Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Throne Room of Oz

So. Little radio silence there. Internet silence, really. But that's not an expression yet. It WILL be someday, though. Anyhow. What am I working on? I shouldn't be asking, I should be TELLING. Drew thinks we can complete the work I want in the time I want, it's just up to me to get down to business creating some CGI environments. I have a head start on one of them, the throne room of the Wizard of Oz.

A couple months ago I started working on the scene in which Dorothy encounters the giant Oz head. I then took a break in order to do my effects work for the concept scene. I'm back at it now, but first, allow me to bring you up to speed. In order to edit the footage I'd shot of Dorothy having a one-sided conversation, I needed to know what my CGI character and environment would look like. Sean and I had this general idea of what we wanted it to be, so I did a CGI approximation of that look, with the help of images from the fantastic CGTextures.com. It looks quite bland unlit like this:

That done, I needed to design the giant head. Oz explains later in the story that he constructed it out of paper mache. So I wanted it to have that appearance. I tried to determine how he would build such a thing and make it functional, and my mind went to his ventriloquism. So what I came up with was sort of giant ventriloquist dummy head:

The large golden throne was something I mucked around with, sort of a Dick Sprang kind of detail, but as you'll see later, it looked ridiculous in context.

Here I've tried to make it look more apparently paper mache-y, and we have a smaller, mahogany sort of throne.

And with the creation of the head, things started to really fall into place. Because after creating this head, I thought to myself, "Jesus, Dorothy would be quite the dullard if she didn't notice that there wasn't actual magic going on, here." Which led to the creation of this very dark, creepy lighting. Because Oz would have to rely on that sort of trickery in order to pass off his homemade creations as genuine magic.

So after I had developed my designs and my lighting scheme, I set to work determining how Dorothy was going to work in them. First I have this test composite that took so very many attempts to get right:

You can see that silly giant throne again. Then I did another attempt to place Dorothy in the environment, but went about it a different way. This is the image that is currently the splash page for our website:

Hopefully none of you have noticed that that's a CGI Dorothy in that one. I built up a quick model and textured it with photos of the delightful Mariellen Kemp in costume, just to see if it's going to be a viable technique for us later down the line. So that's where I've been, and also where I'm going. I'm looking to have the throne room scene (and one other) completed in time for our Banner Elk presentation. So I'm currently working on sprucing up the existing geometry and textures to get us a final environment for that scene. And that's where we're at folks.

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