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Cyber Characters That Can Move It

If you are developing characters for film, television, or game project, you will certainly want them to move, and even more – you want them to come off with personality, punch, and pizzazz. Whether the character is dancing, fighting, or just being a zombie, in order for the audience to believe in the character their body language has got to show it.

geishaGirl_dynamicCloth

There is a level of expectation when it comes to people because we know how we are supposed to interact and move. The best measurement of movement is what we can record and emulate. The real test of human movement is in the face. This is where we need the most focused attention. We need to stay out of the uncanny valley when dealing with conversations between the character and the real actors. Creating an Avatar using Motion Capture helps it move in the same likeness. At some point in the future we could even mix our cyber characters with real actors and not know the difference.

3d scan_full body_lidar_large vehicle and building

When this is mastered we will be headed toward an all CG or digital entertainment programming that looks like the real thing. It is an exciting time in the industry as the momentum of using digital elements permeates the screen. With more and more effects added with no seams the audience is left with the thought of, “How did they do that?”

3D Head Scan, superhero

We still need to master the clone in appearance and performance both in body language and facial performance, thus being the puppeteers for future programming.

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Click here to see our list of credits on IMDb.3d scanning services

Creating A Digital Double

What is the difference between creating a digital character and developing a digital character? Did you even know there was a difference?

It all depends on the expectation of the final product. To fully develop a character, especially if a well-known actor is in the scene, involves a much larger effort to create facial performance, cyber hair and cloth, and apply character lighting and final scale, all the while making sure it is an exact match to the original talent to keep a smooth transition.

For example, if the digital copy you’re working on is the main character and needs to be on the screen for a long period of time, such as Brad Pitt’s character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, then a lot of time would be spent on matching the digital copy to the actor. If the character you’re creating needs to jump off a building, transform into something, or burst into particles, then less time would be spent on perfecting the details and making sure it was an exact match, but it would retain having the illusion of being perfect.

Here’s how we do it. 3D scanning the character is the first step, but you must also do a photo shoot of the talent for reference photos. The next essential step is the photo acquisition of high resolution textures with and without polarization. This will help create more accurate Ambient and Specular maps to be used later in the texture mapping process.

3d scan_full body_lidar_large vehicle and building

The model is then delivered with flat textures (or no lighting values). The production house has the option of adding those values in later when matching the plates. They can also incorporate different types of shaders to match skin such as Subsurface Scattering to give a more lifelike or realistic look to the digital double.

3d head scan, digital character, scarf

As the craft develops, it will be hard to tell the difference between the real character and their digital double. There is still a lot of work to be done on the fully digital character to act alongside real characters, but the day is coming and facial performance, mocap, and digital doubles will all come together with lower costs and time lines of creation.

Until then, we do our best on this quest while servicing the needs of the entertainment community.

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Realistic Expectations in 3D Modeling

As we progress down the road of visual effects and this industry, we marvel at how many projects we’ve had a chance to be a part of. Of course we would love to have our 3d models be the star of every action scene, but even in the cases where the scene is static and the character or item gets blown up, set on fire or put in a situation where live action doesn’t make sense, still we are proud of our work.

All of that being said, our job is not an easy one. Our challenge is producing a product that can stand on its own, especially in the eye of the public. But, this pressure is what drives us.

3d scan_full body_lidar_large vehicle and building

Before our products are viewed by the public, they go through a series of quality control, not only by us but by the receiving company or group that needs to make the model work in their scene or production. On a complicated model or character, the detail is the start of the mountain we climb. That, coupled with the amount of time we have to complete a project, can further complicate the climb. Although, the deadline alone is not the killer.

The 3 challenges that most modeling and scanning companies face are:

  1. Budget
  2. Quality
  3. Speed

full body 3d scan

In this economy with so many smaller companies going belly up, not many account managers will agree to only having two of the three choices listed above. They would be more afraid of the VFX producer saying, “Well you are one of three companies bidding, so is that your final answer?” No, they want it all. So the best thing a modeling or scanning company can to do is to try and conquer the best 2 out of 3, and if possible add a buffer somewhere in the event a real problem pops up.

We all know stuff happens that is out of our control, so we pivot and get it done. Quality is what we all want, and what ultimately separates the companies that can from the companies that can’t. If what we do was easy, anyone could do it. We know the VFX bar is always rising; it’s just too bad the budgets aren’t following an upward swing as well.

 

Where is your closest location?

tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.