Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Winter Is Coming

So I've just been playing around with a few things, mainly trying to keep my skills polished before I start my new job. 

Ribbons are a really powerful tool that I've quite neglected. I figured a good exercise to learn a bit more about them would be with weapon trails. Here's just a quick bash at a sword trail. I'm thinking I might do more work with ribbons following a set of particles, kind of like how they use them in Infamous Second Son, but I've got plenty of things on my plate so who knows.

I've also been keeping myself busy with weather effects. I've not done a whole lot of ambient effects so it was good practice. I was trying out a couple of techniques to imitate the way the wind whips up the snow along the top. In this first video I use the same sprites as I do in the snow storm.

But with this one I tried a material more like a ribbon than a sprite. I think they both yield good results, it's just a matter of preference on the style.

And this was just because I thought that the material I made for the snow storm worked quite well as a dry ice effect.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Spirally Stuff

This is just a quick run through to show how I did these spirally effects using meshes. 

You want to make yourself a simple spiral mesh like the one above, you can do that either using a spline or a cylinder. But make sure that the pivot point is at the centre, so that it looks like everything's either being drawn into or pushed away from the centre of the effect.

You want to unwrap it to a straight line like this so that the texture can pan across it properly. The way I built the material in UDK means that if you want it to look like it's being drawn to the centre then you'd only need to rotate the UV's round 180. As they are now they'll look like they're being pushed away.

You'll need to create a couple of textures like this. The square gradient is just to soften the edges in the alpha. And you'll want to create a tileable that tiles horizontally. I imagine you'll want something maybe hand painted and quite ethereal looking. 

Once you've imported everything into UDK you'll want to get started on the material. Start off by setting the Blend Mode to Additive and the Lighting Model to Unlit. Then click Two Sided. 

Search for Linear Gradient in the Material Function Library (the bottom one) and then search for a Power and a Mesh Emitter Vertex Colour in the Material Expressions Library (the top one) and bring those in. Plug the U Gradient into the Base of the Power and the alpha of the Mesh Emitter Vert Colour into the Exponent. This will be so that you can control the fade along the mesh in Cascade. Now multiply all this against the square fall off texture you made. Then plug this into the Opacity.

Bring in your tileable texture and a Panner (by holding P and clicking) and a Texture Coordinate (by holding U and clicking). The Texture Coordinate is to control the stretch of your texture and the Panner to control the speed. Make sure your values are in the positive X direction. (I have two different textures that I add together but you don't need this) Then bring in a Vector Parameter (by holding V and clicking) to control the colour of the spiral. I then multiplied this by a Constant to improve it's intensity but you don't need to if you don't want to. 

Then multiply the Vector Parameter against the panning texture. And multiply all of this against the Mesh Emitter Vertex Colour. And plug the result into the Emissive.

(Once you've finished the material, assign it to the mesh in the mesh editor, just to make it easier later on)

Now create a new particle system. In the blank space between the top orange box and the parameters; right click and go to TypeData, then down to New Mesh Data.

Go into Mesh Data and click on the spy glass I've highlighted. This will bring up the Content Browser and go and find your mesh and assign it.

If you've assigned the material to the mesh in the mesh editor then you're done. If you haven't, you'll need to assign the material. Go into Required and use the same method with the spy glass to look up the material and assign it. 

You can start by deleting Initial Velocity because you don't need it. Then go into Initial Size and set the Max to 3 in X,Y and Z. And set the Min values to 0.5 X,Y and Z.

Now go into Spawn and click the little drop down tick and select FloatUniform. That'll change it to Min and Max values. For Max set it to 6 and Min set it to 3. 

I forgot to screenshot it, but go into Lifetime and set the Min to 2 and the Max to 3.

Now go into Colour Over Life. Start by going down into Colour Over Life. There should be a Constant Curve with two points already set up. Change the In Value of the first point to 0.7 and the Out Values to 1,1,1. (I've gone with 3,3,3 because this will multiply the intensity of the colour in the material you've chosen, so just put it at whatever value you feel gives the best look) Now go down to the second point and change the In Value to 1 and the Out Value to 0,0,0.

Go down to Alpha Over Life and it is pretty much as before. Set the first point's In Value to 0 and the Out Value to 50. And set the second points' In Value at 1 and the Out Value at 0.

