Unit 3: Environments - Tableux Vivants

After today's lecture briefing on Unit 3, I'm feeling pretty excited with the prospects of this project. Our goal to combine the concepts of tableux vivants and the theory of the uncanny together as a digital model set is definitely intriguing and inspiring, which will no doubt prove challenging in forming our own such unique piece.

Tableux Vivants, French for 'living picture', in an example of artists capturing a carefully posed moment of stillness, often living people caught in static attitudes. Often, a key and deliberate sense of ambiguity is formed where one cannot come to a definitive outcome of the piece becoming open to a variety of interpretations.

A particular example is Edgar Degas's 'Ballet Rehearsal', where the cropping of the piece disarms the viewer of any precise clarity leaving only ambiguous possibilities. One dancer performs with the other bent to one leg, we only see part of the spectators as the framing of the piece limits the information we can read in the piece. Ultimately, we can never quite know for sure what is actually occurring in the precise moment of time leaving us to speculate with ambiguity.

Such framing and composition will be key in dictating a shot in creating a sense of ambiguity in an environment, while pushing ideals of the uncanny - which I will cover soon enough, as well as more artists and examples.

Incidentally, I am unable to download the lecture pdf off myUCA as I get an error message of the file being 'damaged or broken'. Everything else downloads fine, just this one being stubborn. If anyone has the file they can send me or know how else to obtain it I'd be grateful.

End of Unit #2

With Unit 2 coming to a close, I thought I wrap things up with a quick post.

After seeing the scope of everyone's projects, its encouraging and great to see people improving and the progression they have made throughout the project. Although, I do feel we all still have a long way to go to achieve the best we can in our projects. In comparison to the previous project, there was surely a lot to keep on top on with 3 final pieces, 2 essays and a mighty task on Maya. I managed to cope, though things could have easily gone astray if I wasn't looking, and I suspect things will only get tougher, so best get used to it.

Overall, I am pleased with my progress and results in this project where I would have liked to have tried some more concepts and approaches in this unit before it came to an end. Nevertheless, I am ready and eager for the next project to take on!

Street Scene Complete

Street scene finally complete with UV mapping. It was certainly a long project to work with, but I learned loads feeling more confident in how to approach some models with a basic understanding of UV mapping. Hopefully, I will be able to use these skills in my own projects. As Alan said, it is actually quite tricky to position objects in an natural state without looking too contrived, so I hope my scene looks natural enough. Scene rendered with Mental Ray.

Final Scene

Occlusion Pass

When I first rendered this scene, the Air Condition object towards the back of the scene suffered a graphical glitch. I'm not too sure as to why as I checked the settings which were fine. I wonder if its just the distance and positioning of the camera? Moving the object across to different positions yielded similar results so I took it out in the end.

Well, I'm pretty pleased having made the scene from start to finish (minus the mailbox and air conditioner). Big thanks to Alan for all the video tutorials and I look forward to the next projects to learn with in Maya.

Railing Model + UV

Railing model with UVs mapped, for Street scene.



UV map

Fire Hydrant + UV

Fire Hydrant with UVs mapped, for Street scene.



UV map

Lamp Model + UV

Continuing to model more objects to populate the Street scene, a Lamp with UVs mapped.



UV map

Final Concept #3 - Swamp

Final Concept Piece #3

Sample of source text used for inspiration in this piece.

Hardly had we started when we came across signs that there were indeed wonders awaiting us. After a few hundred yards of thick forest, containing many trees which were quite unknown to me, but which Summerlee, who was the botanist of the party, recognized as forms of conifera and of cycadaceous plants which have long passed away in the world below, we entered a region where the stream widened out and formed a considerable bog. High reeds of a peculiar type grew thickly before us, which were pronounced to be equisetacea, or mare's-tails, with tree-ferns scattered amongst them, all of them swaying in a brisk wind. Suddenly Lord John, who was walking first, halted with uplifted hand.

'Look at this!' said he. 'By George, this must be the trail of the father of all birds!'

An enormous three-toed track was imprinted in the soft mud before us. The creature, whatever it was, had crossed the swamp and had passed on into the forest. We all stopped to examine that monstrous spoor. If it were indeed a bird -- and what animal could leave such a mark? -- its foot was so much larger than an ostrich's that its height upon the same scale must be enormous. Lord John looked eagerly round him and slipped two cartridges into his elephant-gun.

The piece in progress:

Relevant posts: link

Final Concept #2 - Plateau

Final Concept Piece #2 - Plateau

Sample of source text used for inspiration in this piece:
When I finished my last letter I stated that we were within seven miles from an enormous line of ruddy cliffs which encircled, beyond all doubt, the plateau of which Professor Challenger spoke. Their height, as we approached them, seemed to me ill some places to be greater than he had stated -- running up in parts to at least a thousand feet -- and they were curiously striated, in a manner which is, I believe, characteristic of basaltic upheavals. Something of the sort is to be seen in Salisbury Crags at Edinburgh. The summit showed every sign of a luxuriant vegetation, with bushes near the edge, and farther back many high trees. There was no indication of any life that we could see.

That night we pitched our camp immediately under the cliff -- a most wild and desolate spot. The crags above us were not merely perpendicular, but curved outwards at the top, so that ascent was out of the question. Close to us was the high, thin pinnacle of rock which I believe I mentioned earlier in this narrative. It is like a broad red church spire, the top of it being level with the plateau, but a great chasm gaping between. On the summit of it there grew one high tree. Both pinnacle and cliff were comparatively low -- some five or six hundred feet, I should think.
The piece in progress:

Relevant posts: link

Final Concept #1 - Forest

Final Concept Piece #1 - Forest

Sample of source text used for inspiration in this piece:
How shall I ever forget the solemn mystery of it? The height of the trees and the thickness of the boles exceeding anything which I in my town-bred life could have imagined, shooting upwards in magnificent columns until, at an enormous distance above our heads, we could dimly discern the spot where they threw out their side-branches into Gothic upward curves which coalesced to form one great matted roof of verdure, through which only an occasional golden ray of sunshine shot downwards to trace a thin dazzling line of light amidst the majestic obscurity. As we walked noiselessly amid the thick, soft carpet of decaying vegetation the hush fell upon our souls which comes upon us in the twilight of the Abbey, and even Professor Challenger's full-chested notes sank into a whisper.
The piece in progress:

Relevant posts: link, link and link.

Swamp Concept

For my third concept, I returned to the scene of the swamp being one of the locations our heroes first encounter into the Lost World.

Blocking shapes

More shapes/composition

Creating more atmosphere with an oppressive mist

Refinements + details

Trying to include focal points with a torch to play with some lighting effects in the misty atmosphere, though isn't quite working at this stage.

Changed into two figures and boat for better sense of scale, with an additional supersaurus to haunt the background for theatrical tension.

Final tweaks

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the results in communicating a theatrical sense of space and depth with an oppressive swampy fog in contrast to the lighting of the torch, with an supersaurus dinosaur adding to the sense of narrative tension to the piece. Thus, it will most likely become my third concept piece for submission. Any feedback is still welcome for anything I missed.

Plateau Concept #3

Moving on, I renewed my attempt to capture the plateau of the Lost World returning to one of my previous experimentations to work with.

Began with the base image of a previous piece I was trying to work with

Trying to refine the piece as it stands

I decided the change the piece almost completely, removing the foreground elements which I felt unnecessary for this image.

Playing with scale, adding distant plateau formations of the Lost World in the distance. From here, I liked the new direction of the piece and decided to take it all the way.



Final tweaks

I'm quite satisfied with the piece and eventual turnout, being sort of impressionistic in detail. It presents the entrance to the Lost World with an eerie theatrical sense of scale. This will most likely be my second final piece for submission, so any thoughts and feedback are still welcome though I doubt I there will be any time for drastic changes.