Triple_Bee FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold RWBY Chibi Post Artist

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from Austin, TX

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    • RWBY Chibi Shot Breakdown - Teenage Faunus Ninja Catgirl

      3 months ago

      Triple_Bee RWBY Chibi Post Artist

      Hey there RT Community!  Welcome back to another Chibi Shot Breakdown!  This week I'm taking a quick look at the opening shot for Season 3 Episode 6: Teenage Faunus Ninja Catgirl.  A name just barely tongue-twistery enough that some of us started referring to it as "The NinjaCat One" until we'd had enough morning coffee.  The proposed acronym shorthand of TFNC never quite rolled off the tongue the way it does for sewer turtles.

      Anyway, Chibi Script Maestro Tom Alvarado's script for this sketch sets the scene as such:

      INT. RWBY DORM ROOM - NIGHT

      Blake kneels meditating in the middle of the room.  She's surrounded by lit candles.

      ANIMATIC

      Since he'll be animating this sequence, Chibi Lead Animator Ian Kedward starts by loading the set and roughly placing a camera before blocking in the sequence with quick drawn sketches of the action. This way he and the Director can quickly revise and refine the rough timing and positioning. There's a fair amount of action in this sequence as a whole, but since Blake is meditating this opening shot is fairly static.  Thus they decide to add a moving camera to give it some flair.

      2541307-1520708616394-ninja00.jpg



      ANIMATION

      Next Ian animates the shot with characters and props placed.  He sets up the camera to have a slow downward motion, so we'll need to render the backdrop for the full frame range, unlike in the Breakdown from Episode 5 where we could make a single still frame work for the whole shot length.

      2541307-1520708616394-ninja01.jpg


      OVER TO POST
      Chibi Director Paula Decanini requested the scene have a bit of an old-school samurai/martial arts movie feeling to it, with blue light shining through the window and a dramatic underlighting from the candles surrounding Blake. A pretty great starting point that gives me an opportunity to go look at some similar scenes in other films for style reference in narrowing down the look and not at all because I want an excuse to watch old action movies for official business...

      The Beacon Dorm Rooms don't really have a dedicated night lighting setup for situations where the room lights are also off.  In those rare cases we generally add custom lighting dependent on the needs of the script.  I had done a vaguely similar setup in Season 2: Episode 6 - Super Besties but that wasn't quite as dramatic as called for here and the action took place in a different part of the room. Still it gave me some pointers on where to set lights this time around and what settings to apply to them for ideal render times.



      INITIAL SET LIGHTING
      First step is the exterior light which provides the main source in this shot, with Paula's requested blue moonlight shining through and making a striking reflection on the floor!  We normally don't get to see the floorboards from this camera angle so the uncommon light reflection makes them look neat as things progress!  I also tweak the Subsurface Scattering on the candles at this point to give them a more prominent waxy appearance with the backlight; in short SSS simulates light striking an object, entering it, scattering within and exiting at a different point as opposed to simply bouncing off of it. This helps give the object a softer appearance in things like skin and wax.  The addition of Subsurface influence has been a huge boon to the cute look of the show in my personal opinion.

      If you look close you can also see Blake's shadow is in the shot already too!  Normally I would handle this as a separate layer to be added in during Compositing, but in this instance the shot is fairly brief, she's reflecting in the floor, and is behind AND in front of candles that are in the set layer which are also casting shadows.  Thus is makes a little sense to keep it simple and just bake her shadows in for the sake of Compositing ease. That means of course if I have to make adjustments to her shadow I'll need to re-render the whole thing, so it's a shortcut best done sparingly and with purpose.
      2541307-1520708616395-Ninja02.jpg

      DEPTH OF FIELD AND ADJUSTMENTS
      Now that we're out of lighting and into Compositing we can work in some early drama!  Here I've adjusted the lighting renders to be a little darker, especially around the far edges of the frame, and added a Depth of Field blur to push the background out of focus a bit as it gets further from the camera.  This will help Blake stand out when she's added to the shot.  

      2541307-1520708616396-Ninja04.jpg
      Speaking of which...

      NINJA CATGIRL

      Seems like time for our stealthy Faunus to step out of the shadows.  Blake has much of the same lighting as the set, in addition to a rim light on the back of her head that helps her hair and bow stand out from the darker window frame.  Things are still pretty dark and muddled right now, but our next few steps should fix that!

