Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 Personal Retrospective



2020 eh?

What a fucking shitshow thats been for all of us!  As a result this year end breakdown of my own personal 2020 will be a little different to usual. I'll break it into 2 parts, the 3D / art part and the music part.


TL/DR version:

I released 2 commercial tutorial sets 'Creating a Landscape Auto Material in Unreal Engine 4'  &  a fully re-recordced and updated 'GAEA - A Practical Guide' for Gaea  1.2.   An astronauts helmet I made turned out to be for a Sodastream advert shown at halftime during the Superbowl. I rediscovered my love of 3D and sculpting for fun once more and ended the year by finding out a show I had worked on in 2019 ended up the most watched TV Show on Netflix in June (Floor Is Lava).   So all in all, although there has been no 'proper' paid 3D work in this year its been pretty decent really!


It turned out a freelance gig I did making a space helmet ended up in a Sodastream advert shown during halftime at the Superbowl of all places. I had no idea it was gonna be used for that (if I had, to be fair I'd probably have charged more lol...this may well be why I wasn't).


I released the 'Creating a Landscape Auto Material in Unreal Engine 4' Tutorial set, it did fine sales wise, but was a massive pain in the arse to make due to the sheer ammount of crazy UE4 bugs that I bumped into.   So I'm not sure I will make another one like that again.

April / May:

I started working on a redesign of a Voidwalker from World of Warcraft(On a side note taking up Warcraft during the 1st lockdown probably saved my sanity).  I rediscovered my love for sculpting after a long gap.   So I went back to doing various sculpts for 'fun'. I also did a couple with proper renders including one in a cartoon style that is completley alien to me.

It even had hair! Anyone who has worked with me knows I am terrible at hair.... I avoid it like the plague.


I did a slightly more serious sculpt who I named 'the beard guy' as sort of preproduction for an idea to do a dwarf from world of warcraft (but again redesign it in my own style...that sort of got stuck on hold for the rest of the year.)


I released a fully re-recorded and updated version of  'GAEA - A Practical Guide' for Gaea 1.2. It did well and continues to sell, although to be fair as Gaea is such a niche application its not ever going to make me rich lol.


I had found out back in November by accident that something I had worked on back in 2019 had not only been released but was the most watched show on Netflix in June this year! The Show was 'Floor Is Lava', I wont go into detail as all you have to do is read the post before this one.


TL/DR version:

I released 4 music videos for songs I had recorded 'John the Revelator', 'St James Infirmary Blues ', 'Locked Up, Down, In & Out' and one of my own called 'Racists, Liars & Theives'. I also recorded 12 other songs and have 3 music videos ready for the album I intend to release next year. I also did a video cover version of The Prodigy's 'Invaders Must Die' as a metal song..(that will not be oon the album by the way, that was just me messing about.) I also for the 1st time put in place some fucking quality control in my output, and stopped putting stuff out that had dodgy takes or that wasn't 99% correct or finished from august onwards.  But you won't really see the fruits of that till 2021.

2020 was a big year for me musically, as many of you know I play many instruments, I am classicaly trained and although you may not see the music side of me as the Wayne you know, it predates it by a very looong time.  The biggest thing muscially to come out of 2020 was the fact I stopped rushing things out when they were less than the way I wanted and took my time with things until I deemed them 99% the way I wanted them.

Most of them best music I have recorded this year you will hear in 2021 when I plan on releasing my 1st commercial album since 2015.  

But musicaly it started with me recording a cover version of a song written in 1930 by blues legend Blind Willie Johnston called 'John the Revelator'.  I made a music video to accompany it during lockdown back in March to help keep sane and give me something to do (as there has been zero 3D work in this year at all).  Since releasing that on Youtube back in late March I do want to redo it again to bring it up to my new quality control standards for my music.

Then a  week later I recorded and released another song and music video called St James Infirmary Blues (a very old song with no discernable author.)  Again, this will also be getting a redo in the new year to bring it up to my new quality control standards for my music. The video was cobbled together from various publlic domain black and white film footage.

April saw me release the instrumental track of my own,  'Locked Up, Down, in and Out'.  Again with a music video I had cobbled together while sitting here at home using only what I had on my drives.

