Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lost in Space...

Beep Boop

Greetings fellow robots! Unit Zer07 Here with an update on some very exciting activity. I've been given permission to show you all the work I've been doing on an up and coming internet series called "L5". "L5" is a 'hard science fiction' show about a crew of astronauts whose failed mission to find a livable home for humans is met with mystery when they return to earth to discover that they are 200 years late and all traces of humanity are gone. This post will introduce you to the process I went through to develop a digital double of a real actor for the film.

Being that the creator of L5 is a close friend of mine, I was charged with creating the digital doubles for two astronauts that will appear in the show's pilot episode. The point of a digital double is to do things that you normally can't easily do while filming in live action. For example, space exterior shots would be fairly impossible to film considering we definitely don't have the budget to send our actors and film crews up into space. So we create a digital double and film them in the computer instead.

It all started with the design for the characters space suit: (designed by Stanley Von Medvey)

From there the casting process begins. When we finally have actors cast to play their respective roles pictures are taken for reference.

These pictures usually include front, side and three quarter views. Usually the characters are also photographed displaying a wide variety of emotions and facial attitudes so that the artist can better replicate the actor.

At this point in the process I put all my effort into making the model look as much like the actor as possible. This is where that reference mentioned above really came in handy:

In this image you can see that most of the features are there. However there is just something off about the face. This is because right now the head is completely symmetrical.

After introducing some asymmetry to more closely match the actors form, we're ready to bring this model into a program called Zbrush. Simply put Zbrush allows an artist to add really fine detail like skin wrinkles:

It was around this time that I received the reference for the completed space suit. Once again I was given a model sheet with detailed photos of every possible area on the suit. This was a tremendous help in creating the space suit model:

From here I now have everything I need to finish this model. I started by blocking in really rough shapes and forms to get the character's silhouette working properly:

From here, I work on specific areas of detail.

Once the model is completed, it is ready for texture maps.

Texture maps are basically images painted on the surface of a model.

Now that this character has been modeled, it's time to build a rig and animate the character. The end result will hopefully be a seamless blend between cg and real life. If you are interested in "L5" please check out their production blog here:

L5 production blog

Don't forget to check out the teaser trailer linked below and for anyone interested in the construction process of the physical space suit just head over to The monsters musings for developer diaries and work in progress images of the space suit construction and general production of the short film.

L5 Teaser Trailer - HQ from Stanley Von Medvey on Vimeo.

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  1. That model looks awesome! I can't wait to see it in action!

  2. It is looking good...still weird to see myself as a digital model....