Week 4: Stay true and be accurate

On the Monday we have the 1/4 walk-around. Faculty gave us a lot of helpful feedback. The biggest concern is the culture offense. It’s not only whether we can speak for native Americans but also whether we stay true and tell a accurate story comes from native American cultures. Some other suggestions, for example, make sure the desert is still a desert after the rain not a grassland. Make the environment related to the culture. After having a good mount of materials, we decided to reach out to people and experts.

Ben Sorell, who is from Navajo Nation Museum, has been super helpful to us. He had a video meeting with us on the Thursday. He is excited about what we are doing and willing to help us shape the design. During the meeting, he narrated us a lot of Navajo stories and philosophies, as well as detailed suggestions to improve our accuracy. We summarized all important points and listed them blew:

  1. DO sell the idea of the “circle of lives”, because it represents Native American philosophy perfectly that everything goes through a cycle (especially in Navajo culture). For example, weather changing and from death to the new birth.
  2. DO having elements from different tribes melted together on this character because nowadays Native Americans are helping each other and tend to be recognized as one group.
  3. DO having a female character representing nature and brings rain, because, in Native American culture, female rain is gentle, carrying, and it grows seeds into plants.
  4. DO NOT use the headdress because it represents strength and bravery, especially during the war. It’s not appropriate for a young girl to wear it.
  5. DO NOT stick a feather on her head because it’s a stereotype, but DO leave the headband.
  6. DO NOT make her wear a loincloth. 
  7. DO NOT give the audience a feeling that Native American is savage.
  8. CONSIDERING leaving the time period blank, so that we don’t have to struggle with the traditional/modern dressing manner.
  9. CONSIDERING rephrasing the word “rain dance” because the actions to call the rain is usually some sort of ceremonies and blessings. 

Rosy then modified our character designs.

Character Refines

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Zoltan further developed the desert blooming prototype. Now it can generate a list of prefabs at runtime, adjusting their scale and playing their animation.

He also explored two ways for heat haze:
1) screen space distortion but combined with depth information
2) using a object as the heat haze volume. It’s transparent, but it will refract lights so that we can get distorted view through it.

JD figured out the pipeline for character hair. We decided to abandoned Blender due to its incapability on exporting Alembic cache to UE4, instead, to use XGen and Niagara particle system in UE4. JD also finished a demo for character hair simulation.

We also decided to divide our works into sprints and develop our future plans.

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At the end, we’d love to show you our team photo, created by our genius artist Rosy!