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Making Of

Making Of

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Published by: samhayes278 on May 28, 2012
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university for the creative arts

"The Time Machine' is an environment on the -based animation created for a Major Project. This is my final animation venture

'CG Arts and Animation'

course at

'The University for the Creative Arts'. The

project was condeved and produced

in a 15-week time-frame during the last semester of the academic year. This 15 weeks encompassed all the stages required in such a project which induded pre-production, production and post-production. , The animation itseW, foruses on an interior environment, designed in mind for a digital set for use in an animated film. I decided to forus on improving my work on the environment pipeline as my previous minor project - 'The Oriental Wesf, was also foQ.lsed on a digital set - a large exterior. FOaJsing 'The Time Machine' in a smaller, interior space would allow more attention to detail as well as a different approach to lighting and texturing. Overall, the project was another large leaming experience and allowed me to research, envision and modify a period of history which I could then interpret into an explorable space. The main objectives Iwanted to reach in this project, were to create an atmopshere for the viewer to experience and attempt to envoke exdtement from the audience, as to what is being shown and revealed throughout the piece.

~l- The animation features the Time travelers

creation from the book - his Time Machine, as well as showing the envronment of his study and laboratory,

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where the machine was designed and assembled.



university for the creative arts

H.G. Wells, a pioneering Science-Fiction author, wrote 'The Time Machine' in 1894. The book was one of the earliest pieces of fiction to feature time-travel based on science. The setting Wells created envoked such awe at the time of release, that ever since it has been the focus of adapataions and has influenced many more Science-fiction works.



These adapations were one reason I chose this book to transcribe into an environment - to hopefully create an original and exciting take on the 'Time Traveler's Laboratory' and his machine, which has been portrayed in film and teleivison multiple times over the last century.


The aim in the design of the project is to stick to the

Figure 1. The Time Machine Book Cover and Figure 2: Portrait of H.G. Wells


time period of the story - the last 19th Century, and in tum transcribe the features of the Victorian period the props and environment.

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Before designing the environment, props and the time machine itself, research needed to be done into the time period and architecture styles which may have featured in H. G Wells' creation.

'Art Noveau' a popular design style of the late Victorian period was included in this research, with iconic objects such as the Tiffany Lamp' (Fig.3) Architecture of a similar style was also researched such as Charles Renee Mackintosh - designer of the Glasgow 'School of Art' library (Fig.4) An interior space which relies heavily on wood and saturated colour sources.
Figure 3. A Tiffany Lamp

A selection of images were referenced of eccentric Victorian's display collections - traditionall known as 'Cabinets of Curiousties' which are culturally linked with
Figure 5. Victorian Cabinet of Curiousity'

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scientists' and adventurer's

homes and workspaces.

These influences were critical and relied upon as reference designing and producing props and creating the nterior.



A range of different software products were used throughout the project, all for different tasks and for different reasons. The main pieces of software used were:

Autodesk Maya 2012
This was the main software used for the content of the project. Used to model,

Adobe Photoshop CS5
Photoshop was used to design the concept art and inital ideas. Itwas further used to create textures and edit stills. Itwas also used

Adobe After Effects CSS
This was used for compositing the shots after they were rendered as well as generating more effects and creating the title sequence.

Adobe Premiere CS5
This was used to ed~ the rendered video, compile the soundtrack and export the final video

?h nimate and previz the ~rvironment as well as

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, enerate the effects

to create the DVD cover and
disc design.

With further research and an understanding of the time period and setting, I began to create some early concepts, initaly blocking out ideas for the shape of the environment and the space I was planning on conveying.

The environment itself, had to be atmospheric, believable and appealing to the audience. I began by deciding the shape of the interior. I looked at architecture from the period as well as how it is conveyed in media and used in more recent adaptions.
Figure 6. Square Room design

Figures 6 and 7 show some of the early ideas for an interior space. The final choice was a



balance between the two - using the overhead beams and arches, along witha more rounded end shape.
Figure 7. Circular Room End design


Next I began to think more about how the space would be used and what would be filling it. I created some rough thumbnails to help imagine the objects and props that would be needed to give the room content and character.

As the animation would not feature a character,

being an environment-focused project - the laboratory and ifs contents, including the machine would have to convey the character who belongs in the environment.
Figure 8. Concepting laboratory space

Figure 9. Concepting study area

An important part of any environment
project is the props - the clutter and objects which feature throughout the space. As i wanted to produce quite a stylised piece, not aiming for realism, I decided to design the props in quite a painterly way, with quick paintingg and simple shapes.

