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Animating a sculpture

This is a video installation for exhibition by artist Aigars Bikše – “Infecting the Truth”. He wanted to highlight the idea with an animated version of his sculpture Infantry Sergeant watching the Sunset in the Gazivoda, so I helped him with that.


Although animation is not too complex, the main thing was to make sculpture as realistic as possible. To do that, I had an idea to test out the new possibilities of 3D reconstruction from photographs offered by Autodesk, because modelling everything from scratch just by looking at reference photos is really hard and time consuming process. Especially when there are so much detail and proportions must be perfect. So I took photos from every angle I could and uploaded them to 123D Catch and was really impressed with results. Yes, of course small details were missing and there were some holes in mesh, but overall, it was a really great starting point for modelling, refining it further. I used Blender modeling and sculpting tools to correct those problems and then retopologized the mesh for use in animation. Then, to get the final, detailed look, I unwrapped the model and projected those same photos on it to make textures, painted, cloned them together and did some work with shaders to finish it. I must say it took more time then I was expecting, it still is a tedious process, but I don’t even want to imagine how long it would take to get everything right without that reconstructed 3D model. It’s really good to have possibilities like that and I encourage everyone to at least try it if you have to make something that already exists in reality. Of course animation and a little bit of smoke simulation + rendering with Cycles took some time also, but that was much more enjoyable. One downside I must mention is, that reconstruction does not work well with reflective or transparent objects, although this sculpture was kind of shiny, but turned out quite good.

Here you can see more from the process:



As you can see, the reconstructed result is REALLY good. The problem is that you basically can not do anything with such a dense mesh, so you just have no other choice as to retopo it. Decimate modifier works well to remove a little bit of detail to speed up the overall process of working.





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