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Look Development and Lighting Techniques for Film

The Making of "The Ningyo" with Miguel Ortega


“The Ningyo” is an award-winning, 30-minute movie that will soon make its way to the big screen as a feature film. In this workshop, VFX Artist and Director of “The Ningyo,” Miguel Ortega, breaks down the creation of two specific shots featured in the period fantasy film to share his Nuke, look development, lighting techniques, and the basic concepts he follows when creating a short movie.

In the first shot of an underwater diver, Miguel reveals how he began with a rock photogrammetry asset by Quixel Megascans, blocked out the lighting, and then set up his shaders and textures. Using MASH for Maya, he then demonstrates his workflow for geometry scattering and how he populated rocks with barnacles for maximum impact. Miguel lectures on creating tileable materials with Quixel's Mixer for building ocean floors and provides a brief overview of multipass rendering and compositing using Maya and Nuke. He also shares his understanding of color channels for use with color correction and compositing of the lighting, and utilizing lens flares for underwater scenes.

The workshop concludes with a demonstration of Miguel’s tips and tricks for creating dynamic camera moves using image projections. Sampling a second shot from the film — a lecture hall with lots of live-action elements — Miguel divulges his compositing techniques in Nuke for creating highly realistic scenes far beyond the film set. The finale of the workshop offers a seven-minute behind-the-scenes look at “The Ningyo,” which gives a deep insight into the making of the movie and exposes how the labor-of-love project came to be.

Duration: 3h 23m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Miguel Ortega

Director, half MT studios

Miguel Ortega boasts a varied career working for some of the world’s leading film and visual effects studios including Luma Pictures, Rhythm and Hues, Lightstorm Entertainment, Cafe FX, Tippett Studio, and Digital Domain, where he focused primarily on creature modeling and texturing. His talents have been showcased as a visual effects artist, modeler and creature designer on over 20 games and feature films. Expanding on his skills beyond these studios, Miguel went on to direct his own short films, handling everything from design to production. He has worked on titles including "The Ningyo," Thor, Drag Me to Hell, Red Cliff, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 300, and many more, and is a graduate of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects.