The Mill x SCAD Collaboration

During the first few months of 2020, I had the incredible opportunity to work in collaboration with The Mill. We worked under the mentorship of the Deputy Head of 2D/VFX Supervisor Kyle Cody, FX Supervisor Todd Akita, CG Lead Billy Jang, and Recruitment Manager Olivia Burke. Every week each team would have a dallies session with the mentors receiving critique and direction on the progress of our project. For 10 weeks, my team worked hard to take feedback and make the improvements we needed to create an amazing project. 

TIMELESS

2020

Tools : 

Maya | Nuke | Houdini  | Arnold

About the Project:

My team and I were tasked to create a car commercial that pushed the boundaries of a "typical car commercial." After brainstorming a million ideas out the window, we all agreed to make a time travelling car commercial which features a super cool portal. 

I blogged my process throughout the 10 weeks of this production simulation project. You can find my process blog here. Keeping this blog updated each week really helped me find my mistakes and troubleshoot issues to find solutions.  

Meet the Team:

Mitch Harper -  FX  

Yanni Fong - FX 

Diana Castellvi Estrada - Compositor 

Lorena Da Silva - Modeler/Lighter/Compositor

Elizabeth Delos Reyes - Lighter/Lookdev/Renderer

Zachary Ates - Animator

Jeannine Mari - Motion Graphics

Antonio Cintron Rivera - Rigger

My contribution: 

I wore many hats for this project including one of the lighting artists and as the project and pipeline manager. I am responsible for look development for the car, lighting shots 2-3, and rendering shots 0, 2, and 3. 

Car Model is from Evermotion.org 

Challenges: 

Our team ran into many difficulties during the 10 weeks of this project, many of which can be seen in my blog posts. I think our biggest hurdle was finding a pipeline process that was the most efficient of our time. We used a Houdini to Maya (Arnold Renderer) to Nuke Pipeline and for the most part, that proved to be the most effective. Only the FX were done in Houdini. They were then cached out, look developed, and rendered in Maya. All the compositing was done in Nuke.

Some of the things I learned was problem solving issues like rendering a pass for exaggerated reflections on the car and theater windows, unusual reflections rendering in the car's windows, incorrect shadows on/under the car, creating transitions from shot to shot. 

Process Blog:

I documented my process and troubleshooting in my website's blog. I will provide the links below to some of my work with Look Development and Lighting for this project. 

Filming, Look Dev, Light Rig Creation Blog

Additional Look Development on the Car Paint Blog

Final Look Development on the Car Blog

Inspirations:

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed my time during these 10 weeks because I got to create a project that not only looked great, but also taught me a lot. I just want to personally thank Kyle, Todd, Billy, Olivia, and Ashley for giving us feedback every week and helping us problem solve any major issue that we had. They worked tirelessly to help us create a beautiful car commercial that pushed the limits of "normal car commercials." Below is our final rendered project...

FERRARI

2020

Tools : 

Maya | Nuke | Arnold

About the Project:

This was a personal project where I challenged myself to light our Ferrari from our Timeless Project in practical studio lighting. 

My contribution: 

I am responsible for all aspects: look development, posing, camera animation, rendering, lighting, and compositing.

Challenges: 

I did a lot of research in finding how real cars are lit for  car photo shoots and what aspects of the car are exaggerated in advertisements. I tired my best to achieve those specific reflections and shadows. 

I mimicked softbox lighting by using light maps that softened the edges of the area lights that I used in my scene.

I had to make some adjustments to our car paint shader as well. I tried to address the issues we faced during the Timeless Project and attempted to fix them in this project. 

Final Thoughts:

Doing this lighting study really helped me understand practical car lighting and car shaders/textures. 

Here are some references and inspiration:

Here is the Breakdown:

Final Render: