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Developer Spotlight - MW_ Studio

Who is Michael?

Michael Wu is a digital visual artist in 3D filed who touches his audiences with original creativity and daring styles. When it comes to 3D animation, the most exciting benefit for Michael is "recycle". Compared to 2D animation, a complete 3D model can be processed for all purposes as he wishes.

"All I know is there is no specific tool that can fulfill my desire for creation." said Wu. He enjoys conducting multiple 3D tools at the same time. "I love to try anything fresh and achieve while finding their attributes. Being adventurous is the reason to become a master."

Why did Michael fall in love with 3D animation? "3D animation would be the best tool for me to run after my dream." These 3D tools help him realize the imagination he can never touch in the real world.


Behind the Scene – The Aliens in the Incubator

The Implementations

I am not used to simply conducting my work with one single tool because I know well that all these tools are assigned for different fields. Speaking of modeling, Nendo will be my first choice. Nendo is a 3D modeling and 3D painting package and it can quickly work out 3D "rough" models with a small, light application. As to detailed process with the model, Modo is a plus for me to make my model more exquisite. Modo's modeler is the fastest, most advanced polygonal and subdivision surface 3D modeling environment available. As to detailed surface, ZBrush is highly recommended since the new version 3.0 is greatly expected by 3D animated artists all over the world. Moreover, I will use Maya to edit the animation of the aliens because I think its motion editor is the best one.

iClone... surely would be my necessity in this case. Real-time preview would be the most beneficial feature in 3D animation. As we know, to make a live 3D object is already arduous, not to mention a 3D anime short. However, iClone did it. With the release of 3DXchange, iClone's best partner ever, iClone now can import most kinds of .3ds/.obj and thus largely expand the creativity.

Inspiration for the Aliens

A world devastated by pollution and nuclear wars produces a sterile generation of higher mammals, and clones are developed to continue the human race. With an increase in germ line mutation rates in humans living close to the nuclear power, there is a mystery about the stimulus for this tradition of strenuous defense of science in the post holocaust world. Most people were more prone to congratulate the physicists for their creation of the atomic bomb than to criticize them. The aliens in the cultured bottles reflect the manipulation from the human society and the pounce of the aliens for freedom. In addition, I also took the moth as the base for reference to make the aliens like these ones.

What went right

Normal map and bump
To generate normal map for low polygon model, we must lower the SDiv (Subdivision level) in ZBrush first. Then, select Zmapper under the ZPlug-in menu, and use the projection tab to generate normal map. After generating the normal map, we should load it from "Bump" in iClone. And you will see a low polygon model with an amazing visual impact in iClone.

‧Glow and reflection
To make the alien more fancy, I put some auras with green light around its body. This gave the alien a terrifying look. Moreover, applying the function of "Reflection" in iClone helps me create a shining alien which looks incredible.

Live prop
The animations of the aliens are edited in Maya 7.0 because it got great power to compose a series of smooth motion easily. I am happy with the Maya plug-in beta to make it reality in iClone. In VNS export dialog, you can just simply select "Props" as your export type. And then select "Idle" to make your aliens default with a constant motion or "Act" to assign it freely. Finally, open the prop in iClone and identify its animation by the series of key frames.

‧Extensity of the room
The 3D scene is always important to produce a shot. In this case, I use some easy surfaces diffused with elegant walling to build it as the tumulus. The incubator was also conducted with "Reflection" to have it as a mirror. Applying appropriate lighting and camera movement, you can see the arrangement of the ideas in this short.

‧Environmental SFX
As to the new feature in iClone "SFX", it really helps to make the environment more solid and abundant. I love it since the easy usage with double click and friendly UI to modify your parameters. I select "bubble", "fog" and etc to become the crucial elements in this work.

Suggestions and Comments

I think iClone is a winner since it is positioned as a smart application. Besides the facial morphing core technique, iClone provides an easy and friendly way to make your own short. So far I think there are still big room for the refinement of the AP, such as the 3D window controller, smooth camera editing function, all-purpose lighting system, and more powerful and compatible motion editor.

After the release of 3DXchange, iClone becomes more popular with 3D animation market. This is the successful step for sure, but what would be the next surprise? I am looking forward to seeing it. First of all, I am expectant that iClone can become a draft script of film production. Take Hollywood movies as example, every shot will be a respectable investment, but iClone can lower the cost since the clear display of the concepts. Moreover, iClone is potential to be adopted by agencies to make TV commercials and music videos. I think iClone is cool with that and will become more attractive with the enhancement in "the technology of concept".

See The Aliens in the incubator


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