Friday, 13 December 2013

The Bicycle Thieves - BAC12 Trailer Project

So here is the finished film! We have a single name to add to the credits but otherwise it's done. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Bicycle Thieves Part 6: Look Development

So after many weeks of technical stuff in Maya we finally reached the stage called look development, which is where we tweak the lighting, textures and shaders to make the film look the way we want it to look.

We had always aimed for a flat look that was more based on strong lighting and texture work than impressive shading to get a warm feeling across, now it was time to apply that idea to our scenes and see if it worked. An important part of this step is achieving the look you want while keeping the render times as short as possible.

We settled on using cards for clouds. They could be more stylized
this way as well as being very cheap in terms of render times.
During this period the animators got a hold of our rigs and got to animating our shots, they only had two weeks to turn around two shots each, so their workload was quite large!

The two shots above are representative of where we stand at the moment as we move into compositing. This is the final step where we'll put everything together and make any final tweaks before we call it done. The deadline is next week Friday, so we're going to be pushing hard this next week.

Until next time!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Gonna take a break from talking about the film to post the latest scribble. This was inspired by my recent dungeon runs in Descent: Second Edition, a fantastic DnD-lite boardgame.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Bicycle Thieves Part 5: Prop Modelling and Rigging

With the characters done we could focus on getting all the props together. We had a vast library (something around 30 or so) of props, many of which where building 'chunks', windows, doors, bridges and other paraphernalia to decorate our city with, so we had a lot to do!

Below are two examples of the props I worked on.

I also threw together a compilation shot of all of our props, including the monstrous 'chunks' which we used as a basis for all our structures.

We also started rigging! There really isn't much to show here, but we did a lot of work, putting together four fully rigged characters in three weeks.

It involved a lot of this sort of thing.

The end result? Poseable characters!

Tomorrow we get back to the fun part. Colours and lighting in look development!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Bicycle Thieves Part 4: Modelling Continued

Once the DLO was over and we had decided how to split up the assets between us, we dived into Zbrush to begin sculpting our characters. At the same time we began to model our props for the city in Maya.

Due to the challenge of building big environment pieces we decided to essentially build the city out of very large 'props', which we would then propagate with other props and assets, in a process not dissimilar to level building in videogames. This meant we could focus on our individual pieces and then throw them all together at the end and (hopefully) end up with something looking like a city.

As for the characters, we got one each. I was given Antonio, the father. Below is his finished Zbrush sculpt, which took me a few days.

He was then retopologized in Maya (retopology is the process of breaking down a high resolution sculpt like the one above into a more managable, lower detail mesh).

And eventually our characters all got a lineup in the sun.

Tomorrow I will briefly discuss rigging and prop modelling, before we move on to look development!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Bicycle Thieves Part 3: Modelling

During the DLO stage we had a chance to start our basic modelling, figuring out the scale of all the objects in the world and how we would cheat our way into representing a full scale city in 3D with only a team of four artists and a few weeks at our disposal.

Immediately we decided to work in a scale of meters, and build everything around the size of the bike and its occupants. Once they were completed, they were used as a measure for all the other assets we produced.

Rough scale modelling and rigging was done in the first
few days.
Minecraft-esque clouds were a handy fill-in during the DLO.
The set for shot 01 is more than 500m long, but it had to look
like it was significantly larger.
Figuring out how to give the impression of a layered city at
a distance was a challenge I'd later have to face.

After the DLO was finished it was time to start splitting our assets up and begin working on higher resolution models for our characters as well as the environments. I'll get into that tomorrow.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Bicycle Thieves Part 2: Animatic and DLO

Once we had roped down the basics of the story and what we wanted to tell, it was time to start working out the shots and put together something representing a rough of our film. First we made an animatic, which is a rough 2D draught of the film that lets us test pacing, camera work and framing before we lock anything down.

The animatic was largely put together by our very talented animator, Corentin Monnier, so all credit due goes to him, although we all participated in suggesting pacing and camera shot tweaks.

After that was decided the animators went back to learning Maya and the rest of the pipeline was handed over to the CG students. At this point we got two weeks to make a rough 3D draught of the animatic, otherwise called a DLO (Digital Lay Out). It was very hectic for us as the large sets and expansive camera movements as well as a flying bicycle made it a real challenge, but we eventually got it together. We found that we needed more time than 30 seconds to convey the message though, and so we pushed for - and eventually recieved - a larger time budget.

After that was done the next step was to start modelling! Which I will cover tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Bicycle Thieves Part 1: Pre Production

So I'm gonna make a short series of posts covering our work on our trailer project this semester.

