I worked on another short film! This is a short that additionally functions as the opening to CTN this year. We debuted it then and now it is also online for all to see.
There was a few weeks after Disney and before the job that I'm currently at now where I was just sitting around at home and feeling bad about not actively doing any CG work and I was just waiting to hear back from any studios about jobs. I was sketching for Inktober and coming up with some art project ideas to do but it just felt weird not to be doing any CG after four straight years of it, even though I wanted a break. As such, I signed up for Artella and started looking through the many projects for something that would be interesting to sign up for. Duel was one of the ones that stood out to me as I had vaguely heard about it before in conjunction with CTN.
Artella is an online collaborative website that brings together artists from all over the world to create the films that are envisioned. However, it is not just a social website that brings people together but actively supports the online collaboration process by hosting project files and always retain the most updated version as to create the smoothest workflow between artists.
In total, 46 artists from across 16 countries came together to create this short film. For lighting we had about 3 weeks of production time. We were working to the very end and we had a hard deadline of getting it finished in time to be shown at CTN's opening.
One of the most difficult parts of working this way is rendering. Hah, when is rendering not difficult. There was no renderfarm so we just had to render on our own machines. We were using Arnold and cartoon OBQ shaders so it wasn't too bad with heavy reflection, SSS calculations, and such but I just have my Lenovo workstation laptop and it still took me awhile. Not quite sure why; I tried troubleshooting it and it wasn't coming from my AO, motionblur, or depth passes and was in my pure beauty pass so it might be textures or geometry. When I sent off final renders I basically couldn't do anything on my computer for a day or two.
This was also my first time really using Arnold on a project. I have played around with the render engine before but never really used it for a full finished piece. On top of that, we were doing a stylized toon look with OBQ shaders and that was interesting, particularly in that the normal method of setting up colormattes AOVs didn't seem to work as the OBQ shaders didn't have the proper attribute field. Thus I had to create them the old fashioned way like Mental Ray where I set up individual render layers and override with red, green, blue, and black surface shaders. Unfortunately initially there seemed to be issues with some of the geometry that would accept material overrides on additional render layers and with a tight deadline I just rendered my first shot without mattes and attempted to survive with rotos and my depth map in comp. A bit later on I was able to dig in a little bit through all the referenced files and found, what I think was the issue, for some reason some of the geometry didn't have any shader assigned, not even a lambert. I cleaned a few files up and it seemed to work fine for my later shot and I was able to actually use colormattes; it made my life so much easier.
If you are interested in knowing more about the creation of Duel, hearing from other artist, or getting to know more about working through Artella, there is a free webinar happening next week, Wednesday December 14th at 9pm PDT. That is one of my shots that is being used as the background image!