This screenshot shows the main valley in which most of my film will take place. That distant village is Sinister’s parent’s town. We are looking through a mountain pass that is the main road to this village on the edge of the wilderness. This entire set is built to scale, a few miles across, but the resolution imported into Maya is low, about 200,000 poly triangles. Patches of higher-level terrain will be brought in anywhere close to the camera. The master high-res version is a Mudbox file, which is a nice sculpting package that pushes and pulls surfaces like clay. I tried Vue, which has a realistic terrain generator, but it was too realistic. I need to stylize this landscape so that every design conceit is congruent, from characters to props to terrain and atmospherics.
For you Maya geeks out there I included a shot of my modeling shelf across the top so you can see what tools I use.
After I “scout” a shot of the film, animating the camera through this low-res version of the landscape, I add simple geometry for the set dressing and then reference each of those proxies out to separate Maya files so I can construct the models in context and then reuse them in other shots.
Let me just say that I’m as giddy as a virgin on prom night, finally able to render this monstrosity in 3D after restraining myself for so long while I engaged in over five years worth of 2D pre-vis work. I think it will pay off, since I know what I’m doing now. When I initially started the project, I got excited and made dozens of props and sets in 3D before I even had a style guide. None of that early work can be used, now, since the look of the film has solidified to something completely different than what I first had envisioned. That’s okay, though, I chalk it all up as a good learning experience.
The anticipation was worth it, because I’m having a blast finally constructing the world that I’ve spent so much time dreaming about. This is the honeymoon before the headache; soon I’ll be butting up against the limits of my processing power, and then the rabid quest for hardware upgrades will begin.
Till then, I dream in low-res.
On WinAmp at the moment: Tomahawk’s Mit Gas.Stay Sinister, y'all. Serious up.