Bavly Hanna - 3D Generalist Vol 2
Hi, I'm Bavly, I'm a student at Gnomon School of VFX and Animation. With great pleasure, I'm proud to present to you a collection of my latest work at Gnomon, created with a lot of passion and inspiration. Enjoy!
Incarnate angel (based on concept art by Wei Feng) is my first character to work on.
I really liked the concept and wanted to have my own take on it. I went through the pipeline of creating a character from start to finish;
I sculpted the character in Zbrush, modeled the armor and re-topologized the character in Maya, textured body and armor in Mari and Substance Painter, used Yeti in Maya for grooming, and comped lights and elements in Nuke.
Work Progress and Breakdown:
The toughest challenge for me was sculpting a good face. I had to go back and forth between Zbrush (Sculpting phase) and Maya (Render phase) multiple times to make tweaks for the proportions of the face (and body).
I learned it's better to render early on and let it dictate my sculpting instead of spending too much time in Zbrush, and that was uncomfortable in the beginning.
For texturing the body, I had to import a low poly version of the mesh in Mari to not slow it down, as well as a high poly (Decimated) version along with it, to be able to see the textures I will apply on a HQ mesh. So I decimated the model in Zbrush.
In Mari, I started texturing the skin pours (fine displacement) using projection painting.
Then I textured the albedo using projection painting as well. For the fine displacement to appear vividly, I exported a cavity map from Zbrush for the face and overlaid it on the albedo pass in Mari while toning it down to not look overdone.
From Mari: I exported the fine displacement (skin pours), and connected it on the body mesh in Maya with a connection that would allow me to tone primary, secondary and tertiary detail (from the red, blue and green channels of the projection photos I used in Mari) independently to look develop it.
From Zbrush: I exported a displacement map for the whole body (and gloves) that would allow me to work with the low poly version in Maya in the viewport, but render the high poly version, which helps with optimizing the scene.
I used Yeti for the hair which was very easy to pick up and learn.
This connection helped me create clusters of hair that look natural.
The braids were very easy to create; by creating a Nurb curve and transforming it into a braid which I can tweak in Yeti's attribute editor.
I modeled the whole armor in Maya using the 'create polygon tool' and 'bend deformers' to shape the armor pieces.
Then I textured it in Substance Painter. I baked the maps and added detail and wear on all the pieces.
I rendered all AOVs I needed for Comp and Look Dev in Nuke,
and started merging the lights I liked together along with additional elements; like the hallow and particles for a better presentation of my character.
A Day at Gnomon School of VFX
I had an idea of making a short film for my HD Filmmaking and Matchmoving and Integration classes. I imagined what the school will look like in a sci-fi approach; where the 3d models students work on are real life models! I started planning my shots and filming locations at the campus, while coming up with a simple narrative that will connect everything together.
The main inspiration for my film was putting a (HULKBUSTER) in one of the labs we took classes in! Then I had the idea to create a whole story;
It's the final presentation day at Gnomon, where students are working on their final models. We are following the narrative of two students working on a HULKBUSTER! As we walk through the campus, we start seeing models created by other students before the big reveal!
Special thanks to all my friends and staff at Gnomon who helped me create this piece, and to my instructor Stephen McClure!
Work Progress and Breakdown:
I used PFTrack, Maya, Nuke and After Effects, and for the shooting equipment a few lights, a drone, Sony FS5 camera, a slider, and my phone camera with a gimbal in one of the shots!
I started my project by planning the best locations for filming at campus, where I'll be able to get a cool look for the models. Setting my self up for success, I picked a timing in the day where I have direct sunlight that will help cast hard shadows on the ground; selling the integration effect better.
I was faced with my first challenge when I found out I had a one hour window to film all my outdoor shots, where sunlight will be visible and will cast hard shadows. Working alone on the project, I had to prepare everything beforehand; creating my storyboards, making arrangements with friends (actors), preparing camera gear and timing of each shot, and making sure I have all my shots ready for matchmoving.
The whole film was shot in one day.
For Indoor sequences, I got inspired by the hologram effects in (Altered Carbon) TV show. I wanted to integrate 2d elements (HUDs) along with 3D elements, creating a hologram effect for my intro. I used different elements including animated HUDs, footage I recorded from my screen typing code and keyed out the background, as well as 3d Models, which I gave a point cloud/ particle look in Ae. Then I color corrected all the elements and put some glow and glitch effects to finish them up after I tracked my scenes in both PFTrack and Ae.
