How many train journeys did you go on to capture the live action?
There is no live action footage in the film it’s all 3D. I don’t have a good camera right now so I can’t film anything, I enjoy the challenge of creating things all in 3D.
This must have taken forever to create – did it?
I created the project during a two-month sabbatical from work. It was pretty much constant work until late into the night as I had a lot of shots to complete. It was a great experience.
Why did you start developing the idea, was it for a special project?
It was a mixture of influences. I initially had the idea while in a taxi from the airport on a holiday to Seoul. I was looking out the window while it was raining and saw all the highrise lights refracting and reflecting in raindrops on the window. I was listening to some electronic music at the time and thought it fit so perfectly that I was really excited by the idea of pursuing this concept.
Later on in the holiday I saw one glass high rise building reflected in another so that it looked as if one building was disappearing into another.
I decided upon the music as I really wanted to work on a collaboration with the band (Speakman Sound) for a long time after a conversation at a house party a couple of years ago.
Additionally I had just started using a new GPU Rendering plugin called “Redshift” which allowed me to render semi-photoreal shots at at least 20 times faster than I had been able to before. Shots that used to take a week were completed overnight with time to spare. This allowed me to realise the concept as a full music video rather than individual small clips.
Did the film evolve as you worked on it or did you have everything sketched out before production?
It was a bit of both. I did create a storyboard initially with all the different scenes sketched and edited to the song. But things definitely evolved as the project progressed, changes made after the animatic stage were mainly driven by time and software constraints. For example, I had to cut a few shots and extend a few towards the end of the project. I fully fleshed out a few of the transitions between scenes during the 3D animatic stage. I would definitely say that I like to have an initial plan and stick with it, often it can be very difficult to change things when scenes are a lot further down the road.
Can you talk us through the creative process please – what your method was.
Initially I collected pictures online, created sketches, wrote notes and edited them with the song to give me a sense of timing and flow. After I had this timed out I began creating a 3D animatic previsualisation, blocking out the various scenes with rough shapes and cameras. I moved methodically through all the scenes in chronological order until I had the whole thing mapped out.
From there it was a case of adding modelling detail where needed, applying materials to surfaces, fleshing out the animation and lighting the scenes. Once each of the scenes was at a satisfactory level I sent them off to my render machine to render overnight. Sometimes a render would come out looking not great and I would have to redo a few things and render again. For example, I ended up having to re-render the main train scene towards the beginning five times until it was good enough. As I finished rendering each scene I would add them to my master After Effects project and composite them together adding colour correction and post effects (e.g. motion blur, DOF, glare, bloom etc…).
What were the main challenges of making the film?
Working on my own I found the sheer amount of assets that had to be created very challenging, but using a few cheats, free and paid resources I was able to create almost everything I wanted in the end. Additionally the short two-month time limit was one of the main challenges as I knew as soon as I was back at work there wouldn’t be enough time to finish it off fully for a long time.
Where did you train as a 3D artist? And what first attracted you to working in 3D?
I am a self taught 3D artist, I learnt stuff mostly from online resources and trial and error. I also learnt a lot on the job. I first started getting interested in 3D art a long time ago seeing the Pixar films and other 3D media. However, the turning point was when I was studying computer science at university. I remember we had one course which was a graphics programming class where we learnt all about the fundamentals of how 3D is generated inside a computer. The coursework for the module was to create an interactive experience/game using openGL. I spent most of my time creating the assets for the course and very little time programming it! I realised at this point that I wanted to make 3D art rather than write the underlying code.
Do you work commercially at all?
I worked for a company making VR rollercoasters and experiences for about five years. However, I parted ways with them about a month ago to pursue more projects like Finding Perspective and to clean up my demo reel. I would love to have something of my own in the future though.
Music “Finding Will” by Speakman Sound – speakmansound.com – soundcloud.com/speakmansound
NoEmotionHDRs by Peter Sanitra is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at noemotionhdrs.net.
Light Leaks by Tim Clague is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at projectorfilms.blogspot.co.uk/p/free-hd-downloads.html.
HDRi lighting maps from HDRiHaven.com, noemotionhdrs.net and Poliigon.
Created using mainly 3ds Max, Redshift and After Effects. Also using plugins from iToosoft (Forest Pack Pro and Railclone Pro). Using textures from Poliigon.com, Megascans and Textures.com.