Friday, 13 December 2013

My Review of 2013

This year has been a good one for me, I've managed a lot of output for clients and it saw both highs and the occasional low.  (But yet again what is life without contrast?)  So let's go through the list and see what I actually managed to get done.

'The Lost Reel'

I started the year by putting out what was the 1st pass at a demo reel that never got released due to me starting work as 3d Supervisor on Last days on Mars. I suppose it helped people realize I was still alive and ,kicking after a somewhat quiet period at the end of 2012.

Finishing working Last Day on Mars

I did my last day working on the film Last Days on Mars on 15 march this year, it's a period I'll always look fondly back on as it meant meeting a lot of now very good friends.  We managed to get a crazy amount of people done with a core team of about 7 of us in 3D, and no matter what you think of the film I will stand by what we managed to get done till my dying day.  It allowed me to finally show how things can indeed be sped up by sometimes throwing out every rule and trying things  a different way.  It was 100% a team effort.

The VFX protest

A video that I did while in Dublin taking off the 'video persona' and spelling out a few home truths.  Ironically it suddenly caused ww3 to break out a few months back on a certain forum after being 'rediscovered' by someone on a forum and a lot of LA and industry types having a major hissy over it all.  What I found most ironic is they were more concerned with my accent than the actual content.  Opinions are cool it appears as long as you have one that the mainstream want you to have.  Although I didn't comment on my blog about that whole thread at the time (as to be honest I found the reaction bloody hilarious), I felt those people made the exact point I was outlining valid.

March saw me put up 'Wayne's 15 step guide to working in post production'.  

Those 15 things till hold up well and are worth a read if your new to post production..

Facial Motion Capture / 'Mask'

In April I started the very early experiments in what would eventually become my markerless  facial motion capture solution 'Mask'. After trying everything out there, I came to the conclusion that I could do better myself and so 'mask' was born.  Although it's not ever slated for release and is purely an internal tool of mine, its eventual results speak for themselves and I'm currently going through the patent process for it.  This period saw a lot of test animations while I refined the app.  What popped out at the end was a 'no clean up needed' facial motion capture app I am more than happy with.

Academy FX

On the 21st April I opened the company Academy FX to move a lot of my R and D and large client projects to. This enables me to keep an element of separation.  It's still going and I do not promote it in any way as those who need its services already know about it, if they don't then chances are they don't need them.

The End User Event

The end of May  / June saw me lecturing at my favourite event of the year the end user event.  After missing a year due to having my stroke 2-3 years back I wanted to come back in full force and did so with two unique lectures. One on digital double creation and the other on my facial motion capture solution Mask. I also managed to slip a joke about dildos in at the very end of the last lecture lol.

'Beast' Hybrid scanning technology

Under the Academy FX banner I developed the hybrid 3d scanning suite 'Beast' which approached 3d scanning a whole new way and gave amazing results arguably better than anything else out there.  This is also undergoing the patent process and is yet another internal only tool for use by clients.

A Digital Wayne
After about 4 other attempts over the years I finally produced a hand sculpted digital double of myself that I was happy with.  A personal project that I enjoyed more than just about any other.

Back to the Music

I started recording my music again in earnest, it was some cajoling by Rudy Sarzo that convinced me to start again with a passion that produced interesting results by the end of this year.

'Monsters' Episode 1

'Monsters' was an animation I did intended as the start of a multi part series of shorts.  Episode one was well received although I did cut a few corners on the rendering side that made me a little less than happy with it.  Up to date I have done episode 2 3 times and am still not happy enough with it to release it.  So episode 2 will see the light of day but only when I am happy with it.  Plus rendering out 4 minutes of facial animation on a single machine is not fun.  In case you're wondering, it is the character design and making sure it fits with the script is what I have not been happy with.

Max scripts

I released a few max scripts for people, 'Waynes Nitrous Tools' and 'Waynes Morph renamer'  they both did what they said on the tin and joined later by 'Waynes Morpher Switcher' for use with facial animation.


I decided to do a bigfoot bust, but didn't want to just go down the 'make it look cool' route (which is always a way to easy route to take).  I wanted to treat it more as a zoological study of what it may look like if it exists.  The resulting model was a 3 way blend between gigantipithicus, humans and a gorilla.  I think it works well and ended up being used in 3d world magazine a little while later.

