Creation of my Digital Enviroment


Google Drive link:


The story focuses around a elderly couple that collect memories by planting a plant for each memory  that they have with one another. Over the years they place these plants into a conservatory where they sit together. Then the whole conservatory is taken over with all these plants. Once the husband dies – the wife places his chair away and covers his sofa with plants – the memories that she connects warmly of him. As they are both elderly she slowly becomes incapable of looking after the plants and so they grow out of control. When she also dies the conservatory is left to grow by itself. However the memories are still encased within this room. My narrative is very simple, it follows different shots which express the love and the meaning behind all of these plants. I wanted the audience at first to be curious over why there are so many plants enclosed in such as small place – and then when it is revealed that it belongs to a couple-it shows the relationship and memories of a couples life. At the end of piece, we see a shot of a plant on a sofa – we see a pot with a label on which reads: “our last” and there are two small sprouts of a plant wrapped around one another – this is meant to be the ending to the piece which express that one or both of the couple are dead and the last plant is valued. We don’t find out what happens to the couple – but we get enough information to understand the tone of the piece. I have used a slow pace with my cameras to give that sadder tone to the piece – furthermore to slowly reveal what is happening in the scene, the audience to read of the labels and to create that atmosphere of emptiness.

This unit has definitely been one of the most difficult that I have done over this first year of the animation course. It has tested my modelling skills, rendering, lighting, concept and narrative knowledge which I have learnt from the previous units.  Its been an independent project and means that I have needed to work fast paced and keep on top of the work – using Gantt diagrams and many, many to do lists to ensure that I do. This course has challenged me and help me build more software skills which weren’t very strong before the start of this unit. For example, I felt as though I couldn’t model at all but after my couple weeks of modelling I can now model more confidently and apply texture to my assets. I have also liked the chance to make mistakes and learn from them (which I made many of). I’m really pleased with overall animation – although it is short and there are a couple of things that I’m not as happy with – the over all relief and end result (made me feel so proud – watching back the work which I didn’t think that I could do at the beginning – it captured all that I hoped — and almost wish that I had more time to explore and develop the piece.)

At the start of the project we began by creating plans and making a project plan so that we were able to keep up to date with all of the different parts of making a digital environment.  However, in the end I did have to remake my plan several times. I didn’t consider my technical ability – but I also had no experience in knowing how long each sections would take me. In addition I didn’t take into account that I had a second unit as the same times as this one and so I had less time that I had expected. I made many to do lists as well to organize my own work flow.

Making a narrative with only the environment was another difficult challenge which I faced as I have never made an animation without the aid of a character which drives the story forward. I decided to spend a majority of time on the narrative section of my digital environment so that the concept was strong enough to make a purpose to the narrative.

I looked at a lot of research to help me create my final Digital Environment – I first looked into several already existing successful environments such as ‘Anna Karenina’ film as the background focuses around the idea that the upper class Russians would immediate the French society. Therefore it centers around a play and the backgrounds moves. This lead me to think about how I could use my environment to move and make the story in that way. However in the end I didn’t use this idea.  I looked at many references for two ideas – mostly from film to take inspiration for the look of my animation / of aspects which I may want to use for my animation.

Modelling was very tough for me at first as I have barely used it. However after working with it none stop over the amount of time which I did I was gaining more confidence in creating a number of objects. With Alex I learnt how to use Nuke and use Dynamics in Maya – even though I didn’t use this new knowledge for my final piece it was still very useful and hope to continue playing around with the software in the future. The texturing at first was a little difficult to get in that mind set of learning the UV layout and maya UV attribute editor – however after I got the hang of it I was happy with using the software. The lighting was a big problem for me as certain angles would be cast in shadows and unseen when I was happy with a particular shot – I had to spend a while ensuring that everything can be scene. If I could re-do the lighting I might try and add more shadows to give the scene a more dramatic feel to it – although I am pleased with the nice green / yellow tone to my final lighting choice.

