— Vanilla Box Blog

Modelling reel 2013 – 2014
I’m not a modeller by trade, more of a generalist. But I do get involved with modelling when it’s needed. In a small team it’s hard to escape it.
So I decided to put together some of the bit’s I’ve done over the past year or two.

Models are from ITV Entertainers, CBS, Hotels.com, NY Bagels, Fox, and Heston.

Copyright goes to Nexus Productions, Analog Studio, and The Neighbourhood

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So my journey into the mystical world of Houdini continues. I’ve started doing a little more of the SideFX online video’s, and although they are great, I find myself diverging quite a bit, which makes one 1hr tutorial last all day.

Also Jordi over at Realize Studios has prepared a whole bunch of PDF’s to help Softimage users transition over to Houdini, and I have to say they are brilliant. So far they have taken me much further in a short space of time that I thought they would.

The biggest hurdle I find with Houdini is organisation. There seems to be several ways to skin that particular cat, and Jordi’s guides really help clarify it. Coming from 3dsMax and Soft, where it’s much more clear cut, Houdini offers a multitude of ways to nest, link, parent and package your objects, models, and digital assets together. Once you get your head around them, it’s quite liberating knowing you can work how ever you want.
Here’s the forum thread Softimage to Houdini and SideFX have hosted all the slightly older ones SideFX Transition

So things I have learnt.
Firstly, customise your user interface. Sounds a bit like a Newbie approach, but actually worth while doing in Houdini. As with a few modifications you can make it feel more like Softimage approach, which if anything, will speed up getting around it all.
Jordi covers this in one of his PDF’s, plus there is this link Customize Houdini

Using nulls at the end of object flows, called OUTPUT. Apparently this is a very useful way to make sure your always pulling the flow from the end, and not getting data from elsewhere. I can see the logic here, so I’m doing it, but I’m so early on that I’ve not come across why it’s helpful yet, time will tell!

Above are two render’s I’ve just completed, and so far I’m loving Mantra. It’s criminally slow, but then so is Arnold. I wouldnt want to be doing 2k renders without a hefty render farm to back me up. The settings are very similar to Arnold, and I love the way you can just duplicate the Mantra node, and set up new renders using different camera’s etc.

Anyway, I’ve learnt tons more this week, UV editing is shocking, Houdini seems twitchy importing odd file names, and opening up a shader network made my eyes bleed.

Definitely alot more to learn, for example, adding a color falloff. Well i tried, and ended up breaking the shader network. Still a way to go yet me thinks!
Watch this space for more tails of me floundering around in node world.




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ITV Creative Director : Tony Pipes
ITV Executive Producer : Kirsty Beale
Director : Jon Yeo
Producer : Cressida Ranfield
DOP : Tim Green
Editor : Al Sinclair
Design : Tim Woods
VFX : Analog
Well it’s finally finished. A pretty frantic few weeks trying to squeeze this project in. Analog VFX supervised and did all the post. Over the 4 weeks I developed the designs of the Chandelier, Wurlitzer and modelled them both. I also modelled and rigged the grand piano, probably the most complicated model I’ve completed to date.  I also rigged and animated the butterflies, and helped a little with rendering side of things. All props were modelling 3dsMax and rendering was done in Softimage with Vray.

Here are some of my development sketches.
ITV_Design_Wurlitzer_01ITV_Design_Wurlitzer_02Here are some model developments for the Chandelier:

ITV_Design_Chandelier_03 ITV_Design_Chandelier_04 ITV_Design_Chandelier_05 ITV_Design_Chandelier_06

And lastly, here are some final model wireframes from the project:

ITV_Piano_01 ITV_Piano_02 ITV_Wurlitzer_01 ITV_Wurlitzer_02 ITV_Wurlitzer_03 ITV_Wurlitzer_04


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I still need to build my lego gallion, but I did manage to get the characters out of the box! I also found some really old space men!
Lego_01 Lego_02 Lego_03

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Over the past year I’ve been learning Softimage, and although not an expert, I’m managing to use it in production for scene assembly, lighting, and rending tasks. I’ve also got to grips with Vray for Soft, and I’ve jumped in with Arnold with mixed results!
But thanks to Autodesk, Softimage’s future is written in stone, and although it wont be dead dead until a few years from now, I thought I should branch out into Houdini.

Now being a generalist I’m not entirely sure how Houdini will sit with me, as it seems mainly used for FX work, but several studios seem to use it for more than just that, Realize, and Axis are two examples.

Ok, so I’m going to make some notes and observations along the way. I’ve been using 3dsMax for over 10 years, Softimage for a year, and Maya on and off for years too. So how does Houdini compare.

