2010 DIGITAL ORRERY

Created for the Carter Observatory in Wellington New Zealand, this project required 9 pre-rendered animations taking us on journeys from Earth to the major planets. At over a minute per journey, there was a lot of content to create.

Using the latest data available (along with quite a bit of creative license), and using custom tools for the asteroid belt and solar flares scripted by Erlend Cleveland in mel, I animated the flights in Maya and rendered them with Mental Ray.

Hardware, installation and stylish UI overlays were handled by Jared Forbes at Lumen Digital.

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2009 JOKETOONS

Joketoons was an animated series developed by Auckland company Magimation in 2009. Designed as short, downloadable comedy clips, the production needed a streamlined pipeline to deliver content.

Using optimized models and textures, 3DCGI supplied ready-to-animate rigged characters intended for realtime rendering.

Animators Euan Frizzell, Brad Lincoln, John Shearlock and Anneka Fris put the characters through their paces with various found audio clips.

2006 JACKASS

Jackass the Game was developed by Sidhe Interactive in 2006.

The cinematics and game intros were motion captured first at Weta Digital and then at Weta Productions using realtime feedback with textured characters and sets. This enabled us to shoot a huge amount of performance and footage which we later edited down before that data was processed and cleaned. The characters were set up with an optimised FACS rig for facial animation.

The challenging task of scripting cinematics for a property that worked best ad-libbed was undertaken by my brother Michael. For the rival tv show in the game story, Michael and I came up with ‘Pranked’ – a deliberately crude riff on MTV’s ‘Punk’d’. In a case of life imitating art, MTV later created the show called ‘Pranked’ and the mousetrap-as-cellphone gag in this animation was done for real. (Today’s cheesy satire is tomorrow’s reality TV show.)

2005 GRIPSHIFT

This title was developed by Sidhe Interactive in 2005 and was one of their first original properties. Andy Satterthwaite designed this crazy and challenging hybrid racer, and the driver for the trailer was Dan Smart.

I once again shot the footage with a keyboard controlled camera in the game engine running the replays at a super-slow rate. The slick results really sold the dynamic and breakneck pace of the game. (A more stochastic type of frame blending would have looked even better)

My only regret is that there weren’t more penguins..

2004 MELBOURNE CUP

This title was developed by Sidhe Interactive in 2004. As well as art directing the look, my background in TV camerawork helped me place cameras appropriately to recreate authentic racing coverage. One of the main errors to avoid was ‘crossing the line’ (or ‘the 180 degree rule’) which in the game industry was a concept seldom considered at the time.

As part of the camera system design, I had procedural noise added as a default to all cameras so that a more natural feel was imparted.

The cinematic trailer was shot in the game environment itself, but at a super slow speed, so that when I retimed the resulting footage back to normal, the motion blur produced by frame averaging made the whole thing feel more realistic and improved the motion, look and depth.

2001 BARBIE

I joined Sidhe Interactive to create the cinematics for this Barbie title, and it was also my first project done completely in Maya. From storyboard and script through to final renders, the project had a much larger scope than I had originally thought!

Favourite parts of the pipeline i created: the fast facial animation rig with a 3D phonetic UI and the procedural surf shader used on the beach. Mark Cuthbert and Corie Geerders helped out on the animation. (i.e they did most of it despite my fk-only arm rigs!)

1997 WETA R&D

I spent my time during the early years at Weta on various projects; rotocapture, early muscle system experiments and procedural city building R&D for King Kong, tests for the movie ‘Pitch Black’ and proof of concept demos that helped green-light LOTR.

The Weta logo itself is an inverting homage to Escher’s “Moebius Strip II”. ( Animation of both Weta bug and Pitch Black creature by Ramon Rivero)