Friday, March 19, 2010

Scripting examples

These are some of the tools in the custom production suite I've created for the Rollbots series.

The automation behind the scenes allowed the lighters and compositors to quickly layout their shots and submit them to the farm. The process automated the shader connections to the characters and environment, intelligently added any visual effects to the scene, and separated the rendered frames into their logical paths. This process allowed the compositors to load them up automatically from Shake and output the finals.
The scripts were written in both MEL and Python. In addition, other scripts helped with the lighting of the environments and characters, generated procedural terrain along animation curves, optimized textures and shaders, and helped with the overall production pipeline to meet the tight deadlines imposed by the broadcasters.

Winner's Giftonomics Breakdown


In this commercial for the clothing chain "Winners", I helped with the lighting aspect of the CG environment, as well as creating custom lighting rigs and scripts. My tasks included:
  • Light the background environment and some foreground elements
  • Build a custom light rig that emulated snow and winter and rendered in Mental Ray
  • Created Maya shaders for the snow, metals, gift boxes and others
  • Composited shots together for final output using Nuke
  • Wrote custom scripts for shot automation

Rollbots Breakdown


This clip is from Rollbots Season I. It was animated in Maya, and rendered with 3Delight, a Renderman compliant renderer.
In my role as T.D. and Visual Effects Supervisor, I had to ensure that the visual quality of the project stayed consistent with the vision of the director and make sure that the final shots got delivered on time. My tasks included:
  • Created custom automation tools for the Lighting/Rendering/Compositing dept. (written in MEL and Python) that would help speed up the production output. Those consisted of Maya & Renderman interfaces, render submission tools, and composite-tree presets pre-generated at render time.
  • Script VFX tools to help with the special effects of the show. Those included lightning, explosion and smoke generators
  • Build custom light rigs for the sets and characters, allowing maximum control over the look and feel of the episodes. The light rigs had automated presets to match the location's art direction. A custom lighting script (eaLightMan) allowed easy and interactive manipulation of all the lights in the scene. It also created light arrays, giving soft/hard light setups depending on situation.
  • Created complex Maya shaders, as well as the design of Renderman shaders.
  • Automated submission process of finished scenes to the render farm, and created a wrapper that controlled the render farm's queue manager (Qube!).
  • Oversaw a team of over a dozen LRC artists on a daily basis