Rotten Dragon Kiosk #255

Just a quicky! As part of a recent project to keep the Rotten Dragon instagram active, I’m going to start compositing this kiosk into various locations.

In this case, I put it into a picture I took last summer while exploring the Columbia River Gorge with Kaitlin, at Horse-thief Butte.

This place is really fun- just a big ol maze of interlocking rock hallways.

I had to project the image onto 3d geometry in order to light it the way I wanted. This is a really cool trick I’ve been falling in love with lately. You don’t even have to be all that precise- it’s a fairly forgiving process.

Here’s what it looks like with the image mapped onto it. We’re not at the cameras point of view, so you can see a lot of stretching, but the closer you get to the angle of the original photo, the better it holds up.

And here it is with final lighting! This whole process, start to finish, only took about an hour and a half at most.

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We made a music video!! It’s for a song I did years ago, and I’m the first to point out that there’s a disparity between the amount of time spent on the song (like 2 hours), as opposed to the video (like 3 years). Lots of random shoots and ideas. Feel free to check it out!

And here’s a VFX breakdown:

And a few behind-the-scene images!

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Really Old Stuff

My old Renderosity account is still floating around! They kept it all! Oh man, flipping through those images was weird. I was really excited about most of them back in the day, but half of them I don’t even remember making anymore. View at your own risk! Some really old stuff in here.

All of these were made in Bryce3d, which means most everything was made with booleans or, on occasion (in the image below), custom made height maps.

Things I learned:

1.) Younger me just kinda ripped stuff off and figured no one would notice. I think I still inadvertently rip stuff off just as much, but having 15 years of additional experience, it’s diffused across enough popular culture that nothing really stands out.

2.) I’d like to say that the limitations I was running up against were created by the hardware, and… maybe that’s true? I know I’ve been pushing the poly-limits of my scenes since forever. And obviously there have been huge improvements in render speed/possibility (I couldn’t do soft lights back in these days, so I’d have to make a grid of dim point lights. Trying to make the diffused light from a big blue sky? Pretty tricky!), but there’s also the self-decided level of acceptable detail. Looking at the picture below, that big ship is just a few spheres, and the “garage” is, like, literally 10 polygons. Now, I actually just keep adding detail until you don’t see it anymore, usually. If I were to do that ship I’d spend days on it, sometimes adding every bolt. Which- I dunno. Not to sound pretentious or anything, but usually when folks are like, “My cg/art/whatever isn’t very good,” it’s like, “Man that’s cause you only spent like 2 hours on it though, and expected to have a cool thing.” Spend a couple hours trying to make a small cool thing, and combine that with lots of other 2 hour projects, until you have a big ol’ cool project.

3.) The stuff that really doesn’t hold up are the things that aren’t even related to technical restrictions or anything- it’s just a lack of thinking things through. The number of pipes I put into scenes that obviously go nowhere, or (in the image below), totally random brick walls stuck into random chunks in the city scape, or things being at the totally wrong scale- those are the things that drive me crazy now.

This is one of the very (very) few images I made that didn’t incorporate a spaceship or a robot.

Mostly I was just lazy. You see that electrical box in that one? With the pipes not going anywhere? I used that thing everywhere. And I never connected the pipes to diddly squat. Nice vignette.

Why did I make the big war tanks construction-site yellow? Because I was an idiot child.  Also this vignette is out of control.

Okay this one’s pretty cool. 50% this thing and 50% that blade runner car.  If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to not use that vignette all the time.

Because I couldn’t handle a lot of geometry, for almost all of my cityscapes I’d put huge mirrored planes in the background, reflecting the city and making it seem larger- that’s why the sun angles in the above render make no sense at all. I’m serious- any time you see anything repeating, it’s just mirrors. Repeating forever. Almost for as long as I put a vignette on everything.

I spent like 5 minutes assembling some pipes one time and then used them in almost every render forever after that. Just like vignettes.

This is the first thing I ever posted that got 100 views in one day. I remember being very excited.

He’s upset about the vignette.

I forgot about this one! Kind of reminds me of the recent one I did, which is fun.  Look at that glowwwwwww|

I used to use the word Monolithic all the time. Unfortunately I just thought it meant something was tall.

This was the first time I ever implemented different color temperatures into the artificial lighting! I was very excited.

Just rippin’ off the production design for the Matrix/Reloaded.

See, it’s those same pipes, and just more mirrors- but this time at an angle so it’s kinda zig-zaggy. That works pretty well! Hah! And I had one on the ceiling too, so it looked twice as tall, which is why I have that super awkward photoshopped (errr- Corel Paint?) patch over it in the reflection.

