29/01/15 3D , Craft-Thales , School

Bifrost and Mental Ray update 3

This is the latest playblast test just to see the animation. Some of the guys in the office said it was muddy, but I think the shader and caustics will change a lot. This render has a very low Voxel size to increase realism and a Resolution Factor of 2.5. The outcome is very satisfying and smooth, I’ve already put out an overnight render and it got 104 frames of 250 frames done. So the rendering is very heavy because of the huge mesh and caustics. I’ll let the computer render overnight again.

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28/01/15 3D , Craft-Thales , School

Bifrost and Mental Ray update 2

I’m continueing the Bifrost test in Maya. I’ve got these blotches showing up and it’s annoying me. After some testing and playing around with the caustics settings I’ve found out the best way to get rid of the blotches are by increasing the photons shot at the scene…  By a lot!

10.000 (GI + Caustic) photons

100.000 (GI + Caustic) photons

100.000 (GI + Caustic) photons + 1 caustics radius

1.000.000 (GI + Caustic) photons + 8000 photon intensity

1.000.000 (GI + Caustic) photons + 2000 photon intensity

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28/01/15 3D , Craft-Thales , School

Bifrost and Mental Ray update 1

I continued my progress with Bifrost and wanted to get more realism into the water. I created a scene where a lot of water is pouring into a cube. I also added some objects inside of the cube to get more water dynamics going. The way to go was to lower the voxel size inside the Bifrost sim. I tried .05 for this scene. Also the mesh has a high resolution factor to increase realism.

The first render was horrible, but it was just to test the mesh of the water. I had to run an alembic export over night and the 250 frames of water is a whopping 32 gigabyte file. Just to put it in perspective, in the 100th frame the mesh is over 10.000.000 polygons.

The second and third image are tests for the water material. I’m using a mia_material_x and am using the water preset. Just like the last time i’ve been tweaking the numbers to get a nice water feeling. The problem here is that the render times are getting longer and longer because the mesh is so complicated.

To reduce the render time i decided to use a cube with texture deformer to simulate a water effect. The render times went down from 7 minutes to around 13 seconds. This way i could be more effective and get that water look. After adjusting the settings i just put the material on my high poly mesh.

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19/01/15 3D , Craft-Thales , School

Simulating water with Bifrost and Mental Ray

Last week Friday i decided to work on my other PLP, i’m designing a house and implementing that into an environment. I kind of got sidetracked and got interested in Mayas Bifrost. I was following some tutorials and someone from the project told me that they still needed someone to help on the particles for the robot. So i’m going to help the guys on particles. That’s also why i got interested in Bifrost.

For this scene i’m using mental ray physical sun and sky and image based lighting. The cube material is a mia_material_x with the MatteFinish preset. The water is derived from the mia_material_x Water preset and i tweaked the numbers from there to get the result that i want.

There are a few things i want to change though, i think the water is still too blobby. I want to make it splash a little more and make the water less sticky. You can see when the water overflows on the edges it sticks too much to the surface. Also for the project, i want to do a Vray version of this to learn the software a bit so i can help the guys with the robot.

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Craft Thales Storyboard
15/01/15 Craft-Thales , School

Craft Thales Storyboard

Finally got the storyboard on the wall and it is already being used by the guys. Much more overview!

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15/01/15 Craft-Thales , School

Digitalizing the storyboard

Last blog post i showed you guys I gathered all the information about the scenes that contained CGI. I updated the white board, created a digital version of it and indexed all scenes.

Now i’m continuing digitalizing the story board so we can hang it next to the white board. The process is scanning all the papers of the storyboard. After the scans i resize them and put them into photoshop, put in the sequence number and name, shot number and if the scene is a CGI shot or not. Eventually you have something like this.

Tuesday i finalized all (52! pages) of them and left the office late. Wednesday they where ready for print after we had the weekly with Herman because I was joining the film crew at the Thales Experience that morning.

The Thales Experience is room that simulates a control room of a battle ship. Here they can simulate any type of ship warfare and they mostly simulate and show their TACTICOS software.

Original image from fd.nl.

Shooting at the Thales experience was short but effective, mister Chew who is the Thales Experience supervisor. He showed us around the room and explained everything there is to know about the simulation and even real naval warfare.

After that we got to shoot the Thales Experience. Nico our sound guy also went along so we could have the room tone. It sounds like a big air conditioner or like a server room.

After Thales Experience we had the weekly with Herman.

