First Three Projects Overview:

The Scene for All Three Weeks

Turn In Folder: \\ntdfs\cs\unix\projects\instr\production4\cse459_wi09_turn-in

The first three projects for cse459 will be advanced shading, advanced effects, and advanced lighting. This quarter, these projects will be designed in a more integrated way than in cse458. Instead of shading, visual effects and lighting three different scenes, you will be working with a single scene and developing those aspects of the scene in order. This means that the work you finish by the end of each project will be useful in the next project. By the end of the three projects you will hopefully have a scene that conveys a definite sense of mood and bit of a story as well.

For each week you will be assigned a different project that will build on the work the week before. You will be allowed to add to or change aspects of the scene to suit your ideas based on the mood and setting you wish to convey.

If you choose to forego one of these projects, you may need to be given a customized scene to work with. Please see Koos or JP if you need a scene.

In changing the scene we ask that you not change or block certain key elements, such as the fireplace. By the due date of each project, we expect a set of deliverables. The deliverables will likely change between projects. Please remember to include your reference materials for the project. This may include a drawing, some photographs or other appropriate forms of reference.

You will find your initial scene here. Please down load it before starting on the project.

For all three projects, you will be graded on the following:

  1. Professionalism - i.e. staying positive, getting something done, and following direction ( see Professionalism and Production in the Information for Grading link on the course website. )
  2. The technical aspects of each project - this will vary between projects

     Aesthetic - how well you foster a mood.

There will be specific expectations for how each project will be evaluated and they can be found on the link “Information for Grading “ on the course website.  

For the FINAL turn YOU will pick the camera angle, mood, shading, FX, and overall lighting of the scene. Thinking ahead for these three weeks is a good idea, remember all you learned last quarter and how long things like rendering took so that you can turn in the best product. You will be graded throughout but the final turn in will involve many aspects such as composition, clarity, light quality, use of reference, display of shading, use of FX, and compositing.



Project 1

The first week is one of the most important in terms of the entire project. Advanced shading will begin with some tutorials and finding reference. By week two everyone will have shaded one room. Jason's Tutorial with the Burning Log and helpful node descriptions is here.


  • One of the first thing you need to do is find reference: By Thursday January 8th you need to have at least 5 reference pictures and 1 drawing for your room.(You can have more reference or concept art, whatever you need to get your room to look its best).
  • The 5 reference pictures should portray aspects of your room like: color, texture, reflection, transparency, glow, dust, etc. These are things that you will be able to create much better if you have reference images. This reference can be general feel of the room or specific ideas you have for things like the wallpaper or the fireplace
  • The 1 drawing is supposed to be concept art for your room, to display the visual idea you want to convey. The main goal is to plan for texturing for your room and do get a sense of what colors and objects you might add. By the Third week your concept art should portray mood and feeling. You should be able to get a sense of what time of day it is and what the objective of the scene is. For this first week though the primary objective is to display your plan to texture and shade the room.
  • Shading Tips

  • Once you have an idea of how to texture the room it is time to start shading. If you are adding any models or changing anything within the room it would be a good idea to do that before you begin heavily shading. Obviously the first part of shading as you have learned is to UV unwrap. Now some objects in the room might not need much unwrapping, others might need a lot. Some you might be able to completely skip and create a 3d texture for it. These things would be good to figure out ahead of time so you can expedite the shading process. Don't forget your final scene must show at least some of the fireplace.
  • The better detailed and shaded you can make the room the better your effects and lighting will look. Although mayas basic textures and online pictures like noise and fractal, or wallpaper or wood textures can help a lot, the best textures are hand painted. There are many reasons to paint your own textures but among them are the ability to create assymetry and variance as well as the great control you have later for things like layering, bump, and transparency. Good additions to consider might be dust, scratches, and reflectivity. One caveat though is make sure you texture what is most important, if your final camera is right next to something these details will be important but if you are far away we might not even notice the hard work you have done.
  • One more thing to remember, although you can texture everything crazily a good thing to keep in mind is to make your room look cohesive. The room will look better if the different aspects fit together rather than looking like they were all textured differently and at different times.
  • In the end turn in your final .ma file, three renders from the cameras in the room, your reference/concept art, a .mov of your log fire, and copies of your textures as tiffs/bmps or some other format.
  • Good Luck!


    Project 2

    By this point you should have a file with a shaded room in it. If this is not the case, see a TA and they will provide you with an adequate file. This week will focus on adding a fire to the fireplace.

    The fire you are expected to make should consist of at least two parts: sparks made from a particle system; and flames made from Maya's dynamic fluids. While this project amounts to following the tutorial found here - to be filled in, that is no excuse to not get creative and try something more technical with your effect if you would like.

    Time Estimations

    The tutorial covers three subjects, NCloth Strings, Particles, and Dynamic Fluids. The NCloth string portion is unrelated to the fire effect or your scene, but should be useful in the context of your film and should only take thirty minutes tops. The particle system part of the project will take a minimum of an hour if you make no mistakes and interpret the instructions flawlessly. Finally the Dynamic Fluid portion takes roughly three hours for someone with a little experience with fluids, so set aside a good amount of time.

    You will find that the render farm doesn't take well to fluids so any rendering of a fluid will likely have to be done as a batch job. This means that those last tweaks will not go quickly, so budget your time. It would be advisable to just get through the tutorial as quickly as possible, then go back for those final tweaks that will make it perfect.


    Video Settings:

    Tutorial: link to be made soon



    Project 3

    Now that you have added shaders, textures, and effects it is time to put this all on display. Lighting can make a good scene look bad and even help a bad scene look good. It all depends on how well you convey your point and mood while creating believable and aesthetically beautiful lighting. Two very important things to look at are the lighting guidelines and the lighting project webpages.


    Again reference is needed. You are expected to find 3 pictures that display the lighting and/or mood you are going for as well as either using, updating, or redrawing your original concept art so that it conveys your goal.