An update of my original Amaze game with another dimension added. The guy arrives through the Yellow door, and has to find the Magenta exit. He can only move forward or turn,as in the original, but this time he can jump and flip left or right. When he does this, the wall becomes the floor.( If he misses a platform, he falls to his death, in fact, he could fall off the walkways at any time!) I’m playing with two view modes; The left view is Isometric, the right view is Perspective. ISO feels good for strategy – planning how to get to the exit, (and before that, the Magenta KEY to unlock it!) and PERSP feels more dynamic and immersive. Its quite an artistic challenge to design the levels so that they are a puzzle, but also work well from the camera angle – nothing can be overlapping or blocking what’s behind it too much). I think I’ll eventually put the ISO/PERSP choice on a slider so you can dial in the amount you want. Next steps are to add the foes – Dog, Spider, Snake etc – onto the other planes as you walk around. Dog appears in your path, you flip to the wall, Spider is already there. ( I think you can escape foes by flipping onto a different plane, then they lose sight of you.. maybe..) I now have to implement this animated demo in code so I can experiment with maze design.
Coded in Unity in CSharp, this is a working demo of the Amazed game I previsualized in Maya 2 years ago. Very crude code, but all the functional pieces are there – intuitive gravity / down vector flipping, prize / goal collection, and (at about the halfway point of this demo) spider mode; you now play hanging from the ceiling. Although its the same maze, the inverted view makes it a whole different challenge. This game is intended for a watch-level platform. Its designed to be controlled by 6 screen touches, one for each of the 4 directions you can face (and move), and one for each of the directions you can flip (left or right).
Sometimes the best visual effects are the ones no-one will ever notice. When Oenomaus took a knife to the eye, the gruesome result was originally realized as a physical prosthetic. While the match of skin tone, texture and realism was great, the decision was made after shooting that the wound should be more of a cavity than a swollen protrusion. Wanting to avoid a costly and time-consuming 3D matchmove and render, we elected to try a 2D solution based on a classic optical illusion; that convex objects when rotated 180 degrees read as concave. This approach paid off as it allowed us to use the shot footage itself rather than a complex skin shader with dynamic lighting. There was still a huge amount of meticulous hand tracking, warping and blending that went into each setup, but the final result held up even in extreme closeup.
The finale of the Spartacus saga was huge in scope; the ultimate showdown between the armies of Rome and the followers of rebel gladiator. There was only one practical way to deliver tens of thousands of people fighting to the death: Massive – the crowd simulation software developed for Lord of the Rings.
Setting up the Massive pipeline for Spartacus was a big challenge – I’d never seen this many shots of this complexity done at a TV turnaround pace, and the requirements of the script were enormous in both scale and behaviour.
Using Massive’s existing ‘ready-to-run’ agents and with custom agents created by Stephen Regelous, I embarked on a frenzy of simulation, revision, refinment, rendering and repairing. With renderwall processors running at 98 degrees Celsius during Wellington’s hottest summer in 20 years, I delivered shots of 40,000 agents in multiple-layered EXRs at resolutions of up to 8k and durations of up to 1500 frames.
Sheer insanity! The final result was worth the pain – incredible compositing of 3DCGI’s elements by Digipost and Cause+FX enabled Charlie McClellan and Peter Baustaedter to deliver some of the most complex, extensive and simply ‘Massive’ VFX shots ever seen on TV!
A return to the Carter Observatory and onward into space, this game project was essentially an interactive version of the Digital Orrery completed a year earlier for Wellington interactive experts Story Inc.
Working with software engineer Chris Ellis, I created the game in Maya and Unity. Since it was targeted at children 6-10 in a museum setting, I designed the game to be primarily ‘on-rails’, controlled by a joystick with a single button and featuring a spare, simple interface.
Installed in a themed spacecraft interior and playable on a large oval screen, the game let children fly the ship past asteroids, satellites and moons while balancing their fuel, life support and shield levels. (Learning factoids about the solar system – the primary objective – was an inevitable side effect)
For Spartacus Season Three the VFX requirements were a movable feast from 2.5D projected matte painting setups to camera solves and set extensions.
It was also the final call for our well established arena pipeline, and we were able to deliver render layers and crowd elements that looked better than ever before. The arena’s fiery destruction in episode five was a combination of complex rigid body dynamics, cloth simulations and hand animated fixes. Final compositing of all our elements was completed by DigiPost under the beautifully painterly art direction of Peter Baustaedter.
Late in the day, compositor Emrys Plaisted and I were given a major challenge: to replace the left eye of the character Oenomaus when it was cut out in the final episode. Although a physical prosthetic was used, it was decided to substitute a digital version after the shoot had wrapped. Delivering this effect in extreme close up was challenging, time consuming, exacting and ultimately very satisfying.
Because of star Andy Whitfield’s tragic illness, the second season of Spartacus was a prequel – the arena that formed the centerpiece of the Series One didn’t exist yet!
We were still kept very busy with previs, set extensions and creating an improved version of the hilltop Ludus environment while the politics of Capua’s new arena played out on screen.
The storyline concluded with the Arena’s blood-soaked opening, and we were back in the swing of crowd behaviours and arena render passes, this time with shiny new textures and additional added banners and detailing.