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Automated Surgery


Automated Surgery - Scientific American Mock Cover Concept and Animation (2017)

Medium:     Maya, Zbrush, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator

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:     (Please watch the video for breakdown) 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 concept sketches from different angles. These concepts 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, 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 with 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. 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 hard to break.

When all the elements were posed, shading and lighting was added. 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 straight forward: the poses were blocked in, and breakdowns of the poses was done through several passes of refinement. When the animation looked satisfactory in real time, a time warp was applied for the slowdown.

Post production was done in After Effects (AE). Smoke and dust overlays, motion blur, chromatic aberration, and colour grading were added.

Music: Creation - Seven Lions ft. Vok