Robot Programming for Robotic Arts

For the past years I have transitioned to working on robot programming with a Las Vegas company called Robotic Arts learning with AndyRobot how to use his software Robot Animator to create never before seen entertainment spectacle.  Among many large projects we have worked on, Royal Caribbean is special because the installation we do stays permanent with each of their Quantum class cruise ships.  There we install 6 huge ABB IRB 6620 industrial robots with Daktronics 2.2 meters tall LED monitors mounted on the end of each.  We then use Maya with Robot Animator to choreograph beautiful synchronized motion that goes with pre rendered images and audio.  These performances run year round daily, sometimes robots alone, as well as with dancers and musicians in full shows such as Starwater, and Spectras Cabaret.  Other things we have programmed for are usually live shows such as Bon Jovi, Deadmau5, Asian Music Awards, trade shows, and music videos.  Additional robots we program for could be any brand, but most commonly ABB, Kuka, and Yaskawa.


Commercial work and on set HDR pano shooting

These years of 2013-14 have been busy with a variety of new projects for me that included, Generalist TD work on commercials, on set shooting of HDR 360 panoramas, and creating an advanced Mental Ray and Maya course for fxphd.  Early in the year I spent 3 months in LA at Brewster Parsons modeling, look dev, and lighting this massive Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Soon after this ntopic LA hired me to fly to Sao Paulo and shoot HDR skyline photos for matte painting to create the backgrounds for their Franklin Templeton spot.  At the home studio I stayed very busy creating this 10 week course for fxphd, with the outline here.  Lately I have been working at Fullframe where we just finished a photo real F1 racing Senna in the rain for this Gillette commercial.  The year ended up with a week of hard work on set in the country as 2nd VFX supervisor, shooting 360 HDR’s, prop textures, and recording camera and set info for this 2014 film, Pele, about the childhood of the football legend.

The Hobbit – Weta – Senior Lighting TD

During the last couple months of production on The Hobbit, Weta called in Lighters and Compositors from all over the world to help the huge team of artists already there in New Zealand finishing this monster of an effects film.  Using Maya, Nuke, Renderman, and a collection of proprietary tools created at Weta, I learned the pipeline as much as possible in a short time, and finalled shots with the help of some great supervisors and senior artists who have been working there for years.

Hotel Transylvania – Sony – Senior Lighting TD, cloth/hair

Released in September of 2012, this animated feature stars Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez and many others.  I worked at Sony for 5 months doing lighting and compositing with Arnold, Katana, and Nuke.  For the last two months they needed help with cloth and hair sims so I switched over to that in order to work in Maya, and learn some new techniques in cloth/hair that I would never discover on my own.  By the end I finalled 12 shots lighting and compositing, along with 10 shots doing hair and cloth sims while gaining some new and deeper experience in dynamic simulations.


Transamerica – Hydraulx – CG Supervisor

This set of four majority CG commercials for Transamerica kept myself and a team of 6 to 10 people working for months creating the fantastic fantasy interior of the iconic SF Trans building and all the flying and delivery machines within.  I was responsible to lead the lighting, and look development team as well as approve and verify all models and rigging so we could get these huge files efficiently through the render farm at Hydraulx.  To get our look of big sun streaming through the windows of the building, we went with a physically accurate lighting strategy of building everything to real-world scale, HDR spherical environment, complementary directional light sun, and energy conserving materials that worked with our Linear Color pipeline.

Transamerica – A Dream Realized

Transamerica – Guaranteed Tomorrows

Super 8 – ILM – Lighting TD

On this film I worked in the LA pod of Industrial Light and Magic.  It was a remote office with about 80 of us VFX workers linked up to the San Francisco ILM headquarters, and finishing shots as fast as possible.  We would speak with supervisors two times every day over Skype, and review shots together in real time over the network.  This was a great learning experience for me as Dennis Muren was our direct contact, and every day he gave comments that were very perceptive and helpful which made me understand more about what it means to have a great eye and give effective comments.  Using proprietary Lux software with Renderman, we would light scenes with a physically-based lighting and energy-conserving materials strategy that includes Importance Sampling.  This modern raytracing workflow requires us lighting artists to use accurately scaled scenes, lights, and falloffs, therefore making renders more consistant, and real-world accurate.  One other great technique I learned more about here was “light extraction”, or painting out main lights from the HDR spherical environment, and placing the cut out lights and pyro events onto movable cards for lighting the scene.  Specifically I lit the monster in the cave sequence as well as the end sequence where household appliances and debris were magnetically flying through the air to build a spaceship.

Skyline – Hydraulx – Lighting and Effects TD

Look Development, Lighting, and Dynamic Animation.

For this science fiction film directed by the Strauss Brothers, I worked directly with them and about 70 other artists in a final 2 month production frenzy to finish hundreds of shots for the film.  I personally did dynamic simulations of the mothership crashing into the deforming ground throwing houses, cars, trees, dirt and debris through the air.  After using Rigid Body Dynamics to animate street lights, power poles, lines, and buildings to fall I then lit and rendered many scenes for final.

NFL Network Gameday – Hydraulx – CG Supervisor

For this series of four distinct commercials I was hired to manage a team of new lighters learning the Hydraulx pipeline.  These spots directed by GoodFear followed 5 filmed football stars as they drive past all the different famous NFL stadiums and cities that we built in 3D.  Our team of 8 CG artists modeled, made shaders, animated, and lit the large scenes with Mental Ray and Maya.

NFL Gameday Highlights

Knight and Day – Hydraulx – Lighting and Dynamic Animation

This Tom Cruise with Cameron Diaz comedy action film turned out to be a very fun big Hollywood movie with great Visual Effects and some humor as it makes fun of Action genre.  I worked on the plane crash sequence in the beginning of the film with lighting and Look Development for the airplane as it was flying as well as crashing into the corn field.  Dynamic Animation here means modeling and sculpting an animated growing ground trench for the plane to crash into.  Once I have the ground animated with blend shapes I constrain 1000’s or corn stalks to pivot and fly up in the air as the ground mounds up, as well as dirt and earth chunks that fly up from this same trench motion.