Halo 2 Cut Scenes

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Project Overview:

Here are some images from the Halo 2 Anniversary Cut Scenes completed at Blur Studio. Blur recreated roughly 60 minutes of Cut Scenes for the release of the Halo 2 Master Chief Collection. I had the pleasure of being an Environment Modeling Lead, Look Development Artist and Scene Assembly Lead on the show.

I spent 6 months working in the various phases of the project, assisting the CG Supervisors in the direction of the team of modelers and scene assembly artists and producing look development, and training and mentoring new staff. The scope of the show and team was large, so a lot of my time was spent leading other artists and supporting them in achieving successful assets and shots. I also worked with the tools team to develop new tools that helped the show run smoothly through our pipeline. Below is a more in depth description of how I contributed to the work shown.

Environment Modeling:

As one of 4 Environment leads on the show I was responsible for leading a large team of modelers in the creation of approximately 30 environments and Vehicles under the direction of CG Supervisors Kevin Margo and Jerome Denjean.

The Assets included everything from tropical jungle ruins, mountainous regions, evergreen forests, exterior and Interior space craft, space stations, snowy mountain tops and ancient cave like ruins. I was assigned the forerunner archetype from the Halo World. It was important for all of the assets to retain the same look and feel, so I developed a shader library for the Metals and Composite materials used in the ForeRunner construction and shared them with all of the modelers to create continuity between models. I also made sure all of the models had the same design language.

During the modeling process, I was tasked with shading and lighting for the vehicles and environments as well as creating sample stills to present to the CG Sups and Clients for approval. As the Environment Lead, I directed each modeler to the completion of their assignments both artistically and technically, imparting notes from the CG Sups and Directors, offering workflow suggestions and making sure the assets were optimized for Scene Assembly using Vray Proxies, Xrefs and Tools like Forest Pack. I also worked with the tools team to create a script that would quickly create Vray Proxies, name them properly, and create preview meshes that would make working with the models during scene assembly more efficient. This made it easier to work with extremely large poly counts in the densely landscaped environments, and extremely detailed large scale Halo Rings.

Look Development:

Once Environment Modeling was complete, each of the Environment Leads was assigned look development tasks.  I completed look development for many Scenes on the show. For each scene I created lighting and compositing master files under the direction of the CG Sup assigned to that scene. That included creating volumetric and atmospherics setups as well. I started with a general sweeping camera in each environment and created a lighting solution that worked well looking in all directions of the environment. Then I focused on 1 or 2 shot cameras and created light rigs for close up shots.

The goal was to capture the emotion from the original cut scenes, while upgrading the quality of photorealistic lighting. Since we used Vray on this show, I was able to use several HDR images for the outdoor scenes. I also used real “studio light” HDR images for any artificial lights used as rim and fill lights, rather then just using color swatches in area lights. This produced photorealistic lighting and reflection details that really enhanced the quality of our production.

I designed a script called Vray Lighter Tools to make it easier to switch between a library of Source images during Look Dev to test different types of real world studio lights and one of our artists, John Martini executed the creation of the Tool.

In some of the fantasy scenes like the golden brown gas mine planet, I created custom HDR images with tweaked colors and several light sources to recreate the atmosphere of clouds surrounded by several distant sun like stars.

During look development I used FumeFX and Vray Environment Fog to create atmospheric layers in many of the environments such as the Grave Mind Lair and the Ruins.

I assisted CG Sup Kevin Margo in creating the master grade setup for the show, which consisted of several lens effects, grading nodes and a show standard view LUT to keep all scenes in a consistent color space. I then created grading for each of my look dev Scenes using the tools in the master setup.

Scene Assembly:

As one of the Scene Assembly Leads, I assisted the CG Supervisor in directing the scene assembly team to the completion of 16 Scenes on the show, many of which I did look development for. This amounted to roughly 20 minutes of footage. This included duties such as attending and participating in daily reviews, technical direction, render solutions and management, creating training materials, mentoring and assisting the team of artists in any way needed to complete their assigned shots while retaining visual continuity established in look development.

Because of the fast paced schedule and large size of the scene assembly team, the deliveries of final shots were staggered throughout the show. This meant several scene assemblers were concurrently working on different scenes and in different stages of completion. I was constantly assisting the CG Sups with solving issues arising in other departments such as Animation, Rigging and FX to keep the shots moving forward on schedule.

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