The Mind of Marc Ecko Final
This was a piece I directed with Dorian Orange a couple months ago. I think it's worth sharing with the community for a variety of reasons:
1. It was our first deep integration between Maya and C4D
2. It was my first time using SteadyCamPro.
3. I have a lot of assets that I can share.
4. People on mograph.net have expressed interest in project workflow
Our crew consisted of 4 people: an Illustrator, an AE, Maya, and C4D artist. I think that's relevant because it forced us to divide the work up in a specific way. One of the obstacles that is ever present when working with a team is, "How do we make this piece look like it's all coming from the same hand?"
The 3D Split
Consistency has been a problem in the past with our 3D because the 3D section always looked like "the 3D section". Over the last year or so we got better at erasing those kinds of boundaries, but the new obstacle was getting the Maya and C4D Renders to look like "one hand". Instead of doing some scenes in Maya and some in C4D we decided all the watches would be modeled/rendered in Maya and the scenes and cameras would be built and animated in C4D. If all went well, we could export the camera data from C4D->Maya via FBX and comp the two passes in AE.
In the past we had problems getting animated FOV between C4D & Maya cameras. We'd also get slippage from time to time over an animation with complex curves. We had just upgraded to Maya v8.5 and C4D v10 and when we tried some FBX tests everything worked great. We did have a few problems with track exports wrapping their math (-360...0...360), but I believe they were all related to bugs with the first release of C4D v10. One other small thing that I remember was that we had to reverse the step direction of the keys in Maya, but our biggest lesson learned was that FBX does NOT translate animated Null Objects. That's bad for me because I nest the hell out of my objects in C4D and animate them accordingly. The work-around is to use an empty polygon object instead of a null object.
Wow. In a previous thread on mograph I'd mentioned being a terrible camera snob. I would rig a complex nest of cameras with targets and Xpresso tags with great pride. I had seen SCP for a long time on the market and never gave it a look because, frankly, I thought it was for amateurs who didn't know how to control their cameras (told you I was a snob ). I bow my head in shame to have learned that it's almost completely the opposite... SCP is an incredibly advanced tool for expert camera animation. I barely even used a third of it's features and was blown away. I started building the draft for Ecko with standard cameras... and while it was only a draft... you can get a good sense of how much better/smoother/tighter the cameras got with SCP. SteadyGlide, IMHO, is worth the cost of the program.
Mind of Marc Ecko Draft (pre-SteadyCamPro)
• During the transition between the Bookcase and the Briefcase I discovered a phenomenon that *must* have a name. The first time I animated the transition I scaled the x/y/z axis uniformly... and it was booooring. In order to make the transition pop I decided to scale the x, then the y, then the z... much better results.
• Many people mention the cityscape->gears scene as their favorite. Early I figured out how to make the buildings/gears "tick", but it was (again) too distracting... so I switched to a smooth rotation. The thing that's hard to appreciate in that scene is the fact that the curvature of the landscape and random distribution of the buildings is controlled with a single slider (MoGraph+Xpresso). If people are interested I can provide a scene file so you can see the setup.
• 500% metal specular on the Ecko chair patterns.
• Math-tastic proportions: Cut your music to 90 bpm -> edit your tiles to punch in 20 frame increments (@30bpm)... saves a lot of headache down the road.
What Didn't Work
• There was this idea we had early on that "it might be cool" if, when we focused in on each watch, the hands would switch from "real time" to "hip-hop time" and move with the beat. You can see one early example in the draft. The problem was twofold: 1) it was distracting 2) it tampered too much with the product (they started to look broken).
• We were thinking about taking the top watch in the hourglass and disintegrating it into sand particles that would fall into the bottom half and form the second watch. A wowie-zowie moment for sure, but we cut it because we didn't have enough scene time to establish the image of the two products before and after the particle transitions. It was just too fast and featured the fx more than the product. At the time of the decision we had already pushed the 1:30 target up to 1:40 and we weren't interested in pushing it again. We promised the client we would find the right time/place to do this in the future and they were cool.
• Mental Ray produced some pretty sweet results when the watches were rendered on their own, but it was much harder to find their sweet spot when you put them behind glass. We ended up rendering most of the glass in C4D in a flatter and more illustrative manner.
I'm not entirely sure. Hopefully someone will find such nerdery useful. I'm happy to respond to questions/comments. The checks for this job have already been written, cashed, and spent, so anyone wishing to offer suggestions or critisism should keep that in mind.
Edited by the_Monkey, 06 June 2007 - 02:44 AM.