DIGM Workshops: Week #1 Overview

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This series of blog posts will be completed weekly for two of my graduate workshop classes, DIGM620 and DIGM599i. Both of these courses have the same goal: to produce a 10-week project that aids in the development of my thesis, a virtual reality animation of the titanosaur Dreadnoughtus schrani.

Week #1 Goals: 

  • Meet with production team to discuss overall roles for Fall term.
  • Develop a 10-week project that fulfills the scope of this class.
  • Begin production work for the aforementioned project.
  • Meet with Nick J to determine what thesis work will count towards his independent study.
  • Anatomy / committee meeting with Dave Mauriello.
  • Write the script!
  • Figure out what exactly I’m allowed to post on this blog.

Week #1 Notes:
I spent the majority of this week meeting with professors, team members, and potential committee members to figure out what’s going on this quarter. Simply put, “Project Dreadnought” is a huge thesis project — in terms of both mass and project scope. I’ve spent the past 6 months working with a small team of artists to model assets, test simulation and rigging pipelines, and reconstruct the skeleton of Dreadnoughtus via 3D scanning, photogrammetry, and ZBrush sculpting. Simultaneously, My adviser Nick J and I have been working to develop a pipeline for easily (and reliably) rendering spherical, stereoscopic video content optimized for mobile VR.

There are a lot of plates spinning, but this project has the potential to blow out of scope quickly. That’s why I’m pouring every available resource into production. I’m taking a Digital Media Workshop class while simultaneously doing an independent study / production class with Nick J, in an effort to double my time.  Essentially, I’ll spend the next 10 weeks managing two large chunks of my thesis, overseeing two other artists, and trying to keep my head from rolling off my shoulders. This blog is where I get to document all that!

DIGM 620 Overview:
After spending the entire summer modeling the bones of Dreadnoughtus and articulating the skeleton, now I get to rig it. I’ll be using my time in this class to coordinate the creation of the Dreadnoughtus rig and manage the other artists on my team: Emma Folwer (Senior Project / Paleontology), Brandon Percia (Sophomore / Animation), and Zack Thomas (Former Co-Op / Animation).  Dave Mauriello is advising on this portion of my thesis, and this week I met with him to discuss the bests method for rigging a titanosaur skeleton and simulating muscles. I’ll also be meeting with my committee member Dr. Ken Lacovara once per month to ensure that  While I’m working on the skeleton rig, Emma and Brandon will model and texture the animal’s musculature, following a softbody muscle simulation pipeline I established in my Spring DIGM 540 Class. By the end of this quarter, we aim to have a rigged muscle system ready for skin simulation tests.

DIGM 599i Overview:
This class serves as a 10-week production study in 360-degree stereoscopic pipeline design. My work will include shooting spherical photo / video background plates, converting monoscopic photo spheres to stereo, researching render / stitching options, and seamlessly compositing CG animation for cinematic virtual reality. I’ll also be testing the differences between HMD VR workflow and spherical video optimized for Dome projection. I’ll also be using this time to finish pre-production for my thesis, reworking my proposal and developing a script, story-“circles” and layout tests.