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Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
3d artist Sterling Osment talked about some of the useful tools and how they can assist you in your production.
My name is Sterling Osment, I am a self taught VFX artist – with a innate passion for creating visual effects in CG, it all started a long time ago when I was involved with a small startup studio in Brisbane Australia, we were using SGI’s, Lightwave and Softimage. I was exposed to the high end pipeline very early and immediately was interested in the media creation of this style. I attended a Alias Maya 1.0 and Max function / presentation – I was blown away.
I applied for a scholarship with a well known training institution in 1998, and was shortlisted. But the message of the shortlist was delivered on a Monday and given to me on a Friday ( the beauty of living in a share house with mates ) So I missed the bus on CG – fast forward to 2006 when Maya was available as PLE on your Desktop. I taught myself as a hobby while working as a waiter and eventually a friend referred me to a company who needed an animator for a Brain Education series – Basically my world flipped in 1 week and secured a three year contract creating and developing a small and efficient animated series for education. Right now its my 2 year anniversary for my business FrameworkVFX. I love using Zbrush, as a generalist I really do enjoy the whole field of CG, especially Houdini.
What companies have you worked for?
My studio work isn’t massive – I worked at an animation studio in Brisbane called Liquid Animation – as a modeler and rigger. This establishment exposed me to Studio Speed something that can really only be experienced. As for FrameworkVFX I have secured many clients and created assets for local and international studios. AltVFX, Bethesda. Also a current short film called Jes Sui Un Crayon, this has traveled with Flickerfest, Raindance London, Santa Barbara FF, Tribeca FF and Nashville FF.
What games/projects have you contributed to?
As for games I contributed to the 3D sculpting of Vault Boy for Fallout 4 – this was a life size version presented at E3 2015, my role was to take an existing model from Bethesda via Studio OXMOX and sculpt in Zbrush the correct style as per client needs, this was then prepared for 3D print at 13 cm tall and re-processed via a 5 axis Router for life size casting and delivery from the amazingly talented Studio OXMOX.
How do you usually approach the VFX production?
My approach for VFX is to basically narrow down the production needs and time frames, if for instance a client needed a Growing Sunflower then I would look at techniques on how to create such an effect, this requires some light or heavy R&D, but the funny thing is Houdini has really taught me to think procedurally and be mindful of changes down the pipeline. This can take a bit more time but the effort pays off. As a good friend told me Broad Brush Strokes and finer details later.
Is there like a similar way you approach each situation, each order, or are these tasks always different?
I would say always different, but some similarities in using the appropriate production flow.
Could you talk about the usage of Houdini in your daily tasks?
Well I am still new to Houdini – I purchased a Houdini Indie license and haven’t looked back, I am usually pretty fearful of expressions and coding but somehow Houdini excites me. I recently used Houdini for a Sunflower Field, I had some amazing help form an industry pro Robert East. Effectively I delivered an amazing Sunflower Field with crazy amount of flowers and Houdini Mantra just loved it. All the animation was offset so the sway and flutter of the petals and leaves were delivered to the field for the final look. A big shout out to Gridmarkets render cloud.
How do you use it?
At the moment I have used it to create an earth with layered textures and atmosphere, also an animated Sunflower field, The power of Houdini Mantra displacment is jaw dropping for things like Zbrush and scanned data. For HDR lighting and look development its so fun to use, I plan to keep pushing forward with trying to create more in Houdini.
What kind of tasks are you fulfilling with this tool?
Rendering, Animation, Look Dev, Assets, Displacement.
What are some of the techniques you’re using with this tech?
Packed Primitives and Copy’s, A CG tornado. A field of moving Sunflowers.
What do you believe are the best tools you could use to build great VFX projects?
Houdini / Maya / Zbrush / Mari / Nuke.
Would you give us a little “top 5” list of tools?
- A big brain with octopus arms ( for multitasking )
- A heap of patience mixed with connections and friends that share the same kind of CG interests.
How do you think procedural tech help you to build better and more visually attractive designs faster?
A more efficient way of approaching a shot or project within budget and lots of control. Plus the power of Mantra is breathtaking. On a side note Side Fx are just amazing, they are on point when it comes to user base and community.