DAILY ROLE: Create large scale, fully textured environments for animated chase sequences. Over see the set rendering process on a team of 14+ texture artists, matte painters, modelers and lighters. Manage a rendering pipeline. Help Coordinate asset management. Devise cheats and tricks to achieve impossible rendering goals.
Speed Racer was sent over seas, but when they did not get the results that they wanted, it was brought back to NY. and that is where I come in. They said "can you make it look like this?", and showed me the concept art, next to the work they had created so far. The animation company they had hired, was approaching this like a movie, and there was no way that they were going to get globally illuminated animated background sequences done for three episodes, in the 1 1/2 months left before the work was due to ship. And they did not know how else to do it. I had worked with Animation Collective before, on a series called Kappa Mikey. So I did a quick render test for them, demonstrating how it could be done, and they hired me.
1st render test
STEP ONE: delete all the lights. STEP TWO: light the whole thing with an ambient light, for the main color pass. STEP THREE: generate a stark black and white shadow pass, and an outline pass. The stark black and white shadow was done with a white shader and a bright directional light. The outline was generated with Maya's vector render, at first, then later with a toon shader. We needed render times in the seconds, not the minutes, so this gave us three passes, which each took about 6 seconds to render.
Another element of achieving a quick acceptable look, was parallaxing matte painted cards.
Once we had the majority of exterior shots under control we were able to take the time for occasional raytraced shadows, and AO.
And then we moved on to the Animated sets. There was typically one animation / action sequence per episode, and each of these typically needed a totally unique set. These didn't exist in the original assets that we were given from abroad, so we crafted them. The majority of my time after the initial push, was spent typically on these, and I moved form being the supervising artist, to more of an independently functioning lead artist for animated sets.
So it took no time to learn a lot about assembling large sets out of re-usable, pre-textured pieces. There was no other way to produce huge sets in a week and a-half. There is some repetition, but you don't see it when the shot is animated and cars are speeding past.
The detail was important, but the cinematics were more important.
It was clear under those circumstances how important the people around you are. Good people around who are talented and hardworking, and straight talking are not rare, but uncommon enough that they will be forever appreciated in a place like Animation Collective.
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