Making Of 'Lobit'
My name is Andrea Lazzarotti and I've been working in the field of computer graphics for the past 10 years. I currently work at TAXFREE FILM of Parma in Italy, in the advertising industry. You can see some of my work here: http://farins.deviantart.com/gallery/
I took inspiration from my old Canon Super 8 camera to create this little robot. I really love the vintage look of that camera and the very solid materials that it's made from. I first took some reference photos to get an idea about the forms, materials and color combinations. Obviously I did not want to do an exact replica, but it helped to add a touch of vintage to my creation (Fig.01 - 02).
With a new piece I usually start by making some sketches on paper to create the starting form, but in this case I went for a direct approach and started in 3D. I experimented with the body and arms until I found a good form.
I began with a sphere and built the initial chassis around it (Fig.03 - 04), trying to create a simple, but functional, design. I did the same for the arms, trying not to stray too far from the style that characterized the technology of the time of the Super 8 (Fig.05).
I wanted the robot to have freedom of movement in 3D space, as if it were entirely independent. For this purpose I created several reactors at the lower and behind. However I also added increasing elements of old technology, such as the battery cover, RCA, switches, and LEDs (Fig.06).
I used simple polygon modeling, just extruding face by face for the entire model, and then put the Turbosmooth modifier on top of the whole piece. When the model was finished I created a simple rig so that every moving part could be animated, including the iris inside the lens (Fig.07).
Once the model and rig were completed, I started working on the materials and lighting. I wanted to simulate an interior as a place, and for this purpose I took a photo of a window in my workplace. I just did a shot in RAW (14-bit was more than enough) and didn't have to create an HDRI as it was enough for me use distant lights to simulate the light coming from the window (Fig.08).
I used two V-Ray planar lights with the window image like a map projection and did some neutral test lighting (Fig.09).
I chose to use V-Ray for the materials, lights and rendering. I feel very comfortable using it as I find it's very flexible and powerful. First, to assign materials and textures, I unwrapped all the pieces and painted them to create a black and white mask that could simulate the wear of the materials (Fig.10).
For the materials of the metallic parts, I used a V-Ray material with a blend of various metal textures. For the chassis, I used a V-Ray material with a leather texture to simulate the surface of the original Canon Super 8 (Fig.11 - 13).
For the film material I used a basic film texture I found on the internet and then edited in Photoshop. I put all my old artwork in the frames of the film (Fig.14).
When I had finished setting up all the materials and lights, I started the render session. I always adopt a linear workflow in my job and personal artwork as this helps me to find more realism, and I also save as an Open.exr file and split the renders into different passes for compositing in After Effects. For this piece I used just a few passes, like Beauty, Z-Depth, ID, AO, and also a contour pass (Fig.15 - 16).
I created all of the other elements, like smoke, dust and the background, in Photoshop as this allows me to use the brushes to have better control over the image and the final retouching.
In After Effects, I used a famous plugin called Magic Bullet Colorista II to setup a fine color correct and improve the image quality and mood. With the Frischluft - Deep of Field plugin I added a little depth of field using the Z-Depth channel. In Fig.17 you can see some visible film in the background of the image which I inserted in composite, but later decided to remove.
The final step was done in Photoshop. I corrected all of the little inaccuracies, like having too many dark areas, added rim lights and light blows, and much more. Then I painted the background with Photoshop brushes and re-touched the color mood, as you can see in the final image (Fig.18).