User interface – Actually I’m pretty impressed. It looks scary at first but it’s more similar to Soft and Max than I first thought. One thing I’ve been struggling with is clutter. Granted you can turn off tabs etc, but it’s not compact, and on my little 13′ laptop, things are getting crowded fast. I recommend a large screen, or better, dual monitor setup for this beast.

Modelling – For modelling I keep coming back to 3dsMax, the graphite tools are second to none. But having said that Houdini isn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t want to try and model characters, or very complex stuff. Every time you move, bevel etc it creates a node. Great if you want to edit something, but if your doing a car, poly by poly, the node tree would wrap around the equator several times. But, the fact that you can jump down the tree to any point, sort of similar to 3dsMax, but with this you can edit any edit you have made, in a non destructive way. Helpful in some cases.

Oh, and here’s my biggest gripe so far….no select edge ring! You really can’t model fast without this simple thing. They’ve managed to put in ‘select edge loop’ but no ring?!

Anyway, it’s only my first day, so it’s early days.

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Client : Meridian Audio
Creative Direction and Concept
Castorini Ltd. / Marco Ammannati
Director : Marco Ammannati
Analog Team
Producer : Mike Turoff
3D/FX : Arvid Niklasson, Mike Merron, Matt Chandler, Simon Reeves, Tim Woods, Nathan Bayliss
Comp : Fabio Zaveti, Nathan Bayliss

A project from a few months ago. I helped with the previs, edit and layout. I also worked on an ICE compound to get in the audio tracks to Softimage so the particles could be driven by the sound.
Other tasks included modelling of the music pieces used as particles, and a little rendering here and there.

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Found this languishing on my HD, so I thought I might as well finally upload it. 3 years late!
Thanks to all the others involved with the projects.
If there is character animation then it wont have been done by me. But everything else there was rigging, some technical animation, shaders, lighting and rendering.

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Last week we were in Wales. Just south of the National Park, a little place called Pennal. Surrounded by valleys, empty beaches and waterfalls, the whole area was very relaxing and pretty to boot.
Highlight of the trip was walking Mt.Snowdon. Although it’s a pretty easy one compared to some of the hikes we have done in NZ (only 4hrs), it does offer spectacular views of north Wales.

I’ve done Snowdon before, a few years back in fog and rain, but this time we were treated to nearly completely clear skies and warm sun. A real treat to finally get a view off the top of peak in the UK. Finally makes it all worth while, although It would be nice to see the Lakes on a clear day, maybe one day?!

Here are a few pictures from the area:
Wales_06 Wales_08 Wales_10 Wales_11 Wales_12 Wales_13 Wales_14 Wales_15 Wales_16 Wales_17 Wales_18 Wales_19

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Here is another little compound. Very simple a modified version of the build circle compound shipped as standard. I wanted to know how it worked, so rebuilt it from scratch, and this time added the ability to align the circle displayed to whatever you want by adding a vector per point input.

For example, build points on a surface, then just add the point normal and they should align. Not ground breaking, but very useful.

TW_Build Display Circle.1.1

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Since the news that Autodesk had effectively killed XSI in the prime of it’s life, and helpfully, only 1 year into my transition to the software. I have decide to package up what remains of the ICE compounds I have been working on. These will be in various states of unfinishedness, and usefulness too, but there might be something that others can salvage.

Softimage will be running for a few years yet before its removed from support, but I doubt I’m going to spend anymore time getting into ICE. Rather refocus my efforts elsewhere. I wasn’t very good at it anyway!

Anyway. This one is called Align to Camera View.
Pretty simple tool that when applied to an ICE tree or Geo, will snap the points into the camera FOV. You can then use the settings to tweak the position and rotation. Apply at the end of your calculations, other wise it’ll mess it all up.
Distance from Camera: This simply pushes the point cloud/Geo towards and away from the camera.
Autoscale FOV: Which ever is the smallest dimension of the render frame, auto scales the point cloud/Geo to fit.
Autoscale: As the FOV changes of distance from camera changes it maintains the relative scale to camera

Scale: Overrides the scale, you can scale up or down, post autoscale.
Position LR/UD: Move the point cloud around the frame.
Post Rotate: Rotate the cloud around in the frame.

Uses: Well not many, but…recently I made a reader for audio. It created an ICE tree that displayed the wave form, also you could clip or select the range being sampled. Normally the visual feedback would be seen at 0,0,0, but with this I could snap it to the render camera so I could see it throughout the animation. So making UI feedback elements would be possible.


TW_Align to Camera View.1.3

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