Play the PF2023 minigame here.
Since I enjoyed the interactive Pour Feliciter game the last year, I’ve decided to do it again this year. This time, the original vision was a low-poly style ancient game with simple game mechanics - Asteroids. For the younger ones who don't know and those who don't play games - it's a rocket flying through space that must avoid asteroids.
The game mechanic is pretty easy - using a physical model of the rocket and the gravity of the planets. Nevertheless, the first version was very difficult to control. I had to do some tweaking to fix that - the physics model has been simplified and the planets don't attract nearly as much those did before. But it still wasn't quite right. I didn't like the rocket model, so I thought how to make it more personal, funnier... and who knows why I thought of the space squid. From there, it was one step from the whole concept of collecting babies.
And now that we have Mr. Squid, we wanted to give him a little personality. I tried tentacle animation (via bones and mesh skinning - this will come in handy for other projects), eyes that fixate on the nearest baby, blinking, waving the tentacle when idle or slightly annoyed when he must break.
Since I love space and sci-fi, all that was left was to enliven the environment with references to famous projects (Voyager, Sputnik or Apollo) and objects from a certain book/film that inspired me. Take a wild guess which one it is. You can tell by the music and some of the objects. A little hint: the keywords are HAL9000, the spaceship Discovery, astronaut Frank Poole, writer A.C. Clarke or director Stanley Kubrick.
After some time, I have created Mr. Squidgy, gracefully dancing to the rhythm of Strauss' waltz through the Universe....
The finishing touch was added by my friend and colleague Jencek Zahradníček, who drew absolutely amazing Squid family. Thanks also to everyone who played the game, providing feedback or help.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2023!
What has started as refraction IOR stacking test ended up as more complex thing. Reflections, refractions, subsurface scattering, caustics... those are the rendering techniques allowing realistic look of the scene. Surprisingly, with Redshift renderer, the rendering times were not that bad. It took approx. 5-6minutes per frame to render which is, considering scene complexity, suprisingly good result.
Monday abstraction... just for fun
Play the PF2022 minigame here.
Why not to change something negative into positive? Since I’ve been locked in quarantine during covid, I’ve decided to spend more time on “Pour Feliciter” creation this year and do something interactive by using Unity.
The idea was to create cave in a shape of PF2022 and let something fly trough it. I also wanted to create it simple and easy since my audience may contain people who are not gamers. That’s why you cannot die in the game. The rest came to my mind on the way, not much planning in advance.
For example, I decided to go for something between Jules Verne style flying thing and Beatles Yellow submarine to control at the beginning. After a while, I realized I do not like it that much. The movement was unnatural, and it was too wide to fit to some parts of the cave. I really liked the propeller and smoke going from the funnel, though.
In the second version, I decided to go more abstract and created “the Sphere” instead of submarine. Of course, it has the exhaust pipe – I did not want to lose opportunity to use smoke since I felt in love with the particle system. The shape fit much better, and I decided to study a bit regarding physics. Since the propeller is on the top, the source of the force is moved out of the center of mass and the whole thing “hangs” below it affected by gravity/wind etc. I studied physic system in Unity and find out a way how to simulate by using hinge joints.
I also realized that the cave is bit empty. So, I created some stuff to fill in. Again, without a plan. Whatever came to my mind and seemed feasible, I did it. I had to create the crossing, since my son loves those and insisted that I must do it. Then I create the doors to make my game a bit more challenging. The part I enjoyed the most are the steam engines (another opportunity to use particle systems for smoke/steam). Then Christmas things like tree, presents and little Jesus in cradle and a cow keeping him warm by breathing (we do not have Santa in Czech republic). Also, I spend some time creating counter that counts days, hours, minutes, and seconds till new year. I’m not completely satisfied with that part; the best would be to make numbers to rotate. Perhaps next time… Then more details like mushrooms, steel plates and various pipes to make the environment more interesting. The whole thing ended up in steam/diesel punk style, which I like, even without planning it that way.
Last, but not least, the cameras. I found out that in some parts of the cave, some parts obstruct the others, for example, some doors were not that visible, making it hard to fly trough. Luckily, Unity has very nice tool for this called Cinemachine. It allows cameras that can smoothly follow the objects, look at objects, simulate hand camera shakes and many other cool things. I created simple script that blends between cameras based on the Sphere location. That solved the issue and made the whole thing more clear and easier to play.
The whole project took me around 10 days, working evenings and weekends. I’ve learned a lot of new things for future use. Since I decided not to use any prefabricated assets, everything, except music, cow/Yoda models, sounds and textures is made by me from scratch. Believe me or not, it was great fun!
One of the projects, I've been involved in, required some sort of city blocks with building, streets and cars. I've decided to use 'lego' approach and build everything from reusable basic elements. That, among the other things, allows to do simple parametric animation without too many keyframes.
I've been asked to create opening scene for something that actually does not exist yet. So instead of real footage of a real building, I've decided to use Google maps and some 3D renders to build it in my own way. ;-)
PF 2021 Why just write or draw Pour Feliciter card when one can animate it? So all the best for 2021 and enjoy Christmas!
See the resulting interactive app
One of pretty complex projects I've done at work. The interactive configurator for Intelligent cabinets allows not just view, but also change options and settings. This is what I ususally do at Zebra Technologies.
Even small weddings can mean a lot of fun. Especially when your not attending is the wedding photographer, instead you can make casual photos with interesting results. The freedom of doing photos how I want, and not within the confines of a traditional wedding shoot, is often amazing. I'm pretty satisfied with the results so far.
My son got a really nice fairytale book as christmas present. Beautifuly drawn dwarves inspired me to do this short video...
Some projects can be really short. This one took not more that 15 minutes. I sometimes enjoy such simple things and do something without plan. To visualize the idea that just came to my mind...
After seeing my Tiny tree project, some people has asked me how to actually do that. Since I've been thinking about some tutorial anyways, this is a good opportunity to create one. So here it is. My very first one in my life. Since this is the first try, I REALLY APPRECIATE ANY COMMENTS/FEEDBACK LEFT ON YOUTUBE.
I wanted to test the hair rendering possibilities and it ended up in something much bigger. I actually don't know why, but to create something that looks organic and living in 3D satisfy me a lot. So from time to time, I create a tree, grass, strange plant or tiny Chinese bamboo garden in a bowl. Just for fun.
How to improve the video footage? What to add to make it more living and not so static? One of the answers is what I call 'animated simple assets'. The goal was to develop simple, art-directable ways to show generic graphs and other simple movements. At the end, it took me like 10 minutes to setup each of those. The approach is parametric, allowing to change frequency, amplitude and sometimes even more by changing just one or two parameters which makes it reusable in many projects. All those are made in Cinema4D with moGraph effectors. Sometimes, I like to think about C4D in terms of 2D.
See the resulting interactive app
Being an airplane enthusiast, I decided to build my very own Fokker Dr I. Since I do not have the funds to build it as a real plane, I've decided to do a 3D model. (but hey, I can make my very own Manfred von Richthofen as well :-) ). It took me several nights to create a model. Getting detailed plans has been harder than I expected (especially engine parts, elevator control wires, cockpit ...) so I had to eyeball some details and textures. Also I spent some time rigging movable parts with pilot movements - elevators and ailerons.
The last step has been to export the model to UNITY and program mouse view controls for the interactive app. Unfortunately, WebGL technology is not supported by IE browser (IE is considered as obsolete, users should switch to its successor MS Edge). Also, WebGL is not as stable as I would like it to be so I'm hoping for improvements in this field soon. Overall, it took several evenings and some nights but it's been great fun.