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Master's Research Project - Deciphering Fossils using Ecomorphology (2018) (WIP)

Supervisors:     David Mazierski, Dr. David Evans, and Jade Simon

Purpose:     This piece was done to create an editorial piece on a subject of choice. I chose the topic of robotic surgery, and wanted to explore the controversial themes of increasing reliance on automation. Inspired by Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," the human hand passing along the scalpel to the robot signifies both our making of robotics as well as the passing of power to our creations. I took the editorial cover and animated it to exercise rigging, animation, and scene set up.

Process:     (breakdowns are coming soon)  After I chose my topic, I created a series of thumbnails sketches for feedback on which idea was the most impactful in both its concept and composition. Additional compositional elements were worked out in the comprehensive sketch. Close attention was paid to the lines the elements in the cover formed, such as diagonal lines signifying danger, and horizontal lines signifying safety.

When the comprehensive sketch was approved, photographs of surgical scalpels and lights were researched to produce accurate concept sketches from different angles. These concept sketches were then imported into Maya and Zbrush for hard surface modelling and organic sculpting. Once the modelling was complete, retopology, polypainting, and UV maps were created if needed, and all assets were assembled in Maya.

Once imported into Maya, the robot hand and the human hand were rigged with IK and FK controllers, as well as pole vector constraints for the elbows. Set driven keys were set up on the robot hand to allow for simultaneous flexion and extension of all digits to make animating a little easier. Close attention was paid to the naming convention and organization of the rig to ensure that the rigs would be easy to animate with and difficult to break.

When all the elements were posed, shading and lighting was added. Several test renders were done to ensure the final product had good foreground separation and impactful lighting. AOVs were troubleshooted to reduce noise where possible.

For the animation, I worked backwards from my cover render. As there were only two poses, animation was fairly straight forward. A pose to pose was established, then breakdowns of the poses was done through several passes of animation. Initially, I animated the two hands settling, but found this to detract from the concept of reaching to each other, so eliminated it. When I was satisfied with how the animation looked like in real time, I applied a time warp in Maya for the slowdown.

Minor post production was done in After Effects (AE). Effects such as smoke and dust overlays, colour correction, motion blur, and chromatic aberration was added to polish up the animation. Premiere Pro was also used in conjunction with AE for a quick cinematic dissolve, time reversal, and slight frame rate adjustments.

Music: Creation - Seven Lions ft. Vok