Hey there, long time no see. Things have gotten super hectic these last few weeks, especially when it comes to our group project. We are now approaching the final stretch of the time we have to produce the piece and at the current pace we are moving with the amount of work still yet to be done we are going to be hard pressed to get it completed.
These past few weeks we have begun looking at the animation of the piece, Steve, Alex, Mitch, Daniel and I have each been assigned a section of the 3D sequence to work on. The first and probably the most difficult to handle element of this sequence is that its a one shot with the characters never leaving frame. This means that theres no opportunity between cuts for the animation work to change hands and that instead everyone’s animation needs to imported into the same scene. I decided it would be best if everyone was to do a rough pass which I would then import into the same scene. This took a while to work out the kinks and get it working as it should but I with Steve’s help was eventually able to get it working. The plan moving forward on the animation is to do these animation imports as frequently as possible to ensure everything is coming together as it should and so animators working on a particular part of the sequence can look back or forward to the other sequences for references.
Upon attempting to put together the 3D master scene Alex and I also found that the reflections of sky weren’t working as we anticipated. Phil helped me out in class attempting to find out why and we were eventually able to come to the decision that it was attempting to replicate the almost stretching effect light has on waters surface but it was looking wrong. Example below.
This isn’t quite what we were after we are aiming for a perfect, mirror like reflection. Like the one below.
To achieve this it became obvious we would need to simulate a reflection instead of using a ray-traced one. My first attempt to tackle this problem involved me using the star skydome simply inverted underneath the water and then scaled down a bit from a sphere shape to a bit more of an oval shape. This worked quite well in giving the impression of depth in the fake reflection where a simple texture placed over the water surface plane wouldn’t. This approach however became an issue when it came to the way the characters wake and ripples needed to distort the reflections. I came up with a super convoluted method that seemed so crazy it might just work in creating a shader that would change the color of the plane based upon the height of of each vertex. The hope in creating this shader is that I could then use it as an alpha channel so I could manually distort the reflection myself.
When I pitched this idea to Phil he confirmed something I was already pretty sure of, it was a super convoluted idea. However he did suggest that I give it a shot to see what I can learn from it, he also suggested that I look into environment shaders and using them to simulate a reflection. Although I’m interested in seeing how well (or poorly) my method would turn out in interest of time I decided to look into the environment node. With it I was able to create a reflective surface that worked pretty well and I’m pretty sure I can deform to simulate the distortion of the wake, but that’s yet to be tested.