Hey look at that! It’s- was this my first Blender render? Oh! No, this is still Bryce! One of the last models I ever did.

Jumping back a few years. Look at that awkward ship. I spent so much time just trying to be Rochr. I wonder what happened to that guy. He was amazing! I spent forever looking at this image.

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Another environment binge! It’s been great having a few days to myself to be able to work on random projects. I’m still trying to get through this early 90s kick. That feeling of a glowing CRT on a particle board shelf. I kept labeling this image as sci-fi, but apart from the weird steel post in the room, and the odd metallic walls, I suppose it’s not, really.

I initially started this piece as another isometric environment (and it can still be rendered that way- see below), but it actually ended up holding up okay from other perspectives. I figure I may keep making these environments, then at some point in the future I’ll combine them all into a mega-project, once I get a space large enough to film isometric-type stuff in :D.

If you click on it, you can see it pretty big!

I’m the first to admit this one is kind of a mess, compositionally, but it’s still fun. The silhouette from the ceiling was nice, because I could dictate the parts of the room I wanted to show. Otherwise I was seeing the back of the wall in the bottom right hand corner, and it was just awkward. The downside is that all the crossbeams really clutter it all up.

I’d thought designing all the artwork for the arcade games would be a pain in the butt, but it turns out, once I made the template, I could throw almost anything on there and it looked alright. There’s something about big graphic slabs that are really forgiving. Nate Taylor made a couple of em.

Even unrendered it’s really fun to walk around in this environment. It’s not visible in most of the renders, but there’s actually a little entryway with an escalator that leads to the arcade.

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Isometric Rocket Bus

At some point I really want to try to make a full isometric live-action/cg video. It’d be totally tricky, but totally doable- probably involving lots of forced-perspective sets, drones, and digital warping. Since I don’t have any overly specific plans for it (he lied), I figured I can start to share some of my early experiments here.

It’s ridiculously easy to set up isometric rendering in Blender- click the “ortho” button, then you just have to figure out the right angle. Rotating down 35 degrees from the horizon seemed to provide the correct measurement, where the X, Y, and Z axes (huh! Had to look up what the plural of axis was) are all equally represented.

There’s a rich history of isometric representations in computer graphics history, and I’m grossly uninformed about most of it. Although I did play Command and Conquer as a kid, so… I have a little license, I s’pose.

This first render is for a future Rotten Dragon website- I’ll post more about it soon. It was the render that started off the idea of trying to make a full isometric video.

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Everybody Loves Pasta

My recommendation: Watch this 5 times in a row and see what happens the next time you make Spaghetti.

Crazy huge thanks to everyone involved! I’d had the foam sitting around in my house for a good 9 months before we actually filmed this thing, and it turned out even better and stupider than I’d hoped :D.


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2016 Demo Reel

So… it’s been a good 6 years since I released a demo reel, which seems the traditional time for me to release a new one! Lots of stuff in this one, new and old. Kinda fun to show off a few bits that kinda went under the radar over the last few years, and show off a bit of stuff coming up in the near future :D.

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Sean’s RV Miniature

Just found these pictures in my downloads folder of a miniature RV Sean Farbolin made for a commercial we worked on a few years back. Damn it’s good.



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Chickadee Hood

Sean just uploaded this video of us painting the Chickadee Crest on the hood of my car a couple years ago! It was a really fun project- and really easy. I designed the crest in photoshop, made it two tone, and projected it onto the hood from the roof of the car port. I covered the entire hood of my car in masking tape, then Soren, Izzy, and Nate helped me trace the logo in pencil. Then we underwent the (surprisingly tedious) task of cutting out all the little bits. The hardest part was, surprisingly, keeping track of what was supposed to be positive and negative space. After we got the bits out, we covered it with a good layer of Rustoleum spray paint, let it dry, and pulled off the tape!

The end result still looks as good as it did that first day! I was expecting a bit of paint bleed (especially along the tape seams), but nothing happened- it was perfectly crisp.

Thanks to Sean Farbolin for shooting the time-lapse! And to Wesley Slover for writing the amazing Brostep Chickadee track!

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Quit Blender

Back on Tears of Steel in 2012 we made a kick-off film over the course of the first week to kinda test out the whole pipeline. It was a lot of fun, and pretty darn ridiculous. I totally forgot about the second part :P.

Tony Mullen also edited this fun behind the scenes

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