The 'Brainkiller' EP

A sort of 'test the waters' release of an EP of nightcore remixes of music of mine.  I discovered the musical style of nightcore, liked it, deconstructed it and mixed the entire EP in one night.  I made the decision to release it for free online.

The 'Make an Album in 14 days' challenge

One of my better ideas for a personal challenge outside of 3d was to try to produce an entire album of music to a professional standard in 14 days using only my time off on an evening (about 3 1/2 hours a night). I managed it...but only just.  Many of these would make it onto my 1st commercial album.

Modo Kit bashing

I decided that it was time to also have a 3d app that was outside of the Autodesk sphere so started using Modo as well as my other apps.  I also ended up making two things for Modo that as yet I've not released. One is a kit bashing set for cathedral and gothic architecture the other is something under the radar.  One or both may see release at some point.  I also donated a anatomically correct human skeleton to a challenge for Modo users to create one for use as reference on the Luxology / Modo forum.
Mudbox  / Modo pipeline test model

Knocked out a quick model to test the pipeline between Mudbox and Modo... it worked well.

My 3D World review of 3Ds Max 2014

A review of mine of 3Ds max 2014 was in the September issue (or was it the October issue??) of 3d world magazine.  An in depth double paged review that ironically I never found a single copy of in my newsagents I went into lol.  So I don't have a hard copy of it :)

Trailers, posters and mini breakdowns for Last Days on Mars

Various Last days on mars stuff got pimped such as the trailers, the poster and some mini breakdowns.  Although the main breakdowns and stuff won't come until April next year.  By which time I will have been 13 months form finishing the end of that film lol.

The Black Rhino

Sort of a sad one this..without realizing it I did what was probably the last photo real model of the black rhino before it was declared extinct.  I picked the subject at random for use by a client for demos.

The Autodesk Cave video Interview

I was asked by Shawn Hendricks to do a  online interview about the stuff I would be presenting at Cave / Autodesk University in Las Vegas .  The outtakes would have been hilarious to see. :)  We had a great time recording it.

Mudbox Plug-in: 'BlendWiz'

I released a small tool for those handling blend shapes for facial animation to make life a fair bit easier in Mudbox.  I never did release the mac version I meant to... or MudWalker X2 that has been sitting on my drive with a new feature set for a year now. (not enough free time).

The 6.2 million views thing

While waiting on a render on 17th of October I did a check on how many views my videos (well the ones still there, which is about a 3rd) have had on YouTube and Vimeo combined. I was dumbstruck to find it was 6.2 million views!  Which was very humbling and made me ask myself how this was possible.

Ripper Street series 2 'Phossy Jaw'

It is rare that I am 100% happy with a shot I have been involved in, in post production time is always too short, and you often never have time to get something done the way you would like.  This shot was one of the exceptions.  It turned out pretty damn well and was a sort of CGI 'showcase' shot that I can say without any doubt will be at the start of my next reel.  Also there were a few shots I worked on in the penultimate episode of Ripper Street such as the diamond mine crowd shot and a few set extensions.

Releasing 3 Commercial Albums in 4 days.

I am still not sure if this was a sign of insanity or just really good planning.  But I finally bit the bullet and did something I swore I never would do: release my music commercially.  So in my usual eclectic /breaking the rules style I released 'fat Funky Bastard' (the electronic album),  Inferno of Bullshit (the hybrid album), and The ballad of Jonas Scrim (the classical concept album, which exposed some of the 'class system in clasical music as apparently a lad from Consett isn't supposed to either want to or be able to record an classical album).  I gave them no publicity outside of a mention on facebook, my blog and twitter and they did well and were very well received.  It was nice to show I do have talents outside of 3D that people were not aware of.  There will be more albums next year at some point.  All are available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon BTW.

'Las Vegas' (Cave /Autodesk University lectures)

Finally the time came around for me to go to Las Vegas to do my lecture on digital doubles (where I showed my workflow that enabled me to get a film quality digital double out in 24 hours), and also took part in a live video for 3 December on the 'Phossy Jaw' shot.  I had a great time and it was great to not only see old friends, but meet new ones and finally meet face to face some I had only known for years online.

