Friday, 18 November 2011

Next Steps

Since finishing my Masters degree, I have been involved with teaching some of this year's new Masters students at DJCAD.

More importantly, I have also been setting up my own business, and online photography store, below;

Dylan Gauld Photography

Feel free to have a look at my online store, and pass the link onto all of your friends and family members. Although you may not be interested in my products, they might be!

The best part of it all, is that there has never been a better opportunity to get a great Christmas gift at a discounted price - all orders placed before Christmas will receive a 10% discount, and include free UK delivery as standard.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Yesterday, after a long and tiring year, we received the results of our Masters programmes. I wanted to include this post, as 'blog closure' - I think it is important that any readers can see the link between the amount of work carried out, and how that relates to the course requirements.

I was awarded a Master of Science with Distinction, in Animation & Visualisation.

I am not sure what the next step will be, as I am awaiting the results of applications being processed. Although I plan on continuing my work in the visualisation field, I am not sure what route this will take at the moment.. There are a few possibilities lined up, but as to which one is right for me...

... I guess I'm waiting for the clouds to make shapes and show me the way.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Semester 3 Summary

A summary of work completed before beginning semester 3 can be found here.

Throughout semester 3, my main focus has been on using all of the techniques and skills developed previously to create finished animations which showcase the 3D visualisations I have generated, using mathematical data as a source.

The start of the semester saw me learning skills in using Nuke as a compositing tool, with a great deal of experimentation in establishing how important post-production was going to be; with the answer being very important. At this stage, I still did not have a clear idea of the final film I was going to create, although I knew roughly what I wanted it to contain.

Around the start of June, I started considering concepts for my final piece of work. It was decided that this would take the form of a short film (around 3-4 minutes in length), and would not only showcase the  beauty of some of the visuals I wanted to create, but also contain an important message.

Throughout June I continued developing the 3D side of my work - which featured a heavy amount of texturing, lighting and even more rendering. This was important as it was crucial in developing the aesthetics which would feature in my final film.

I also moved into Photoshop and After Effects, starting to experiment with compositing the various elements that would make up my final shots (concept development examples here, here and here).

By mid-June I started to experiment with stereoscopic techniques. This was only intended as a sideline project - something that would not feature in my Masters Show deliverables, but would inform my technical skills for the future. After creating some simple examples, I started to realise that it would not be hugely difficult to implement stereoscopic cameras into the scenes I had already created. This would allow my work to be viewed in true three-dimensions, something which could prove useful (and later, very popular!).

In the latter half of June, I spent some time working on a shot for Kaye Cao, a classmate who wanted to have a 3D character filling up with liquid at the start of her final film. Because of my experience in using RealFlow, I was able to help and created the shot using a combination of RealFlow and Maya (which can be seen here).

Alongside the RealFlow work for Kaye, I carried on my cell visualisation development for a second mathematician, and created a two minute video which visualised over 33 million lines of mathematical data (a still image can be viewed here).

At the start of July I also began work on creating a fully CG explosion and shockwave for classmate Matt Cameron. This explosion would be used as the opening of his short film "Falling Out".

It was also at the start of July that I started to unveil some of the work I had completed on my short film. Titled "Growth", it was intended as a story with two distinct halves - the first would feature sweeping views of an unknown object, with the second revealing what was being viewed; intended as a 'shocking' introduction into the uses and benefits of 3D visualisation techniques.

Most of July involved a combination of rendering and compositing for Growth, and continuing the work on the Maya Fluids explosion for Matt. Growth proved difficult to composite, as it's runtime was going to be around 4 minutes, and I was working alone.

The explosion also proved time consuming - there were 20 versions of the explosion (all with several iterations each) and again, I was working alone on the 3D elements. The shockwave was much simpler, as I could adapt the customised fluid container I had created for the explosion. Matt composited the finished CG and live plates in Nuke, and created a visual effects breakdown.

Mid-July brought about a major change for Growth. The visuals were started to look muddy and dull, and the cells could not be easily differentiated from their environment. I took the opportunity to re-work the 3D shaders and lighting, and develop a brand new look, one that would be significantly better moving forwards.

I completed work on Growth around the start of August, leaving time to start compositing my stereoscopic material, create a showreel and start preparing for the Masters Show (full details of the material created can be found here and here).

Because I had completed the bulk of my own work, I spent some time during mid-August helping Mark Haldane with his short film, "Conflicting Ideas". Having never worked on traditional 2D animation, I was given a quick tutorial and dropped straight into colouring - I completed work on 4 shots.

Below is a summary of the projects and work I have completed during semester 3;

Individual projects

  • Growth
  • Growth: Making Of
  • Stereoscopic Cell Visualisation
  • Showreel (featuring non-visualisation work)

Collaborative projects

  • Brainstorming (worked on one shot, using RealFlow to 'fill' a character with liquid)
  • Falling Out (worked on opening shot, featuring a CG nuclear explosion and shockwave)
  • Conflicting Ideas (worked as a colourist on four shots)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Masters Show

With the Masters show just over 2 weeks away, I have been working on the additional material which will support the main feature "Growth".

I have completed work on the 'making of' film and the stereoscopic material (my key objectives). I have also finished a short video which showcases some of the other cell visualisation material that did not make it into Growth.

In addition to this, I have also created a short video which will showcase additional work that I have completed (such as working with Maya fluids, RealFlow liquids, and other student projects that I have contributed to).

Run-times for the various elements are as below;

  • Growth (3:56)
  • Growth Making Of (4:54)
  • Stereoscopic Showcase (2:34)
  • Cell Visualisation Showcase (2:18)
  • Masters Showcase (~2:00 - still to be finalised)

In addition to this a poster has been created, business cards have been ordered and 3d glasses are on their way!

Everything seems to be in place... next week we start building the show, so hopefully this will go relatively smoothly. It will also help me decide if there is anything else I need to prepare in advance!

For more information on the Masters show, and the students exhibiting, visit the website here.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Growth Compositing

Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to finish compositing "Growth".

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been working in Nuke to put all of the render layers together and adjust all of the visual attributes. Growth uses a variety of passes (rendered out of Maya), and these are shown below;








I was initially having problems adding depth-of-field (my frames were acquiring 'stepped' edges) in Nuke, but as part of our masterclass with Hugo Guerra, I was able to get Hugo's help in fixing this (well, it couldn't be fixed, but we found a way to work around the problem!).

Beyond this, I was able to get some great feedback from two of my classmates, on how to improve the final output of my work.

Mark Haldane suggested that I 'grade' the cells, as they could do with a bit more contrast/definition.

Matt Cameron suggested that I should try adding motion blur and chromatic aberration.

At this stage, I had already created Nuke scripts for each of the shots, which would combine all of the render passes, add a background and calculate the depth-of-field.

I then created a second Nuke script, which would take this first rendered sequence and add the chromatic aberration, motion blur, and film grain.


The image below shows one composited frame, after it's been through all of the stages outlined above;


Compositing has definitely transformed the outcome of my project. Although my main abilities are in 3D, I also realise the importance of compositing and how being able to use these additional skills can improve the presentation of my 3D work.

In the case of "Growth", the advice I have received has definitely been good, and is helping me to take my 3D work to the next level!