Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Runaway Sam - A collaborative process case study

Since I came into the project relatively late in the game, much of the design had already been established, so my job focused on final finish, whether taking loosely roughed out designs and detailing them or creating keyframes that would become style guides. As I mentioned in a previous post these images were often painted directly over rough previs frames, and served as templates for the VFX artists at Digital Domain for the final look and feel of the movie. I've never worked on anything before where the expectation of the final finish for concept art was at the level of matte paintings! Thankfully we were given plenty of time.

Here's the original Previs frame:

An early rough work-in-progress, Just blocking in the forms of the light-cycle and setting up the lighting and palette, still looking for the right shape for the towers:

And blocking in the towers. Note the perspective grid to get the foreshortening and repetition correct.

This image was a colaboration with Joe Hiura again. The Generator towers were a Solidworks model he created based on some very loose sketches of mine and incorporating his unique tech detailing sensibilities. Here's an early iteration of Joe's towers, rendered in Hypershot:

Joe's design was a little too vertical for my composition, so I cut and pasted and warped it to fit the composition as a test. When it was roughly comped in though, the production designer thought that the angles made the space feel like a high-tech barn... we went back to the hockey-stick shape from my initial rough-in and Joe did another pass at the design, which I set up and rendered in Modo:

...And the final keyframe with Joe's towers comped in. The lighting was all painted in. Often for underlighting I'll just invert the image and use it as a mask to paint in the highlighted area, or I'll make a duplicate layer and run levels on it and then blend it with a layer mask. Ultimately I find it gives me more control to just play with the elements in 2D rather than trying to match my desired lighting in 3D. Plus you end up with a more painterly feel and all of the 2D manipulation kills the 3D "curse."

I was pretty wowed when I saw the final shot in the movie. I'm sure if I screencapped it from the Blu-ray it would look pretty close to this.


Andy C said...

Hi Phil,

I am finding your posts a source of personal inspiration. Having recently watched Legacy, I get a glimpse into the creative process by reading your posts. It gives me ideas for new ways of working in my own projects.

Thanks for taking the time to post!


Paul Dolan said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for posting this study, it's really interesting to see how the concept process has changed over the past 10 years and how todays technology is helping artists to achieve a greater level of finish than ever before!

All the Best