1.4 Framing & Strategising
The student relates his/her design decisions to technical consideration.

1.4 Framing & Strategising

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During the semester, I had to make several decisions as to which programs to use and when, for various tasks and various results I wanted to achieve. One example would be the creation of the creature previously spoken about in previous examples for the Biometric Feedback Project.

My task was to create a creature that would represent/reflect the users' state of emotion. The first decision was to choose the program to do 3D modelling. I experimented with the 3D software Maya from Autodesk as I had read from multiple sources that it is the industry leading software for character animation, but after a short period of working with it, I realised that it would take too much time to learn for this project. As I had previously worked with Cinema 4D for the Living Roadmap project, I had a basic understanding of the interface and the logic behind the program. Therefore, I decided to work with Cinema 4D instead. The other demand that the program met was that it could export both OBJ and FBX, the necessary file type to import into Unity. As the Cafe Sunday project was built within Unity, Unity became a required tool.

Being a C4D novice, I faced many challenges in modelling and creating the character. My first few tries were all unsuccessful because they were poorly made and technically incorrect. After following various tutorials and deconstructing other 3D files, I gained an understanding of the basics of modelling. This was when I realised that I needed to start from a basic block, divide it into segments, extrude and form the block into an abstract shape, to then slowly add more and more detail.

I faced a major hurdle, however, when I came across having to texturise the creature. In my mind, the monster had to be furry, hairy, yet rubbery and almost clay like. So I played around with various hair shaders in Cinema 4D but discovered that this made the creatures file size very large and complex and also caused it not to be compatible with Unity, due to Unity having its own unique shaders. I then tried to recreate the hair shaders in Unity itself, but I realised that it was very difficult and time-consuming. I then realised that it would be better to model the hair in the Cinema 4D software onto the object itself.

After much researching into how to create an empathetic character, I discovered that one of the most important things were the eyes. These could either give the character a dead look or bring life to it. I followed a guide to how Pixar makes their eyes and followed various tutorials and tips to create a pair of my own. Originally, the ones I created were flat and lifeless, and it was only after I had created an outer transparent layer with a highly reflective gloss that the character came to life. However, when I imported everything into Unity, all textures and shaders were lost. Luckily I was, with Marcus’ help, able to I export UV’s from the textures in Cinema 4D which could be used within Unity.

We also faced hardware restrictions as the Café Sunday Unity document was a hugely complex file, poorly optimised for Mac, only viewable in VR with an HTC Vive and needed a powerful graphics card to run. To solve this problem we decided to create a new scene which was then compatible with the oculus rift.