      2541307-1520708616397-Ninja05.jpg


      FOG
      Step one is some dramatic light fog streaming from the direction of our moonlight.  The frame of the window is going to add some neat streak patterns as it blocks the fog beams and all of it together creates a nice frame around Blake to contrast her dark core against it's brighter shape.  The shape of the fog is cheated a little here to be less wide and more angled than it should be so that it reads better to camera and seems to align with the candle circle and highlight that as well.

      2541307-1520708616397-Ninja06.jpg


      CANDLE LIGHT

      Now it's time to light our candles. This is what led me to leave Blake so dark until now without much in the way of light fills.  Now the dramatic underlights will have a stronger influence on her.  I've previously placed a small light near the wick of each candle object and tailored their settings so they each provide a tiny bit of the whole candle ring contribution.  To help sell their natural flame flickering, I separate the candle lights into three groups that will let me independently shift their brightness at the Comp stage, though they are perfectly steady in the original light renders.

      I also take this opportunity to tint the fire color a richer orange/red, having intentionally left them somewhat neutral up until now.  In general it's helpful to add richer colors to your lights in Compositing, since it can be tricky to shift deeply saturated lights when they are already influencing local colors.

      All of this also really helps the floor stand out again, since the candles are so close and at a perfect angle to really resonate against the dark floorboards.  Almost everybody thought I'd artificially upped the reflection levels of the floor, but this is their normal state!  Saved me the trouble. :)
      2541307-1520708616397-Ninja07.jpg



      FINAL IMAGE

      Finally it's time for the flames themselves. Using a Compositing tool developed for RWBY I'm able to quickly place flames on the tip of each candle thanks to some exported camera data and invisible locators on each wick. This way I don't need to manually create and track each flame, it's mostly handled for me and I can just fine-tune the placement, size and look.

      Lastly I add some subtle glows to our scene and candles and a vignette to the whole image to really push the eye to Blake!

      2541307-1520708616397-Ninja08.jpg



      I had a lot of fun with this sequence, personally handling the first half and then splitting comp duties with the talented Alan Matthewman for the second half of Blake's smoke bomb stalker adventure. His creepy ceiling-cat Blake comp still cracks me up and also caused many a cry of terror around the office!

      For the Pun Record, I really wanted Blake's unnamed Taxi App to be "RWBR" but there were a few too many hurdles in the way to make that Easter Egg happen!

    • RWBY Chibi Shot Breakdown - Girl's Night Out

      3 months ago

      Triple_Bee RWBY Chibi Post Artist

      Hey there everybody!  For volume 3 of RWBY Chibi I had the opportunity to step into the dual role of Lighting AND Compositing, which in past volumes have generally been separated between our two Animation Post teams. Thankfully I've had the talents of Eric Tello and Alan Matthewman to work along with in our streamlined Chibi Post team, letting the three of us help make the show look better than ever along with the rest of the Chibi crew!


      With a fuller hand in bringing shots to the finish line, I thought it might be fun to detail the Post process in some of my favorite shots!  They'll be auto-resized on this journal, but you should be able to expand the images with a right click, open image in new tab.

      For the punchline of Episode 5: Girl's Night Out our Chibi Director Paula Decanini asked (half jokingly, I think) if I could get the girl's fiery handiwork to be a little reminiscent of the opening moments from The Crow.  Obviously our color palette is more cartoonishly vibrant, but it did help me get a sense of where to start on the look and flame effects.

      To walk it back a bit, we start with our script, this one written by the fantastic Tom Alvarado describing the shot as:

      EXT. VALE STREETS - NIGHT
      The girls stand outside a nightclub as the building BURNS.
      They look at the flames with accomplishment.


      ANIMATIC
      Next the animator (in this case, Chibi Lead Animator Ian Kedward) works up a drawn animatic timed to the character dialogue for the entire sequence including our shot in question.

      2541307-1520711866433-fire00.jpg



      ANIMATION

      After going over the rough details of timing, staging, and action with the director, Ian will block out the shot and then animate it in full. In this particular instance there isn't a great deal of character animation going on since the comedy beat focus is on the burning building itself.  As such Ian going to be more concerned about camera framing and character placement:
      2541307-1520711866433-fire01.jpg

      With that approved the shots finally move on over to Post for Lighting and Rendering. In many of the outdoor environments we have already set up simple, reusable lights in advance to get a good quick starting point approximating the sun/moon and some ambient light from the atmosphere. Vale has some of that in place for night from previous episodes, but it needs customization and thoughtful use for our shot specifics.

