FX TD & Artist DemoReel - Marc Mesa
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FX TD & Artist DemoReel - Marc Mesa

Marc Mesa
by marcmesa on 30 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Hi to everyone! This is my frist VFX Demo Reel and I’m very excited to show you my work. I’ve been working with Bifröst Aero, Bifröst Liquids, BOSS, Nparticles, Ncloth, Golaem in Maya, NukeX for compositing and sometimes EEVEE in Blender. Nowadays, I’m an 18 y/o guy pretending to entertain doing what I love.

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VFX DEMO REEL 2021

As you might know, Maya is the standard software for VFX. Many studios used this tool to create wonderful and unimaginable VFX but nowadays I’m used to see almost every project doe in Houdini to reach the simulation results. So, that’s one of the most important reasons why I decided to get into Maya and try to make those works.

Nowadays, I’m coursing a VFX degree in FXAnimation Barcelona 3D & Film School where I started my journey with Maya. So, that’s another reason why I’m showing you only Maya projects.

Additionally, I learned NukeX for compositing and After Effects to create Motion Graphics and/or post effects.

For this job, I had to learn MEL and XML to drive the information where I wanted and to modify Maya’s interface to make the artist’s life easier.

I’m very glad to do what I love and I’m making my biggest effort to reach my dreams.

Hope you enjoy the reel and don’t forget to like it and leave a comment below this project!

PLANE EXPLOSION

This is my very first Fluid Simulation in Maya Bifröst Aero. Due to I didn't see too many projects of this solver, I try my best to create a fully node procedural workflow. I’ve spent a lot of time designing the tool which carried more than 1000 lines of code.

At first instance, I didn’t know what kind of project I could do, but suddenly I remembered a warlike movie that I saw when I was young. I forgot the movie’s name, but I could remember the scene. So, I decided to create a shoot based on that movie.

When I was working with Aero, I realized that there was the possibility of creating procedural tools. Then I started doing a lot of tests of clouds and explosions. That was kind of difficult because I was working with a laptop which is a little bit limited to do this kind of things. Despite the difficulties, I found the way to work as much optimized as possible.

Obviously, I was tired of working with a lot of connections over my nodes and getting confused with different parameters that I didn’t use. So, that’s why I decided to learn XML to create templates to modify Maya’s interface.

After all, I have a tool in my Maya’s Custom Shelf that allows me to create an infinite number of variations of my clouds and explosion.

THE SHIP

The Ship is a combination of all that i could learn in my first VFX course in FXAnimation. This project contains: NParticles, Bifröst Aero, NCloth, Golaem, Bifrost Liquids, BOSS, Compositing Techniques and Integrated Motion Graphics. I got inspired on different references including: Old movie style and WWII video game.

One of my biggest inspirations where I decided to take the camera movement was the latest entry of Jonathan Aceituno. He made some cool shots where a ship was sailing on the ocean.

Due to I wanted to do an original art scene, I decided to use that black and white color palette which I thought was a great option to play with because the video is about the Second World War. These colors represent the sadness and uncolored moment in the history.

The Bifröst Liquids were the most difficult part because, as I said in the past, I was working with a limited machine. That project includes, driven by ocean, liquid and foam which are composed in NukeX combined with the particles, ship, flag, smoke, crowds and a bit of 3D Compositing to create the sky.

Doing this project, I saw that there were some cool compositing techniques in different movies that are pretty common in the industry that could be great to implement them into my work. So, I added a little bit of distortion, camera dust overlays, ambient lights, etc.

THE EYE

I was wondering what kind of project I could do as my very first touch with Visual Effects. I looked for different artists and I decided to start my journey with The Eye.

At the beginning I felt a little bit confused because I didn’t know how to start and where to start from. So, I decided to make a research on the different aspects that I had to take into account.

The first thing that I realized was that I had to learn Maya Expressions and MEL to add some exceptions, noises and conditions. I spent a lot of hours coding to get the final result which carried more than 200 lines of code.

After the first simulation, I missed something. I wasn’t enough happy with the result, so I made 4 more particle systems that I used as ramifications to create this kind of growth effect. Obviously, every particle system had different seeds to make sure that everything was as much random as possible.

Due to I had to render the simulation and I heard about Blender EEVEE, I tried to learn as much as possible Blender to try to get the final Look Dev.

After making some tweaks in NukeX and create 3D particles that are flying around the eye, I went to After Effects to give the ultimate details. As you can see I added some glow effects and the optical flares given by VideoCopilot plugin.

THE FISHING VORTEX

This is my second project called The Fishing Vortex. In this work I decided to create a procedural tool that allows the artist to make some tweaks to make different shapes where the fishes are going through.

