Almost 2 months since I last posted anything. You would think nothing has been going on, but we've actually been so busy there hasn't been much time to post. Between moving into our new studio and working on several new characters, there's lots to talk about. Let's start with the new studio.
The Home of Marty McFly!
That's right! We moved out to Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. The city where Michael J. Fox is from. I had heard that if you open a studio here, the city gives you a small bronze statue of a hover board and a replica self-drying vest. Sadly, I was mistaken. We spent most of November/December setting up, but we are up and running now and I think this space will treat us well, we will just have to find new collectibles to decorate our desks with. Too bad, I was really looking forward to sporting an orange vest to work everyday.
Renderman is Free!
Our first character, Hugo, was setup with Mental Ray shaders. One of the best things about Mental Ray is that it comes with Maya.....and....I'm sure there are other positives.
Since Hugo was first created, Pixar has decided to release RenderMan for free to non-commercial users. We recently purchased a few licenses to test it out and have been very happy with the results. Rendering times are down and the quality is going up. It's definitely a learning process for us, but I think moving all of our characters to Renderman shaders is the best option.
What does this mean for you? It means you can legitimately download Renderman (nobody uses pirated software, right? Ha!) to get better renderings for your reel. For sure there is going to be some learning we all have to do to get proficient with it, but that's something I think we can overcome together. We will try to put up some tutorials about rendering our specific characters and we will also try to create some pre-lit scenes for you to download that you can just drop the characters into and hopefully begin rendering. In the meantime, check out the Renderman Community if you want to start learning!
Now for a peek at what's coming down the pipeline. We've been juggling a few different characters around, making changes and revisions where needed to try to make them better, but I've gotten a few people asking me what we are working on so I thought I'd give you a complete rundown.
If you don't know already, Hugo is currently available for download. You can get him here. For a closer look at the rig and some of his controls, check out this post here.
If you haven't already signed up for the site, make sure you do that first and then you can download the CGB Rig Plugin in our Free Section. Use the "Plugins" filter to find the right Maya version and operating system for you. There's an installer included in the download that will set it all up for you.
For those of you that don't know who Laura Welter is, you're going to be hearing a lot about her over the next year. She's been doing a lot of our modeling so far and has been absolutely killing it. She's taken on this guy too, along with most of our other creatures. He's still in the modeling phase, so there's still a lot of work to do. We've changed him a bit from the concept to make him a little less 'cartoony' and decided to go in a more realistic direction. I'll try to get some images to do a full update on him in a few days, but in the meantime, we really need a better name for him. Any ideas?
If you are into Dinosaurs, I would highly recommend checking out the portfolio of Vlad Konstantinov. We reached out to Vlad to create this guy for us because he seems to be the foremost expert on CG dinosaurs (I think he's created more dinosaurs than any other artist in the world) and it worked out awesome for us! Not only did he do a great job on the T. Rex, but he also put together some anatomy documentation to help us create a better and more accurate rig. Very cool guy. Check out his work.
One of the things we have to do now though is create new Renderman shaders for him. We are also doing some final rigging development on the toes and then just need to create some blendshapes and correctives and he will be ready for release. Expect him sometime in February.
Our tiger hasn't gone as smoothly as we would have liked. We've just gone through a lot of revisions. The model is locked down now and we need to do a bit of refinement on the textures. One of the things we would like to do is have a simple textured version available for animation, and then have a version with full fur that anyone who feels up to the challenge can try to simulate. We will try to put up a few tutorials about that too.
I can't wait for this guy! From the brilliant mind of concept artist Thiago Almeida comes this awesome Kaiju character, also modeled by Laura. We are still working on the lookdev, trying to give him a more 'wet' look but have put him on hold for a bit because we decided to do the switch to Renderman. Once we get some of these other characters finished, we will jump back on him and get him out to you guys as soon as we can.
This guy is probably the furthest from completion right now, though I think he's in pretty good shape. He was also developed by Thiago and Laura, who seem to be a pretty good team at bringing cool creatures into existence. We are working on developing a more animator-friendly wing setup to make him easier and more intuitive to use. The textures haven't been done yet either, so there is lots to be done. He could probably use a better name too. "Dragon" is kind of boring.
That's a wrap!
Well, that's what we are working on right now. we've got a ton of work to do but are in a great new studio now which should help us be more productive. If you have any questions or comments, or ideas for new characters, leave them below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to stay connected, sign up for our email group on the About page or 'like' us on facebook (I hate when people say that, is there a less desparate way to ask?). In the meantime, happy animating!