Figure 10. Prop Sheet 01

Troys #2

These designs helped enormously later on in the project, during production, where they were referenced and used to clutter the environment.
Figure 11. Prop Sheet 02



Conceptually, the most important design element of the project is the Time Machine itself. There have been many transcribed and realised versions of H.G. Wells' creation in television and film. I wanted to create a unique and original take on the machine which started with the shape. I began by researching Victorian and post-industrial revolution machinery, which would have been abundant in the period whilst also keeping a fantasy feel. The first concepts, were created by combining silhouettes of these machines and structures, into a form in which the Time Traveler could sit on, or even dimb into.

Figure 12. Silhouette sheet #1

Figure 13. Silhouette sheet #2

The possiblities in the early machine concepts lead me to design something with more of a unique shape. I began to think of the machine as a round carriage-type shape. This would also allow the idea of 'Time' to influence the design, with the front of the machine being a mechanical clock-face, which could also drive the animation of the machine. This shape was then taken to a further development stage, with several different views which would help in the production later in the project. A series of cogs were added to the design, to replicate the inside of a watch as well as
Figure 14. Resolved Silhouette

~j.be seated in the journey, infront of a
control panel.


a seat where the Time Traveler would
Figure 15. Resolved Machine Concept

'lime MaChine Yersion 1

After the concepting stage, came pre-visualisation - roughing out the environment in 3D along with testing lighting options, layouts and materials. This stage was crucial to the development of the environment, and although the interior changed heavily from the pre-viz stage, it allowed me to realise design mistakes and camera options before commiting in production. The pre-viz set allowed me to decide on a shape for the building, the arrangement of props and the amount of work to plan for in production. The set also was a good point for feedback, with tutors and fellow coursemates advising what I could improve and how the cameras could portray the scene.

Figure 16. Study Previz

Figure 17. Study Previz 2


Figure 18. Further Pre-viz Shots


Figure 19. Time Machine Modelling

The Time Machine was modelled in parts and sections, trying to balance detail with optimisation for rendering. A lot of the detail would be in the texturing, so rather simple geometry was used.





Figure 20. Time Machine Mooel


The texturing of the Machine was accomplished using Photoshop and a series of images of machinery and metal. As the textures were being connected into a high-quality shader in Maya, they didn't need to be too detailed. I wanted to style of the machine to not be too complicated and to be focused on simple, brushed metals.

A selection of the textures are shown on this page.

Fig. 21 Machine Textures

The shaders used for the Machine were Mental Ray's 'MIA Material' shaders. These allowed for more complex tweaking of settings than Maya's own software blinns and allowed more options for reflectivity.

The textures were plugged into this shader and settings such as the BRDF refelectivity curves were tweaked along with Glossiness and it's samples.

I believe this gave the metal of the machine a more fantasy and exaggerate look as well as more appealing reflections

Fig. 23 The Final Machine Shaders

The environment in this project, was equally important to the machine, it would convey the character of the laboratory and the person that owns it. The architecture of the interior was considered for sometime, and the result was a low-study leading into a more open - wooden roofed structure, which would house the machinery.

Once the environment was blocked out and textured, the props were each modelled and arranged. The following pages show the interior space as well as the props which fill

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Figure 24. Environment in Maya

Figure 26. Lab Desk










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Figure 28. Leaf colour and Alpha

To add more vibrant colour and variation to the environment, I chose to include some plants. These would be used for biology and experimentatiion by the Time Traveler. To produce the plants, I created some simple curves in Maya, and added varied polygon planes for leaves. I then used assets from a royalty free pack of plants for Maya. These were from 'Xfrog 4' - a plugin software for plant production. The assets consisted of leaf textures, which I modifed along
with Alpha maps, to be used as

transparency to create a more natural looking leaf.

Figure 29. Plant mesh in Maya

Lighting was another important aspect of the project. fos the environment was split into two parts - the study and the laboratory, the lighting needed to differ and be contrasted throughout. As a base and an ambient light, to work from, I created a Image-based lighting node, which would capsulate the scene in light, replicating a sky. I considered using a High-Dynamic range limage to project the light, but decided to work with other options to balance render time and keep the texture style I wanted. Therefore, I used a ramp node, which was coloured as the dawn sky, the point at which my animation was set.
Fig.30 The IBL Node with a ramp and portal lights with a light-<:ard directional light.


This was then projected through the windows of the interior using multiple portallighls, whilst also using 'Light Cards' for the windows - to replicate glass lit in the moming sun.




In the study, I used several base lights. One important light in this area was the Tiffany Lamp, which directs light through it coloured-glass shade. To accomplish this, I used a point light and plugged a coloured texture into the emission. This was also replicated for a stained-glass window out of shot. Once a base set of lights were created, I began to highlight certain objects and specificaly light parts of the scene. For this I used the light-linking editor, allowing the light's membership to be added and removed from objects. Spotlights and Point lights were used for this, using Quadratic falloff (to soften and make the light realistic) and Raytrace shadows when needed.

