View all the Finalists for Rookie Awards 2024


Benjamin Coignard
by benjamincoignard on 29 May 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

Hi, welcome to my entry for the 2020 Rookie awards. As a graduate, I see myself working on various projects that cover a very general palette in 3D animation. So for my entry this year, I am going to share with you a few projects I worked on. Enjoy.

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First, I will show you my personal projects, including an organic model and a hard surface scene. Then, I will show you my participation in a team project that led to a beautiful short film.

I hope you will enjoy my work.

Organic Model: Self Portrait

This portrait is a present representation of myself I worked on during the COVID19 confinement.

I wanted to represent myself because I feel like I am reaching a milestone in my life and I want to be able to look back at this piece and still be able to remember how I was physically and most importantly mentally at this point in time. I feel that to make myself helped my self-confidence and gave me an objective view of the way I am as a person.

This piece took me a bit less than a month to make with the help of the following tools:

Zbrush, Maya, Xgen, Mari, Substance Painter and Photoshop. Rendered with Redshift.

Scene polycount: 50430 faces

Image resolution: 3508x4961

Focal Length: 55mm

The face was sculpted in Zbrush and exported to Maya for the retopology. Even if this piece is not moving, I decided to spend time on getting a good topology and good UVs for training and optimization purposes.

The lighting is making the composition of the scene more interesting as it draws the focus to the brighter areas of the image. The focus lands first on the left side of the face. Then, it lands to the hand and finally lands on the logo on the shirt. To intensify this "focus triangle", I added a strong depth of field and a vignette effect in Photoshop once the image rendered.

In this pose, I am looking, judging, thinking and measuring risks on the years ahead of me, as I am very careful by nature and don’t like to take rushed decisions without thinking about it first. I am looking to the right to show that I am going towards where the future will lead me to. As in old paintings, the display of hands was a sign of prosperity. Here, I decided to include just one hand because I believe that I am rich in the figurative meaning: health, family and artistic freedom. The other hand would have referred to money. The fact that I am left-handed and use primarily my left hand to reach my chin also helped the composition of the scene.

To make the hand, I first made a basic mesh of a hand in « T pose » and created a FK rig into it. Then, I posed the hand in the desired position and exported the mesh into Zbrush to create the details and displacements.

The eye was done following a lot of online tutorials. I ended up dividing them into 4 parts in order to have more control: retina, iris, sclera and cornea. Making the texture of the cornea was very challenging as I couldn't make the caustics work.

Making the displacements was quite challenging for me as I don't use Mari often and I had to convert all my maps to an 8bit image because I am still using the student version of the software.

The process was to place a texturingXYZ map into the model and export them into Zbrush to tweak the intensity of the secondary, tertiary and micro maps individually before exporting a single 8k displacement map to Maya.

The albedo and roughness map was done in Substance Painter because I find the procedural and masking process very easy to use.

I tried not to focus as much on the background drape as I was going to blur most of it.

The drape is a simple plane I applied dynamics on using Maya Ncloth. Some vertex are constrained to a rod to get this wavy effect. I tried multiple simulations until I was happy with the result.

The texturing was a simple texture I made with Substance Painter I blended with a car paint material.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The grooming was made with Xgen for Maya. I have spent most of my time, working on the modifiers and the ptex maps to get a more realistic look. To achieve this, I made sure my caps had very optimized UVs. As I wanted to optimize the scene, I decided not to put hair under the hat and the watch. 

My color palette for this piece is composed of green, "skin tone", and purple.​​​​​​​ As the skin tones and the green shade of my favorite hat were necessary for this piece, I decided to make the curtains purple in order to ensure a balance of colors in the scene, using the triad color harmony rule.

The two props you see above were a very important part of this piece as I wear them every day and I consider them as parts of my dressing style.

I had in mind some references like the work of the artist Ian Spriggs or the famous sculpt "the thinker". 

To finish I want to add that this project taught me a lot. My biggest struggle was to work on the proportions and to get the eyes and mouth area correct. I still feel stuck in the uncanny valley but I believe that time and practice will help to get over it for my future projects.

Hard Surface: 2020 Time Machine

Story: In the future, a corporation developed a technology able to travel back in time. This technology became quickly affordable and popular in most countries. Only a few years later, we started seeing stations designed to visit a certain date for a short time. History classes and criminal sentences weren't the same anymore.

This project was my first work in 2020. 

2020 Time Machine started as a study on the making of futuristic screen glass. It took me a while to understand how to get the best result out of it, get an optimized render time and have a lot of control over it.

Then I decided to add a scene that could fit this screen in order to practice hard surface workflow.

The framing was an important point as I wanted to give an eye-level point of view looking down at the machine as we are in the scene, about to use the machine.

I used the bolts by Charnel (reference link here)

As I also wanted to practice with the Redshift renderer, I spent some work on getting the texture, lighting, camera animation and post process effects right, directly in Maya. The color settings were pretty straight forward but I had a few issues to get the depth of field and motion blur right. 

Lighting, topology, UVs:

Time spent: approximately 3 days

Software Used: Autodesk Maya, Substance Painter, Photoshop

- Render time: 2m 30s

Focal Length: 35mm

Work in progress milestones:

As you can tell, the edges of the screen had a lot of different versions as well as the panel on the bottom left corner that ended up as a big power button which is very recognizable for the viewer.

Team Project: Immersion

Immersion is a 2019 short film I worked on with 8 other students. Our team was composed of 1 animator, 3 compositors, and 5 TDs. I was working as one of the TDs. This project was challenging as we were a small team and we didn't spend a lot of time in production and each of us had to be part of every aspects of the production.

For this entry, I will share with you some of my work in this production. It will include a bit of layout, rigging, modelling and FX.

For the people who are not part of the jury: the film will be available to watch on Youtube later this year. Two videos below contain some final footage from the film and can't be watched without a password.

The layout of the scene was a very fun process. I had to imagine what an apartment of 2 kids would look like, and make it fit with the setting of the story and the background of our characters. The cables were very useful to get the messy effect we were looking for.

The 2D blueprints below were made by Angela Marici & William Kusuma. I had two days to model and rig each of them

Our team had only one animator so we had to help her in any way possible. For the headset example, I made a simple rig that would control the color and adjust the position of the front of the headset with just one slider. Deforming the part linking the front side and the ear pads was my most challenging part of the rigging.

The blue headset (on the left) did not get through the final version because we decided to go for a design less futuristic to get the "handmade" feel on the headset. The new headset was also more "toon shader" friendly and easier to rig.

To make our character spawn into the VR world, we had to make a particle effect we would find in video games or films like Pixels or Ready Player One. We decided to make the particle effects with the MASH tool as it can give very good results pretty quickly: The color and signal node were responsible for the randomness of the colors and shapes of each cube. I also created a few controllers to have full control over the position of the particles and their quantity.

Thankfully the renderer we used (Vray) was very easy to setup to make it work with the particles. 

The glass shattering was an effect I had to add to the scene. We wanted to get that feeling of "shockwave" coming from a big explosion.

To make this effect, I used Cinema4D because we didn't have a lot of time and using this software was giving a good enough result with the short time I spent on it.

Then, I exported the animation in alembic to Maya, refined it from the camera's perspective and made it work with our surfacing pipeline and the renderer we used.

Congratulations you made it to the end. I hope you enjoyed what you saw and that my explanations made some kind of sense to you.

Don't hesitate to share your advice and thoughts in the comment section down below. I would actually love to hear which of these projects you like the most.

zip HelloRookies2020_Benj1.rar -C:\DATA\Work\Rookies2020

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