Friday, 11 February 2011

First assignment: Manhole cover.

We have decided that we shall all take part in the modelling process and the first bit of modelling that I have been given to do is the manhole that the swamp monster bursts out of, or as a should be calling it, the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I didn't have very many pictures that included the manholes in Kilburn but I came across this one.
As you can probably see from the bottom right corner, the majority of manholes around there are square and the design consists of smaller squares that are extruded from the base of the cover in straight rows and columns.

I started off by doing a test in Maya to figure out how I will make a manhole, complete with a cover that can easily be moved.  I did research into the thickness of a cover, as well as typical designs for a manhole cover.  This tests consists of a ground surface that is a simple PSD image and a Polygon cube that I created by drawing out a polygon surface with curved edges and then extruding the face to make a 3D object.  I applied a basic photo of a manhole cover on top using Planar Mapping.

Here is the outcome of that test:
video
Obviously, when I create the real thing, I shall take some more time to extrude a design into the model.  I will not just stick with photographic reference for the texturing, but I will probably look at making my own textures.

After talking with Natalia about possible designs for the manhole cover, she suggested that I look at this:
http://spitalfieldslife.com/2011/01/05/the-manhole-covers-of-spitalfields/.  There are so many different designs for manhole covers in London.

I then suggested that I move away from the "typical" design for manholes in that area of Kilburn Park try coming up with some designs for this specific manhole, that suggest that something perilous is about to emerge from below!  I was also inspired by a series of lectures that Fraser MacLean gave on how scenery, along with colour and lighting can be used in animation to focus the audience's attention on certain aspects within a scene; particularly within the films, The Emperor's New Groove and a Pixar short by the name, One Man Band.

The truth is that we have creative freedom in this piece.  As long as we understand what the rules are and stick to certain conditions, we should still experiment with using the elements that we design and model to have real relevance in our piece, and also to communicate the mood and atmosphere of our piece effectively.

I shall start coming up with designs for manhole covers soon and I will put them up in my next few posts.

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