Creating the Warrior
(text quoted from the Novium Museum Website)
The Mystery Warrior was created using the same commercial software (3DS Max and Vray) that is used for both video games and visual effects in films and television. Geometry (basic shapes) were created and modified to block out parts of the helmet using references from the primary archaeological data. To these, materials were applied that describe to the computer how the exterior look should appear (how shiny, how much bumpiness, how transparent something is). These materials were driven by either mathematical fractal calculations to create patterns found frequently in nature, that can be applied and varied across a large surface, or through photography and image references in order to achieve a very specific detail, such as the patterning on the rim of the helmet.
To create hair on the model, a plugin called Ornatrix was used. This allows for the procedural (a word to describe something that follows a series of rules) creation of millions of strands of hair in a manageable way. The hair can be styled in multiple ways in a similar way that real hair might be (combed/cut/pushed around), or it can be told to follow forces such as gravity and wind. It can also work out from the underlying model how it should flow to follow the direction of the geometry and can interact with the model so that it does not penetrate the ‘skin’ that it sits on.
To rig the model, a skeleton was built that was used to drive the position and movements of the horse and warrior. Grant used a system called the ‘Character Animation Theatre’ inside of 3DS Max because it allows for flexibility in the way that animations and poses can be applied to 3D models. You can use layers to animate certain parts and then turn them on, or off, or you can create cyclical movements (such as walking for the horse) that can then be tweaked as the models are in motion to fine tune exactly how difficult parts of the figure bend, or move.
The final part of the process was rendering the shot. When a scene is committed to this, the computer compiles all of the information mentioned above and then works out using mathematical equations how things like reflections and lighting will appear from the specific angle that the camera is situated at. It is also possible to create common camera effects at this point such as depth of field, motion blur and glare. This all helps to provide the final result with more realism and creates something that the final viewer is more familiar to seeing on a daily basis. This process also allows for layers to be created that provide the final artist with a lot of control to be able to tweak elements like reflections, shadows & lighting in post production. The final shot was rendered at a 15,000 resolution, which not only provides a very large file in print, but also includes an incredible amount of detail from the models. Individual hairs, weave and fine scratches and deformation can be seen in the final image, which it is hoped helps to provide a beneficial and thought provoking output.