If I could have more time for this unit I would have spent more time on the texturing and tried to make the objects look alot more used and grubby / and I also really wanted to make the plants look alot more wild and powerful in the scene. I would have liked to have a plant coming out of the sofa and dead leaves over the floor – but I had some technical issues which prevented me from doing so. I would have liked to add some music over the video too – sad piano music / however I kept it silent to make the atmosphere more still to follow the slow pacing of the camera and whole animation on a whole. The matte painting also looked slightly out of place so I would spend more time trying to perfect this. Overall I am happy with my first attempt of making a digital Environment – and proud of my progress of this unit and my entire first year of animation.


Below is a selection of final rendered shots taken from my final piece. I am really please with the outcome –



Here are some images which I took from my final Digital environment – some of the scene isn’t scene in the final animation so here are a few stills I included to show the amount of plants which were included and the ‘organised chaos’ which I was desperate to achieve (like a lot of my research sources that I looked at).

so much in scene

The shape of the conservatory is never seen – so below is the shape (which was actually one of the toughest things I made – or perhaps I kept putting it off because I had to make it technically fit well.) I used a blinn for the glass panels – if I had more time I would have liked to use mental ray glass and add more a dirty texture.


Some of my renders I did during the process of creating my scene and testing the camera angles were working fine.

sofa_view_fianla  View_RENDER2hearmeroarqualityglasse2slalala



The top image is just with the directional lights – it has alot more atmosphere because it is darker – the bottom image is with the ambient light also – it lightens up the scene more which I needed as some of the angles were impossible to see because of shadow.


3 another dark gah hj la net over shoulder pot_)2 sofa th view

A large problem that I faced when adding the lighting was the different camera shots which I had. I put in the chosen lighting settings from my experimentation period – but in some angles (as you see above) was cast in dark black shadow which hid all things from view. Although I wouldn’t have minded this if it was important that I needed to see the object – especially the labels on the pots. Therefore I had to put an ambient light into the scene to brighten it up so that the audience could see the labels – which are vital to the narrative of my Digital environment piece. If I had more time I would have played around longer with the lights until I got the desired look. The ambient did make it lighter but it also took away some of that beautiful atmosphere which is apparent in these shots.


lighting test 2 lighting test 3 lighting test 4 lighting test 5 lighting test 6 lighting test 7 lighting test 8 lighting test 09 lighting test 10  lighting test 12 lighting test SHOT

Lighting is very important to create the mood – I decided in my concept stage that I want the dark shadow across the whole room the conservatory – however I played around with the lighting and colours in order to find out which would look best. Above are all directional lights which I edited around. The last image is the closest to my final render lighting in the end. I played around with duller cold colours to get a sense of sadness and emptiness (the personality gone with the owners) but also create versions with bright sunlight spreading darker shadows.



1  angle conserva  fern Images from the building of my scene – Before making the plants I collect the furniture and will then create the plants which are needed. plant close plant lifedandelion planting plantview shadedlight sofalight tiles ugky

Whilst continuing the modelling of the plants, I also began texturing the conservatory and understand how to do this. i found texturing a real challenge for me – it was difficult to understand how to cut out the shapes in UV layout and even using Maya’s UV editor was a challenge – however I soon got the hang of it. I spent several days on the texturing of the conservatory. Above are images which I rendered whilst making / putting the scene together – I used a physical sun and sky light to get a sense of the objects. I really liked the natural look without the texture too – so i included it in this.


After the modelling I put together all the furniture pieces that I made to go inside my conservatory. This way I knew how much I had left to make – the plants were going to be a challenge – more because I was running out of time than it being technically challenging. I decided to use a mixture of modelling the plants (like the weed above) and then using the UV texturing to add a leaf texture to these models – and also cutting out leaves on Photoshop making them into PNGs and placing them all over a branch.



flowerpotmentalray_flowerpotbookshelf plane_01 REFE_1 sofa sofa2 sofa3 sofa4

The modelling at first was very difficult to use for me as I am a beginner in the software and only had a couple lessons on it in the first term – which I had forgotten quite a bit. However I thoroughly enjoyed making the models after I understood the tools as it was like a puzzle which I needed to put together to get the final model. Although I did get a hang of the modelling it was very challenging for me to keep up with the same pace that some of my other peers were at. To make my sofa I had to make 12 attempts. (I am pleased to say I am satisfied with the final outcome). I had to really experiment and watch tutorials in order to build up my knowledge of the software. I used references online (like above) to help me to create my models as well as concept works. I started modelling my furniture in the room.