Jo Plaete

Visual Effects – 3D – Interactive Design

Battle Field Crowd Project (in Progress)

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Hello there,

Sorry for not posting for a while but I’m extremely busy at the moment on my 3D animation course. Besides some essays and research projects, I’m working on our term 2 group project in which we do an attempt to create a full cg battle scene (in 8 weeks). At the beginning of this term we all had to pitch some ideas to form groups around. Since I’m very interested in crowd simulations I pitched the idea of a medieval epic battle, which would give me the opportunity to dig a little deeper into this subject. After my pitch some people seemed interested and we formed an 8 people group around the project.

My role on the project is mainly technical direction, up until now I’ve been learning Massive Software to try solve the crowd simulation on a high level. Massive was written at WETA digital for generating the crowds of the Lord Of The Rings feature films and has been used on a lot of films after that. It is a great tool for what it does in terms of crowd simulations but it’s not the easiest tool to integrate in a pipeline (definitely not if you’re new to it). Getting rig/animation data in there from xsi for example is not an easy task. On the other hand the fuzzy logic it uses to form agents individual (artificial intelligent) brains and let them make decisions using various inputs, is very clever. The crowd pass shading and rendering out of massive will be done using pixar’s renderer prman on our renderfarm. Another thing to get familiar with but very interesting of course..

In addition to the crowd, I’ve been doing some pipeline setup for the project, getting geometry, cameras, rigs, animation data, etc.. transfered in between various 3D packages; some cloth simulation using maya nCloth for flags and clothes; terrain texturing; and a bit of general management over the project together with my colleagues.

Yesterday we also did a 5 hours motion capture session in the access mocap studio of our university which I directed together with some other team members. Great to have those facilities at hand (Bournemouth NCCA!). This will provide me with animation data to fill up the massive crowd motion tree and give our animators some good reference data/backup.

In total, we are 8 people doing this project. We have 3 character artists/animators, 1 fulltime animator, 1 rigger, 2 compositors/effect artists and 1 Technical Director(me). It’s superb working with all such talented people on this kind of project. Even though it’s a ‘massive’ project to pull off in 8 weeks (and we are learning a hell of a lot at the same time), it is a great exercise and let’s hope we can get a decent result out of it.

I can’t give more info about it at the moment but I can share a terrain test we did with. The terrain is modeled by Alkis Karaolis and I textured, vegetated, lit and rendered it myself. And a first very simple massive test with agents following a terrain and bump into each other.


So, I hope this gave you a little update about what I’m doing at the moment and be sure to check for more in the future.
14th of March is the deadline, if we pulled it off quiet well;) I will (of course) post the final version here and maybe try to write a little bit about how we did things.




Written by Jo Plaete

February 8, 2008 at 4:40 am

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