Friday, October 1, 2010

I think I'm getting better at this...

Here's a project I started working on more than a year ago. The concept is quite clearly property of LucasArts but I wanted to see to what extent I could replicate the look of their model.

I began as usual with drawing edge loops on the reference image.

Then I moved onto the modelling.

And lit.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Round 2 - Final

Round 2 is over!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Round 2 - Interim

Another week, another BVW team, another platform, another game.

This time I was assigned to the Playmotion platform. The system reads shadow and IR information as input.

This round's theme was indirect control. The objective is to make a game which can be played and understood by someone who is completely naive about gaming, the interface, and your world. Each team is only allowed one verbal suggestion to the guest playing. The rest has to be filled in by the game or experience itself.

This is just an interim version but take a look:

There's a lot here that implemented. Namely, we intend to have water rising as you play. When the water fills the house, you lose. Right now this is just indicated by numbers at the top of the screen that are probably too small to see in the video. We've also got to redesign the visuals because thigs are very muddled right now. Lots to do!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Woah. Its been a while. After a summer of adventuring and traveling I'm back at work in grad school. I'm attending the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Its crazy awesome but a ton of work. All new ETC students have to take a class called Building Virtual Worlds. The course stresses collaboration, adaptability, and working quickly. Project teams of 4 or 5 students work for two weeks developing a virtual world, game, or experience in Panda 3D.

In Round 0, modelers are asked to model and animate a lunchbox and a dragon. The dragon can only be 1500 polygons. Check out the final animation. I smoothed the dragon so it looked a bit nicer in the video.

In Round 1, student were put into teams with one 3D artist, one texture artist, one sound designer, and one programmer. Each team was asked to make a short virtual reality experience using either a Head Mounted Display or the Playmotion platform in which the guest helps another character who is afraid. My team was assigned to the Head Mounted display and decided to have the guest perform the role of a getaway driver. It didn't turn out as well as we'd imagined but so it goes. Take a look.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Monster WIP

I'll do a full post on this when I'm not so in need of sleep. I think it looks pretty awesome though.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rendering Like Mad

We're down to the last stages of lighting and rendering. While Dave, Ryan, and Rory finish lighting each shot, I check their files and send them to the renderfarm making sure they render without problems. Here's a taste:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thesis Presentation

I gave a presentation this week on everything I've been doing for my thesis. The whole thing is on Google Docs. Check it out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Demo Reel's New Look!

It was suggested that I make a new reel focusing on the four characters I modelled for my thesis and the ZBrush work I have done. This is the result. It is also sporting a much cooler design than previous incarnations.

Lunch Break Character Reel from Noah Bench on Vimeo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Train Lighting WIP

This one of the sets for the other project I'm doing as part of my thesis. Its about a hobo who steals things from people on a train.

The texturing still has a ways to go but you can spot some of it on the seats.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Office Shot 03-01

Our big Motion Blur Test in the office. This shot required that we reduce our resolution to 720p.

Shot 03-01 from Group of Six on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Office Shot 03-10

This shot was particularly difficult to figure out and get to render properly. Because the effect in the window is done in the render, the shot had to be rendered twice with different shaders for those objects behind the glass. Then in After Effects a mask reveals only the part of the window effect layer we want to see.

Then the occlusion is multiplied, color burned, and overlaid. A low opacity blue solid finishes out the layering.

Shot 03-10 from Group of Six on Vimeo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Character Illustration

Here's some stuff from character illustration. He's on fire. Colors aren't final.

The design changed a bit after this initial concept. He's now based in look on my friend Jamie.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gene Kelly WIP 2

Needs textures and a few more details in the face.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gene Kelly WIP

This quarter I'm doing an independent Study in Zbrush. I'll be doing two sculpts. One photorealistic bust of a celebrity and one full body sculpt of a fictitious creature.

To start with Mr Kelly, I scoured the internet for pictures of the star. After I found a front and side view I liked, I pulled them into Photoshop and started planning out my edge loops as you can see to the right.

I've started doing this with all the faces I make. When I start modeling, I can move faster and I'm not just making it up as I go along. Of course I never get it quite right in the drawing so I tweak the position of some loops as I go.

After that I take the images into Maya and use them as reference for blocking out a rough head mesh. This head just blocks out the basic likeness, neglecting details and asymmetries that will come out in the final sculpt.

I also block in shapes for the rest of the model (eyes, shirt, hat, etc.). Right now he's missing hair and eyebrows, but I'll come back to that.

Once the models were where I wanted, I imported them into Modo and used their awesome UV unwrapping tools to help layout the UVs. I brought them back into Maya just for a few small adjustments to the UVs and then finally importing them into Zbrush.

As I work in Zbrush, I find myself using just a handful of brushes. The Clay Tubes brush is great for adding or subtracting volume from the form. I find the Standard brush is better for making specific bumps or creases like in the folds of fabric or wrinkles in skin. Of course I also use the Move and Smooth brushes liberally. I've also been using several alphas I found online to sculpt pores and finer wrinkles. While it needs a lot of work, here's the sculpt so far:

Sculpting is so much fun. I wish I could just drop everything and work on this, but I have to keep pluggin away at my thesis. Hey. The sooner I finish my thesis, the sooner I can concentrate on this stuff right?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Darth Finished and Reel Updated

This is quite a while overdue. Below is the final resulting model of my Darth Vader concept.

The model was done almost entirely in Modo 401. I really love Modo for its selection algorithms and the action centers. The ability to copy and paste polygons as thought they were pixels is fantastic. If only the program could do vertex snapping and soft selection the way Maya does, it would be perfect. I also updated my reel to apply for some internships. Check it out.

Modeling Reel Spring 2010 from Noah Bench on Vimeo.

On there you can also see some of the characters I modeled for my thesis. For that project I am currently polishing my lighting set ups and set dressing. Unfortunately most of my work will only be obvious when the film is finally rendered but take a look at the work reel. It coming along quite nicely.

No Strings Attached - Work Reel from Group of Six on Vimeo.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Office Lighting Fixes

Here's the latest version of the lighting. With the exception of banding on the main character's forearm, this is looking good.

To get here, I removed all the area lights and replaced the whole set up with directional and point lights. I'm using a lot more light linking so that the background is lit almost entirely separate from the characters. The main character also has his very own subtle rim light so he pops out just a bit more. Apart from the visual improvement, the render time has also been cut by 30%.

Update: Here's a clip with the new lighting

Office Light Test from Group of Six on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lighting Tests

While 3D lighting certainly isn't my forte, it seems that in my thesis group I'm the one with the most experience with it. So I've been tasked to develop the initial lighting set up for our film's three sets.

Just to give you some background on the project, I am working with 7 other artists. There is Dave, our producer, Ryan and Rory, our directors, John, our lead animation and character development, James, lead story and art direction, Brian, lead simulation and effects, and Kevin, our sound designer. This many people working together on a single animation is unprecedented at our school, so its kind of a big deal.

The story goes like this: Gabe is starting his first day at the Department of Human Fate, a company located in a city in the clouds, which watches over people on earth to ensure that they die at the right moment. Gabe is assigned to watch a construction worker, but things start going wrong when Gabe has trouble figuring out how to control his subject. In the end he learns a lesson about determination and trying your best.

With that said, check out some renders. Here we have the first lighting set up using mentalray's physical sun and sky and some area lights to fill in the background. I took the render into photshop and bumped up the saturation a bit and multiplied an occlusion over it:

My companions complained that despite the increase in saturation, we were losing a lot of color and our characters were looking sickly.
So we decided to totally ditch the physical sun and sky because it was too much of a pain to try and work around it.

So I worked on the lighting a bit and rendered out a scene. This still needs a boat load of work before we can call it done.

Office Light Test from Group of Six on Vimeo.

And since vimeo butchered the color, here's a screen cap:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fantastic Illustration!

I'm taking a class this semester called Fantastic Illustration. Our assignment was to take an existing story, twist it to fit a new look, create concept art for the characters and setting and finally produce a finished piece of artwork. I elected instead to create a 3D model of my concepts.

Since I love Star Wars, I chose to do a steam-punk Darth Vader. Really though, its just a mash up of Darth Vader and a Big Daddy from Bioshock. While the final model is still in progress, here's some concept stuff:

The first concept for Darth

Sketch of the final concept

Sketch of Luke

Luke final concept. Bear in mind I haven't painted since I was 12 and the assignment called for wet medium.

Darth final concept. This is what I'll be modeling in the coming weeks. So far its coming along nicely.

First Blog

Howdy! My name is Noah. I'm currently a student in the School of Film & Animation at RIT. I'm slated to graduate this May.

Currently, I'm hard at work on my thesis project. It is my responsibility to produce the 3D models for 2 separate films. I'll post more about these later.

Apart from school work, I am also busy applying to graduate school. In fact, I just sent my application to Carnegie Mellon yesterday.

Ultimately, though, my goal is to work in feature films as a 3D modeler.

Soon I'll begin blogging about my work. I'll put up pictures of my models and talk a bit about my methodology.