My main concern for this year was finding a project that would fit the required criteria to achieve a good grade, and also trying not to set my sights unrealistically high by potentially trying to make something that wouldn’t be able to be finished within the year. Telling the world that youre going to make the most amazing cinematic spectacle to ever be seen doesn’t really mean much if you’re not going to actually be able to finish it in time.
But I also wanted my project to reflect the parts of the course that interest me the most, modelling and texturing, a goal for my film to have something that I could really flex my sculpting muscles on and really make perfect and really smash out the park so that I could have a great looking asset to use in future show reels. But first I had to actually figure out what my film would be.
The idea was to make a film that could incorporate my interest in historical WW2 aircraft, specifically the supermarine spitfire, and after a slow start I eventually got an idea of what the film could be. The film would be a biographical visualisation of my own personal growth and artistic development as i got older, centred around my experience building Airfix model kits with a Spitfire serving as a Totem of sorts.
My main issue from there was trying to put the idea in my head to words, I found writing a screenplay for something that was essentially taking place in a subconscious dream would to be very difficult to convey, so instead i recorded my narration first of the experience, so Phil and I decided it might be easier to use different means to try and visualise my ideas first.
In this time I would record video footage that eventually lead to what I would describe as a “Video Influence Map” that would serve to show people some ideas of what I wanted the tone or mood of the film to be, while also giving some real life examples of scenes I wanted, I also recorded myself building an airfix kit from start to finish in stop motion so I could reference the entire process and give myself a better understanding of all the smaller details that come from my building experience.
From there I made my animatic that was finally able to show what I wanted my film to be, and it seemed that it was received well which meant that people were able to understand my vision.
Finally I could start working on the actual film and making up the assets that would be used to make it, at first i was planning for my film to be entirely made within Maya and featuring only 3D models, but something about the drawn style of my characters in the dream world seemed to hit a note with people so Phil and I decided that we could experiment with different media’s like rotor scoping and potentially claymation for the human characters. So that left the main model to build, which was the Spitfire.
I knew that the Spitfire would be the most technically impressive and detailed part of my film, and that I wanted it to be the thing that I could really put a lot of time and work into making look as good as possible, not just for the course but because the Spitfire has been such an important interest throughout my life, so I really wanted to do it justice.
This was my first time modelling something “hard surfaced” that would feature the level of detail and finish that I had only attempted before in character designs which were a very different type of modelling to a vehicle. So I really had to try and figure a lot of it out myself while trying to find any information about hard surface modelling I could. But the thing about the spitfire is that its a super smooth and streamlined design, in real life, almost organic, so capturing the curves and flow of the overall shape was very similar to modelling a character.
But because a spitfire is a mechanical vehicle there was a lot of hard edges too and smaller details that needed to be built into the smooth shell I had made, and these would potentially mess with the smoothness of my entire model, so I really had to try and work out how I could incorporate both without messing with the curves of the plane. And I also wanted to capture all the small details that really make the Spitfire unique and stand out, so i spent a lot of time making sure that all the trademark curves and lines really looked the part.
This was also my first time building something that is based on something that already exists and has a real life counterpart. At first i thought this would make it easier but it’s actually the opposite. It was like if you had to draw a plan that doesn’t in exist on paper then you could make it look however you want and it would be fine because you’d have nothing to compare it to, but if you tried to draw a real life plane then you’d be able to see all the parts of it that you got wrong. So I really slaved over making sure that the plane was as accurate as i could realistically get it to its real life version while still keeping it simple enough to look more like a detailed plastic Airfix model as opposed to an actual functioning plane.
In the end I’m really happy with how it came out, I was even almost caught off guard with how well the first renders looked after I had set up the lighting and materials. The only thing I really didn’t get to do was rig the vehicles moving components like its various flaps, propeller and canopy as I couldn’t really find any tutorials on YouTube about rigging vehicles. But I assume that because the plane is completely rigid and none of the mesh needs to bend in anyway that it shouldn’t be too difficult to learn how to set up relatively quick.
So now that the biggest part of my film is modelled I am eager to start working on the animation side of it, ill be experimenting with different forms of animation and rotorscoping, and even filming some real life versions of my film scenes to use as animation reference.