I have spent my final year at university developing new skills and building upon my pre-existing ones. I decided to use my final year project to really push myself in terms of skills and application and a procedural Mayan pyramid felt like the perfect way to do this. It seemed like the perfect balance of taking techniques used in the short film I worked on prior to this and researching new methods to achieve the desired end result.

Effects Animation

Effects Animation was a second year module and my first experience with Houdini. The assignment for this module was to make a visual effects sequence for a company wanting to sell their new bottle and as such wanted us to reflect themes of hot or cold in the sequence. My idea for this was to recreate a natural phenomenon called the Mpemba Effect. I felt the imagery of hot water transitioning into snow would perfectly fit the hot and cold themes of the brief.

Short Film Production

During the first semester of this year I worked as the producer on a group short film “The Orb” and was responsible for creating the environment used in the space shot. Despite only being a singular shot, this still possessed many opportunities for me to grow as an artist. A big challenge for this shot was making the nebulae clouds look proportionated to the scene and blend with the background of space. This required lots of effort to be put into the lighting to help prevent the clouds looking flat.

The asteroid used in this shot was not modelled by hand but rather selected from a procedural asteroid belt I made for this project using Houdini. I opted to make this procedural as it allowed me to modify parameters so I could randomise the shapes as they were instanced into the cluster. Working this way allowed me to see how invaluable a procedural asset can be to the VFX pipeline; allowing large amounts of time to be saved from repetitive work.

Final Year Project

For my final project at university I wanted to expand upon my knowledge of procedural modelling. The idea of a Mayan temple worked really well for me as it was something I could add onto if I had spare time at the end of the project. I made three more tools that can either be used with the temple HDA or completely separately depending on the users needs. These tools consist of: a vine generation tool for adding procedural growth to an input mesh; a tree generator to quickly generate different models for the user to instance; and a terrain tool that will take an input mesh for a mask then scatter models for trees and grass accordingly. Alongside this I also wanted to learn procedural texturing so I created three textures in Substance Designer: an interior wall, exterior wall and bark for the trees. Using the Houdini Labs tools, I was able to integrate them into the tools.

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