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08/01/15 Craft-Thales , School

Updated Whiteboard

I promised the guys i would get the white board done with all the CGI shots so we have an overview of what needs to be done. 5 kilometers of duct tape later I got it done. The picture below is horrible but i assure you in real life it is a good overview

Also, i decided to make a digital version of the white board. I posted it on slack so the other guys can take a look at it. Next Monday i would like to talk to everyone about what is done so i can fill it out further. This is just the beginning setup of the document and it will fill out further the coming days. I would also like to add all the non-CGI shots as well, but that is for later. This document will always represent the whiteboard. It’s like a one way sync!

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06/01/15 Craft-Thales , School

Happy New Year

The last few weeks have been a bit busy for me. I have been at the project-IM office a lot but I’ve been working on my research. It is almost done and I will have it out of the way very soon.

Today we had a meeting with the whole team. I think it was a very necessary one because that way we could all get our heads together and get the same general direction. We discussed the project and we all agreed that we cannot finish this by the end of January.

I’ve sat down with Nikolai a while ago and talked with the rest of the guys about reorganizing the NAS folder structure. This week we are going to use the new folder structure. Everyone has been updated on the situation and Remco will reorganize all the old stuff and put it in a folder. All the new stuff is going to contain the new folder template.

Nikolai, Remco and Rob are also working on finishing our animatic so we can have a final version of the shots we are going to use. That way we don’t have silly mistakes about what footage to use. So probably by tomorrow we have a final raw version of the movie. Me and Hajir are going to digitize the storyboard.

So far we still have the whiteboard hanging which hasn’t been updated yet. I am going to update the entire whiteboard and change it so we can see per CGI scene what needs to be done. I’m going to work out a sketch version first and then apply that to the white board. That way everyone in the office can see exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

We are also trying to help each other out more in the office, for example Hajir needs some help on setting up the layout and importing the robot for a shot so Hajir can focus on fixing the rig and textures. Stefan is going to help here, hopefully we can get more identical situations where someone else’s skills can help.

We’ve also discussed the rig for the robot we are using for the wide shots. The shots where the robot is far way we want to use the HumanIK rig. For all the detail shots we are planning to use the custom rig. We made this decision to save time and hopefully get renders done soon!

Since everyone has their own school subjects continuing in early February i’m also making a long term planning on who is going to be here until when, for overview.

So far the update and what we talked about for today.

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10/12/14 Craft-Thales , School

Craft Thales project Saxion

Saxion University of Applied Science in the Netherlands is working on a production called Craft Thales. Craft Thales is a experimental project within Saxion where students work on high-end production video with CGI. I am working in this project as an executive producer. I make sure the team is going in one direction and that project management is being done. Also I communicate with external parties and make sure everyone on the external is on par with our project, a little Public Relations on the side.

Personal Learning Programme

Within the Art & Technology education you have your personal learning programme ( PLP for short ) in your fourth year. You have three classes which you can fill with your own content. I am currently doing 2 PLPs for this Thales project. For each PLP that you have you have a assigned counselor. Every student has his own counselor depending on how you designed your own PLP class.

Craft Thales

Every Wednesday we have a counseling moment so our teachers can evaluate our progress for the Thales project. Most of the crew is present during these meeting and those are the moments we talk to the teachers about progress, blockades and technical difficulties.

It was quite hard for me to get into the role as executive producer because most of the project until now lacks structure. For the time being we have a deadline for next week, but there is no solid structure for me to see where we are going with the trailer. I still need some more time to get around what everyone is doing and what everyone is working on for the trailer. I have a general idea but there is no storyboard or layout where i can see per scene what needs to be done.

For the final movie in collaboration with Rob and Remco I would like to add more structure to the project. We for example need better folder structure, solid storyboard for the movie, a nice overview of what needs to be done per scene and a scrum like planning. For Thales we would also like to see a flipbook on how the movie was made for internal distribution. In the end we also want to set out a general blueprint of how to setup this project for future students.


The project offers students to get really well know with industry standard software. Within the project we are using programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Nuke, 3d Equalizer, Maya, 3ds Max, xNormal, After Effects, Cubase and Quixel Suite.

Most of our communication is done in Slack. We are still searching for a piece of software to use for project management. Shotgun is a recommended industry standard but it also has a cost. So far i’m looking for a scrum like program which is targeted for video productions. Trello seems to be a option but we will definitly use the board hanging here.

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