Welcome to the making-of journal of Kiwi, the little bird who saved the forest.

An animated 3d short-film based on the Maori legend of how the kiwi bird lost it's beautiful wings.

Ever since I got the demo of Modo 601 (Thanks Luxology) I’ve been recreating the first scene of the film in Modo to both learn how to use it and make a little comparison between the two.

At first glance I find Modo’s interface & layout much more organized, I knew how to get to things without knowing how to use it, so plus one on the UI design. I managed to recreate the scene in less than a day including learning how to setup textures, lighting and replicators (known as cloner object in c4d).

Here’s a few comparisons between these program’s tools.

Sun Light (C4d) vs Physical sun (Modo).

 I always found the sunlight object a bit finicky in c4d, Modo’s Physical Sun was so incredibly easy to use. I managed to light my whole scene with a natural light source (the way a forest would be lit in a realistic situation) in just a few minutes. I had to add a light dome and a few lights in c4d to get this same effect.

Materials Editor (C4d) vs Shader Tree (Modo)

I’ve heard some bad things about the shader tree in the past, something about it not being user friendly, I beg to differ. I found the shader tree much easier to use since the layout resembles heaps of Photoshop©. I think the biggest thing for me is that you can can add textures that affect all elements by just putting it on top of everything else (Great if you’re looking to add things such as noise to all of your materials without to add it to each individual one)

Cloner Object (C4d) vs Replicators (Modo)

I would say that both these tools have their advantages and disadvantages. Modo on the one hand is really easy to use and you can get great results with just a few clicks. C4d on the other hand takes a bit more time to setup and it’s a bit finicky to get nice results but has a wider variety of options. I think it’s a bit of a tie between the two.

I could go on and on about other things I found whilst recreating the scene but I decided to write a more in-depth comparison/review once I get more hours inside of Modo.

After a few emails with the sales department of Luxology I finally got my hands on Modo 601 and I am loving it. Seriously loving it. I have been trying to migrate from Cinema 4d (C4d) to Modo for a while but the lack of character animation tools in 501 stopped me from doing so.

But not anymore! Modo 601 was launched a couple weeks ago and it includes character/rigging tools and oh damn, they’re good. I’ve tried C4d’s character rig tools in the past and found them a bit finicky, Modo’s on the other hand are as powerful as they are easy to use.

After watching a 10min video of how they work I managed to fully rig Tane Mahuta in a matter of minutes. It definitely could use some serious tweaking to get rid of the bendy finger-syndrome he’s got going on, but for a 10min rig this is mind-blowing.

I’m sold on it, all I need now is 700 bucks to get a full license, anyone keen to get their name as an executive producer?

That mask has been a bit tricky lately, getting the basic shape of it was real easy but the more subdivisions I create the harder it gets to work with!

I think the mesh could be refined even further but I have been struggling to find time to work on this project so I rather move along and continue with other tasks.

This is my very first attempt to model a head (or in this case head-esque) shape an I’m surprised on how straight forward it’s been so far. I haven’t been following any tutorials at all, I wanted to give it a try on my own first hand and I gotta say I’m quite pleased with the results so far.

Concept art by Rodrigo Vejar

After a couple weeks of traveling I just found some time to do some work on the film and refine Tane’s model. The model is coming along I just need to tweak the mesh a bit to finish the body.

The mask is a separate beast all-together so I’m going to model that separately and merge the files later on!

Concept art by Rodrigo Vejar

The very first version of scene ne of the film is up! No major changes to be made just a few tweaks to the camera here and there along with some foliage trimming, no biggie.

I could go on forever tweaking this scene to make it nicer and nicer but I’ve reached my tipping point all I’m gonna do is model simpler silver ferns and that’s it!

I would stop right here but there’s no way this will ever look like a New Zealand forest without silver ferns.

It’s been a hard journey to have a minimal yet ‘lush’ forest, I think it’s definitively getting closer to the look I had in mind.

The only thing I really want to achieve are minimalistic silver ferns, this current version is just too overpowering and distracting from the rest of the forest.

I had a slow week on the film given that I decided to take on some freelance work last week. I did manage to get going with the trees and here’s a sample on how the forest is going.

I’ve only modeled three types of trees  but I wanted to make a quick preview on how the forest might look and it’s definitely going in the right direction. A few more trees, bushes and rocks will do the trick.

After oh so many draws, redraws and countless frames (well actually around 62) here’s the animatic of the short.

 I had done animatics in the past but none as long and detailed as this one, definitively a great thing to experience. I wish I had more time to spend on it so that I could have better drawings and better body movements, but when there are budget constrains - such as I gotta get this done because I gotta get back to do paid work - then the quality of the animatic kinda falls to second place so that the animation can take place.

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