This semester I have been involved in two of the projects “The Little Knight” and “The Goldilocks Zone”. My focus has been technical director for “The Little Knight”. Throughout the semester I have been spending a lot of time making updates and changes, as given by the director, to the master scene. Making updates to the specific assets has made the pipeline work, as each asset has been referenced into the master scene. When an asset gets updated the master scenes version gets updated automatically.
There have been several little annoying things that have happened, so I had to spend a great deal of time on mainly problem solving, which is one of the most important skills within the industry. As progression was made on the master scenes, one of the major obstacles was the use of the new render engine Arnold, within Maya. As this is a quite new update to Maya, there have been a number of things I needed to research and try and get my head around when something wasn’t working. There were a lot of little issues however one of the key issues, specific to “The Little Knight” production, was its high use of transparency. Arnold, specifically in Maya, handles transparency completely differently to how Mental Ray would, or even Maya’s software renderer.
In my opinion the way that Arnold handles transparency makes sense, however it’s pretty much the opposite of how you would set it up with other render engines such as MentalRay or VRay. This was a good challenge and good to learn a completely different method for future use.
Once the transparency issues had been solved, most of my time has been spent making updates of all the assets individually, so they were consistent within the entire production. This made sure that the master scene file was running cleanly. This process sounds simple but in the end, became one of the most annoying things to do, simply because of a major design failure with Arnold. The way that Arnold works is that if you don’t have any lights in your scene, it will just render out black. So, to make changes and see the changes being made, adding a light into the scene became the only way. This became a real problem using referenced characters in the master scene. For example, if I was making some material changes on the Little Knight character, I had to add a light just to see a render and after saving the file and not deleting the added lights when opening the master scene, the lights would be added. This process became very annoying and tedious because you can’t delete lights from a referenced file.
At this stage of the production the models were just using a texture in the diffuse layer. When it came to add the lighting for the environment, I made some adjustments to the characters, so they had a slight addition of shininess for the metallic components. The director didn’t really wish to have a fully metallic look for the characters, so only subtle changes were added to give the characters a little bit more definition of the metallic components they consisted of.