November 15 2011//
This post looks at some of the process involved in making my recent videoMapping London’s Subterranean Rivers including a few wireframe screen-grabs from the work which illustrate how work- in-progress appears within the open software window when work is in-progress.
The video was created using Maya Autodesk which is a 3D animation program offering extensive tools for modelling, dynamics, visual effects and rendering.
I found this software quite difficult to grasp initially, as the interface and layout is very different to regular video editing software. Maya does contain an animation timeline but most other features seemed almost like learning a new language, very different. I finally discovered a small corner of the program where I could operate creatively and develop ideas, and experiment.
The main difference between Maya and 2D animation or video editing software is that the artist can construct 3D objects in virtual space in Maya. Once models have been created and
placed on the ‘stage’ multiple cameras are set up to film the 3D object from as many different viewpoints or angles as desired.
For this video, only 1 3D map elevation was ‘drawn’ in Maya and various cameras (coloured in green) positioned around it to record and create different viewpoints/ scenes within the video.
Using wireframe views of the scenes in Maya enables more rapid rendering, editing, rotating and viewing of the scene in real time. Maya takes up a lot of processing power and RAM and this viewing mode means that work can be speeded up a little. The drawback is that it is rather like working in the dark as colour, texture etc is not visible while you are working.
To view full texturing and colour whilst working in Maya, frames need to be rendered individually. I find doing this now and again is enough to retain in memory exactly what the scene looks like and how it will appear later after the final rendered sequence for video is created.
Near the centre of the map can be seen a yellow textured object which is a 3D model tree, later assigned a ‘wind dynamic’ so it appears to be swaying quite strongly in a gust of strong wind. Many other dynamics are available in Maya to simulate gravity and movement iof water or ocean waves, for example. Used a flowing water dynamic to simulate the River Thames in the final work.
The red cone-shape to the left and solid grey cube-like objects positioned bottom-left on the map, depict the placement of lighting object (spotlight) and architectural buildings respectively.
It is not possible to see fully-detailed, textured image sequences until frames are fully rendered and exported from Maya, either directly into Quick Time. Or as a series of TARGA (individual images, 24 or 25 frames per second of footage) files which can then be imported into video editing software such as After Effects to create a moving image sequence.
AS previously mentioned, a quick and dirty view of any individual frame can be viewed (very slowly) live within Maya by using the IPR renderer, but testing out a full animated sequence is beyond the processing power of my rather humble PC.
However, I do enjoy working somewhat in the dark with this process as it allows for certain unexpected results that would not be possible otherwise. A certain Serendipity…