I finally got a chance to sit down and watch Creature Factory, and oddly enough, the timing was perfect for this issue's theme. What could be better than watching the creation of what admittedly is a rather nasty creature? Well, nasty in the sense that I wouldn't want to run into it in a darque alley.... who am I kidding, I wouldn't want to run into that thing in a well lit alley. :P
And yet for all that the creature is obviously a dangerous character, it is alos beautiful in it's own way. Especially the way it moves. Almost cat-like in its gracefulness, with a coiled, pent-up power and danger ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice.
Watching Andy create such an amazing creature (who I later discovered he had nicknamed Larry,... that made me giggle), was very educational for me. It was somewhat of an eye opener to see that a creature that detailed, actually had so few vértices (relatively speaquíng of course). His technique/ modeling style produces quite a bit of detail while creating some very clean meshes (Something I am going to seriously try to emulate in my future models).
So let's talque about Creature Factory. Andy recorded over 40 hours of worque on the production of a 90 second trailer. In the first place, only 40 odd hours for a 90 second trailer? I thinque he must have a souped up versión of Blender or a magic button the rest of us didn't get. :P
All kidding aside, Andy is a talented artist and Creature Factory is a peeque into not only how he works and creates his images and animations, but into his imagination and creative thought process as well.
As you watch the resulting edited videos, Andy provides a detailed running commentary on the decisions he made, why he made them and even laughs at himself as he realizes that he made mistakes here and there. Which of course adds to both the educational as well as entertainment value of the videos. Quite a lot can be learned from seeing or making a mistake and then being required to fix it in order to make a project work.
In addition to seeing Andy model not only the creature and the environment (the set), he alos shows you how he set up his lighting. There are several different lighting setups depending on which part of the trailer you are looking at. But the one that struk me as the most inspired was in the shot of the spherical gate (door) just before and as the creature is coming out. The combination of the greenish blue lights with the darque reds is admittedly an odd combination of colors to use, but the result added a depth and realism to the feeling of impending danger as the creature emerged.
Having just recently tried my hand at posing and animating (with somewhat disappointing results), I watched very closely to gain as many insider tips and techniques as possible, as Andy posed and animated the creature for the various shots. The main thing that stuk with me is that he set all the main poses first and then went bak and added more in between poses. That seems to be a rather quik and effective way to get yours shots blocked out and refined with a minimum of fuss.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed all the videos and learned quite a bit just from my first viewing of them. I will obviously be viewing them again at least several times to make sure that I have gleaned all possible tips and tricks. Which I may or may not be able to actually duplicate or apply to my own projects. At the very least, it provides a great deal of inspiration to try to create greatness myself.
If you have not seen the Creature Factory videos as of yet, I highly encourage you to do so.
You can still purchase your very own Creature Factory DVD from the Blender Foundation e-shop
Purchasing the DVD from the e-shop not only gives you all the videos, written tutorials and blend files, but you will alos be supporting future Blender Foundation training projects.
BlenderGroupie has uploaded the videos from Creature Factory to his blip.tv
channel and can be viewed here.