Figure 31. The Lamp in Maya with it's Light

Figure 32. The final Lamp render

The main piece of animation on the time machine were the rings which would rotate in three separate directions as well as some cogs which would also rotate. The rings were split into three meshes and each animated moving in opposite directions to the last. The biggest challenge in this was making it look as though they were moving fast and having an effect on the environment around them. Therefore, the rings in the final shot, where they would rotate, were rendered as a mask layer, which was then added in after effects. This allowed the rings to be blurred whilst keeping the rest of the machine in focus, essentially faking 'motion blur' which would have increased render time.
The spinning rings in the final animation.

The ring render layer



To achieve higher quality compositions I needed to use several render layers, which would also allow tweaking in post-production of Occlusion, Depth and Colour. The separate render layers are shown here for one of the shots. These were then com posited in After Effects and post-production was then done. Although it is more time consuming to render separate layers, it produces a higher quality final image. Further effect layers were also rendered to be overlayed on these basic layers.

Beauty Layer This is the basic colour layer which would hold the entire image's beauty.


Ambient Occlusion Layer This layer is added on top of the beauty, in order to create shadows and darker areas where objects meet, for realism and crispness. Depth Layer This layer is used in After Effects in conjunction with a camera lens blur filter to blur objects with further distance from the camera, bringing more realism to the shots.

Further effects were rendered out on separate layers, such as smoke. This was achieved by using a separate render layer in Maya, and masking out any intersecting or overlapping geometry objects using a Matte material. This would ensure the smoke effect appears to be embedded in the scene, rather than added in post. Once this layer was imported into the corresponding shot in After Effects, it was mixed with stock footage of smoke, which gave it a more pleasing appearance and made it seem to move more like real smoke.

The Smoke layer from maya - with geometry mask

Stock smoke footage blended with the Maya render, using a 'Stencil Alpha' blending mode in After Effects.

The smoke in the final shot, with some colour correction

Along-side smoke, a few other effects were added in After Effects, One of these were Light Rays shining through the window of the Laboratory as well as on lightbulbs on the Time Machine. I used 'Cycore Effects' (Default plugin for AE) and applied a 'Light Ray' filter onto my beauty pass, this was then tracked into the footage in position of the window pane or on the lightbulbs. Sparks were also added, using stock footage with Alpha maps, they were tracked into the

Stock Footage with Alpha

The Sparks composited onto a render

~j, correctedlblurred
~~ shot


footage and colour to match the

Window Light Rays These were animated by keying the radius and intensity values






After all the shots were composited, they were imported into Adobe Premiere, and then edited into a 2minute sequence. A title sequence had been created in After Effects along with an end credits panel, these were blended with the animated shots. With a few slight adjustments and transitions, a final edit was decided on and then the music stage began, along with sound effects.

The Shots imported into Premiere

The Adobe Premiere Timeline

Once a final edit was in place, I began to blockout some music. To do this, I used some royalty free assetts, include a series of simple chords and progression, this was used as a backing ambient music. These were sourced from a soundtrack pack from 'Video Co-Pilot.' For the more dramatic shots, I used a royalty free sound clip of a choir, isolated for editorial sound editing, along with more short chord tracks. The sound effects were also sources royalty free from the website 'Freesounds.org', these helped with the ambient sounds that would have been found in the environment.


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These were all blended together using audio transition effects in Premiere and in some cases, the volume was keyframed for more impact.

After the music and sound effects were added and resolved. the final animation was exported using a codec to reduce file-size and allow uploading. Itwas then uploaded to Vimeo, as well as compiled onto a final submission disc.
• vameo
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-!- : e,


'The Time Machine' - Short Animation
by Sam Hayes:; >o.rs 1 '"


A short, environment-based animation transcribing the laboratory from H.G. Weirs 1895 book 'The Time Machine'. Produced for my Major Project for 'Cg Arts and Animation' at The University for the Creative Arts, Rochester Uk. More work can be seen here: samhayes101.blogspot.com

The Short Animation can be watched here:

http://Vimeo.coml429481 06



Although the submission deadline has been reached there are still improvements to be made to 'The Time Machine'. In the future, the effects wil be more refined, with better smoke passes, which were limited due to time and rendering contraints. Further shots could also be added as well as more detail in the evironment and further improvements to the lighting, specifically the

The machine itself will be presented in a pedestal fashion and given a full tum-around video with more focused and improved lighting. If the improvements were to be taken further, the machine could be given more 'gadgets' and moving parts as well as a more detailed control panel with buttons and Victorian fumishing.

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