The Matrix: Imagination Sequence

Context: Technology

Who has done this before?

From a technological perspective, pretty much anyone or any company who’s made any sort of animated models will probably have made them in Maya if they didn’t use another 3D Modeling program. It also wouldn’t be surprising if they also made sculpts to help out with the normal maps, displacement maps, etc. For post, I would expect that Photoshop and After Effects would be extensively used within the industry. So again, any company that makes any 3D content, particularly 3D animation, will have used the programs I’m using.

How have they done it?

The inner workings of the work pipeline are not a particular forte of mine. However, I would assume that they would start with a storyboard, and once that is approved move onto a more in-depth storyboard, possibly an animatic. During this time they would begin creating and finalizing the designs of all of the objects within the scene. The main characters would receive the most time and attention in their design before the green light would be lit for the creation of their models (presumably in Maya). Along the way, I feel that they would create early prototype models for the animators to use to clarify what camera angles should be used. So long as the overall rig would remain the same, the models should be able to be updated though that may just be my lack of experience within the industry. Moving through, the assets would continue to be created and refined. Texturing and maps would be complete, and then the completed models would be sent to riggers who would complete the (hopeful) final rig for the model. After that, it would go to the animators who would work together to create the final movements. Things like lighting should already be set up for each of the scenes, but if not they should be finalized. Once everything is done on that end, the rendering process will begin and after many hours, it will be sent to post. Probably using After Effects, any special effects will be added and the final cuts, edits, and gamma corrections will be made. The output being a final video.

How is yours different?

Besides that I will probably be a one man work-force, the only things I can think of is that I won’t mix the steps. So I’ll go through the designing phase and after everything there is done, move to the modeling phase. Once everything is modeled and has its maps, I’ll move onto the next part. In all likelihood, very little, if anything, will be technologically deviating from what the industry does, both in terms of programs and skills used, and also in terms of the work pipeline.


Context: Design

Who has done this before?

The underlying design work found in the storyboard I proposed along with the thesis idea can be found to be a mixed bag of influences. The concept of using action-figures that look like they’re in slow motion comes from the combined aesthetics of Halo 3’s “Believe” trailer and Guild Wars 2’s cinematics. The original setting comes from the League of Legends trailer for the tournament finale. The lighting is inspired by Final Fantasy’s dreamlike qualities. The camera movements would mimic those found in the “Believe” trailer. And finally the transitions also take a page from the Guild Wars 2 cinematics thought they were definitely not the first.

How have they done it?

The Halo 3 trailer “Believe” was created by simply having a camera do slow movements around a scene heavily decorated by miniature models posed to create a whole cohesive scene. The design of it, however, was heavily based around realism, of the natural imperfections found in our world. Each of the models was hand-crafted, hand-painted, and posed by hand. The environment was crafted in the same way. The only time computers touched the project, was to help present what the models should look like, and show how different pieces of the environment fit together. This allowed the design to be entirely human and imperfect.

The design and style of the Guild Wars 2 cinematics was based around the brush of painting. Cinematics often show brush strokes as part of the animation and paint splatter marks often form different parts of the scene. The stylized art that makes up the cinematics also reveals a simplified design. If the characters are 3D models then the shading and level of detail can be very hard to see because they are usually presented as silhouettes or are nearly so.

League of Legends has produced a number of trailers with varying styles and designs. If we look strictly at the tournament finale trailer, then we can see its design is centered around have a simple, primarily empty scene that has points of interest with highly detailed models and effects.

Final Fantasy has always had an incredibly high level of detail and design put into their visuals without going into the uncanny valley. But their design always had a dream-like quality about them thanks to the lighting. The lighting always seemed to either have a higher amount of saturation, or had higher contrast. It didn’t go overboard to destroy the illusion of believeability but it was there to help convey the environment and in a way, add a sense of realism to the scene. Even if the lighting itself wasn’t mathematically accurate.

How is yours different?

My design will be all of them and none of them at once. I’ll be taking and pulling elements from each them towards a complete center. Looking broadly, my inspirations are even split between realism and stylization. This center point is very much where the imagination may lie. It is most definitely not realistic, but at the same time, will often stylize content or add some abstraction to it. If I can put all of the different elements into this great melding pot that is my thesis, then what comes out could be perfect for the narrative that I am trying to tell.


Context: Narrative

Who has done this before?

There are a couple animations that deal with the imagination. In fact I think last year’s SIGGRAPH shorts that were presented contained one or maybe two animations that dealt with the animation.

How have they done it?

The ones I’ve seen show how the imagination affects how we see things. That said, the animations that I’ve seen have always explored the imagination through the eyes of the child resulting in a bipolar depiction of the imagination between what is really there and what the child perceives.

How is yours different?

This might be the most unique or original part of my project. My exploration of the imagination stems from abstraction of an ever-changing setting. It is in no way through the eyes of a child and is intended for much more mature audiences who are much more likely to see the symbolism and understand the content presented. Furthermore, it will be an actual exploration of what the imagination can do, rather than a child just using their imagination to change a boring mundane world into an interesting one which isn’t so much explorative as it is demonstrative.






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