VFX Dynamics: Playblast & Self Critique

So for this post, as the title states, this is a self critique of my progress so far.

As for the progress side of things, my self critique would be that I would like to be further than where I am at this point in time. However that is not the point of this blog so I will work with what I have currently to fulfill the requirements.

I tend to get carried away with the research and development side of things as this is a part of the pipeline I enjoy the most. A lot of my time can be seen as “wasted” here because it’s like a domino effect in my head, so for future I need to really focus on setting a time frame for this task and sticking to it, otherwise it becomes a runaway train. In saying that though, the amount of research is a little overkill but I feel it helps to really understand what it is I would like to achieve within a project.

Concepting stage, I would have liked to get a few more idea variations on paper before hitting Maya. In a way though this is a gift and a curse, a gift because this means time was saved and not too much over thinking was done, diluting the initial idea. A curse however because the first idea might not always be the best idea in conveying the concept asked for by the “client”. The idea I do have in my storyboard, is pretty much where I want to go with my particle simulation.

With what I have done so far in terms of particle simulation, I have only really focused on the “curious” particles, which isn’t very much. At this stage, the speed is far too slow however I will adjust this once I get them working how I want them to. I am aiming to use the second locator as a goal object for the particles to be attracted to, to give them the “insect swarm” sort of characteristic making them seem more organic than the other particles in the scene. The type of particle I use is also not so clear to me yet, currently they are set to points but I will need them to be a bit larger to be effective.

For the tractor beam itself, I am thinking to use a nurbs circle (visibility turned off) as an emitter, one at the entrance to the UFO and another on the ground to create the “meeting in the middle” sort of feel. The characteristics of these particles, I am aiming for them to be like falling snow, soft and gentle. Fields could be added along the way to help give it a bit of variation, however it will all depend on the look once the particles are in place and working within the scene. The particle render type I am thinking to use for this is streaks, I know streaks don’t really have the effect of snow, but I would like to put a tiny hint of a tail on the particles which will have a ramp within the pp opacity node.

The cone shape I was thinking to use a spotlight with light fog. I feel there could be a better way to do this as I would like to have a slight cloud effect within this part of the tractor beam. I did find when I tried to use the spot light (currently turned off in the play blast) that it was harder to control in the way I wished to use it. So my next step will be to try a particle simulation as a solution for this problem.

As for my current play blast, I will try to keep doing some little play blasts as I go to show progress and keep up with the self critique.

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