Thursday, 22 October 2009

Into The Darkness!

Recently Ive had a lot of fun playing with simple lighting sets in Maya and discovering all the hidden effects that can be created, and even a bit of trickery by combining lighting affects.

So my idea was to create some simple geometry, a rocking chair, a lamp, a bookcase and a dresser and create a small scene and use some different lights to create specific atmospheres. But as that is a little to easy my tutors gave me a gentle nudge into creating a scene where to atmospheres would combine creating a Dynamic Level Design. For those of you who aren't Games Designers this is really not an easy task. So Ive set myself the project out in stages.

Firstly i would quickly create some models which i can use to create a set.

Now i had some simple models to play with i began learning different lighting techniques with Lights and Volumes in Maya. The image above is using a ambient occlusion lighting rig designed to mimic sunlight (i can't take credit for that rig as i am not that far into light creation. . . just yet).

So the next task i set myself was to create an "uncomfortable" atmosphere. I used the word uncomfortable as i am repeatedly told that using the word scary is too confined.

My first test was using the daylight set up and a simple Spotlight with a Maya Fog Volume.

As my first test i thought this worked really well. But the more i looked at it i started to realise that the Lamp could make a huge difference to how the scene would "feel".

So after a bit of a shuffle and light editing my next scene started to develop a bit more feeling. The Lamp's light makes a huge difference to the scene. But i was still thinking the outdoor lighting could be having a huge effect on the scene.

Now, with the outdoor light removed and yet again another shuffle of models the scene started to feel more "uncomfortable". At first the scene was extremely dark due to the lack of light on the left hand side of the scene. So i had another play with some lighting and learnt how to create cool visual styles with OpticalFX in Maya. By using Point Lights, Light Volumes and OpticalFX i was able to create Candles to add a small amount of light to the left side.

After finding that with shifting models and manipulating lights can make a huge difference to a small set, i decided to dig deeper into the world of Maya lights and find what effects i could achieve.

So after about an hour of creating a particle system and a fire animation i created yet another render. The render does not do the particle system any justice as the smoke particles created from the fire actually have active physics which allow it to follow, collide and react with geometry within the fireplace (So the particles actually follow the shape of the chimney). I found that the ambient light created from the fire started to push the room into a "comfortable" scenario. So i had to go back to the basics of this scene and try and find that "uncomfortable" feeling yet again.

Here it is, the final light test for this part of the scene. With the addition of an external light source , which is my own custom light rig which Ive named "Moonlight Rig" (yes, i actually lied at the start of the post for the purposes of showing my idea generation).

With the use of the moonlight rig and some changes to the fire and candle lights i found the feeling i was trying to achieve. With about an hours work creating the rig and the and ridiculous render time i was made to wait to see if my final test would work. . .

"Uncomfortable" Scene render using Moonlight Rig, Ambient Fire Particle System and Candle Lighting.

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