Eucroma - Driftwoods

I have spent 3 months in Copenhagen, joining the post-graduate program Eucroma. This brand new educational platform set ifself a goal to help students develop an IP (intillectual property) that would support both a game and an animated series. Unfortunately I didn`t join untill they were about three months in already, so I did not have any part in developing the concept or storyworld. But production held a lot of interesting challenges aswell.

Around the time when I came in, production was about to start. This brought along a lot of problems on the technical side, which was my main responsibility. In a couple of weeks, we designed and set up a pipeline to support up to 15 artists. We did this using perforce. This versioning system proved very dynamic and made sure that our assets were always secure. To accompany this, I also wrote a couple of tools to ease the exporting process of the models. This made sure that the models got named correctly and got put in the designated folders. Also a UV snapshot got exported so the texture artist could start working.
We decided that the pipeline would be as agile as we could make it. This meant that every asset would go through a big portion of production multiple times, refining it in every go. I had to make sure that at every station as little time got lost as possible redoing things. I achieved this by exporting the appropriate data generated at every step. Modeling exports a model or UV-data. Rigging exports a template (containing the proportions), controller shapes (so they dont intersect with the body) and skin weights. Since my main concern was rigging, I took extra care in developing my own skinning tools. In the end they proved quite powerfull, more information on that here.
On that note, I was initally brought in to rig the characters, of which there were four in this production. For the most part I had my rigging system already in place. But one major part that was missing still as a face-rig. In the course of one week I developed a procedural face rig which worked for all four characters. This is the first itteration of that setup, so plenty of room for improvement. But it served us perfectly in this production.

I also developed an entire toolset for animators. A key-feature in these tools was a way to cleanly export and import animation data. The data that got exported was simple ASCI text which meant that I was free to edit and recombine different exported snippets. This in the end helped me fix quite easily some shots that got broken along the production (unfortunately Maya is not entirely bug free).
For all the non-animatable assets I allready had a base of a solution in my bhMassAssets tool. I further developed this tool to even more quickly generate asset-libraries to be used in the shots.

Luckily in the end, I also had some time to make some images. I made the two posters of the characters you see at the top of this page. I did these in 3Delight (opposed to the animated short which was done in Mental Ray), for which I had to make some adjustments to the models to allow smoothing and convert the textures. Also wrote a shader for this to mimic the look that was decided on for the animated short.

The result of the entire project can be seen at Driftwoods.