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Project 3: The CTD

The objective of this project was to create a character and integrate it into a live-action backplate. I modeled the crash test dummy from my own design, rigged and animated him, and shaded, lit, and composited him into a photograph I took, which was composited onto video footage recorded from a moving vehicle. The project was certainly a challenge, especially creating a character from scratch and taking it through the whole visual effects pipeline essentially on my own. The password to the videos are tech420

Week 9: the Mill Session 8

Current progress on the crash test dummy car project. Last session, yay! 

Compositing breakdown. 

Week 8: the Mill Session 7

Current progress on the crash test dummy car project.

I focused a lot on how to make the car interior and the CTD appear as though they are actually in the same scene as the moving background footage. I rendered out a "world bounce layer" with a reflective material on the objects in the scene (the CTD, the car, and the car seat) and a surface shader dome with an image sequence from the background footage applied as the color map.

This clip is just my world bounce render layer. I applied different reflective materials to the different items in the scene -- the specular roughness on the car seat is higher than the one on the rest of the car, and the CTD reflective material has the cloth procedural attached to the spec roughness.

I needed to adjust some of the geometry to match my image backplate since my proxy geo is the Mitsubishi, but the photo was taken inside the Honda Fit. I am sure this is not the proper way to do this, but it seems to be working so far. I have one car mesh that has the unaltered geometry, and another one that has the altered geometry that's been modeled to the camera to match the car interior in the photo. The geometry still needs a lot of tweaks -- you can see some of the ghosting, especially on the steering wheel and around the seatbelt and door panels in the final comp.

Shading network for the CTD carbon fiber material. Though I did have the cloth procedural texture map plugged into the specular roughness, I now have a scratches texture in the roughness for some more variation. I may experiment more with the scratches texture and create more variation, but I'm not sure if it's my highest priority.

I personally feel like my animation needs a lot of work and is the one issue that stands out the most to me, specifically his arms when he grabs the steering wheel. The car seat is way too far from the steering wheel, which was a mistake on my part when I took the photos and adjusted the seat back to accommodate a person theoretically taller than Brooke Eilers. I didn't realize that my CTD's arms were going to be too short to reach the steering wheel from that far back, which makes his grab for the wheel kind of awkward and unnatural. I could shift him forward even more when he takes a hold of the steering wheel, though I'm not sure if animation should be my priority anyway.

Week 7: the Mill Session 6

Current progress on the crash test dummy car project. The camera and lighting match for the CTD (shot 2) is still in progress.

This week, I focused on integrating the background footage for outside the window (courtesy of SCAD professor Bear Brown) behind the car interior backplates I shot. The integration and bounce light doesn't seem quite believable enough, so Professor Bridget suggested an alternative solution -- I'm applying a reflective mirror material to the interior of the car and the CTD to catch bounce light from an animated image sequence outside of the car.

Nuke tree for the current composite -- this is just the still photography of the Honda Fit interior, comped with footage of trees and road taken from a moving car. Bridget suggested I use that footage, offset and blurred, to color correct my plate and create the appearance of light bouncing from the background into the car. I tried to tweak it a bit, but it was difficult to make it look right in Nuke.

Therefore, I'll be creating another render pass to show the light bouncing onto the car interior and the CTD. I still need to create the proxy geometry for the car interior -- the Mitsubishi Evo X model I've been using isn't quite close enough to the Honda Fit interior for the purpose of these render passes.

I've already created the geometry for the seat, but I've been working to make it look right from both the view of the camera and in proportion to the CTD. 

Reshot photos for shot 2, the car interior.

Week 6: the Mill Session 5

Current progress on the crash test dummy car project. 

Photos taken as backplates for project 3, including screenshots of a shot 2 slapcomp and some photos taken on location for fun.

In-progress shaders and rig for the CTD.

Week 5: the Mill Session 4

Pitch for Project 3. Our project tells the story, "0.1 Seconds in the Life of a Crash Test Dummy," about a crash test dummy who comes to life with perfect timing. 

Reference photos for project 3.