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This is my dailies blog for the current short animated film production, Kaghati, releasing Spring 2021. I will be posting progress updates on story, lighting, compositing, look development, rendering and directing/team management.



The team has been chugging away over the winter break and making exciting progress across the whole pipeline!

These are my goals for myself to complete over the course of the next 10 weeks (Winter Quarter):

  • Continue to host weekly meetings every Saturday and provide feedback for the team

  • Finish lookdev on remaining assets (kites, lapa-lapa, exterior environment)

  • Light 10 shots + promo material and assign & set up 5 shots for lighting dept. to work on (+ give notes)

  • Render and composite 10 shots (refine the post-production pipeline)

Update 1 | Kite lookdev progress + set dressing

In total, the grandpa's kite garage has 11 variations of kite models. This week I focused on finishing the shading and texture variations of 6 of them--I will be finishing the other 5 next week.

Kite Garage Concepts by Alyssa Lee


Kite Des​ign Concepts + Basecolor maps by Alyssa Lee

(I like to do absolutely everything on power point because its the easiest way for me to visually  organize images!)

Kite references

Update 2 | Promo material (Lighting)

Every 2 weeks we try to post new content for our film's instagram page--this week I also worked on lighting our girl character (Alya Angkasa)'s introduction post which will be a render of her passport with her character profile information. (similar to the grandpa's id card render!)

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These are some pretty noisy test renders of the full sequence of Alya's facial personality animation! (The sequence was made to test out the rig with the expression sheet concept art.

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This week I focused on completing the final renders on the remaining kite assets. I also added final touches to the sh01 lighting and comp.

Update 1 | Sh01 Lighting + Comp

Based off of notes from my previous version, I worked on adding stronger shadows from the lamp light source as well as adding more fill to the room overall and toning down the distracting specular highlight on the scissors. I think its ready for the final render!


Update 2 | Remaining Kites Lookdev

Fish Kite, Kaghati Kolope, Kite D, Hero Kite, Set Dressing updates

This week I continued to flush out the remaining kite textures as well as place them into the set dress master file to make sure the color scheme works well together and isn't too overwhelming.



Update 1 | Feedback to the team across pipeline

Something that I'm realizing after taking on a directing position on a project like this, is that a lot of time is spent just reviewing everyone else's progress as well as continuously providing feedback and notes. It is quite a lot to think about on top of also contributing to the artistic production myself, but definitely enjoyable and a good learning experience for balancing workload!

here are some of the progress pictures from the team across lighting, sim and texturing.

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1. Lighting Shot 03 by Ivan

Gave notes that the exposure might be a touch too high and that we need to work on matching lighting styles, but love the dynamism created and expressive lines to go with the warm atmosphere!


2. Final touches to textures by Lorena

'faking' the look of depth in the keyhole by coloring in the area a dark brown.

3. RC Plane Lookdev progress by Lorena

Deciding on a Pattern and color scheme for the RC Plane. We discussed different options for what looks balanced with Alya's color scheme, as well as what amount of stripes etc. would look cohesive within the plane design itself.

4. Cloth Sim for Shot 20 & Alya's walk cycle by Christian

Notes on too much bunching up of cloth on the shoulder areas, as well as weird glitches popping up appearing like render noise.



Update 1 | Setting up Lighting pipeline with CFX + shaders + set

During this week's meeting, we spent a good chunk of time discussing how we want to set up the shot files to get all the assets and simulated cloth + groom for lighting. We ended up nailing down this pipeline (making it as simple as possible --->)

My current worries for moving forward with the film are entirely technical. How our set dress file is currently set up involves referencing every single asset and texture, and it is a beast of a file to open and usually crashes my maya. Hopefully by importing only select props like planned on the right image will make things go smoother.

Christian and I will be meeting with two lighters that are currently Disney Trainees to talk about how they set their shots up for their senior thesis films!

- we also posted our character intro post on instagram!


Update 2 | Character Lighting Workshop 

                           A                                                               B                                                            C                                                             D

This week I happened to be hosting a character lighting demo on zoom for SCAD's Digital Media Club. I decided it'd be good to use Alya's model as a way to practice lighting her character in different lighting setups! I learnt a lot more about lighting terminology and principles than I expected to by doing this excercise and making my presentation so I am really glad I did that.

Update 3 | Lookdev Progress + Technical Struggles

WhatsApp Image 2021-01-27 at 5.36.26 PM.

Progress on texturing the kites. Added more color variations to the parrot kites and am really trying to make the fish kite not look like a pinata!

I think I will have to adjust the fish kite model to be single sided so that it looks less thick/sculpted.

The videos below display some simulation work in progress by Christian, we were talking about how to troubleshoot this.

Biggest conclusion from being in this major: the Renderfarm likes to be difficult :(

Before and After: Hair sims for Alya's front bangs

we don't talk about this render



Update 1 | Setting up lighting render files with optimized geo + camera pruning

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After meeting with the Disney trainee lighters for advice on pipeline, I learnt a lot of really useful tips for how to make sure each shot file is optimized as much as possible for rendering!

This week I worked on setting up the lighting files for shot05, shot20 and shot23, so that Christian can go in and add the simmed characters and props. 

For each shot I imported all the assets and relevant camera, removed references and deleted all geo/faces that aren't seen in the shot frame. My computer crashed a lot while trying to man the master set dress file so that was definitely work-delaying but I got through it eventually!

Update 2 | Shot1 Final Render + teaser planning

I was finally able to get around to rendering the 1080p version of shot 1! This took so long and half of the frames got a 2 hour kill, so I definitely need to re-evaluate my other shots on how to optimize it even further through render layers.

