My Portfolio

Monday, October 15, 2018

Creating better 3D characters - Blender Week 3

Moving onto the course on character rigging now. Not fully finished the course of 3d modeling a character but finished all the modules on building out the basic body parts. The rest of the modules look like they deal with detailing the ninja character outfit. I think I'll move on for now and revisit these modules about detailing when I start building my own characters.

Here's a picture of the ninja model with my current progress of inserting in a human meta-rig.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Creating better 3D characters - Blender Week 2

Currently about 1/3rd through the Blender 3d modeling course with half of the ninja finished. Completed the modules on creating the torso, arms and hands.

The model isn't perfectly close to how the course does it but I feel I've learned a lot about the basics so far. If I were to try and get better at this, I think learning more about the human anatomy in terms of muscle groups would be pretty helpful in better modeling.  If I don't skip some modules I should be done in the next two weeks . However, I want to move on to learning about character rigging so I an get to character animation sooner so I'll skim the next couple modules and revisit them in the future when I think I need to learn it well. 

Looking at all the different skills I need to learn and the knowledge depth in programs such as Unity and Blender, I'm really realizing inside how much there is still to learn. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Creating better 3D characters - Blender Week 1

I've decided that my next project will be a VR 360 version of Little Red Riding hood. To make this next project better I've decided to do some online courses on 3D Character modeling in blender. So far I've done a few simple blender courses to learn how to use the basic tools as well as modeling simple objects like furniture.

Based on my current progress, at fastest I'll maybe finish mid October but I'm going to aim to at the latest finish by the end of the month. Here's my current progress with the head of the Ninja.

Afterwards I should probably do a course on character rigging so I can set myself up to learn how to do some basic character animation as well.

At this rate I'm not sure when I'll get to working on Little Red Riding hood but I'm looking forward to the moment I can purely focus on using my skills to bringing stories into VR.

-Stevie Vu

Monday, October 1, 2018

VIFF Immersed - Notes from the VR story telling conference

Attended my first VR event at the Vancouver International Film Festival - Immersed event. They brought in some great speakers from studios around the world which was pretty impressive. I was pretty surprised being able to meet Kent from the Voices of VR amd the co-founder of Scatter who created Zero days VR. I was most impressed with Navid from inkStories and local Vancouver talent Paisley Smith who created Homestay. Here are the summary of the key points I took away from the conference.

State of the industry - Based on Green Light Insights Presentation
  • How many years away do people in the VR industry feel VR is from mass adoption based on twice a year survey. 40% feel it is 3-5 years away and another 40% feel there is still 5 - 10 years.
  • We are in the trough of disillusionment
  • Venture Capital funding is still very much wild west. Most VC interest is in enterprise apps and Augmented reality. Funding has slowed. Seems like investors are waiting to see how things turn out.
  • Still very early on for VR since we are dealing with 1st and 2nd gen tech.
  • Surveys show that ~50% of organizations have only made 1 or 2-3 VR apps and not many are above 4+
  • VR tech is getting better with more 4k displays hitting the market.
  • Location based exhibitions ( The Void  or VR Arcades) are still dealing with the challenge of getting repeat monthly customers
  • Social interactivity within VR is of high interest to Millennial(80%) and Gen Z(75%). 
  • Monetizing is still a challenge for VR cinematic content - not very many advertisers have created 360 ads 

Distribution and finding an audience for your VR cinematic content 
Samsung VR app & Littlestar
  • Samsung VR - For people publishing VR cinematic content, this is a platform that you should upload to as well. Cross platform across Oculus Go, Gear VR with the other VR platforms coming soon. They plans to implement monetization for creators in 2019. Has analytic and heat map tracking to see where people are viewing in your video. Also, your account provides you with 100 gig video cloud storage. 
  • Littlestar is also another place to upload that is cross platform

VR Story telling tips
  • Ask yourself, why should this story or experience be told using VR. Think about why VR makes this a better experience and  how its different from other platforms.
  • One of the unique key strengths of VR is the ability to interact with the world and other characters. Not all choices given to the player need to effect the main story plot and make the story branch. Give choices to the character that allow the player to emotionally connect to the main character and get invested in the story. 
  • Audio was reiterated as being super important multiple times and viewers dont realize that 50% of the time for why the experience is good is because of audio. 
  • Use Twine to help with story boarding for nonlinear stories.
  • Google team's tips - Reward curiosity, Google have things to view even in the back of a 360 viewing experience. Don't try to punish viewers for not looking where the main action is. 
  • Beginning of the game experience is hardest. Need to give the character a stimulus or something new every 15 seconds to keep them engaged. Challenge is to make the choices or stimulus interesting without it being redundant for the sake of keeping them engaged.
-Stevie Vu

Friday, September 28, 2018

Three Little Pigs VR 360 video learning project part 2

Mostly finished the three little pigs VR 360 video project now. Main goal was to learn how to use Unity Timeline and unity Recorder. I think I have a basic grasp of how to use them so I'll move on to my next learning project.At this point I'll spend one more evening adding some details to make it visually look better but not going to dedicate too much time to it. 

Learning points :
  • Each character and asset adds a pretty significant chunk of time - modeling and then UV mapping it takes quite a lot of time.
  • Unity timeline - works a little differently from what I'm used to with video editing. 
  • Blender - Learned how to do basic modeling and UV unwrapping. Can also create fracture of 3d models now too. 
  • Unity recorder - need to turn off stereo recording if you want one video that has 360 viewing on youtube upload. Also need to make sure to tag the camera with "main camera". 

Project challenges
  • Unity recorder can only record at 60 fps
  • Unity timeline - synching events with audio is tough because although you can preview animations on the timeline, it doenst play sound at the same time. 

I'll revisit this project again in the future to do the touch up and deal with things like :
  • Lighting
  • Special effects
  • Sound effects
  • Character placement 
  • Character animation
  • Character model upgrade

Monday, September 24, 2018

Three Little Pigs VR 360 Learning Project

The Three Little Pigs is my first VR 360 video story telling project and I'm working on keeping it simple to learn the basics. I want to create the minimum assets needed to complete this project and have created a game design/ project outline. The main learning goal of this project is going to be learning unity Timeline and maybe a bit of Cinemachine.


Game Design Document

A short story 2 minutes that tells the story of the three little pigs. Characters will be miniature figurines with wood texture. 
  • Script/Story Board - 1 days
  • Timeline - 2 days 
  • Models -  7 days
    • (3)Three Little pigs - 
    • (1)Big Bad Wolf
    • (1)Straw house
    • (1)Wood house
    • (1)Brick house
  • Character Animation - Blender - 4 days
  • Audio Sounds effects/ Audio Recording - 1 day
  • Unity - Putting it together - 3 days
Total days = 18 days

As I'm working on creating the 1st asset, Piggy1 model  I'm learning that uv wrapping and texturing is what I'm most unfamiliar with and takes the most time. This is an area that could use some additional training and learning. 

I haven't started learning how to do animations yet but I think it'll take focus on learning that in the future. 

Since the model won't be moving I'll change the character models to look like wooden figurines and this should justify the stiff model animation and save me time.

Monday, September 17, 2018

My first VR Scene | VR storytelling

So its been three months since I bought the Oculus GO and started my attempts at learning how to create VR experiences. Here's my first recorded VR 360 video uploaded onto Youtube.

It's based on a pixel picture of me and Queenie that I had made a few years back. Pretty excited since I feel like this is my first step towards VR story telling.

For my next learning project, I'm going to try and create a short story version of the three little pigs.

Programs used :
Unity - Game engine
Unity Recorder - To record the 360 video
Gimp - Image editing
Blender - 3D modeling.