WIPs: VFM02 Environ: Concept 2


Had about two hours available tonight to quickly photobash together a totally different concept for VFM02’s test environment. This is a great test project to get on with learning how to make production environment art in Maya / Mudbox or ZBrush (which I have but am hoping I can stick with Mudbox as the UI seems a lot more logical to me right now), so I wanted to move fast with the concept stage at this point.

As mentioned in the last post, this Virtual Filmmaking 02 test scene is set in an aerostation in the upper atmosphere of Earth instead of the typical space station. So to try something totally different than the last environ concept (which was very dark), I thought I’d open the space up with windows and go bright. Strong colors. Blues, oranges, yellows. I wanted to see the atmosphere and the exterior of the station.

I ended up selecting, morphing, and combining elements from about a dozen or so different references (also giving me ideas for who to reach out to for future collaborations). I’ll let this settle and come back to it– If I’m still happy with it and decide to go with it, then it will be onto the more intricate process of designing out this stuff as the direct original assets.

I like this so much better. It reminds me a lot of how refreshing Mirror’s Edge’s art direction was over the usual drab cyberpunk fair– here bright, airy, and also nicely striking.

Alright, timeboxed and out. Later!

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WIPs: VFM02 Environ: Concept 1

For this snowy Saturday, I’m gonna do a bit of VFM02 Environ concept art.

To kick this off, here’s a recap of the conceptual WIPs (works-in-progress) I’ve done so far. I’m not really satisfied with it yet, so today I’m going to start over and try some new things. But here’s what I had:

After Effects build of First Styleframe from 2015.01.31:


Here it was rebuilt in After Effects from the photobashed styleframe concept below. This is still just a styleframe (though from a full video version at this point), as the actual shot would have everything modeled out as original assets.

For years, I have been studying my favorite cinematographers the Cronenweths (father / son who did: Blade Runner / Fight Club, etc…). I have this inverse method, where I love shadow and prefer to ‘work with shadow’ more than light (even though technically they’re two halves of the same whole), which is very apt for a future noir look. But it clearly needs refined here. For this scene, the characters are in what I call an ‘aerostation’ floating amongst the clouds, instead of the usual space-station, and it’s sunset with a possible storm brewing and maybe some light rain going outside (the reverse shot on Hale shows this through a window).

So, I was also referencing Blade Runner frames, particularly when Rachael and Deckard meet in Tyrell’s office to get that color noir sunset look– but the cinematography on film in the 80’s is a lot less sharp than, say, that in Elysium, where a lot of detail is packed into every frame. I think I’m going to pop in the Elysium Blu-ray and do some reference capture next. I had also reframed this shot after matching the Maya virtual camera’s film back to a standard 35mm film camera.

At this point, I want to start over on it, and play around fresh with concepting the scene. That’s what I’ll start on today.

First styleframe concept from 2015.01.31:


This is the first photobashed styleframe concept done in Photoshop. After letting this rest for awhile, I can now really see how this first pass was pretty fast and loose– it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it. Less future noir and just kind of muddy. You can compare it with the After Effects build above and see how I really tried to clean it up though.

Overall, I don’t think the giant brains in vats really work here, especially out of focus– you can’t really even tell what they are. I really love that idea and find I keep coming back to it, but it’s not really working here (or I haven’t made it work).

Base Plate: Graybox Composite from 2015.01.27:


The base plate I started with to concept over.

Any feedback is appreciated. Hit me up at @XanderDavisLive.

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