I made sure my shots didn't have a lot of motion blur or fast camera movements, so I adjusted my shutter settings accordingly to set myself up for clean tracking in PFTrack.
For the 3D models, I matched the lighting on the model to the scene by eye, lifting up and grading some areas in Nuke, since I didn't have time to take HDRIs and had to finish filming quickly. I rendered different passes to have more control with color correction and look dev in post.
For this shot I had to use my phone camera. Although I used a phone gimbal, the shot was very shaky, and I spent the time stabilizing it (using software as well as manually moving tranforms in some frames) to make it as smooth as possible. I tracked the shaky footage first in PFTrack and used it for integration, then I stabilized it along with the 3d Model in it.
I also fixed many sliding issues in Maya and Nuke/Ae after getting the best results possible from PFTrack.
Some shots had too much occlusion which gave me some challenges in tracking, so I painted roto masks and adjusted many trackers to minimize errors in PFTrack.
Rotoscoping was fun! I wanted to get a very clean roto for the Hulkbuster sequence, so I spent the time rotoscoping the actors, desks and computer screens frame by frame to have perfect results.
Compositing is key! I always find that 90% of the work done; tracking the shots, integrating and color grading the models will leave the scene looking fake and boring. The last 10% of work is always like the cherry on top. I threw in some glimmer, glow and lens effects, noise and grain, chromatic aberration and a heatwave effect to show hot steam coming out of the Hulkbuster, which blended the model more with the background.
I also played with lighting in Maya and in compositing along with sound effects that added a lot to the scene.
I used the drone in this shot as well.
As much as I had many challenges creating the project, I learned that a good idea which I'm passionate about will eventually come together in the end. The Hulkbuster sequence specifically didn't look promising at all until I finished comp and added all the effects, so it's good to keep working even when it looks bad.
Work Progress and Breakdown:
Shipwreck was inspired by concepts of challenging robot/mech models I came across during my Hardsurface Modeling classes.
I liked how the concepts looked and started modeling the 2 ships and buoys based on concepts by (Ian Mcque),
One of my colleagues (Berkeley Braun) modeled the Robot Dog Model based on concept by (Sean Mcnally). We decided to combine the models and create a scene/narrative that could make them work together.
Creating a bigger scene was very challenging, since we were driven by our models and didn't plan to put them in a bigger scene, which we had no concept for.
Our eye for composition, lighting, and look dev as well as our ability to collaborate and work together was put to test since we had to create our own original concept; where also the functionality and animation of the models and objects can work together and look cool.
We started brainstorming ideas for an environment that we can put the models in, and came across some cool references from Star Wars, where 'Walkers' were in a snow environment.
We had different ideas for the scale and placement of each model in the scene, as well as ideas for the environment and lighting scenario.
We Liked the snow idea, and we wanted the scene to be dramatic, so we thought of a night scenario with a storm and lightning strikes, instead of a day one.
We grabbed references from different films, tv series and games including (Rings of power series, Call of Duty MWII, Red Dead Redemption 2) that had a similar look to what we had in mind (Night, snow, thunder, Lightning, warm orange/yellow light from a light torch/flare, and a blue cool light from the night sky/ lightning strike palette).
We liked the atmosphere of the scene, but then we had to come up with a composition!
I created and textured a snow terrain in Gaea and imported it with our models in Unreal Engine (later we rendered in Maya Vray).
I tried different placements for the models, looking for an interesting composition.
We locked a specific composition that was simple enough for a short sequence and where models were viewed easily and weren't distracting next to each other. Every Idea led to the other and the scene came together especially when I was toggling between different lighting scenarios in Nuke, which gave me an idea for how to light the scene and animate the lights.
This taught me to always light my scenes minimally and let the contrast between light and shadow balance the piece. Less is more. It'll look natural and cinematic.
I wanted to make sure the models we had looked like they're from the same world, so I textured them in substance painter using a similar color palette, and made them share similar signs and markings.
The smoke, flare, fire, and sky (lightning) are 2d footage comped in Nuke using cards, connected to the camera movement from Maya.
As I was putting the scene together, Berkeley worked on rigging the Robot Dog Model and on an animation that would fit the scene, and the lighting scenario we decided on.
This project taught me not to rush the creative process as the piece reveals itself a bit by bit,
and how to work in a team and give room for each other's ideas to create something unique.