Project |01

Multiverse

about Multiverse...

    

 My graduation project was entitled Multiverse and completed by a small film team. I served as the director and was also responsible for the modeling, visual effects, and storyboarding also most part of line drawing.

 

Initially, my idea was to depict a story concerning parallel universes. Most of the universe has yet to be explored and understood, which has prompted all manner of imaginative speculation and parallel universes in particular present us with numberless possibilities. At that time my sole concern, however, was pondering how one would or could develop a topic or theme like parallel universes? I presented this idea to my team for discussion, and through a combination of brainstorming and weighing a range of opinions provided by our guidance professor, we finally determined to produce the following story:

 

Scientist James Franco invents an extrasensory perception drug that allows him to strengthen his conscious mind’s connection with multiverse. He uses this drug to shuttle between different multiverses in search of his wife who died from a car accident. On one occasion when he injects the drug, he finds himself transported to a multiverse on the verge of collapse because its decrepit stars are on the verge of dying out. In order for him and his wife to escape the planet she is on, they must embark on a spaceship called The Ark. However, just when The Ark is about to lift off, it is destroyed by the force of an explosion from the decaying planet. All that remains before their eyes are a much smaller spaceship which can only allow whisk one person away to safety. Now Franco is faced with a dilemma.

 

 

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Story Board...

  Having no previous experience with science fiction topics, during the process of designing the storyboard I referenced a number of movies in this genre such as Star Trek and Man of Steel. Once the first generation storyboard was completed, I then engaged the professor and the project team members in lively discussions during which a number of continuity errors were corrected. I operated on the presumption that drawing storyboards in greater detail resulted in great time savings while filming. Sure enough, we in fact did not have to devote a great deal of time to shooting footage.

 

The overall process proved very efficient and we completed our shoots within the originally designated production timeframe. This also freed up much more time for us to focus on carrying out the 3D rotoscoping in greater detail. Once I completed the storyboarding, the spaceship and scene design remained unfinished. Thus I was able to infuse my originally conceived sensibility into the storyboard scenario and spaceship.

Modeling...

  When it came to modeling, I was in charge of designing the scenery and the small spaceship. For the latter, I referenced some of the science fiction movie concept art completed by leading industrial designers as I wished to develop a streamlined sensibility evocative of the near future.  Naturally, my design had to be created using Maya software and work within its limitations. With the story background featuring a planet on the verge of ruination, I used character texturing to generate an esthetic of burning flames and massive destruction. Given that Maya can blur some details during the stylization process, we also had to devote some time to experimenting to get the texturing right.

  Speaking of the production design, the story is set on a planet about to perish. Thus, we designed the story scenery to be desolate and devoid of vegetation or buildings. We created a motif of naked fissured rock. I use Star Trek’s Vulcan as my point of reference, endeavoring to construct a desolate planet teetering on the edge of destruction. Initially my design for the parallel universe featured a full range of color. However, wishing to contrast it with our existing universe, I decided to do it in grayscale. Afterwards, by depicting the scenery and human characters in gray scale a superior verisimilitude was achieved without excessive abruptness and ultimately preserving coherence. Thus, the mapping initially was in black and white. 

Visual Effect...

  To portray a planet in the throes of destruction, we used some explosions and fire and fissuring effects to fortify the persuasiveness and richness of our tableau. I was responsible for a section of flaming special-effects and surface fissuring. Although MAYA comes with many installed special effects, we hoped instead to create a superior verisimilitude, even if this meant that stylizing the tableau would take up most of the special effects. For the surface fissuring we used a MAYA plug-in to experiment with many of the effects and only after getting them right did we apply them to the scene.

Transform 3D to 2D...

Some materials, like the scenery, and the spaceship modeling, were created in 3-D using MAYA modeling or special effects presentations, after which we integrated them with the real-shot footage. Wanting to distinguish our work from that of others, we decided that after integrating the 3D source material we would use Photoshop for the whole thing and stylize each frame, after which we would convert it into 2-D animation. However, because our project team was so small, in order to optimize the presentation of our tableau, we decided to take our 24 frame per second film and remove two thirds of the frames and then stylize and add traces and color processing. We experimented with many different styles and considered directly altering the style of real universe without changing any colors. However, the effect was not eye-catching and so we decided to elevate the chroma levels to bring out a surreal feel. In order to distinguish this universe from the real one, we decided the parallel universe would be presented in grayscale. Although this unfortunately meant we had to forgo flames and the spaceship’s special characteristic of emitting luminescence, given our limited timeframe and human resources, we had no choice but to generate our desired effects in the briefest possible time.

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