We were tasked with creating a new, 30 second trailer for the classic 40's film The Bicycle Thieves, by Vittorio de Sica. It was expected of us to change the story, setting or the genre somehow to differentiate it from the original film, but we should still be using many parts of the original as reference.

We had two weeks for pre-production where we teamed up with some animators, resulting in a team of 8 artists. After much deliberation we decided to keep much of the story intact and instead change the setting to something more fantastic, and the feeling to something akin to a Studio Ghibli film, particularly in reference to the way they convey flight. As such, the flying bicycle was born.

We decided to build a city above the clouds, keeping the father-son relationship from the film as well as the father's occupation as a poster boy.

Initially there was some discussion about what kind of sky city it would be: would it float on a flying rock? Would it be a giant fortress or some kind of magic tower? Eventually we settled for an extremely tall spire that would be separated by social class: the higher the richer.

Next stage was storyboarding, animatics and the DLO, but I'll cover that tomorrow!

More Paintings, Update

Hey there.

Work on the film proceeds! I realize this blog has been very empty this semester and that saying that I don't have finished work to show is not really a good excuse, because the film is never finished...until it's done. Next time I'll be posting a lot more WIP's and I'll upload what stills I have taken over the course of the production within the next few days. Until then, here are some paintings I did in my free time:

Self Study
Engineer class from Torchlight II

Until next time!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

First Encounter

Work on the film continues. We are finally getting to a point where I can post models and stuff soon. Until then, I've continued working on the Roberto Challenges.

Last Friday we all the Roberto Challenge participants spent 4 hours painting together and produced 2 pieces each. This was my effort for the theme ''First Encounter''.

I also recorded myself painting this image and made a timelapse, which you can watch here: 

All in all a good way to spend a Friday night!

Friday, 18 October 2013

More 30-Minute Paintings

Here are some more of the 30-minute paintings I've been doing. It's been nice to try out different styles, practice values and even do some fanart. 

Vi from League of Legends

Once I've got more time I'd like to do some longer renders. Maybe later this year. :)

Finally, I agreed with a friend of mine to design a luchadore after we both played Guacamelee, a videogame that we have come to love.

In the meantime you can see all my 30-minute paintings here: I should be updating semi-daily.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Short Paintings

It's been a very busy few weeks with pre-production and DLO (Digital Layout) for our trailer project. Sadly I don't have much to show for it yet. However I have been doing a lot of short paintings!

Apparently I like blue a lot. All of these were 30 minute exercises. My painting is definitely one of my weak spots that I want to dramatically improve, so you'll be seeing more of these short paintings.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I Return!

Wow, after a long holidays we are back at TAW and straight into production on our new trailer project. Apologies for the lack of updates, I'll be revamping the blog and getting everything up to speed here within the next few days!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

End of First Year!

So, my first year at TAW has come to an end! It's a bit bittersweet, however I have come a long way and made a great deal of friends. :)

Here is my showreel for the highlights of this year.

End Year Showreel 2013 from John Muller on Vimeo.

Looking forward to next year! I might post a few things over the holidays (I have some summer projects planned), so check in once in a while.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Lights Out!

And here it is, our Short Short Film. :) Enjoy!

Lights Out - A Short Short Film from John Muller on Vimeo.

Thanks to my team members; Juliette Viger, Morten Andersen, Morten Lund, Max Jarl Christiansen, Kasper Christensen, Anne Birk and Sara Holm!

Design with Peter Chan

Last week we had the legendary Peter Chan come to our school to teach us design and storytelling.

He was a very inspiring figure and gave me a lot to think about as an artist. He encouraged us to tell stories by creating 'moments' in our artwork. He also challenged us to move out of our comfort zones, so I ended up doing some anthropomorphic pirates!

We also finally screened our short short films, and they seemed to be well recieved! I will upload ours here shortly.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A Dinosaur to Pass the Time

So, today we composite our film and tomorrow we screen it for the first time!

While we wait, I made a dinosaur plushie for the credits.

Next week is Peter Chan and the reveal of our film to the rest of the world. Exciting times!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Backgrounds for Lights Out

This is our last week of production on the Short Short Film Project. It's been a pretty intense ride and I finally have some stuff worth showing! These are the backgrounds I have made for the film so far:

With a little luck and some hard work the film will be ready for screening to the rest of our grade by Friday, and we will show it to everyone else a week after that (so we can get our sound edit together).

May the 4th (Star Wars day to the uninformed) has come and gone, and as an avid Star Wars fan I felt compelled to make a little fan art in the midst of the busy production schedule.

The rest of this week is major crunch time as we make the last push to the deadline, and this weekend will hopefully be spent sleeping in the sun. Being an artist is a fantastic life.