Progress on this interactive music video has been slow while I’ve been working on some client projects with very tight deadlines, but that doesn’t mean no progress at all.

ICYMI: The Moon and the Sea (part 1)

The more I think about this project, the more it grows and changes. I’ve been back and forth about how I want it to look, what I actually want to see in the model, and I still haven’t really settled on something. I’ve also been taking a two-pronged attack to the whole thing and I’m not sure how much that’s helping or hindering me. On one side, I’m focusing on the technical aspects; learning to actually build something that works. On the other, I’ve been considering the creative and design aspects. I’d say my focus has maybe been on the former.

A bit sketchy

I started out by trying to do some observational drawings of my local area, since that was going to be the inspiration for the model. I say observational, but I mean that more in the sense of noticing and recognising features that create the architectural style rather than directly drawing what I can see.

Sketches of buildings and architectural features.
Some quick drawings of what I see out of my window.

Whether this was actually of any use, or whether I just wanted some time away from a screen I can’t quite say, but it’s a worthwhile exercise that I’ll keep working on. Lord knows I could do with a bit more pen and paper and a bit less blue light in the eyes.

I also spent some time looking around for some inspiration from other artists, which I’ve been collecting on Behance. I was reminded of this particular piece by Pavel Novák which if I’m quite honest has been one of the core inspirations for this project. I was also very inspired by these works by JR Schmidt and Sir Carma.

As I continue down this path, I’m still trying to define what the scene should actually show. I’m slowly shifting away from modelling a small town akin to my local area. Ideas have shifted to a lighthouse, then to something more like St Michael Mount in Cornwall; a favourite site of my childhood holidays.

Photo credit

Since the song is about isolation by the sea, it just makes sense for it to be somewhere a little less connected and empty. Either way, the main thing I’ve learned from trying to get on with modelling is that I really need a clearer image in my head of what I’m actually building. Surprising I know.

Speaking of modelling…

In the meantime I’ve been cracking on with learning more about Unity and getting back into 3D modelling. I made a tough choice to work in Blender for the modelling aspect. I’m much more familiar with Cinema 4D, but given I don’t have a license for that any more and that Unity seems to work better with Blender, I decided to go with that. It means relearning things, but it’s useful I guess.

I also wanted to learn more about how lighting works in Blender, since that will play an important role in this project. So I made a small model of a house, which turned into a street, to see how it works. I also added in a very simple day/night cycle to see how that works and it turns out it’s easier than I’d expected (again apologies to mobile users, this might not work so well).

I’m very out of practice with the whole lighting and texturing and all that, so this is going to take a bit of retraining, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it.

I also had a little play around with a bit of photogrammetry to introduce some shells into the scene. I’ve collected a few prize specimens from the beach, and to keep in theme with the artwork for the album it seemed like a nice way to include them into this model.

This was done using opensource software Meshroom, and I’m really happy with the results. The materials and lighting maybe need a little tweaking, but it turns out (after a lot of trial and error) that it’s actually pretty easy.

So there’s still lots to do. For now I want to focus on sketching and planning before I dig any further into building the actual models. So it’s time to turn off the screen and open up a sketch book.