Rhys back to the studio to rock out again last Wednesday. This time the plan was to record each of the instruments separately to allow more flexible mixing.
We started off with Sim doing a few drum tracks which were then used by the bassist and the guitarist while they were playing their tracks. Worked a lot better and the recording quality is improved. Most of the timing issues were fixed among with some changed details. The only set back on the recordings was that my favourite drum track is a little out-of-sync compared to the drum track the string musicians used to play theirs to. That meant I had to use the same drum track Ben and Rhys used. But it’s almost equally as good as the favourite so not a big loss. Only a couple of small details.
By now I have synced the tracks and mixed all of the samples according to the animation. The guitar track still needs some work to make it as good as possible. At the moment it is a little muffled, too much low frequency sounds. I have boosted the trebles but there might more I need to do. I’m going to consult Dr Alistair Riddell on that matter.
Last evening we had a 1,5 hour session with Ben, Sim and Rhys. Daniel had to be somewhere else but it was good that he managed to arrange Rhys to step in.
Fun times recording and watching the full HD video over and over again. The guys were getting better synced with the video during the session so it would’ve been awesome to keep recording another hour or so! Being a music producer is fun!
For the bass guitar it seems I had too high recording volumes and because of that it’s getting distorted all the time. Guitar and drums sound great but since the guys we’re all playing at the same time the microphones picked up the other instruments as well. For the drums and for the bass I have clean individual tracks but I’d still like to do another recording session to really concentrate on getting the clean tracks in as best quality as it’s possible. There is still some work to be done to get the timing just right. Hopefully the guys will have free time some time soon.
Also while watching the video multiple times I noticed some more things I need to fix so now I’m re-rendering about a second worth of frames.
Earlier I made the mistake of saving the bump maps as jpg files. It looks fine when you look at it as it’s saved but when you zoom in and pump up the contrast you start to see the horrible jpg artifacts. Maya of course reads them as bump and makes the tire wall look messy. It was bothering me before but I was hesitant in re-rendering about 80 frames (29 mins each) but after some encouraging from Kit I decided to go for it. Having lost the original psd file I had to re-do the bump map and this time I saved it as uncompressed png image. And I’m glad that I did! The ones I got look a lot better. It’s still rendering the last remaining 20 frames while typing this but tomorrow I’m sure I got the brand new tire close-up frames and hopefully they match the initial footage.
Also, tomorrow we are booked for finally recording the music! I got Daniel Kim and Staker brothers Sim and Ben from the jazz school downstairs to play some tunes for my animation. I’m really looking forward to it.
Day of victory! I finally got all the effects done in Nuke.
There were two effects that I had in mind almost from the start, one was the glow effect on the light cones and the other one was blur, either depth or motion.
The glow effect was definitely a must because it would just look weird if the light source didn’t have that glow to it when it’s against a black background. I had the glow effect switched on in Maya at first but the problem with it was that it was of course reflecting from the objects too which in turn made the images a lot brighter. However, the main problem with it was that it made the images kind of foggy blurring the sharp edges. Motion and depth blur effects on the other hand were difficult to control but the reason I didn’t want to do it in Maya was that it increased the average render times three-fold!
So I was suggested to extract only the depth information from Maya and use that to create the depth blur effect in a compositing software. The interface of Nuke definitely isn’t my favourite just yet but it is such a powerful package so I decided to give it a go. And once I got the nodes and connections working (a nightmare!) creating, adjusting and animating the depth was a breeze!
Creating the glow effect in Nuke seemed a little tricky aat first because applying the glow effect on the footage would of course make every bright bit glow and that was far from what I had in mind. So once again I was suggested to render out another pass in Maya. This time black-and-white frames with only the cones as white and everything else as black. It would then be used to create a matte to make only the cones glow. The goal was to use the matte to take only the cones out of the footage, applying the glow on them and then putting that thing back on top of the footage. After hours of trial and error on different nodes and connections I finally found out a node network that actually works! The trick was to first merge the footage and the matte using the multiply node, then applying the glow effect with the ‘effect only’ option checked on and then merging that to the final footage with a screen node.
I can’t really say I can get my head around the Nuke interface but it’s truly been a victorious day!
Some personal favourite frames with the depth blur rendered in Nuke. At this point the video is ready, I also made the credits and a bonus animation to go with it.
Only thing missing still is the music. I have talked to the musicians and hopefully after next week we’ll get to recording. I’ll also need to look into if we could use the big recording studio at the School of Music.
So the break is over and I’m back from New Zealand to check up on my frames I left rendering before I left. All done as expected! I had three computers working on it but apparently even one would have been enough since the one rendering all the frames was at the 905th frame. So there would’ve been only 28 frames left and one computer would’ve have done all the frames alone.
Here’s a low-res video of the rendered frames. I know it’s not perfect but I don’t have ideas on how to make it better at the moment. There was also supposed to be the depth data stored into the iff files but after trying to make it work in Nuke I found out that the depth data just isn’t there. So I think I need to render out the frames again with all the raytrace settings off and just concentrate on getting the z depth data out.
(,…And the video isn’t showing up. Tumblr’s video feature is USELESS)
A small side project. Inspired by kool-art car drawings and since there’s the lattice tool handy in Maya I decided to go for it! Would be cool to animate the deformation too. I’ll have to look into that once I have rendered out the normal showreel first.
The mental ray version of the fourth draft. Lookin pretty sweet. One of the light is doing something strange in this video but that has been taken car of already. I have also added some specular lighting and adjusted some of the key frames but other than those it’s starting look almost finished! A couple of days checking on it and if I can’t hink of anything to do to it I could start rendering the frames in 1080p.
Noticed something strange again today. From frames 704 to 717 the reflection in the floor doesn’t render properly. I also tried it with the perspective camera by placing it in the same location as my camera with the movements animated into it. Same thing. The polygons on which the car is sitting on are quite large so I thought that there’s some kind of a glitch in the polygon edges. So I went ahead deleting the polygon and appended it back together. Now it’s a huge polygon with no edges crossing it but still it wasn’t giving me the complete reflection.
From 718 onwards when the camera has descended a little more the reflection rendered fine. So it gave me a good reason to cut 13 more frames off the animation. It totals now at just under 900 frames.
Just before heading to the movies I left two machines to render out over the weekend. I can’t wait to see the whole animation, this time with lighting and final gather, on Monday!
4th playblast version with reworked camera. Now it’s more like a “best of previous camera movements” all made into single camera.
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