July I released an original song I had wrote and recorded called 'Racists, Liars & Theives' . The song was wrote back at the very end of 2019, but due to its political nature I never recorded it or put it out until this year.  I still stand by every single word of it, and I am rather proud of the video I managed to come up with.

August I was asked to play my resonator I had Matt Connor over at Steel Town Music in my home town customise for me.  Many people didn't realise that the entire 1st lockdown was spent improving my slide playing (which had always been rather ropey until then.)  After spending a year doing a gig with Blues slide guitar genius Gypsy Dave Smith every monday I had picked up a fair few things and I sat, tuned every guitar in the house to Open D (I have a LOT of Guitars) and refused to tune them back to normal until I had mastered slide playing in Open D...and it worked.

November I started a new channel called  'Skint Musician Reviews' to review music equipent people can actualy afford, not asperational shite.   I did a couple of animated cartoon videos on it on a few theory things as well. But in th new year after taking a 2 month break, I will be going back to it, but its going to change..and its going to change drastically.

Mainly as I am sick trying to play along with the YouTube algorithm games and being Mr Nice and Smiley person.  Thats not who I am... there wil be swearing, there will be grumpiness and on I will not be forced to follow Youtubes release schedule of at least 1 video a week.

It will be done in my time, in my way as to be honest its never going to be a big famous channel and its never going to make so much as a bean let alone any money at all.  It'll turn into me having fun and keeping myself sane.

In December I rediscovered the mix I did for a heavy metal version of The Prodigy's 'Invaders Must Die' that I had lost back in 2014 before ever finishing it, alas I didn't have the original takes only the fully mixed track minus the guitars.  But I finished it off for 'shits and giggles'. Just to be clear...this will NOT be on the upcoming album.  It was only for fun.

But 2021 will see the release of my next album, and the tracks I have so far (about 12 of them) which I am VERY proud of. It doesn't have a name as yet but one name I was considering was 'The Haynes Guide to Wayne Robson' based on a crazy fake Haynes manual I made when I was bored.  But chances are that title will now change. But keep an eye out for it.... 

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Breakdown: Floor is Lava (Top Netflix show for June 2020)


Back in 2019 I worked on a brand new show called 'Floor is Lava'.  I had no idea it had ever saw release, let alone be the top Netflix show of June 2020 until about a month back! I worked on this freelance for a fairly long time so prepare thy selves for many images!   This is gonna be a loooooong post.

So what was I responsible for?

My job was to recreate (after it had all been filmed and sets taken down), the entire sets and every item within them. match lighting , surface types, model them, texture them and extend the sets for the 3D camera moves.  The lava itself I wasnt responsible for (although I did provide a basic simulation to the team working on that.   Basically if its a shot without people in it, then there is about a 99% chance my work is there, this also covers the animations travellig down the ductwork etc)

...And as for the stuff I've mentioned?....I was the only guy working on that.  This was a full 'balls to the wall' workflow to get things done on time to the right quality.  My job was not to make the rooms or items within gthem look better than their real life counterparts, but to match them exactly as much as possible and crank through them at (to be frank) an insane speed.

Each item also had to be as low res as possible, my entire workflow was done in 3Ds Max and then had to be converted over to be rendered eventually through Cinema 4D.  Now as any 3D person knows , the various media and entertainment applications from different software vendors do not always play nicely with each other. so after lighting and setting up shaders and materials for everything, I then had to run each one through some mathematical algebra to convert the lights so that they would look exactly the same when rendered from Cinema 4D as they did in 3Ds Max.

The Workflow

Ok this might get a bit long.

Basically just befoer the sets were torn down (which were filmed in an old IKEA I belive) numerous photos were takne in the hopes of using them to create a photogrammetry scan of the sets. This worked however, the scans were in no way usable for the purpose other than as lighting, shape and texture references.  So after some tests to see if they could be fixed, the only decision was to recreate every single set and item within them manually.

My workflow as to bring in a polyreduced versionof the scan (using my old App I wrote years back ReDucto, which still works better than anything else out there BTW) and use that as a reference while modelling and sculpting each item.

I would then texture each item and set up the materials for them.  Then once each set was done, a far lower still polycount version was made for the 'grid' version you see in the animations.

For the set extensions together with the director, we both worked dout some basic ideas for a single room shape that could be reused with some very basic set dressing.  As these wouldn't be visisble very much and blurred a fair old bit with depth of field in composite, they didn't need to be too fantastically perfect.  We cut as many corners as we could while keeping things looking to the right level to enable the show to get out of the door on time and on budget.

Below you can see various renders (at half HD resoltuion as they were only tests) from various stages of the work on each room.  Two rooms it seems didnt make it to series One, so I'll keep those back until they appear (I am assuming ) in Series 2.  I think given its massive sucess its pretty much a given that a 2nd series will be made!   But I now nothing for certain on that front, and I am only guessing here.

What was it like to work on Floor is Lava?

This was a perfect example of how freelancers should be brought in, but also treated. I had a great time working for them, and it seems they with me.  We gelled well together and payment was always on time. They gave me freedom in areas I knew a lot about and took on board any areas I saw a potential problem at a future point in the pipeline.   It was certainly hectic though!  As in an ideal world you would have had about 4-8 people working on this, but as I am known to be able to work fast an acccurately I got the job done, with minimal stress to the satisfaction of all concerned.

They even set me a Floor is Lava hat and top over as thank you.  

Images Disclaimer

What you see here are raw renders from various stages in the post production process with no depth of field, and a very basic red shader applied to the 'Lava' for the purposes of visualisation purposes during post production.   Every item onset had to be either modelled and textured or sourced (although this mainly only happened on the 2 rooms as yet unused, if I get permission at any point to share those I will upload them in a new post). Any mistakes that would be blurred out in depth of field or not visible for more than a microsecond are left visible and unfixed.


Empty Room Blockouts

Some of the many, many props I had to make

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Branching Out! - New YouTube Channel


Some of you know that I have been a musician far longer than I have been doing this whole 3D / VFX thing.  So as things work wise on the 3D front has been like the grave since COVID-19 I've decided to branch out into other areas.  

Now before the 3D grapevine gets going (because people never let a thing like facts get in the way of a good rumour), No I am NOT leaving 3D.  I'm still doing 3D and will be recording some tutorials fairly soon.  Although I have a feeling work will not pickup until fiarly late on next year.

But to keep myself from going nuts due to lack of work I needed to find a area to focus my efforts on.  I started playing guitar aged about 6, and I am 49 now.  I've been doing 3D for wellover 25 years, so it is natural to me to branch out in that direction.

So if you could subscribe to the new channel to help it get going and gain some traction that'd be cool.  I know many 3D artists are also musicians as well.

 The main ethos behind this channel is a simple one.

Most of the reviews of muscial equipment are what I term 'aspirational reviews' of stuff 90% of musicians cannot afford. No one reviews the lower end less expensive stuff for the normal musican.   So hence 'Skint Musician Reviews'!  The logos used are based on cheap UK supermarkets such as Lidl, Tesco and Poundland as I found the idea quite humourous.

My aim is to keep improving the production quality and keep it as high as I can and make sure that even if your not a muscian that you'll find them entertaining.  So I'll embed a few of the videos below.

Again be sure to go and like and subscribe the new channel, I can promise it will be entertaining!

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Me Playing my resonator after some custom work to it


Click on the above to see the video of me playing that was recorded last week over at Steel Town Music after they had fitted a national slimline pickup and done some custom work on it I wanted done. I seriously cannot reccomend them enough! The tone is straight into the shops amp with whatever settings the last person left on it and whatever acoustic tone the cameras mic picked up. It is literally impossible to make this guitar sound bad when you play it.
I'll be recording some videos with a few more 'complex' pieces being played on it once I have a few moments here at home with my studio setup. we kept it to simple stuff for the benifit of those who didnt have braod musical knowledge lol. Long live the Gretschenstein Mark 1.

Monday, 3 August 2020

GAEA - A Practical Guide (Gaea version 1.2 edition)

This is a brand new version of my popular tutorial video thats been updated and fully re-recorded for Gaea 1.2.  With over 7 1/2 Hours of video this covers every single node in Gaea with full explanation of what they do and many examples of how to get the best out of them.   ErosionStudio is also covered and the video comes with the many Gaea files created during the recording process.

It also features 2 main projects, a simple snowy mountain range and complex desert scene.

Perfect both for those new to Gaea who need to get up to speed fast, and for those with experience of Gaea who wish to update their knowledge of the new additions in 1.2.
Brought to you by Wayne Robson, an artist with over 25 years of experience working at very high levels in Films, TV, Games and private tutoring.

Those who have bought the old version in the last 2 weeks for todays date, will get this version free of charge.


The Interface
Primitives Nodes
The Post Process Stack
Adjustment Nodes
Filter Nodes
Warp Nodes
The Erosion Node (part 1)
The Erosion Node (part 2)
LookDev Nodes
Cartography Node
Light Node
Snow Ice and Floe Nodes
Data Map Nodes
Color Nodes
Output  & Utility Nodes
Erosion Studio

Simple Project  - Snowy Mountain Range
Main Project - Complex Desert Scene

Monday, 13 July 2020

New Song & Video: Racists Liars and Thieves

This is a highly political song that I sat on for 10 months since I 1st wrote it last October, before recording last week.  I am quite aware some may not like the political themes in this video one bit and that it may even cost me some friends.  So I really was in two minds about releasing it, but in my opinion in the end was that any musican who is afraid to stand up for what they believe in is no musician at all. But to be 100% clear: I stand by every single word in this song.

But please bare in mind that while it may pertinent for other countries, it was wrote primarily about the british political system and right leaning media over here.   Where the right of the political system and media have shouted down anything in the middle ground or the left side of politics for years.  When in reality all sides are used in a political game, because nothing fears politicians (of any side) more than a united populous.

Gear used:

Faith Venus acoustic,
Gretsch Alligator resonator
An Old bass I bought for £20 years back
C1 condenser mic
recorded on a Boss BR800 digital 8 track and mixed and mastered in Reaper.

The slide guitar tone waas got in a rather roundabout way. I 1st miked it up using my condenser mic (I would have also used  my SM57 but I only have one mic stand lol.) then I added to this in reaper a MXR dynacommp, 2 delays and reverb.  This gives it a slightly 50's style, slighty overdriven sound.

The acoustics were double tracked with one being a direct out from the guitar to a Fishman preamp and the ther being from the condenser mic.  Vocals, all the harmonies etc were recorded seperately as I didn't want it to sound 'too perfect' using a plugin.... and of course no autotune.  The harmonies were actually an accident as I did 6 vocal takes and while producing and mastering it had a thought 'I wonder what it sounds like with all 6 voices!'  I quite liked it but didn't want it over the entire tune so kept it to a few select areas.

Vocally this is the 1st time I've done any singing since March so my voice is a bit rougher round the edges than it used to be.

All guitars were tuned to open D by the way.

So what is it about?

Well.... its pretty straight forward (and a side note if you are politically on the right and find the content offensive...good.... its a good job you didn't hear the 1st version I wrote back in October it was FAR more biting.)   It basically is pointing out here in the UK the huge right wing media bias and the fact that people are being lied to every day to keep people at each others throats. To keep tyinto make racism acceptable.  Personally I don't trust any politician (no matter what flavour) as they are all either racists, lairs or thieves (hence the title).  It also touches on the fact that just because a voice is loud, does not make it correct.

The video was done with some long hours in after FX as I wanted to try and do something different for this one (plus the kenitic type idea may end up being the default for any future music videos so you don't have to look at my ugly face.)

Now I have that song out of my system I can move onto my next one waiting to be recorded......  not political in any way...but all kinds of fucked up shit in the lyrics lol.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Speed Sculpt

A quick sculpt knocked out, I did a bit yesterday evening and the rest just before my dinner.
Mainly done to try approaching my sculpting a different way.

Also every time I put out a sculpt like this where I play with and break human proportions people seem to hate it lol. ...this is 20 plus years...So yes his nose is suposed to be too big and his eyes are supposed to be too far up the head etc

.. and this is for over 20 plus years...So yes his nose is suposed to be too big and his eyes are supposed to be too far up the head etc, those are not mistakes, those were preplanned.   ;)

Rendered in 3Ds Max with Vray