Hi all from the Blender Institute after two months of waiting! Talk about being late for work…
Best advice I can give for jetlag is to just get straight into it. I got here last monday morning at about 9am after a whole lot of flying so I wasn’t up to full speed that day of course (still worked a bit), but have been loving it ever since. I’ve been given domain over creating the guardian characters. Baddies are a lot of fun to work on. I’ve tried to keep their expressions fairly neutral for rigging because it is very easy to get carried away and give them massive smirks, angry eyebrows and all that sort of thing.
One day I’d like to pull out all the stops and create my own ridiculously over the top evil supervillain, but for now these characters need to fit in Sintel’s world. Which brings me to the point of style. Most characters I have worked on (at least in recent times) have been based on photographic reference of people, meaning my default reaction is to aim for as much realism as possible in proportions, details and so on. While we plan to add a lot of detail to much of the film, the world does have a certain style to it. My main challenge was to stop modelling from references like Jack Black and Hugo Weaving and bring the models into line with Sintel and each other. This aspect might take a few more revisions yet but the team reaction so far has been quite positive which means I don’t have to get on the next plane back home. Yay!
As far as technique – I modelled Jack first, tweaked the topology a bit and then made the other characters from that mesh so they all have the same topology. Not that we plan to just use one texture map for all of them because that would be lazy and really boring, but it should help troubleshooting when we get to the facial rigging and so on. Brecht has his genius hands full for a bit so sculpting is on hold for a little while (I was testing it for a bit on the weekend) so I’m working on finishing up the characters bodies and then some environment work. Really looking forward to how far we can push the characters with sculpt though, mainly in detailing their outfits but it will help add a lot to the look of the film in many ways.
Three quick things to finish up the post:
1. Go to the AAO (Approximate Ambient Occlusion) settings and look at the new options. (Not in the Alpha – try a build since last friday.) Indirect light with multiple bounces! I’m still hesitant to post a .blend example because I’m just playing with settings like everyone else for now. Basically the same advantages and disadvantages as AAO, works with falloff, works better with higher subdivided surfaces, etc.
http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=173425 for some related experiments and images.
2. Apparently it’s been in there for ages, but Angela and I didn’t know : In edit mode when you click the icon to go into vertex, edge or face mode you can simply shift click on those icons in any combination and then be in ‘edge and face mode’ and so on.
3. http://www.drhorrible.com/ Good ol’ fashioned fun for fans of good ol’ fashioned supervillians. Recommended. It premiered online which is cool in and of itself, but not sure where to watch it now outside of the US other than the dvd.