Big City

First renders of Big City. This is the opening shot. I have about a third of the countryside built in Maya. In this shot I am using a ramp shader (light angle shader in the toon menu) for all of the buildings. Placing several colored directional lights to light the scene creates new additive colors. Choosing the hue of the lights started with a systematic approach, Two lights 180 degrees to each other and 180 degrees opposite on the color wheel. Then 30 degree rotation in z at hue offset of 180 degrees…. With two lights one can mix them to create white light. The more lights in the scene the dimmer they need to be. In the end I had a “sun” light – a single primary light casting shadows and five other color “wash” lights. Some of these lights have intensity that is animated. Remembering an old cheat… a negative intensity light takes light (and color) away from the scene.

icQTown script was used for the city. (a real fast build) When using icQTown I found that the larger the polygon the taller the building. So a proportional scale of the center of the grid creates a nice “downtown cluster”. The rest of the houses, trees, are placed using Level Tools. Like I said… as soon as you get the materials in hand it is a very fast build.

Rendering shadows using the toon shader is a problem I don’t quite know how to resolve. I began using “depth map” shadows but I get weird looking flashing shadows filled with triangles. I believe this is what is called “unwanted artifacts” Placing a 3D texture (rock) in the shadow color produced a wonderful grainy soft shadow. But the unwanted artifacts prevented its use. I am planning to use a shadow pass and add the grain in post.

having wonderful time… wish you were here.




Andrew Hlynsky provided the original audio tracks for this work.
1. The tracks were made into keyframes in After Effects using the keyframe assistant.
2. The sets of keyframes were scaled so the max variation was five units.
3. The keyframes were copied and pasted into Microsoft Excel.
4. A simple =(current field) + (field directly above) formula produced a series of progressively increasing values.
5. Additional fields of Maya Mel commands were added – copied and pasted into the rotation channel of the cylinders.
6. long n-hair were attached to the cylinders. Gravity and wind were set to opposite directions and balanced to make the N-hair curves float.
7. “chalk” paint effect was added to the N-hair curves – as well as “watercolor spatter.mel”
8 All was processed back in After Effects.

playin with n_hair

I have been fascinated with the n-hair tool in Maya. The tool creates and array of “follicles”. These are placed on according to the UV layout of the surface. Each node creates a curve and surrounds the curve with paint effect stokes. These strokes can be clumped or multiplied. I am less interested in the hair strokes than generating curves.

My experimental background has led me to using the curves minus the hair. Then stroking the curve with a simple paint effect. My “go to” effect is “simple pen” It draws a clean line.

Here just four curves are used. They are fairly long at 24 units with 24 CVs. Animation keys are isolated to mass, flexibility and attraction to original curve.

After render the frames are brought into After Effects and TimeBlenFX is applied twice with vector blur set to -6 between the TimeBlendFX nodes.