Dark Side of the Sun

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Right hand of Doom (Digital Painting)

I will state the obvious: despite the title, this has nothing to do with Hellboy.

Why that title, then? This image was inspired by the short story of the same title, which Robert E. Howard wrote many decades before Mignola was even born.

This is my first attempt at a real, finished illustration in... well... ever? So I know it is poor and lacking in many respects. But hopefully, it will be the first step in a long road of improvement and learning. And your comments and constructive criticism will help a lot with that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

new Maya script: DynamiXer v1.0

I published a new script tool on my website. This one is for Maya, and mostly targeted for FX work (which is my daily bread).

This thing, called DynamiXer, centralizes a few easy controls to toggle visibility and simulation of all dynamics nodes (for now, that's particles and fluids) in your scene. Rather simple, really, but it can save you quite a bit of time and parameter-searching when you are thrashing about with complex scenes with several particles and/or fluids.

DynamiXer is available for download in the scripts section of my website.

Right now, the tool only connects with two types of nodes (particles and fluids), but I made it very easy to add other node types (I can think of nParticles or nCloth, for example). So, if you have a need for these, let me know and it should be a quick addition.

Besides its usefulness in my daily work, I had two goals with this little project:
  1. To create my first real tool script in Maya with Python (rather than MEL).
  2. To find out and learn how to create a dynamic Maya UI with Python.
By "dynamic UI" I mean that the UI changes depending on the nodes you have in the scene. For example, one challenge was to only use one procedure for each type of button functionality (for example, all "activate visibility" buttons call the same procedure), but create variations for each button (to unhide a specific node, or all nodes of a specific type). My solution for this was to use the functools.partial command.

As always, if you find any errors or bugs or have any ideas and suggestions for improvements, your comments/emails will be very welcome.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

trailer: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

I worked on the FX of the three shots of the final Harry vs Voldemort duel, around 2:00. Not too happy about how the shot of Voldemort was finished, as I had much better looking fluid simulations, but it's just a trailer...

Monday, June 28, 2010

trailer: Narnia - Voyage of the Dawntreader

This is one of the movies I am working on lately. I worked on the Sea of Lilies, which appears in a couple of shots at the end of the trailer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

concept art - Mortui

I just added this concept art to my website gallery:

It's a concept digital painting I did, for a VFX test which a friend and I started as R&D for a short film. We shot video of myself walking, with a shaky camera, and the test (still WIP) consists in digitally replacing parts of my head to make me look like a zombie, with damage that could not be done through traditional FX make-up techniques.

I made this image more than a year ago, but only now realized I had not uploaded it to my website, even though it was in my deviantArt gallery.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

fxguide - Robin Hood at MPC

In this article, fxguide interviews Richard Stammers, VFX Supervisor on Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, about the work we did for the movie at MPC:

fxguide - Robin Hood at MPC

It was really nice working with Richard, and I look forward to doing it again. It's also nice to read about the specifics of our work in this film, since in this case we take pride in having made invisible VFX that go completely undetected. As reported by a colleague, some media are saying that the final battle did not have a single CG element in it, and was fully practical. Isn't it nice... many of us have been payed during 6 months for doing nothing at all. :)

A couple of quotes about the work I was directly involved with:

"Finally there was also a lot of work creating the interaction of the horses' hooves with mud, grass and augmenting everything with live action dust elements."

There, Richard talks about the shot shown in the above image, where, besides creating some of the water elements of the disembarking army, I also created several particle elements of the mud and grass being kicked up by the CG horses in the front.

"Our effects team was responsible for creating all the wakes and splashes for the French armada. So we had 200 boats creating splashes, then landing craft with doors opening into the water and troops coming out into the water. They had to generate the footfall splashes for every single horse and soldier in the water as they got off the landing craft. Our crowd animation coming out of ALICE had to be matched up with these splashes in Maya and we had to write some custom additions to our pipeline, by pre-simulating lots of splash elements using Flowline. Those pre-cached simulations were placed at the feet positions of the ALICE crowd agents, so at render time we could get the line of water right and leave a trail of foam behind."

That paragraph sums it up pretty well. I created all the flowline splashes simulations for the horses and soldiers, as well as the interactions of oars going in and out of the water. I want to mention the great work of Rob Hopper (fx lead) in creating some nice tools to place all those splashes to match the cached ALICE crowds, with sometimes thousands of agents on screen. Also worth of mention is Nicola Danese's setup and scripts for the dozens of boats' interaction with the water surface and the foam they leave behind.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Because Sharing is Caring

I have added some new functionality to this blog. Now, at the end of every post, you will find the following button:

Bookmark and Share

Thanks to it, it is very easy to share my posts on almost any social networking site (like facebook or linkedin), or online bookmarking site, as well as the old-fashioned direct e-mail (I can still remember when old-fashioned was the so-called snail-mail).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Politeness & Tires" screening in Edinburgh and Stirling

My short film Politeness & Tires will soon be screened in Scotland, at CinemaAttic's Norman McLaren - Spanish animation today: converging identities?

There will be two screenings:

University of Sterling: May 13th, at 5pm

Roxy Art House, Edinburgh: May 22nd, at 5pm

The film is part of the section Diversity & Inventiveness: the total artists, which in the programme is described as:

The variety of his filmic expression together with a technical invention that continously transcended the barriers of traditional animation made of Norman McLaren a modern, total artist. Introduced by his stunningly multilayered and expressionistic Begone Dull Care (1949), this section opens a deep browsing into the richness and diversity of the Spanish animation nowadays.

Fluctuating from a wide range of formats and skilfully accomplished techniques, the list of Spanish animated films grouped here are nothing less than the epitome of McLaren's career: inventiveness, spontaneity and powerful expressing quality.

More information here.
Programme download here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

new MaxScript: Chain Rigger v1.1

I just released a new tool for 3ds max, called Chain Rigger.

This MaxScript tool creates a simulation rig for a chain (free or constrained) with a few simple steps. The rig is an optimized one, very stable and fast to simulate, based on a Reactor rope.

Update (02/05/2010):
I uploaded a video that shows how to use the tool.

To download the script (including an information text file, a tutorial and an example scene), visit the scripts section of my website.

Like Autumn Leaves, this tool is also based on a technique I used for some FX in Planet 51. Namely, rigging and simulating the alien-dog's chain.

As with all my other scripts/tools, feel free to use this for any purpose. I only require proper credit and that, if you feel like it, drop me an email to tell me how useful it was. All comments, bug reports and ideas for improvement are most welcome.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Accepting donations for my scripts

I never thought about it until someone recently asked for a way to make a small donation for the Maya and 3ds max scripts I make freely available at my website. They were using a couple of them in their daily work and wanted to show their gratitude. What a nice surprise!

That is why I have added a "Donate" button to my website's scripts page, which takes you to an easy and secure paypal donation process:

Don't worry, the scripts are still free to download and use. But if you find them useful, a donation is a nice way to say "thanks", and to support any future developments by showing your appreciation of the time and work I put into them, and helping with the hosting costs.

As a small reminder, another nice way to show your support if you use my scripts, is simply by letting me know, telling me what you use them for and giving some feedback as to what you like or not, bugs, wished-for features, or any other comments.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New FX Reel (2009)

I just put up my latest FX Reel, which sums up my work during 2009. It is mostly made of shots from the CG animation feature film Planet 51. It includes a couple of breakdowns at the end, so watch it all if you are curious to see how some of the effects were made.

Mayec Rancel's FX Reel (December 2009) from Mayec Rancel on Vimeo.

You can also find this reel in the "reels" section of my website, togeather with links to download it in HD (1280 x 960) and a detailed breakdown PDF.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

new maxscript: Render MOV Maker

Following a petition from Daniel Swahn, I adapted my ".mov Preview Maker" script for 3ds max to a new form: "Render MOV Maker". This maxScript is intended to be used as a Post-Render script. After the render is finished, it will automatically create a Quicktime .mov file.

You can download it from the Scripts section in my website, with the release info & details.

You can also find it at ScriptSpot (and spare a vote if you find the script useful).

Like ".mov Preview Maker", it makes use of my qtSeq2mov.js CScript, which needs Quicktime (Pro? can someone confirm?) to be installed in your system.

The script has an optional 'express' mode, which will skip the UI. The UI gives you options to delete the render files after creating the .mov, and for embedding a sound file into your .mov.

I will point out a weakness, inherited from ".mov Preview Maker": these two scripts are still one step short of full automatization, as the Quicktime part requires user interaction to set the compression/size/format options, and pick a path/filename for the mov file. Since the beginning I wanted to add the option to save a presets file for all these, which qtSeq2mov.js would read, but I never managed to make it work. Some day, I hope...

Please, let me know if any of these scripts are useful to you (or not at all), if you would like any features added, or if you encountered any ugly scary bugs.