super 8

After seeing a teaser trailer several months ago during a late night Youtube crawl after college, “Super 8” ;eft a lasting impression on me because of its secretive nature.
A brain child of film creating legends Steven Spielberg and J.J Abrams, “super 8” promised to be a very sci fi feature, even with the limited information provided about the plot previous to its release.
I saw this film today and as expected I didn’t know what to expect. The setting was very E.T, the props and scenery very accurate to the era and the costumes were impeccable.
The cast (in Spielberg tradition) comprised of children, with some excellent performances from the leading roles: Mary Elle Fanning portrayed a convincing role as the daughter of a local trouble maker and expressed fantastic emotion with a great sense of pacing and comedic timing, as well as having the ability to cry on cue.
Joel Courtney played a fantastic young hero and had the face of an angel. He really got into the character of an introverted and talented artist who was misunderstood by his father and liked the “bad” girl regardless of her father’s reputation.

The effects were incredible, the real time ballistics would have put Michael Bay to shame and the computer generated sections integrated seamlessly with the footage.

However, there was one slightly annoying event that kept cropping up in terms of suspense and surprise: I noticed a pattern that went along the lines of…

Mild Action.
Silence.
Beginning of a line.
Cut off mid way by bigger action.

I wouldn’t have minded if this only occurred once, but five times was just a bit excessive.

Another credit was to the actual concealment of the creature’s identity, similar to the Cloverfield beast but with better implementation. What also set this film apart was how dark it was, both in plot and in visuals, mostly due to the night time setting, you increased use of violence and the language of the cast, including plenty of cussing from the children and an unexpected use of the “f” word.

Overall, “Super 8” is definitely a “Spielberg” masterpiece, with excellent effects, a talented cast, an interesting plot and emotional musical score. The ever present bikes and water tower usage were staples throughout but seemed to work and there was the added bonus of seeing the alleged “Super 8” film made by the children themselves. Although in parts the film was a bit disorientating it is definitely worth a watch and thoroughly enjoyable.

Just make sure to have a lid on your drink.

“FaceWare” and the image metrics innovation…

The seminar at BAF Game a fairly astounding one, demonstrating the newly released (and freely available) 3D software plugin, “Faceware”.

Faceware is a plugin that detects the movements of a piece of video footage without the use of mo-cap software or even a special set up. It boasts the ability to be able to create a performance file from any kind of captured video (of a face) and then be able to transfer most of the minute twitches, movements and individual facial quirks to a pre- existing rig in many 3D packages, such as Maya or 3D max.

The important point about this clever software is that it is very efficient and even though it costs money to create bespoke performance files, it is still very cost and time efficient, Animators have to spend less time dealing with major key poses and can instead focus on the clean up process and the nuances which help to accent the animated performance and make it much more convincing to the viewer, plus it also allows the actor’s individual speaking patterns to be recorded. It also saves money because of the absence of a specialist motion capture studio, additional hardware etc.

It has been used in many different well known works such as “The mysterious case of Benjamin Button”, “Splice” and the cute little nonsensical Panda Don from the Fox Biscuit campaign.

Theo’s progress in Maya

Obviously, I had to construct a T pose for a reason, which was to make image planes. The images were then imported and set in Maya in order to make a guide for the modelling process.
I am pathetic at modelling, but it seems that image planes can even help a novice like me yield some fairly pleasing results.

Using a cube as a base, I managed to create something quite impressive (to me, anyway.)

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And slightly later, I made a screen capture tour of the completed model, sans rig and UV Map.

Elite beat agents

I love the look and the game play of Elite Beat Agents. It’s essentially a musical interactive comic book where a bad day, unfortunate event and even a natural disaster or monster attack can be solved by getting down with your bad self in the guise of the men in black with afros.

The dots on the touch screen represent the notes, the constricting rings represent time and I guess the colours allow you distinguish between segments.
The top screen shows an animated comic strip where the story’s outcome depends on your performance. There are generally three acts to a stage and two out of three gets you a pass.

The EBA Interface

I love comics and I love music and I also love nonsense. I love this game because it is completely from any other beat game that it makes the most of its platform, (namely the DS) it has a unique layout and cool songs, but it could really do with an expansion or sequel.

I’d like to incorporate the comic book elements of this game into my environment and the story was inspired by the game’s absurdity.

Break room: Aesthetic and props

I decided to give the break room a bit more of an “Ikea” vibe becasue police stations tend to be on a budget.
I developed a one point perspective ink drawing to give myself a better idea of what the room might look like with a little bit more detail beyond the elevations and also to give it a bit more style.

A little sheet I made to draft some smaller details that i'd like to include in the final build.

a one point perspective drawing, showing (aesthetically) what the room should look like.

A few ideas about props for the "Crime" scene, including remnants of treats and the bakery bow in more detail.

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Theo’s “T Pose”: Harder than it looks!

So when I desined Theo initially, I created a fully shaded rotatation, showing his hair and clothes in all the minutely detailed, creased and shining glory. Although this created a very beautiful piece of concept art, it wasn’t very functional.

A Front, three quarter and side view of Theo

The image above is the original piece. The first problem was his pose, it was nearly impossible to model from, and had to be changed to a “T” in order to access his body and arms fully during his transition into 3D.
The second problem is that in order to model it in maya (especially with my current skill level) I needed to simplify his shapes. I tried to re-draft him, with disasterous results.

Here is the first Botch. It was wonky and lacked a certain... level of finesse.

The second attempt didn’t go any better, as I tried to solely concentrate on his body. It didn’t work.

I finally to start again at the beginning, meaning tracing the original drawing by hand and finally deciding on a colour scheme for his clothes at least. The wrinkles were gone and his hair has been simplified to a much more manageble shape.

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The break room: Basics

The main setting for my game is the break room of a police station. Nothing too fancy or complicated as far as rooms go, but I hope to make the most of the basic shapes with some beautiful texturing, well placed lighting and a hefty attention to detail. However, most rooms start with a simple floor plan and a set of elevations. These things are not a strong point for me, but they have to be done in order to progress.

The basic plan for my room's initial layout, sans detail. The scale has yet to be determined.

The west wall, showing the noticeboard, the alcove and the fridge.

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The south wall of my elevation, including fire doors and the depth of the west wall, as well as the fridge

The north wall, including the cupboards, counter, fridge and the prrotrusion of the sink in purple.

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The east wall, demonstrating the depth of the cupboards, window placement and the width of the sink

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