The Amethyst Blade Cinematic
Around March 2020 I got the amazing opportunity to get on this project as CG Lead. For the next couple of months, I worked tirelessly along with a few amazing artists to get this cinematic done.
When I got onto the project almost all of the models were already made. I picked up all the assets from there and started Texturing and Look Development. I was responsible for setting up the environment to work efficiently in Maya and prepare it for shot production. I also set up the overall lighting for the environment and every individual shot. I picked up the animated characters from the animator, put them into the environment, and ensured the compositor got everything he needed from CG.
To summarise. I was responsible for the entire Look and Textures of the Shots, Characters, and Environment. The setup in Maya and the delivery of all the renders. On top of that, I was also responsible for delivering a previs that acted as a solid guide for the entire project.
Check out the cinematic below!
The lighting was a very important part of the story. It was vital to set the mood.
I firstly put in place an ambient lighting pass so nothing was pitch black, I didn't want the shots to feel super dark so the ambient pass prevented that. Next, I set up lights in the braziers that acted as fire lights for elements that would be added in comp, I also put in place some area lights in certain places to intensify the effects of those light sources. I then proceeded to add the light coming from the hole in the ceiling and lastly, I lit the clones a bit better by putting in some rim lights etc, to accentuate their form.
Environment LookDev Tests
A few Look Development renders from the environment without the ceiling in place. The goal was to have it be reminiscent of the Naboo style interiors seen in the saga films.
Note: For better lighting I removed the ceiling in these tests
The two pillars from the environment. Here I used some marble textures from Megascans as a base and then proceeded to layer on top, multiple passes of scratches and marks in substance painter to make it feel older and dirty it up a bit.
I pretty much repeated this process for all the assets present in the environment.
To texture the head I started with albedo maps from Texturing XYZ inside of Mari to get a base down. I then did an initial LookDev for a non-scarred skin version of the face before moving on to the scarred variant. For that version, I took the base textures into substance painter, where I experimented with procedural and hand-painted scarring. Firstly I made some pretty intense scarring but in the end the director wanted to go for a more muted look.
The clothing was textured fully in substance painter with a combination of hand-painted details, manually placed stitching and procedural scratches etc.
On the Clone Troopers seen in the cinematic I worked on the Texturing & LookDev for multiple versions. Since we see more than one on-screen at a time during multiple shots, a few variations were made. I also included a variation with the blue markings of the 501st legion troopers. Early on in the production these were supposed to be used but were later changed because the director preferred the regular white ones.
I textured these fully in substance painter.
Pre - Visualization
To translate the idea pitched with storyboards into 3d I put together a rough pre-visualization. I tried to keep the essence of the boards in there but also experimented with my own style in terms of composition and camera movement. This acted as a solid base for the cinematic throughout the entire production with only a few changes made in the final product.
I'd like to give a shoutout to all the talented artists that worked on this project with me. Without them it wouldn't be what it is today.
Stijn van der Plas, whose amazing animation work brought the characters to life. Tim Forsgren, whose awesome compositing work really took the shots to another level. Ben Judd, who made some incredible storyboards on which we based the previs and the incredible head sculpt of Samuel L Jackson we used for Mace Windu. Nick De Leeuw, whose great cloth sim brought an extra layer of realism to the shots.
And Lastly Star Wars Theory, who made this entire project possible. You can check out his channel and the original Cinematic video here on YouTube: