The Mill Collaboration | Week 1
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
For the next 10 weeks I will be documenting my production experience, progress and technical breakdowns for a CG Vehicle commercial project under the mentorship of The Mill New York!
I am super excited to be in a part of a team with Gen, Miranda and Ken--Team XScape! Both Ken and I love lighting, Gen is an amazing fx artist and Miranda has killer compositing skills, but our biggest overlap is wanting to create a visually stunning result with pretty lighting, colors and a strong sense of mood building.
We kicked off our project by brainstorming a bunch of different unique environment ideas of where our commercial could take place (vending machine, music concert, bowling alley, foosball table, outer space, hot air balloon..etc. Our ideas stretched far and wide but we unanimously felt the strongest liking towards one idea in particular!
A Music Concert.
While searching the internet for any kind of inspiration, we stumbled across this image of an old Eurostar poster where they transformed a guitar into a train track. This sparked all the further ideas of tying in the theme of music, feeling the celebration of life and enjoying the scenery while you're looking out the window on a train ride.
As a lighting artist, I love how beautiful the image on the top left (warm colors mixing together on stage) and the violin interior (god rays) looked. This will be a big source of reference for developing our idea. We also loved the idea of an empty stage--we wanted to capture the moment just before the artist walks on, where the crowd quiets down to a low hum/slight chatter and the air feels still but alive.
Discarded Ideas :(
Story: Train travels across a guitar “track” and the strings trail behind to the beat of the music.
Life is a euphoric journey, take it all in slowly.
Being a part of something bigger than yourself
Environment: Empty concert stage
Mood: Nostalgia, awe, anticipation for adventure
Vehicle: Amtrak Train -- “Enjoy the Journey”
Story Board Color Script
I had a lot of fun drawing up these storyboards and color scripts. It was super helpful to understand where I would want the light direction to be, as well as thinking about value framing of composition. Making color scripts almost like pre-lighting the shots!
The establishing shot is the empty concert stage, and we see the orange-pink colors mixing together with the volumetric lights
Shot 2-3 are quick closeups of the train coming out of the guitar -- here it starts to transition to a deeper blue and confetti begins to fall
The final shot pans upwards following the train, and a confetti piece flies to the foreground obstructing the camera view, revealing the logo
Our Previz was a collaborative effort from the team over a zoom call! I had my Maya open and screen shared while we decided what camera movements, angles and focal lengths we wanted to use.
we picked a smaller focal length for shot 2 & 3 to give a sense of dramatic scale, and also so that the depth of field would look cool in post!
Confetti in Houdini Vellum by Gen Li
Lookdev and Lighting is going to be absolutely crucial to this project's success. I started by gathering some reference images for the guitar/train tracks (image 1) as well as the stage set instruments + mood lighting (image 2). I think it will be very cool to get dramatic volumetric lights mixing as well as colorful specular highlights bouncing across all the objects.
We broke down our project into a list of different materials we know we will need. Me and Ken are going to be the main lookdev people so we split up the materials for our base quilt and got started with exploring IOR, specular roughness and displacement etc.!
- Guitar Steel String
- Guitar wood x2 (light + dark)
- Guitar train track wood + metal aiMix
- Train metal
- Drum set + cymbol metal
- Stage floor wood
- Amp matte plastic (black bumpy)
- Amp button plastic (shiny + metallic aiMix)
My progress on two of the shaders:
That pretty much wraps up week 1! We hopped on MANY zoom calls and backseat drove each other's screens to help out with all aspects of creating this pitch. I am really looking forward to what this quarter has in store for us.