Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The bunnies, they're everywhere...

As part of my training in teh new studio I was set a seemingly simple task: design, model, rig, animate, light and render a rabbit character. I had complete creative control over this, the choice of style, design and activity were all left up to me. I had 6 weeks total to get it all done, all the while getting used to Softimage.

Design has never been one of my strong points so I kept it basic, did some research and created some basic back story to help direct the rest of the process. I wanted a rabbit that was a bit overweight, pear-shaped, with short arms that made his life difficult, similar to a T-rex.

 I decided that this was a bit too cutesy and seen as he has a short temper to match his short arms I opted for an angrier expression.

Taking this design into Softimage, I built the character using the box modelling technique to build him. I had never modelled a character for rigging/animation before, and i learned quite a bit from the mistakes I made with this character. the main 2 being watch your edge loops, and dont try and animate a character with short arms.

I textured him using the same techniqe I had used for the Phoenix in Phoenix, Medium Rare, creating a fur stamp in Photoshop and using this to paint the body, then I used the texture to create a bump map to give it some surface texture. In this instance it didnt give me the effect I was hoping for so I decided to try my hand at Softimage's powerful ICE system to create some fur. After a day of figuring Ice out, and getting it close to what I wanted, I realised that it wouldn't bring me all the way, but was informed that Soft has a built in system for hair and fur, and using this I got the effect I was looking for after about a half hour.

Next up I had to light the scene. I went for some dusk lighting, as i like the idea of getting some nice contrasts between the orange and the dark shadows. Again this was my first attempt at lighting a model correctly.

I then had to rig and animate the rabbit. Rigging was a bit of a challange, some of my earlier mistakes in the design/moddeling stages came back to bite me, but I managed to get a working rig out of it. Huge learnign curve, I spent 2 days watching tutorials before even attempting it. For the animation part of the project, I found myself restricted by the rig and couldn't push it as far as I'd wanted, but I really enjoyed bringing my own character to life. I wanted him to hop accross the screen and light up a smoke, allowing me to dive back into ICE for the flame and smoke effects. Thankfully I had gotten through the rest of the project ahead of schedule so I had some time to play around with it. Finally I compossited it all in After Effects, which i had used for some very basic tasks before, but got to explore it a bit more for this one, using depth of field and different passes to achieve the result below.

I really enjoyed working on this project, learned loads of new skills, in Softimage and beyond, and got to drive a project by myself from start to finish. Hopefully get to work on some TV ads next, will be nice to see some work on the small screen. Until then, that's quite enough rambling outa me

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