      Keeping in mind this shot AND the following (one which is at a reverse angle) I position the moonlight on the girl's backs and give it a cold, cyan/blue tint. That way there will be some light shaping on all the buildings that will also provide a color fill for the fire lights to come. In addition the contrasting blue light on the girls here will help them stand out later and establishes a logical reason to add a nice sharp rim light in the next shot, which will help them against the background there too!


      SET LIGHTING
      I test all of this together during lighting setup, but now that we're ready to render we'll produce the environment separately from the characters. In many instances this saves render computation time, since the backdrop won't move but the characters will. Generally speaking characters will render much quicker than the larger, more complex background, so saving time here is always a good step!
      2541307-1520711866433-fire02.jpg


      CHARACTERS AND FILL LIGHT ENHANCEMENTS

      Next up I'll add a bit of red/orange fill to the soon to be crispy buildings and the far city backdrop. This helps to pop the intended center of focus from the rest of the frame. In this case I'm doing this in both Post phases since I can set up rough light direction in Lighting and better fine tune the colors in Compositing.  The two steps intertwine with one another, and it's not uncommon to need to go back to lighting to make some subtle, needed tweaks now and again.


      It's also high time to add the girls back in now that we're Comping! As you can see they're present, but not very prominent at all with just the moon on their backs. We're well past ready to start heating this town up!
      2541307-1520711866434-fire03.jpg



      FIRE LIGHTING
      I have a series of lights at key areas I'd like to be prominently emanating fire, mostly the front of the building and around the top.  The lights all blend with one another but I've actually got them in three separate layers so that they can flicker interdependently to keep things looking random and chaotic. We're still just rendering single frames for these backdrop elements, but in Compositing I'll be able to make those single frames simulate full motion along with the fire effects.

      The girls also finally get their fire rim light which really helps them stand out much better without being TOO attention hogging from the building itself!  Now that the street is picking up an orange tinted light bounce, their moonlit backs are also contrasting nicely as planned.
      2541307-1520711866434-fire04.jpg


      FIRE STARTER
      Fire time! I started with the rim of the building to get our shape and fire look established.  Originally I was just going to have it on the balcony and a bit on the roof but Paula wanted me to go BIG so things spread from there to get some real property damage going!  The fire itself is mostly a particle effect I've created within After Effects using a few different techniques to get a cartoon flame moving at an appropriate speed. I also have a few hints of actual flame footage mixed in both for comedic effect and to help sell the look a little further.
      2541307-1520711866435-fire05.jpg


      THE FINAL IMAGE

      Backdraft!  Here's the part I was really preparing for; getting the interior ablaze!  Using masks for the windows and balcony I work in similar effects to the exterior which will go hand-in-hand with my flickering lights to really get things in sync. Next I add some thick, black smoke behind the blaze, and a subtle smoggy haze on the streets in front of the main building. I also enhance the girl's shadow for a little more contrast and to have it flicker unevenly to simulate the larger fire light source.  Lastly we have some subtle cinders floating around the building that will be much more prominent in the shot to follow!
      2541307-1520711866435-fire06.jpg

      I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the lighting and rendering process for Girl's Night Out!  I'll try to do a few more of these as time goes on, since Chibi provides lots of fun new lighting challenges from time to time.

    • RWBY Chibi Volume 3!

      4 months ago

      Triple_Bee RWBY Chibi Post Artist

      RWBY Chibi is back for more starting today!
      RWBY Chibi - Season 3 - Episode 1

      I've always really enjoyed working on Chibi, in no small part because it's the one show I've had the opportunity to continuously work on since the first season. Seeing it grow and get better every year is a really fun and gratifying experience. Plus this time around I'm tackling both lighting and compositing, something I've been eager to do again for quite a while!

      All I can say is our 'little' team is hard at work making some really funny stuff that I can't wait to render for everyone to see!

    • A spooky Chibi thing!

      8 months ago

      Triple_Bee RWBY Chibi Post Artist

      I've been meaning to use this space to make note of the unique events that tend to happen working at Rooster Teeth. This seems like a prime time to start! 

      Thanks to the whims of scheduling I ended up as the main/only active lighting artist on the final two episodes of RWBY Chibi Season 2. What luck then that it included the Halloween-themed episode in which I happened to have co-written and directed a sketch!


      Getting to be so wholly hands on with a bit from start to finish is a rare opportunity and I'm pretty happy with the results, in no small part thanks to my fellow ChibiCrwby. The camera, animation, compositing, V/O and audio artists all came together to make things excellent indeed!

      I also unleashed a little DIsturbia inspired spooky & colorful alternative lighting through the episode, all of which was fun to craft.

      RWBY CHIBI - Episode 21  nora

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