Project History

An historical log of the various projects I've contributed to.. it's not entirely complete.


Lead R&D Engineer – Site Rendering Technology

Double Negative • 2013-2016

Was the lead (and primarily sole) R&D developer for all Houdini lighting and shading at the company for the last two and a half years.

  • Part of core R&D department working on rendering technology, shader library development and artist tools for Houdini and Mantra for use on all shows.
  • Wrote and maintained all of the light rig and light transfer API and tools for all packages (Maya, Houdini etc) and all light shaders, tools and in-scene gizmos for Houdini lighting.
  • Mentored a number of supervisors and leads in various workflows and techniques for general lighting and shading pipelines and fx work (primarily fluids).
  • Consulted and advised on the site HDR pipeline.
  • Developed a complete shading framework for Houdini for use across all shows called ‘Cuttlefish’, comprised of a full set of cross package compatible matching materials, supporting VOP node library, two APIs, large python toolset and VOPfx menus.
  • Developed a lightweight framework for managing configuration and general data at a site/show/user level (integrated into Cuttlefish).
  • Developed a masking system for context and package consistent 2d/3d interchange and operations.
  • Wrote multiple customised versions of the Mantra pathtracer for use on shows (Interstellar and Heart Of The Sea) and one for in house default use for all rendering with a number of added features.

Cuttlefish and previous incarnations of the materials, shading and lighting tools are used across Dneg for all shows as the standard toolset, current ‘uncredited’ usage includes :

  • Captain America : Civil War
  • Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them
  • Alice Through The Looking Glass
  • Geostorm
  • Batman Vs Superman
  • Spectre
  • Ex Machina

Also provided full R&D support for all Houdini lighting and shading for all facilities at the company on top of the development work schedule.

R&D Engineer – VR/AR Research

Double Negative • 2014

Designed a VR solution for viewing content based on capture and playback of a mix of light field and deep rendered data.

Unfortunately due to the secretive nature of the work I can’t say too much about it.

The implementation is similar to Paul Debevec’s Light Field work with OToy found here..

Light Field Capture and rendering with OToy

 

Rendering R&D – In The Heart Of The Sea

Double Negative • 2014-2015

Was the lead R&D shader and lighting developer for the show, responsible for :

  • Ocean surface and close water shader development
  • Light shaders and tools development
  • Surface displace and FX blending tools
  • A custom pathtracer written for high water shot volume
  • A rigid body and FX interaction toolset and masking framework.

Rendering R&D – Interstellar

Double Negative • 2014-2015

Was the lead R&D shader and lighting developer for the show, responsible for :

  • DNGR Team Renderer development, integration of Kip Thorne’s wormhole mathematics to create a relativistic pathtracer
  • Light shaders and tools development
  • Volume shaders with a novel level set rendering method for massive geometry data sets
  • A custom pathtracer written for full integration of the DNGR renderer into Houdini and Mantra
  • FX tools for vast to small integration of ocean surfaces
  • Ocean and water shading materials and displace sculpting
  • Foam and bubble cluster simulation and rendering tools

The DNGR work was done with a small team comprised of Oliver James, Kip Thorne, myself, Simon Pabst and Paul-George Roberts. The work itself was quite difficult with a number of problems to address, mostly comprising of alias elimination for such high frequency information. Since the data sets involved were exceedingly large I developed a novel method for rendering level sets as volumes (with minimal extra sampling), this allowed a large reduction in ray marching samples and consequent image quality improvements.

For the tidal wave and water work I wrote a set of tools for artists to sculpt ocean surfaces at widely varying continuous scales and fx tools for simulating bubbles and foam at the small scales for close work. These included associated materials and shaders. Also as per standard handled all the lighting shaders and lighting tools for Houdini and the light rig tools and transfer for all the other 3d packages.

Came onto the show as a senior lighting TD but ended up taking on a number of roles.

  • Shot and painted all the textures for the sequence
  • Fluid FX for for some shots (whitewater sims)
  • Developed a POP based whitewater solver to avoid DOP limitations for a large sim
  • Lit all the Greenwich water shots
  • Developed a wind/calm region mapping system for the ocean displacement tools
  • Particle R&D on the end sequence to achieve the desired look

 

Joined Weta to help finish off the Hobbit, was a lovely crew to work with!

  • Lit a number of shots around the destruction of Erebor and the town of Dale
  • Did a bunch of environmental layout and design for the above
  • Creating lighting rigs for other lighters to use for lighting the town of Dale
  • Bashed out a quick clustering tool based on k-medoid methods to help with computing occlusion passes

 

Senior Lighter – Gravity

Framestore • 2012

Originally came on as a senior lighter but as is often the case took on more roles, there are some lovely people at Framestore.

  • Lit a number of shots, primarily during the ‘goodbye’ sequence where Clooney pikes out.
  • Lookdev’d the ISS station modules (apart from some cloth bits)
  • In one of the longer shots (the shots were very long) repainted the textures to suit the shot better
  • Optimised some of the heavier sequences that were pushing the limits of the renderer and gained an average 66% time reduction in rendering using some techniques I know.

 

Sequence Lead – World War Z

Cinesite • 2011-2012

I was the lead for the Philadelphia sequence of World War Z at Cinesite. The sequence consisted mainly of open environmental work with street scenes with packed traffic and crowd work with digi zombies chasing predominantly real people.

  • Mentored the team in setting up the pipelines
  • Advised the shader R&D department on optimal methods for lighting with spherical harmonics.. …
  • Researched and built pipelines around VRay and PRman
  • Built a number of lighting rigs for the artists to use for the street lighting,
  • Lookdev’d a lot of car assets

I was sequence supervisor for the Bellatrix Death sequence and handled a number of other shots from the film. Performed a wide variety of roles for this project as well as looking after others which I rather enjoyed, it’s not often I get to use most of my arrows.

  • Matte and texture painting, painted environmental extensions for a bunch of shots in the boat house scene
  • Composited the chat between Voldemort and Snape in the boathouse at Snape’s death scene
  • Painted full length extensions of all the characters for the ‘apparation at the beach’ shot
  • Concept art for an alternate version of the Bellatrix death, the stunt work that was shot was not wanted so I knocked up 6 options
  • Modeled the digi double of Bellatrix
  • Tracking, lighting, shading and animation of Bellatrix
  • Did some fluid FX work for Bellatrix and for the boathouse
  • Lookdev for the Snitch floating in the hand shot

I was very hands on for this project, it’s not that often I’m able to show concept work and such from production but here are a couple of bits from the Bellatrix sequence..

Emaciate Bellatrix Concept

 

We needed a last minute change to Bellatrix’s death, the stunt rig flying in to the wall was rejected, all the plates and such were already shot and we had 2 weeks to go. Director needed a save so I grabbed a suitable frame from the shot and in a few hours knocked up a number of concept variants, generally painted her out and a bunch of ways to die in like emaciation, turning to stone, crumbling and giant wand blast (stuff that fitted into the time frame).

Top one is the original frame, bottom is the fully emaciated end result concept, a bit rough but it was about 30mins work.

 

 

 

 

Bellatrix DD ZBrush Normal

 

The director liked the ‘sucking the life out of her’ so I bashed out a double matched to the plate in ZBrush.

The  director wanted to keep the face performance so I re-projected that back onto some separate mask geo, kept the hair for comp and showed a few ST tricks to help sort out creative direction.

 

 

 

Bellatrix DD ZBrush Emaciated

 

 

The models took about 6 hours and the rest was a simple attribute mapped blend shape setup using a 2D fluids render as a mask for the attribute map.