Sunday, 17 July 2022

Tales from The Turf - A short comic book

 

I decided as a leaving gift to the couple who have ran my local The Turf in Consett for the last 8 year to create a short web comic as a way of sayig thank you to them.  As I've not been in teh habit of posting on here for ages, I thought I'd better get back into it once more. 

The YouTube series of mine 'Life After 3D' is still going strong, and ther has been very little actual improvement in my life since having to sto being a professoinal 3D artist.  Who knows, maybe I'll start doing a proper comic or graphic novel or two if all else fails.

You are going to want to open these images up to their full size to read them properly.













Tuesday, 29 March 2022

I have left 3D on a Professional Level.

 

I have had to come to the very difficult decision to leave the world of 3D on a professional level a month back.

The short version is this is for health reasons and the choice has been somewhat taken out of my hands. No pun intended!   I have irreversible nerve damage in my right hand.

So, while I will continue to teach and be able to do ‘some’ 3D stuff, I won't be able to continue doing the vast majority of what makes me money.

Here is a playlist of the YouTube series I am doing as a result called 'Life After 3D', where I try to both cover the things behind it all as well as ways you can protect yourself from ending up in a similar rsituation...and also covering things like how to create a passive income to protect you should the worst happen. 



Now for some background.


I will let you in on a secret only a very small number of people have known about and have kept for me for a long time.



About 15-17 years ago I came down with a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. It got so bad that the only route left open to me was to have an operation on both hands.  But as my father had the exact same operation on both of his hands and they were never quite the same again (and for an artist and musician the ability to control your hands to a fine level is essential), so I didn’t have the operation.  Added to this my son had just been born and I didn’t think I could justify not being able to help out much post operation.


So (and my ex Kat can attest to this), I found work arounds. You name it, I tried it as a work around.  From alternating between working on site at jobs that were pretty intensive on my hands with ones that were less so (thus explaining the weird trajectory of my 27 year career!)  


So, even by the time anyone had heard of me as a 3D artist my hands were already pretty screwed, but I plugged away and found ways to lessen the effects in the short and medium term.


However, what happens if you do not have treatment or the operation and have carpal tunnel syndrome, is that you end up with irreversible nerve damage, which is what I now have in my right hand.   It cannot be solved or rewound back…only potentially stabilised.  But the kicker is with covid-19 meaning a lot of appointments for operations etc have been delayed in some cases for years or simply not existing… The chances of even that (even if I chose to go ahead with it) are pretty slim.


About a year or two back I noticed my hand was getting worse and through resting it when not working managed to keep going, however, last summer I noticed things had started to get far worse.  So I cannot in all good conscience work as a paid 3D artist on most jobs.   My hands will now only continue to get worse and I have to preserve what use I have left in my right hand as much as I can.


As being a 3D artist is such a massive part of my life and who I perceive myself to be, it's pretty gut wrenching to be honest. I will still be able to teach and do bits and pieces in my spare time, but working these days for any more than about 2-3 hours with my hands ends up causing me epic amounts of pain, so even that will be thin on the ground.


So what do I do now to make ends meet? The only two things I have ever been good at are 3D art and music. Being a musician as many know is basically having a giant money pit that you throw money into…. It's not a way to become rich.  So although I have a few potential ideas, none would solve the problem of no income in the short term.


I find it ironic as from a purely knowledge and experience level my mind is still as sharp as a razor and I have 27 years of amazingly varied experience, just I now have very few ways left in which to use that.



My career has seen me go from a no one in the arse end of north east rural England to working at top firms in TV, Films and computer games and doing some rather important jobs. I’ve worked on all sorts of projects (only about 25% of them I was ever allowed to mention as is usually the way).


I have met some amazing people and many of whom I still count as very good friends. I will try to stay in touch with everyone, and hopefully not being able to do 3D professionally will not drive me to the same point that having to stop being an escape artist (also due to medical reasons) did when I was 19 year old. In that case I was unable to keep watching people do what I loved while being unable to do it myself.


I take great joy in the many people I have advised and trained over the years who are doing amazingly well in their own careers.  I will continue to watch your careers flourish with great interests.


In my career I have made a lot of companies and people very rich, while somehow managing to keep myself just slightly above the breadline.


To all those who have helped me in my 27 years working I thank each and every one of you, you often helped far more than you knew at the time.


As 3D art is so much a part of my life, it's a part of me that it's going to be hard to start to walk away into the crowd of 'normal people'.


I like to.think that I made a difference though, and that many that now do 3D learned a thing or two from me, and that a few people driving their rolls and Bentleys maybe owe me a pint at some point.


So, I hope I have made enough of a contribution in my life as a 3D artist, that my work or things that I worked on brought you some joy.   If that's the case, then that makes all of this worth it.


Now, you see... the thing is this means I now have no income, very little savings and will probably end my days old and broke ( after helping many people to make millions over my career.) But I knew the game before I started playing it. So I don't need sympathy.


So while I can work on stuff at my own pace, that is NOT the reality of working as a freelance guy in 3D.These days ( as I had to drop out of working away), I get the hard jobs, the ones others cannot or will not do.to be honest this makes things harder, coz if it was easy they would do it in house.



As the only thing I am really good at is 3D, its so much a part of my life, a part of me that it's going to be hard to start to walk away into the crowd of 'normal people'.


I like to.think that I made a difference though, and that many that now do 3D learned a thing or two from me, and that a few people driving their rolls and Bentleys maybe owe me a pint at some point.


But remember, I'll be keeping my eye on you all...so don't fuck things up! ;) I will continue this blog, as I still teach as a vistiing lecturer once a week and may well be able from time to time to also do some 3D on smaller personal things. But you will also see a lot more of the music side and some other parts of my life and interests.


Painting Commission:: David Bowie

 



Yes its been 2 years since I last posted a blog...and explanation will come along very soon. Meanwhile, here's a painting commision I finished last week of David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust period.  Acrylics on Canvas.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 Personal Retrospective

 

so...

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.


THE ART SIDE


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!



Feburary:

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).



March:

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.




July:

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.)





August:

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.





December:

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.






THE MUSIC SIDE


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.

EVERY PIXEL YOU SEE BELOW IS CGI. THERE ARE NO PLATE AT ALL IN ANY OF THESE.



















Empty Room Blockouts









Some of the many, many props I had to make