You Are Anonymous

Completed: 2011

My Involvement: Concept, Direction, Storyboard, 3D Environment Modeling, 3D Animation, Lighting, Texturing, Editing, Audio Mixing (not responsible for character modeling or rigging).

Character Modeling and Rigging by Marc Russo and Kirby Culbertson

Materials/Software: Maya, After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere, Soundbooth

Description:
You Are Anonymous is the second short film I’ve created in Maya. The film was included in a group exhibition titled ID:Entity Self: Perception + Reality held at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, NC in the fall 2011. The show featured work by designers in the Raleigh, NC area and several faculty members and students from NC State University. The artists in the exhibition explored the “complex relationship between the “self” and the world” and offered a variety of interpretations of the theme. Much of the work in the show was influenced by our growing consumption of digital technology and its effect on the ways in which we communicate and our understanding about ourselves and our environment.

You are Anonymous is a reflection on the way controlled environments and extreme situations can shape and alter a person’s identity or sense of self. The piece is inspired by an infamous social experiment conducted in 1971 at Stanford University. In the “Stanford Prison Experiment” (as it is known), psychologist Phillip Zimbardo set up a mock prison and recruited student volunteers to play specific “roles”. Some students were assigned the role of prisoner and others the role of prison guard. After only a few days, the experiment took a startling turn and spiraled out of control.

According to Zimbardo:
“Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.”

The purpose of the experiment was to study human behavior and, as Zimbardo puts it,“ find out what happens when you put good people in an evil place.” A number of people, including Zimbardo, have compared this experiment to the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Abu Ghraib.

You are Anonymous examines the relationship between the role of the controller verses the controlled. All of the decisions I made concerning texture, color, lighting, sound, and composition/camera angles were intended to enhance the theme of control verses submission. In the film, the “roles” assumed by the prisoner and prison guard become their identities. Since the prison guards in the film are portrayed in a negative light, it is important to note that I am interested in the concept of the abuse of power.

To learn more about the Stanford Prison Experiment, please click here: http://www.prisonexp.org/

Stills from the Film

Process Images

ID:Entity Self:Perception + Reality Opening Night

Absurd Hero

Completed: 2012

My Involvement: All aspects

Materials/Software: Maya, After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere, GarageBand, Soundbooth

Description:

Absurd Hero is based on Albert Camus’s interpretation of the myth of Sisyphus. In the myth, Sisyphus is punished for being deceitful and thus doomed to push a massive boulder up a mountain for eternity. I decided to adapt this story because it gave me the opportunity to focus on character animation through the actions of my main character’s physical struggle up the mountain. The visual style of the film is based on simplicity and the use of simple geometric shapes to convey a story.

To begin, I researched the Sisyphus story and thought out rough ideas for my own interpretation. Once I had a rough idea for the progression of my story, I made numerous character sketches to identify the types of expressive movements my Sisyphus character should make. After developing a storyboard, I creating an animatic to plan out the action. During the animatic phase, I also recorded my own customized soundtrack in GarageBand and Soundbooth which emphasizes the actions and emotions expressed by the main character. Because the film is devoid of any dialogue, the character’s gestures, lighting shifts, and soundtrack had to convey a sense of both struggle and elation. As I animated in Maya, I applied deformer rigs to the character to add flexibility of movement. After the animated scenes were rendered out in multiple passes in Maya, I edited the film in After Effects and Premiere.

Stills from the Film

Process Images

Stock Rig Animation Cycles

I created the following animation cycles in Maya using a stock rig.

Soda Bottles Modeling Project

Work In Progress

My Involvement: All aspects

Materials/Software: Maya, Photoshop

Description:
This project is a work in progress which began as an exercise to continue developing my skills using both nurbs and polygonal modeling techniques in Maya. In this project, I have also had the chance to experiment with shaders in order to represent transparent surfaces. I’d still like to add some details to make the soda bottles appear more realistic. In particular, I’m working on adding ridges to the bottle caps.

Robot Modeling Project

Completed: 2012

My Involvement: All aspects

Materials/Software: Maya, Photoshop

Description:
This was my first attempt at character modeling in Maya. I based the design of this robot character on simple shapes and modeled it using basic polygonal techniques with geometric primitives. To begin the modeling process, I used image planes featuring my character sketches from top, side, and front orthographic views. One of my goals for this project was to learn how to establish an object hierarchy and relocate pivot points so that I could the place the character in a variety of poses. Another consideration was finding a balance between hard and soft edges.

“Tuffy the Wolf” Wolf Modeling Project

Completed: 2012

My Involvement: All aspects

Materials/Software: Maya, After Effects, Photoshop

Description:
This 3D model (created in Maya) is based on the North CarolinaStateUniversity mascot known as “Tuffy”. According to NC State communications, Tuffy is a federally registered trademark used to “promote brand awareness and fan support.” To design the model, I referenced the most common logo design featuring Tuffy which is typically used for branding purposes. The challenging part of the project was figuring out how to take the flat, 2D version of Tuffy and translate it into a three dimensional object. To accomplish this task, I began envisioning the possible proportions of Tuffy’s body by sketching out three dimensional forms from multiple points of view. Since Tuffy is a wolf, I also referenced pictures of real wolves to give me a better idea about the structure of their bodies. Even though Tuffy has cartoonish and exaggerated human features, using reference images of real wolves helped me understand how I should construct the final model. Once I was happy with the design, I began modeling based on my character sketches from top, side, and front orthographic views. The final model was constructed using a planar modeling technique that followed a progression from simple to more complex forms.