Masters Project – 3 – The birth


Although the first film will not have a strictly linear timeline, in that the video geometry will not follow the actual timeline in which it was shot, there will be a definite visual section when Arianne is born. Before this point the room will be as it is at night, with no light coming in through the windows. After Ari is born the room will be in daylight for the rest of the film.

The birth itself was not without its complications, and the delivery itself was a forceps delivery in theatre. I wish to reflect this in animation using our characters in a theatre scene, a scene which will arrive in the front of the room. There is a lot of empty space at the front of the room which I’ve left clear specifically for this kind of scene. In the second film, the animation of the birth will be played out against a straight white background. This strategy, as the second film will index and reference the first by containing all of the same content but none of the CG room, will be the same for all of the animated sections.

The scene itself will contain just the bed, a drip and three medical staff (though at the time there were around 12 staff in the theatre).  I did not want to personalise the staff with full detailed characters like ourselves (as amazing as they were, particularly the singing anaesthetist) I want the personal focus to be on ourselves in the scene. So, I decided to try and develop simple ‘other worldly’ type characters for the medical team that emphasised our strange relationship to them in that environment. I used a really simple rigged biped geometry for this and then tried various dynamic solutions to shade and fill their form.

Early fluid dynamics test

The sample image shows that I initially decided to colour the staff in a medical green, however this changes to white based on the fluids relatively velocity. For example, the parts of the model moving faster will slowly change to white. Although it’s less clear in this image, the fluid also becomes more transparent based on relative velocity. I went through many versions based on this approach, mainly trying to tweak the overall form of the character. I also decided to move to a more pink and fleshy colour shift over the medical green. This is probably because the characters in motion triggered too many sci-fi ‘alien’ cultural references for me, and well, add a bed and a medical scene and it all becomes a surreal ‘alien abduction’ trip of some kind. But I persisted, for no good reason, and the last version before I decided to take a completely different approach looked like this.

I gave in here

I changed my usual studio layout that I use to test materials and characters too by this time, adding a grid to test transparency. It showed the refraction within the form quite well, as some strange kind of blotchy skin disorder.  Oh well. The other major problem with this fluid based approach is that the characters hands, which are after all the main tools of medical people in theatre, become completely indistinct. To cut a long story short I ended up taking a noisy particle approach, adding much more detail to the forms hands, and also adding a slight glow based on particle density. This to me is the best approach, for many reasons. Firstly the characters are much more obviously transparent and indistinct allowing the audience to project onto them more (as we did at the time). Secondly not only will the hands be clearer as they work but as such will become the focus. Finally through rigging the particles, in order to control their speed and the distance they travel from the main form, I can reflect their own tensions and worries as they deliver Arianne into the world. This will also allow me to display their interaction between each other as their particle fields can be mixed together into clouds, collide, and then move back into clearer biped forms.

The final form for the medical staff

I’ve included a short video of these three approaches in motion, the character performs the same action of coming to a standing pose from a pose of kneeling on one knee.

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