Monday, 12 March 2012

3D Virtual Environment

Throughout my animation project I have had mixed feelings about my decision to follow this pathway in my second year of university. The tedium of sitting at a computer screen for hours on end has been difficult to cope with, waiting several hours for my final work to render and having headaches and eyestrain took their toll, but through all this my work is finished. 60 seconds of animation having a camera fly around a 3D environment, an envrionment I have made and although with its rough edges and little issues it still is something I can say I am proud of.

At the start of this project after the first lecture I knew this is what I wanted to do. I was happy to wait hours for my animation to render, not like with a film, and would sit at a computer screen all day modelling and animating, not noticing the time pass, whilst constantly watching the clock during the coding of a website.

The project itself has been a great learning experience for me, helping me get to grips with the basics of 3Ds Max as well as probe into some of the more complex tools it has to offer. I feel that the models I produced are of a low quality with simplistic extrudes and bevels done for the majority of it, however after adding my textures to them I saw an instant transformation in the look and feel of my scene.

One target I had was to give an eerie and astmospheric appearance to my scene, which would imply some of the emotion involved with my character. Being in a post-apocalyptic, wasteland environment, solitary from the rest of society, I wanted it to have an abandoned and ill kept feel coupled with the possibility of a threat from the inclusion of the damage and rubble. Some of the inspiration for this was from video games set in a similar environment. Even though these were all rather action incorporated I was still able to get an understanding of the look and feel of the environments with decaying structures and cobbled together objects.

The game "Dear Esther" had a substantial effect on some of the choices I decided to make during production. Even though it is under the game genre it is more of an interactive experience, or more likely a visual book. By this I mean that the only control of the game is movement, you don't have to kill anything or find anything, you just have to move and experience the environment and atmosphere, accompanied by snippets of a monologue, helping you to understand the real story behind the remote island you find yourself on. Subtle objects and structures are littered around the environment with no clear reason other than what is explained to you during the sections of narration.

The visual quality as well was stunning and really helped to add to the experience, similar to my environment with the inclusion of textures improving it greatly. Lighting in it was something I wanted to replicate with sections of the game being set in a cave, illuminated with a blue glow from the luminescent elements, drawing you towards them.

The volume lights in my scene had the desired effect I wanted to acheive with them giving an eerie appearance, with strong shadows and dramatic light rays seeping through the windows. The hope was to have them engulf the scenes with light from the outside, whilst the inside light sources were limited or had a small effect, making the outside seem more appealing than the dreary and dark confines of the building.

The one issue with my finished animation, recieved from feedback, is the lack of relevance when out of context. To someone who knows my character, the setting and overall effect I am trying to acheive with my environment it is obvious and easy to follow, however to someone unknowing, my animation is a tour of a dimly lit house with overturned furniture. There is no theme or iconic signature that defines my character like the bat for Batman or the S for Superman. My character doesn't have an underground lair where he keeps his costume and tech, nor a large ice structure in Antartica full of alien knowledge and devices. That to me is the only problem with my finished project. By trying to be against the grain and go in an alternative direction compared to other superhero characters, I have overlooked the need for something identifiable to symbolise my character. This still acheives my original intention of having a 'down to earth' character who doesn't have the flash base or tight outfit and is similar to my inspirations of games featuring a human character with heightened abilities, whilst not being deemed a superhero, still being able to do superhuman things.

Overall I am amazed with the quality of work I have produced for this project, in comparison to just a few years ago, making a poorly modelled, roughly textured, Mayan environment on 3Ds Max 2008 and still hope to expand my horizons with this and explore the possibilities available to me.

So without further ado, my finished animation: