Underwater Dynamics

For my OXUS project, my scene and animation is set in the ocean specifically on an oil platform. As such I wanted to gain a better understanding of how to animate scenes underwater, as the majority of the recovery process, and the animation, will occur underwater. So I purchased and worked through the Gnomon Workshops DVD training on Maya  Dynamics: Underwater Environments. I had intended to spend an afternoon, to a day working through the training provided on the DVD. It wound up taking me a bit longer than that with to work through the entirety of the material as I ran into several problems along the way. One of the first things that caused me problems was that my mouse decided to die, and in the process of its death I somehow managed to absolutely destroying some of my Maya preferences. This resulted in me having to rebuild my Maya settings which was not fun, but also not overly painful thanks to backups. I also wound up stealing my little brother’s mouse for the meantime, and I have ordered a new mouse this afternoon. It’s the Mionix Naos 8200 and I’m reasonably excited for the mouse as it seems to look like it’ll be very comfortable and responsive, not to mention it has gotten some of the highest possible review scores. The next problem I ran into is that there were several elements missing or not named the same as what was presented in the lecture. Unfortunately there was not a lot I could do about missing content aside form either a) try to create my own version of whatever it is he is using(which can be difficult as he doesn’t always explain what he is using and instead just grabs it and  implements it), or b) try to find the elements somewhere on the web(which is also not very easy to do). So there was some content missing and specifically this caused me problems when trying to implement the NURBs based ocean shader, as I had no idea how to build it or how it was created. Fortunately he did present a different way of building the surface shader with a tool included in Maya. However I ran into the problem of not being able to effectively breaking the light links between the surface of the ocean and my light-source in the set, with out breaking the light altogether. He addressed this problem very quickly by saying that he would finish the scene with a multi-pass render and composite it together in Adobe After Effects. This brings me to my final problem, I am capable of creating many of the effects in the scene, however I have not had any work or training for multi-pass rendering. This has lead me to seek out a video series done up by Lynda.com on rendering with Mental Ray. I also have a distinct lack of clouds in my scene and those are covered in another video series by Lynda.com on creating natural Environments. As lovely as it would be to work through both of those video series, I intend to finish my animation project by the end of this month and as such will probably just end up reviewing the relevant sections on the rendering video lecture.  In the meantime, I’m going to post a quick video of what the video should look like after being composited as well as some pictures of my work in progress. I’m done working on the Underwater Dynamics material for the time being, and I am now working on implementing the system into my Maya scene. Then my next goal is to rebuild my asset’s with proper animation rigs, which will allow me to swap out the low-quality asset’s currently used in my production with the higher quality textured and detailed animations when I’m ready to animate. Without those rigs, I’d need to redo all of my final animation on the new asset’s which would be much more time intensive. I also created a quick picture of my current oil platform floating in the new water material I have created.


In my scene I have been able to create a dynamic rope, dynamic bubbles, and dynamic plants in the area. The caustic light pattern on the bottom is animated and moves in time with the light effect on the bottom. I’ve got several different renders that I’ve done showcasing the different elements, however they are not all able to be effectively rendered at once in maya and this brings up again my need to develop a working knowledge of multi-pass rendering in mental ray. And lastly here is what the video should look like once the passes are all composited.


I feel I should mention that there was a ton of really good material available in this course, however the problems made it a touch more challenging to actually finish the material in a timely manner. I learned quite a bit and I look forward to implementing it.

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