Another method I used to give the game scenes a unique visual style was the integration of 2D effects on cards. Taking reference from 2D games such as Rayman Legends, and 2.5D fighters such as Super Smash Bros, I created several 2D effects which I implemented into both the game and graphic design sequences. This was an interesting challenge, and I am fairly happy with the results. At first I was concerned that the effects would start to feel the same, but many video games reused the same effects in similar ways. I combined this with After Effects sequences for the "Win screen" and credits section to achieve the final look. In the end, the effects help to sell the weight of the hits, and give the game sections a uniquely energetic tone.

 

          Lastly, I’d like to discuss the editing process for the film. I come from a background of live action, and I wanted to be a film editor for several years before I started to pursue CG layout. I still have an extreme affinity towards editing, and especially animation editing. In animation, editors have so much more power to craft the story exactly how it will be in the end. In a perfect world, the final animatic is the final movie, but reality much of the time disrupts this and things change (hopefully for the better). I took the edit through the entire process in this short, and was amazed to see the changes to workflow from a live film production. I also had to struggle with my natural tendency to haphazardly organize files, and make sure my edit stayed clean, labeled, and organized. Going forward, I would love to continue editing animatics and rough cuts together to progressively see more and more of the finished work.

 

         The production of Overthrow was an amazing experience for me. I grew closer with my friends and classmates while collaboratively making a finished animated work. I cannot wait to represent my program as we submit our film to festivals around the country. And, After all of this, I can’t wait to get started on the next movie.

              As an extra-curricular independent production, I organized a team of 5 to produce a 3 minute CG animated short film. From October 2019 to June 2020, we created the short using a plethora of CG software. It was an honor to direct it and see it to completion. It is currently running the festival circuit, but will eventually be posted for free online. I hope that this project will shine a spotlight on the creativity and quality of undergraduate student work in the Visualization Program at Texas A&M University.  

Overthrow

3 Minute Short

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(Production Schedule and Shot Sheet for Overthrow.)

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( Left: Basic Shading, Middle: Angle Based Shading, Right: Outlines added.)

(Card based 3D explosion effect based on Toon Link's Bomb in "The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker".)

(Various ground impact effects, wrapped around a cylinder.)

(After Effects "Vs Screen" using Video Copilot's "Saber" Plugin.)

(Circular wind card created in After Effects.)

           In such a small group, we all had to wear many hats. While I will detail all of my contributions to the project, I want to stress the importance of collaboration and teamwork that went into making the finished piece a reality. My group worked extremely hard over the course of the semester and summer to complete this film and I’m extremely grateful for their dedication. That being said, on Overthrow, I acted as Director/ Project Manager, and contributed to Script/ Storyboards, Layout, Set Dressing, Crowd Sim, FX, Compositing, Animation, Render TD, Editorial, and Sound Design.

 

           As Undergraduate sophomores, with little to no experience in CG animation pipelines and production, we didn’t fully understand the scope of the project we initially concocted. However, because we began production of the short over a winter break, and were foolish enough not to ask peers and professors for advice, we had already completed a large amount of character models, set design, and rough layout, before anyone was able to warn us about our scope. In hindsight, I’m honestly glad that we aimed high, and hit the ground running with an ambitious idea. The finished work would not have been what it is today if we greatly reduced scope early on. However, I have definitely learned my lesson on the importance of guidance and feedback. By digging our heads in and not seeking outsider advice, we may have limited our potential and quality of work. However, I am extremely happy with our final product and look forward to seeing it on the festival circuit.

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(Big Fighter's Hammer, Mid Swing)

           My primary focus in CG is Layout, but in order to get anything done, you need a team and you need organization. Because this was an independent project initially separate from the school, I had to take the initiative to form a group and make tons of spreadsheets. As the project manager, I ran weekly meetings, created and maintained documents for our schedules, props, shots, and renders, and sought out grants to help produce and market the film to festivals. This is a long shot from the work I want to do professionally, but I have learned a lot from it, and have come to appreciate structure and organization in streamlining workflows. I also have improved my team-building and soft skills that I hope to apply later in my career in managerial roles.

          I was also in charge of Layout / Staging for the film. We knew from the jump that our short would be split between two worlds, and it was important that we make them visually and thematically distinct. In my layout, I worked to motivate my shots depending on the beats in the story. In the scenes of the video game arena, I wanted the camera work to be bombastic and dynamic. The camera communicates the spectacle of the fighting while maintaining screen direction and visual clarity. Then in the bedroom, the camera is much more stationary and realistic. It’s also typically shot on more standard lenses while the game environment is more often shot wide. The unique differences between the intimate character acting of the brothers, and the outlandish body mechanics of the video game fighters gave great opportunities to develop my staging skills in both extremes, and find a way to blend them to elevate the story.

           Furthermore, we wanted to distinguish the game from the real world through a change in rendering style. In part, this decision was made to reduce scope, since the game elements did not have to be realistically rendered in Pixar’s Renderman as the brothers' scenes did. We accomplished the cel shaded toon look of the game environment through the use of Maya’s built in Ramp shader and the Viewport 2.0 Renderer. We initially tried to use maya’s built in outlining system, but found that it did not fit the visual style we were going for. Instead for external outlines, we opted for an “Inverted Hull” method of outlining, which takes each separated piece of geometry on the game characters, scales them slightly outward, darkens them significantly, inverses the normal direction of each face, and enables backface culling so that the original geometry draws over the “outline geometry”. For some interior outlines that we wanted to keep constant, we drew them directly onto textures. In order to keep the outlines of the internal lines clean, we had to lock our UVs to parallel the U or V axis. This method of cel shaded character creation was derived from Arc System Works' talk on the art of their fighting game, Guilty Gear, at GDC in 2015.

Password is: overandout