A moody street!

A moody street!

Leander Stalmans
by leanderstalmans on 30 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

In this 3D animation project I made a moody street view, with a strong focus on learning more about cinematography. It took me about 4 weeks to complete, working towards a strict deadline as this was a school project. I definitely learned a ton in the process. Sheers!

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Hello and welcome to my project page for the Rookie Awards 2021! Feel free to take a good look and send me any questions that may pop up. Sheers!

Some background information about my project:

I decided to showcase a project that I did over the course of 4 weeks, a few months ago. It is one of the projects that I enjoyed most so far during my time as an animation student at RITCS, Brussels. We were entirely free in this project to focus on whichever aspect we wanted, so I chose to focus on the cinematographic side, with strong emphasis on lighting, lookdev and compositing. The project consists of a moody street view, brought to life partially in 3D and partially in comp. One of the main bottlenecks turned out to be render capacity. Due to Covid-19, my classes were remote, so all I had for rendering was my laptop. Because of this, I had to find some solutions to achieve a good quality output without spending too much of my 4 weeks on rendering.

This clip is the final result, further below I showcase some assets and explain some aspects of the process. I hope you enjoy, and I definitely love all tips, feedback or advice that you can give me! :)

In almost all of my projects, I like to gather quite a bit of reference. I find this really inspiring, and it really helps to make my projects believable, even when they are not really supposed to be very realistic. Here is a quick view at some of my moodboards. (One picture is in there twice, oops! :) )

As I'm responsible for every aspect, I had quite a bit of assets to make. I planned my composition up front to know in advance how detailed my models needed to be. A consequence of this is that some of them are not very realistic when seen up close. I consider this estimation of the necessary amount of detail to convey to the viewer what I want (while thinking of my deadline!) as an equally valuable part of the learning experience.

Modeling, animation and lighting were done in Maya, texturing in Substance Painter. I rendered the scene in Arnold and worked with Arnold stand-ins to keep my layout scene manageable for my laptop.

To bring the scene to life, I had to limit the actual Arnold rendering to be able to meet the deadline. I animated the metro and the slightly moving taxi in Maya and rendered just that region. I rendered one high quality still with all traffic lights on in every color, but in separate light groups to be able to set them up correctly in Nuke. The flashing taxi indicator lights were done with a separate light group which I also animated in Nuke. The little camera movement and the jitter in the "Jazz" glow were done in comp as well. I made 2D smoke and steam elements in Houdini Apprentice and comped them in subtly. 

Here is a little clip of the smoke and steam straight out of Houdini. I had little prior knowledge of Houdini, so I focussed on getting good movement and an acceptable general lighting, so I could proceed to get the look right in Nuke.

Finally, here is a breakdown of the scene itself. This also demonstrates the big impact of the compositing step in Nuke. As one of the main goals for me was to try and learn more about this step, I am pretty happy with the result. Then again this project also showed me that there is still a tremendously long (but interesting!) road ahead of me. It definitely sparked my enthusiasm to keep learning and improving my skills, both artistically and technically!

I really hope that you enjoyed my entry and that your day is good. Sheers! :)

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