Production artist open editor, and then opens the scene they are working on. Before getting started she looks to see if there are any updates to the storyboards since they last worked by accessing the repository (and sort by date). The Artist opens a list of production items to look through; from that list can be seen: Story, Character, Art Direction, Story board, Vocal Tracks, Sound Effects and Music, and 3D animatic, all of these in their latest carnation may be accessed right there within the editor. The artist is working on animation and looks at an update to the animatic for direction. The layout of the environment art is already loaded, some pieces are gray-boxed, while others are finished. The Animator looks at the scene to get a grasp of the lighting laid out by the lighting director. The Animator opens the scene file where the animations are located in Maya. The same gray-boxed assets from the environment art in the engine are referenced into the Maya scene. The animator begins work on the animations for that scene. After the animator finishes a bit of work she exports the animation to the engine and then plugs the animation into the scene. She takes note of all of the elements coming together; lighting, environment art, sound design, and of course her animations. She pulls up the animatic again to see if her timing is matching. It is, and she feels the work is ready for review, so she checks in her assets.
Shortly after she checks in her work, the sound designer updates his build. He sees the new animations for the sounds he is working on are in. He quickly exports his sounds, then opens the editor. He drops the sounds where he wants them. He hits play, and notices how the sounds work with the new animations, all in real time.
The animator shoots an email to the lighting director letting him know that the scene he was asking about is checked in. He updates his source control and is ready to begin lighting the scene in real time. His lighting setups happen before his eyes, and his previs for this scene has been setup in record time.
Character Previs Vision
The character artists while working in Zbrush have already exported lower poly versions of their characters to be auto rigged for the upcoming real time final test before production begins. While preproduction proceeds the character artists are getting closer for their final review of their finished models. The artist exports out a medium/high poly character out of Zbrush, and plugs it into their real time visualization tool, in this case Marmoset Toolbag, where they are able to hand off the file to the lighting director. The lighting director in little time lights the characters with instant feedback for the director to look at. The same process is happening with in environment and prop art. Using Direct X 11 the models even show displacement, further improving on faster turnaround times. The director is pleased that the time and quality of preproduction has simultaneously improved.
The team of artists producers and director sit down to watch a preproduction scene for review. As they examine the scene the directors and producers marvel at the near production quality preproduction has taken on; the characters are normal mapped and, fully colored, and lit within the scene, yet no extra time has been added to the preproduction cycle so the current budget remains intact.
Daniel Triplett, is an artist that worked in game development for over 6 years, and now teaches in the Computer Graphics Technology department (CGT) at Purdue University.