Episode 1: Asset Modelling, Previs, Layout.

[Post header – drawn by Matt]

Episode One takes place in multiple environments including, a high school hallway, a bedroom and an outdoor shot. We used Asana for our team management which allowed us to keep track of what was needing modelled, who was modelling what and if it was finished. Below is an asset list for Episode One. Asana worked well for us until we got further into production and files were needing to be shared so from there we also introduced a group google drive account to store our scenes and assets.


Pre-Vis: I drew up some quick camera concepts that might fit the flat 2D style we are aiming to create, from there I mocked up a 3D Pre-vis using a body mechanics character as Kimmy to give an idea of where she could be positioned within her room.



Assets: Below are screenshots of the assets I’ve modelled from reference for Episode One, along with their Uvs. We had originally planned to warp the models slightly but after a group meeting we decided that it was a little too much and decided to just keep the models as their original shape as we didn’t want to distract the viewer from the main action in the scene, below I’ve included some warped models too.

Below are the low poly models that were re-topologised in Zbrush first, and then in maya after being modelled in marvellous designer.

I had attempted to create the models above in maya but I just wasn’t able to get the detail required such as the creases in the bed sheets and clothes. So I found through some research that Marvellous designer would be capable of creating the look I wanted. I then looked for some tutorials to see the process I needed to follow to use this software.

The bedframe which was modelled in maya was imported as an OBJ – this would be used to contain the mattress during simulations.


To create the basic shape, a rectangle had to be drawn out in the 2D window, then this had to be synced to 3D, allowing me to resize the pillow mesh proportional to the bed. Seeing as the first simulations would be tests, it made sense to reduce my particle distance to 40 for a less time consuming and less heavy simulation.

In the 2D window I would then assign a material to the pillow – in this case I chose the cotton preset. The 2D rectangular pillow shape was then duplicated so in total I had 4 rectangles with two of them being resized so that they were smaller than the others, these smaller shapes would act as the lining inside the pillow case, the larger the outer of the case. The edges of these shapes then had to be sewn together just like an actual pillow case using the sew tool, if edges weren’t sewn to the right edges the simulation wouldn’t work.

After being sewn together the properties of the pillow had to be adjusted to get the right look for the simulation. I found after a few tests the stretch weft and warp when set to 99% gave a better result. The tutorial had mentioned changing  the value of the Bend I found that not adjusting it from the default value and instead changing the value of the pressure from 0 to 10 as the result was much closer to what I was trying to achieve.

After adjusting the settings I moved back to the 3D window and made sure that the pillow was directly above the bed and hit simulate. The nice thing about marvellous designer is that if during the simulation the model isn’t falling where you need/want it to be or the shape isn’t quite right, you can actually lift and move the model while the simulation is running.

Once I was happy with the result of the simulation I went an adjusted the particle distance to a value of 5, which would result in a much more detailed mesh, I also adjusted the cold arrangement to 250 which would create a seam around the pillow.

This technique and values (the pressure setting was lowered as a duvet isn’t as firm as a pillow) were then applied to the Duvet, below are screenshots of the process.

creating the inner and outer materials of the duvet.
sizing the inner filling and sewing the edges


simulation result.

I also modelled some clothes for the messy stages of Kimmy’s room using the same techniques, she’s working so hard that rubbish and clothes start to pile up around her.


The meshes were then exported to into zbrush where I used the zremesher to create low poly models, zbrush was also used to unwrap the Uvs. The models after this were also imported to maya to fix the topology if needed.

Low poly Pillow, created in marvellous designer, remeshed in zbrush and retopologised in maya
High poly duvet – marvellous designer


Low poly duvet – wireframe


It was decided that Kimmy would have quite a neat bead, seeing as her room is already rather messy so the model below was quickly put together:


We got together as a group and made sure there was consistency throughout the modelling process, as mentioned before we had planned on warping the assets of Kimmy’s world but in the end scrapped this idea as it wasn’t the look we were aiming to create, instead we kept the models slightly chunky looking.


With the majority of the models created Hannah T and Scott then started to piece the room together. We did have a bit of bother with the layout of the room as our early concepts weren’t reading well from an audience perspective, we needed to lead their eye to the action outside but also still needed to keep their attention on Kimmy and her actions.

We received a lot of feedback from others about the double window and their placement, some people had thought it was a bit off putting, others said architecturally it wasn’t correct aka we could do better, so we then looked into a bit of research about windows and layouts. Mike had mentioned the film The Apartment, 1960, some screenshots of window placements form the film below to provide reference for the style of American windows,


The non-bar diagram above is an average American window and is seen throughout the film the apartment, a double window layout would be more of an urban american apartment, so all we really needed was a bit more research into the type of window and area Kimmy is based in. Below are screen shots from the film, The Apartment, with different windows in different environments, the top two images are good for reference as there is a cityscape outside Kimmy’s window however the bottom image shows the type of window that would be found in an apartment and not an office.

In the end we opted for the Fire Egress window …


Another note to keep in mind was the window placement in the wall, otherwise known as the void and solid and their proportion to one another which is usually nowadays at a 40 to 50 degree angle.

The size of the window will affect the amount of light that is inside the room. How well lit is her student accommodation going to be?

There was also another point to consider and that was the relationship of the window and the indoor environment, how flush would it be with the wall, would it be set deep or would it look like a subtraction? it’s height from finished floor level and height down from the ceiling, at what height would we want it to appear behind Kimmy? It would need to be at least level with her so that the audience can see enough to read what is happening outside but having it level with Kimmy would also mean that while the audiences’ attention may be directed outside the window Kimmy would still be in their eye line, making it easier to drive the audience back to where the next part of the action is happening. [some advice I received from a friend who is an architect, along with a diagram to actually understand what he was talking about]

From taking on this research Hannah T put together a few more options for our layout:


Mike also suggested that we look at some compositional rules to help with our layout, currently, the computer when applied to the rule of thirds was taking up a whole third on its own – a waste of space, so for our final layout it was pulled out of shot more. Doing this meant that Kimmy could now be moved into the middle third, making sure she is always close to centre frame. With the change in layout, that can be seen below the window is now behind Kimmy, so the audience attention can be directed between the action happening outside and Kimmy herself.


Hannah T done a great job with this layout, compared to our early concepts this one makes much more sense and looks far better. Kimmy’s placement within the frame is keeping the audiences attention in the centre of the frame meaning the background action is only a slight shift in angle, but their attention is always kept close to Kimmy at all times.

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