Sunday, 23 December 2012

Long Time No Post

So I know I've not been keeping up with this but unfortunately uni work has been quite full on. But now that it's the holidays I've got a bit of a break from uni work and some time to work on my stuff. 

I've been working on a sort of sci-fi type energy shield. I thought this would be a good way to learn more about shader networks and to utilise some of the ideas that I've been learning about from tutorials. Mostly, trying to get some nice variations using UV distortions, I felt that using UV distortion would be a good way to go with this material to get that it feels like flowing energy. Plus, it's actually quite a powerful technique that I need to learn and understand, especially if I can start to use it with flow maps as well, I think that it would add a great deal of versatility to my fx.

Obviously it's quite hard to tell what's going on with a material in a static screenshot but the screen capture software I have is really bad frame rate so I think it'll be better for me to build a small scene in UDK and then render out a proper video from that, plus I'll be able to use that scene for all my fx in the future.

This is by no means a finished or game ready material but considering I'm just getting started I'm fairly pleased. It's got some nice panning elements and a general aesthetic that you can see from a far that it's obviously some form of sci-fi shield type thing. But I'm not too happy with the line that pans across it, I was trying to go with an element that cycles across to show that it's rendering out like a holographic material to compliment the scanlines but I feel that it's too static. I'd like it to wave or oscillate slightly to get that life into, so to speak. 

But for now I'm going to leave it at this and move onto getting in some material transitions to make it generate out from the edges towards the centre. Once I've got that done I'll build a small little scene and render it out properly.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

And So It Begins...

So I've finally decided to get a blog set up, taken me forever. But this will be a place for me to document my adventures into learning how to be a proper FX artist. It'll be a place to record my progress and my experiments with things. 

I thought that I'd just show some of the stuff I did over the summer, I know it doesn't look like much but it's very hard to put into a physical, or digital as it were, form an accumulation of knowledge. So this summer I learnt how to use FumeFX. I decided that I'll never get anywhere unless I can do the basics like fire and stuff and being able to generate my own UV flipbooks would be essential. Now these aren't great simulations I know, but it's a start and they allowed me to learn FumeFX so they served some purpose :P 

Now you know, they're not all that bad. Okay... so maybe they are, especially the smoke. God, my eyes; they bleed. But I learnt a lot about this, smoke is very tricky to emulate properly because of it's rather complex internal motion. And then there's the fact that I found an even better way of generating smoke for use in particle effects so I'll be getting on and doing that from now on.

So this is the flipbook texture in Unreal's Cascade. I know it's not much, I'll explain in a sec, but it's quite a nice feeling to see something that I've made and not some premade texture that I've slapped in. Right, the reason that this is so awful, other than the video capture being really laggy, is that the flipbook texture is flawed. Because I was learning as I go I didn't pay any attention to the shape of the fire I simulated. This made it really difficult for me to make it loop in After Effects and as you can see there's some really bad fading and popping. Even animating the alpha/colour over life couldn't stop it. So that's why it's only a basic fire with none of the stuff like heat distortion, embers or slight smoke, cause they wouldn't have covered up the fundamental flaw. So now I'm going to go back and resim my fire taking into account knowing how to loop it. 

Right, so I don't know when I'll get round to updating this again as uni work is a little heavy at the moment. But in the meantime, this week I'm planning to; start learning how to use RealFlow, playing around with UV distortions to make the fire more realistic (even if it's naff I can still practice with it) and with materials, and maybe make some fireworks in Cascade cause it was recently bonfire night and there's plenty of fireworks about :P