Facial Blendshapes workflow video for the Autodesk

Just a few days ago a video I was asked to do for Autodesk outlining the workflow for sculpting facial blendshapes in Mudbox for use with facial animation went live on The Area.  It's been very well received so far and goes quite in depth.  I've not had a whole lot of free time this year (or last!) for recording 3d vids so it was nice to get another long video out.

Still to come before the end of the year:

The TV movie/ mini series 'Moonfleet' shown on Sky over xmas that I worked on. I can't say what I did until afterwards though.  So you'll just have to watch and guess until I can.

I asked my Mate Zap Andersson earlier in the year if he minded if I took the song he recorded 'Its Christmas Time' and wrote with his band 'Beat Symphony' and brought it up to date a bit.  So I finished that last night and added in a full orchestra (all parts played by yours truly), new electronic synth parts and a complete re-master and remix.  I also found time to do a nightcore remix as well that probably won't see the light of day as it was just for messing around.  What makes it interesting is that the instruments on the 2013 version were recorded 14 years apart..some by zap the others by myself.  So keep your eyes peeled for either zap or myself uploading that at some point. 

So all in all not a bad year, this doesn't mention the things I'm not allowed to put out publicly including one especially cool one that unfortunately is under a permanent NDA.  But if next year is as good, then I'll be very happy.

Have a great xmas and a fantastic new year.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Video Class on Sculpting Facial Blendshapes for Animation now up on the Area

I was asked a few months back by Autodesk to cover a video on my workflow for setting up blendshapes for facial animation in Mudbox and 3Ds Max.  It went live on the 3rd of December (which I didn't realize till yesterday, what with me being in Vegas working and all lol.)

The link to the full set of videos is both in the description of the above video and I'll also stick it below all this text.  Its a workflow that works equally as well for facial motion capture solutions as well as good old fashioned key framed animation.  The sound may be a bit dodgier than usual in my videos as my kids had ran off with my good mic, and I was reduced to using an old crappy one.


Vegas went well

one of about 200 photos I took

I had a wonderful time in Las Vegas at Autodesk University / Cave and took part in a live stream lecture for 3 December as well while I was there. There's actually a funny story around that last one. I had spent a week trying to fit a full breakdown of the ripper street 'Phossy Jaw' shot from episode 4  into my 15 min slot.  I managed it the morning of the lecture (which yes was cutting it a wee bit fine!)  Now as I was the least lecturer up to demo , as someone had over ran, Shawn whispers in my ear (with about 3 seconds before I am ready to go on air) 'can you cut it down to 10 mins?' Never one to turn down a challenge I of course said 'sure no problem' and so all script went out the window and if it seemed a bit rushed that was why :)  The video of it is still available on the 3 December section of the Autodesk area site for those interested. (Watch my face and you'll see me probably pretty clearly thinking on my feet lol..)  I was also sure to make sure everyone who had worked on the shot got credit for their work as no man is an island.

Jeff Mottle and Kim Lee

I met many friends both old and new, and it was nice to catch up with Paul Neale, Neil Blevins, Neil Hazzard and Daniel Pero again as well as meeting many others I had either only met online such as Craig Barr, Rick Champagne etc or had never met before such as Kim Lee (Who's life has been scarily close to my own!)  I put a few videos up on YouTube while I was there which I sure you can all hunt out by yourselves without me linking to them.
Me and Craig Barr (I'm not really 4 feet tall, Craig's just really tall lol

My main lecture went well covering a new way for creating digital doubles in no more than 24 hours, and I was happy to have a very receptive audience who didn't mind a few swear words lol.  I also covered a little from the film last days on mars that I worked as 3D Sup on in passing that I wont be able to show probably til about April.

  Now as luck would have it, within ten minutes of walking through my front door I came down with a virus, although lets face it the timing could have been far worse.   At least it means I will not be tempted to work through my rest week like I usually do.

So special thanks to Autodesk and Shawn Hendricks for inviting me over to Vegas and Hopefully we can do it again some time soon.