The Sun is Bad

The Sun is Bad is a senior capstone directed by Rachel Mow with art direction from Laura Correal.


Creating the Shader

During Winter quarter, I talked with Laura about the style she created for the film. After looking at the reference, I knew that Blender's Shader to RGB node would be a perfect fit for their film. This node allowed me to use the diffuse lighting pass in a shading network. This is only possible due to the Eevee's architecture. Since it uses screen space lighting calculations rather than path tracing, the lighting pass is not calculated by rays interacting within the scene.

In order to create the burning edge look that Laura envisioned, I connected the Diffuse Shader to a Shader to RGB node. I then connected that to a ramp so I could edit the falloff of the light. Since I now had control over the values, I could offset the values to be higher or lower. I could then use the shifted values and compare them to the unaltered version. This is how I created the edge. To add more detail, I multiplied parts of the edge with noise to create some breakup.

Now that I created the main effect Laura was looking for, I had to make it usable for their production. Since some objects required textures and others could be a uniform color, I created an option that allowed artist to switch between a texture map and the object's vertex colors.

After these the burning edge and underlying color were sorted, I added controls to controls to tint the shadow color. I also created the option to project a texture map from camera to add more texture to the shaders. I think that feature wasn't used that often since most effects of that nature we added in compositing.

Instagram post showing the lighting process

Overall, this was a super fun project to witness and be a part of. It was great to see 2D and 3D animators working together to create a stunning film. I'm really grateful that I could contribute to it. After completion, The Sun is Bad won 2D Animated Film of the Year from The Rookies. It was also a finalist in the Student Academy Awards along with many other festivals around the world.