During our weekly meeting we also discussed creating a teaser for the film so that we can 1. submit it to the SIGGRAPH electronic theatre + other film festivals and 2. have more external deadlines to keep pushing us because its so easy to stray off target on a self-made schedule.

the shots in the teaser will be:

shot 1,2,3,5,23 & 28.

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Update 3 | Film Layout Collage for all shots 

Collaged all the shots together so that the team can reference each one quicker! I also am using this to start the rough color scripts that I realized would help keep lighting more consistent across.

Alyssa will be doing the second half of the color scripts!



Update 1 | Shot Lighting Progress

After so many days of technical issues in opening this lighting file, I finally was able to light shot 23!


To light this shot I mostly followed Alyssa's color script for reference. This shot is towards the end of the film so the colors are more saturated, as its reaching closer to the sunset's golden hour of orangey-pink-purples. I learnt a lot from my reading on character lighting for the previous workshop and it was super fun to put those principles into practice!


I also got feedback that SH01 should have a bit more secondary subtle motion, so I composited in dust movement to add that extra touch to it.


Getting the dust to look 'just right' took so many iterations, it was quite inconvenient that I could only see how it looks after rendering, but now I think I am a lot more familiar with all the particle emitter/turbulence settings in nuke because of it!

Update 2 | Still finalizing more kite textures...

Addressed some final notes for fixing up these last few kite shaders:

Hero Kite:

- made the SSS map more saturated, the previous version looked too washed out

Fish Kite:

- Change transmission depth attributes, make it look thinner

Kite D:

- added more color variation to the poof balls


and with that concludes all the kite lookdev!!!




Update 1 | Shot Lighting Progress

This week I continued to work on troubleshooting the render glitches of shot23, as well as starting the lighting on shot 5.

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Process & Problems:

- approaching this shot, I thought about the sun direction first. I knew that I wanted the key + focal point to be shaping the right side of Alya's face, and it should hit the small cabinet as well but less intensely. I started with a simple directional light for the sun (more logically-motivated light source), and then added a second spotlight inside the garage to fake the diffused look of sun coming in from the window (aesthetics-motivated). These were both tinted a warm color to make the mood inviting.

Eye Lighting

- The way I approach eye lighting is that I have a separate spotlight with a small radius and high exposure that is light linked to just the cornea geo to create that specular white eye ding. I usually change the color to an obnoxious bright green/red to get the position down correctly. For this shot I struggled a lot with getting that placement, and will be continuing to try to get that down to finalize the first pass of lighting!


- This was the first shot that 'm lighting that has the girl with both simmed xgen hair as well as simmed clothing. I was a little nervous that things would go wrong, but It seemed to all load smoothly so far! 

- The video on the left was Christian's final pass of CFX. From last week's notes, he worked on reducing the 'jumpiness' of the hair, as well as fixing the clipping that was happening with her bang strangs and her forehead.

I also worked on setting up Shot 02 for lighting! I deleted all unnecessary geo and replaced them with light blocker cards.

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Update 2 | More Lookdev progress


Lapa Lapa

- This was just me finalizing the shaders for the 'lapa lapa' snack asset for shot 20!

- I worked on getting the anistropy on the bump to be more intentional/obvious, as well as fixing clipping issues and rotating the plate so that you see the flower graphic better.

It has been approved and uploaded to our drive!



Update 1 | Painting the Color Script (1st half)

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Update 2 | Shot Lighting Progress

This week was kind of all over the place, but I worked on getting full sequence renders done and polishing the lighting on shots!


This was my first full functioning render & comp of shot 23. It is about 90% done now, and here are the notes from the meeting that I still need to address before its final:

- only SLIGHTLY turn down exposure of kite fish tail and shirt
- push warm detail in eye lighting more 
- bump up the gleam to see more iris detail and color (currently too black)
- eye hilite can be smaller and more round
- hilite should stay in one place in the scene, and gleam moves w eye
- fix render fireflies and red light noise
- get Stanley's animated kite file and add in remote to top of work bench
- blur grandpa wrinkles in comp maybe?!


most of it was to do with eye lighting and render artifacts! should be quick fixes.


I gave my initial lighting pass to another lighting artist for more technical feedback, and i've been working on addressing her notes! 

- added more value gradients to the door to lead the eye

- reduced the brightness on the small cabinet so its less distracting away from the girl

- added a hair rim light (as a separate AOV too so i can adjust it)
- fixed some of the weird shaders happening in the plane and nails and skin etc.

- made overall look more warm and saturated

- rotate wall planks in BG so the lines don't align, also make the holes an alpha mask for comp


Did lost of xgen --> farm troubleshooting and finally got this sequence render out. There are still glitches on 4 frames, but its still progress!!



This image is my first pass of lighting for this shot. I sent it to the group for feedback and this is what I still need to work on!

- fog can be more dense 
- have some glow-ish setup around the window on walls like its bouncing around
- put additional light on back wall to give a gradient so wall doesn't look flat
- after adding that, turn down overall fill of room to give everything more contrast
- add trees and foliage to outside


Lorena commented that the SSS on the kite shader looked great the but transmission needed some work. She was super helpful and set me a bunch of reference images for light shining through the kites! (collage below.) She suggested I use a subtle noise map for the transmission and also push the bump a lot more. 

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I concluded from these lookdev tests that the reason why I still wasn't seeing any bump map in the render (even though I cranked the value up to 10) is because the SSS overpowers it. I tried using displacement instead, but it ended up showing every pixel detail of the low res height information and looked quite bad, so I decided I would try using ncloth instead to have the wrinkles just in the model itself! I think the updated model + the bump should be sufficient to get the desired look.

<-- using nCloth to get the bump wrinkles into the actual model



Update 1 | Overall Film Progress

This week was a little bit of a breaking point for all the technology in my life--I experienced a lot of computer issues and did not get quite as much done as I'd have liked for Kaghati.

Facial Expression Test: Instagram post