Now you'll want to graph it to get a smoother look. If you click the little graph symbol next to the Colour Over Life, you'll graph that to the Graph Editor. Click the little yellow square next to Alpha Over Life to hide that graph so that you're only dealing with Colour Over Life for now. Click the Fit to View All icon to see all the points. Select the first point by clicking on it and then click the AutoCurve button to smooth out the tangents.

Now unhide the Alpha Over Life curve and hide the Colour Over Life curve. Fit to view all again to see all the points. And select the first point and click the AutoCurve button. You should now see a tangent curve adjuster handle on the point you've still got selected. Use this to adjust the tangent to get it to curve down like the above picture. 

This curve adjusts the speed at which the texture fades across the mesh. So using this handle adjust the curve to get the look you're going for.

Right click in the space below all the adjustment parameters and go down to Rotation and then Init Mesh Rotation. This is what will be used to break up the repetition to make it look like it's spreading out in all different directions. 

Without changing anything, this will make the mesh choose a rotation on all axis'. 

But if that's not what you're looking for and you only want it going out and up then for the Max values, make X and Y 0 and leave Z at 1.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Bits 'n' Bobs

So in between finishing off my reel and redoing my CV and countless cover letters, I decided to have a little fun and work on a couple of projects. The majority of the work I do is realistic and the basic stuff you'll find in almost every game, so I thought it'd be fun to do practice magic and sci-fi elements.

The magic was trying to emulate healing spells so I was aiming for the yellowy golden colours mostly used in those. And in all honesty, I'm not sure what the sci-fi effect is supposed to be, I just tried to practice hitting sci-fi cues like colour palette and geometric shapes and patterns. 

I'm currently trying to get a website up together and rewrite my CV, but I'm sure I'll get on with more projects. It's nice to be able to work again without it all having to be for my reel.

Friday, 21 February 2014

VFX Reel Version 2.0

So I got some really good feedback on my work and made some changes to my reel. So here's the latest version.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Even more fire..

I was unhappy with the my previous render that I had for my work on fire. So I thought I'd have a go at redoing it. My previous render was of a bonfire but I thought with this I'd go with a burning room instead as it's a far more interesting render. 

For this I also redid the fire material as well as the textures. And I also redid the smoke material and textures. 

I'm much more pleased with this render in comparison with my previous one. The fire has a much more realistic movement and energy to it. I really struggled with getting the density of the smoke right, but after almost a day of finesseing I think I've got it at least in the ball park of being right. But alas, I'll get some feedback on it and see where to go from there. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Reel Concepting

I've been trying to get my reel finished off so that I can get some feedback before I start on job applications. Recently I've been thinking about how I'm going to present my reel. Below are some of my experimentations. 

These are dealing with a block of tone along the bottom.

And these few have more of a gradual fade, so that it doesn't obscure any of the image.

I was curious as to how it looked with the text on the other side.

And this is just testing how it looked against the different parts of the reel, especially dealing with scenes that are very much darker.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

I've been doing more work with lens flares the past couple of days. I feel like I'm getting a hold on the lens flare editor, though I still think that I need to work on the textures for the lens artefacts. 

I'll spend another couple of days working with lens flares to try and refine my texturing before I move onto different projects.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Lens Flares

I've been trying to teach myself about unreal's lens flare editor, as I've never used it before and I thought that it was about time I learned how to do lens flares. I thought I'd start with anamorphic lens flares as they're probably the more widely used.

I'm not such a huge fan of the modern approach to lens flares that have started to saturate films, I much prefer the aesthetic of older films. I tried to make mine more simple by basing it off examples I saw in older films like the indiana jones and die hard films. 

It's definitely something I need to refine and it was enjoyable working on it, so I'm looking forward to getting more practice done and learning more about the lens flare editor.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Adding Detail

Recently I've been working on trying to add to more depth and detail to my FX. I've found that in the past I tend to rely too heavily on sprites. With this I was trying to implement the use of meshes and shader work to flesh out the whole effect.

The base is a shader to mimic the smouldering ember effect of the burnt materials. I then added the mesh with the fire material to give the fire more mass and a better shape. It also blends between the floor and wall in a better way. I split the wall and floor particle systems up so that if I were making a bigger scene I would be able to distribute them separately.

This approach was inspired by the work of Orson Favrel and his work on Remember Me.