Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Extreme Battlement Makeover

Well, it's actually a pretty slight, subtle battlement makeover. But the show's not called "Pretty Slight, Subtle Home Makeover," is it? Although if barely noticeable redecorating is your thing, you might want to check out HGTV. That's sort of their wheelhouse...

Anyway, while we've finished our shooting for this year, that doesn't mean we're all sitting around taking a break until the next time. Far from it. We're still sitting around, mind you, but there are COMPUTERS in front of us. Computers that we DO things on. So I thought it might be nice to give you guys a little insight into the visual effects progress that's being made 'round these parts.

As ever, my main man Drew is plugging away on the concept scene. And someday soon we're going to have a big ol' entry about the work that's gone into THAT puppy, I can assure you. But my part in that work is complete, which leaves me free to work on other things. You may remember way back in early July I was putting together the CGI model of the Witch's battlement. Pop over there and refresh your memory, I'll wait. Don't you hate when people say things like that in prose? THAT'S NOT HOW READING WORKS, YOU JERK!!!

Now the more astute of you may have noticed that that center pentagon of floorboards is all one piece. One piece that's merely textured to look like floorboards. Back when I made the model, it was my belief that the shots required of the battlement would allow me to get away with such a technique. So I called the model done, and amidst the Witch photography I set to work putting together the visual effects for the scene in which Dorothy encounters the Witch, since we needed it by August 7th for Banner Elk.

Gypsy Girl on a Pirate Ship: Coming Soon to Home Video
As you can see, I was sort of right. While the texture I chose is just slightly too low resolution for the job, the plank wool is pretty successfully pulled over the viewer's eyes. And it's that way for most of the shots in the scene. But I completely forgot about the foot close-up until it was time to render that background. And you can see what happens when you pull the camera down tight to those boards.

I'm writing it off as a technical oversight in this entry, but it's actually the remnant of Sean's, "beware the Wicked Witch's magic blurry floors!!!" subplot...
Woof. THAT is UGLY. And gives away in deadly fashion the sort of lazy CGI modeling shortcuts I employed. Pressed for time in getting the scene ready for our Banner Elk presentation, I quickly whipped up some actual modeled floor boards and some textures which were again too low resolution, but less low resolution than the low resolution ones these less low babies were meant to replace. They were far from perfect, but they were better, and the best I could do with the time I had.

The prelude to the Witch's big tap finale.
But I can't have something like that in our film. I wouldn't accept that kind of work from somebody else, and I can't give myself a free pass either. We're going to be building up to a Wicked Witch event of some sort on the website, and this scene is part of it. But now I've got some time to finesse the effects. Plus we reshot some elements that I wasn't happy with. So if you're sitting there thinking, "I went to Banner Elk, I've seen the scene he's referring to,"... FIRST of all, stop being so weird. Think about sex like everybody else. Second... even if you saw the scene, you haven't seen the scene.

The first phase of improving this scene is to make the necessary changes to the battlement. I need the planks to be able to hold up to that level of close-up, since they're seen from that low angle, and more than once. So I modeled a single plank, tried to be somewhat realistic with slightly rounded corners, and replicated it across the top of the tower. Lengths were obviously modified when necessary, and the edges of the boards that border the stairs were adjusted to give the Wicked Witch max headroom.

You think you're hardcore with your sepia opening, Victor Fleming? Our DOROTHY is BLACK AND WHITE throughout the ENTIRE film...
I also put together five quite high resolution textures, and randomly assigned them to the boards. This isn't a particularly high quality render, but you can still see that they're holding up much better to the scrutiny of the close-up than any of the previous versions.

Anybody BOARD yet? HA! Had to be done...
There are some more subtle alterations to the tower, mostly in the texturing, but you're unlikely to notice them unless you've been inside either the XSI file or my head. And if you HAVE... knock it off, Cobb.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, when I read blog entries like this, your movie just gets better and Better!