MKimber: Rookies Project
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MKimber: Rookies Project

Michael Kimber
by voxelfox on 28 Feb 2021 for Rebelway FX Challenge

The following is my third update for the Rookies Project. This time I focus on the more technical aspects of the shot.

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Update - 28 Feb 2021

In the last post, we looked at the custom shaders helping to facilitate the requirements of the shot. I had briefly discussed “some challenges,” when trying to match the cyborg to jellyfish references. We had also taken a look at the technical strategies for managing FX elements. This time we will dive a little deeper into the technical setups.

The original cyborg shader demonstrated a backface shading problem; in order to resolve this, an Is Front Face VOP condition was implemented. The adjustment made it possible to shade the cyborg to more accurately resemble the physical properties of jellyfish suspended in an equally dense medium. This tweak also reduced render times significantly and made the shader more feasible.

A technical approach was devised to add visual interest to the shield. This setup was inspired by optical distortion. ST Maps are screen space UVs that can be used to distort pixels. Within Nuke there is an ST Map node which performs the math operations required to move pixels around. By appending the required channels into the rendered plates from Houdini it became possible to simulate distortion effects.

Finally, In the last post, I showcased the R&D of the hydralisk shader. The shader has been consolidated into a neat package that can be applied to the model and sent off for rendering. The most notable change to the shader was a procedural hit marker which adds an emissive element to the belly of the hydralisk. This tweak helps to demonstrate the flow of energy between the cyborg and the hydralisk during the climax of the battle.

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Update - 14 Feb 2021

With a plan in place and a good sense of direction, we can shift gears and begin developing the scene. In this post, we will take a look at the steps which were taken to align with the vision of the shot.

The scene required a facelift to help guide FX visuals towards the theme “Carbonology”. In nature, structures react according to chemical or physical stimuli. To highlight this behavior; FX, environment, and character shading needed to be addressed in a dynamic way.

Operations were performed on the assets to increase their flexibility. A library of attributes was appended to the geometry opening new doors for custom shading techniques. The shaders were built around a PBR backbone and utilized core VOP nodes to increase the fluidity of data permeating into the shader context from SOPs. This has allowed for the motivation of dynamic shader changes.

Furthermore, to accurately portray biological behaviors the FX elements required creative troubleshooting strategies to guide more predictable and directable results.

Update - 24 Jan 2021

POST 1-6

To the thinkers, the dreamers, the doers. Welcome!

What a privilege it is to present on the Rookies platform. This space is notoriously known for opening doors and providing opportunities that form the fibers of creativity and ingenuity. My curiosity continues to push me towards the boundaries of storytelling. An individual can go so far but together we can go further. I am looking forward to collaborating with you all.