I’ve got inspired on the Clément Morin work did in XParticles and I accepted the challenge to do something similar but in NParticles. At the very first sight, the project didn’t seem so difficult, but something went wrong with the fish orientation. So, I tried something that I didn’t see in any tutorial: get the curve point’s tangent and add one local axis rotation to give them the correct orientation.

To do the procedural tool, I created some attributes that control values of different curve deforms. Those allow the artists to create cool paths and even animate them to get some different cool shots.

After doing the simulation, I started to do some post effects to give the final look. Just to start, I made some 3D particles in NukeX. Then, I went to After Effects to create those God Rays with Shine from Red Giant plugin. Obviously, I did some tweaks to reach this result.

THE STADIUM SHIP

The Stadium Ship is a combination of compositing techniques and visual effects. The fact of this project is that I made an R+D work which I tried to optimize the work as much as I could trying to recreate all the effects using masks, normal maps, distortions, etc.

Firstly, I started doing a research of different ways to do that invisible effect. I found ways to do it using transmission shaders, but obviously it would cost a lot of time of rendering and maybe a little bit noisy render. So, I decided to give a try to the IDistort from NukeX. This node allows the user to manipulate the distortion of the image based on the UVs (red and green channels). Then, I saw that the Normal Map could be a great option to work with, so I deleted the blue channel and I distorted the footage in order to get this effect.

Due to I’m studying in FX Animation Barcelona 3D & Film School, I decided to make the screen replacement with its logo. I could change the logo anytime I want.

The Space Ships propulsion was made with Maya Fluids. At the beginning was a little confusing because I wasn’t able to play with the fire shape, but after making a lot of different tries I got something interesting.

I used After Effects to create the overlays on the camera. I got inspired on Watch Dogs II’s hidden camera overlays which I found interesting.

As you can see, I made some interesting easter eggs. Nowadays I'm a VFX student in FXAnimation (the stadium screens) that is doing class from 11.30 to 14.30 (Remote IP) who does his break at 13.30 (time recording at left bottom corner). 

THE ANT

The Ant project is a collaboration with Andreu Pellisa that made the Modeling, Shading, Rigging and Animation parts. While the part that I made is the Crowd Simulation, Look Dev, Lightining and Compositing. I didn’t post the entire sequence because we are working on it and those are the only shots that we finished.

Both of us wanted to create something unique but familiar and, because we loved Hugh Jackman’s rol, we started doing this work. It was a little tough to find a great reference because we wanted to create something stylized merged with a little of realism.

We started pretending to create something cinematographic. So we wanted to add some blur, perspectives, compositing techniques, camera overlays, etc. Then, when we finished, Andreu started to create the model and rig.

After a week, we got the ant ready for Golaem but we started to have some issues. We needed change the skeleton’s structure to make sure that everything was organized properly. Then, Andreu started to animate the ants in order to map them into Golaem.

After finishing all the simulations, I started making animation overlays in order to adapt the position of each ant and give them a little of randomness.

Our color palette went from blue-orange to blue-magenta, so the lightning part wasn’t as much difficult as I thought. I made sure to have some interesting Rim Lights and Environment Lights to give that cool look (obviously, I added some Fill Lights, Key Lights, etc with which I manipulated how the shadows were casting onto the anthill).

Nowadays we are continuing doing this project and I hope that we are going to finish it soon.

SEEKER

The Seeker is a Lightning, Shading, Look Dev, Rendering and Compositing practice that I’ve been working on. The model and rig from Perry Leijten gave me the opportunity to create this cool scene.

At the beginning, I started setting up the rig’s shaders to make sure that all of them were converted to Arnold. Due to Arnold uses Specular Roughness and Metalness and the rig didn’t come with these textures, I created the different maps that I needed in Photoshop using the Base Color to make sure that the oxide parts don’t shine as much as the pure metal ones.

After applying the different textures, I started to do the pose. After some feedbacks, I got something interesting. To make the environment I got inspired on The Martian, Star Wars movies and perseverance images. These were a great reference to create the environment light too.

The lightning was the most detail part of this project. I tried to illuminate every edge on the left part using different lights to make sure that those had the best Rim Light I could make. Just to fill the darkest shadows I added a Sky Dome with a nice desert HDRI. For the environment I had to add even more lights to fill different places where the light wasn’t enough strong.

After, the lightning part I started to create some Render Layers to optimize the scene as much as I could and I create some cool passes that I used to composite in NukeX. Just to render that frame in 3840x2160 it took finally 3 minutes and was a clean image without noise.

To make the compositing part, I started to add some glow on the different light passes of the character. After adding the background, color correction techniques based on the Z pass, tweaking the contrast values and add some overlays like camera dust, particles, glints and flares, I blurred all the stuff with the ZDefocus node, added some grain, chromatic aberration, camera lens distortion, ambient light and vignette.

GREAT THUMBNAILS

HOPE YOU LIKE IT!


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