Second Year Student Major Projects - AIE Canberra - 2020

News / 07 December 2020

Hey everyone,
While I am still teaching at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Canberra, I like to do an annual Artstation post for the final year graduate major project. You can also check out the 2019 student graduates post I did last year here and additionally, you can also check out the first years of 2020 here.

This month we see another bunch of students concluding their study here at AIE Canberra. We had quite the start this year, with the crisis of Australian Bushfires, Hail Storms, Dust Storms, and from march Covid-19, which threw all the students online for a large portion of the year. Luckily Canberra wasn't hit as bad compared to the rest of the world for Covid-19 and the students were able to resume face2face study for the majority duration of the production.

For 15 weeks, 2-3 days a week, I have been helping mentor the students for their final year major projects along with Tony Oakden, Rik Lagarto, and Kay Byrd. The Students developed pitches that were presented to a digital Industry panel, which then went under multiple culling processes before it arrived at the 6 games we have today. Tim Duck collaborated with us with CIT, to provide music and sound effects from his wonderful students. And finally a huge shout out to Ryan Ware, who covered me throughout the entire year and provided additional art support to the students when needed. 

It was great to see these students, improve and overcome the challenges they faced during the 15 weeks, it was a pleasure seeing them evolve and develop these 6 little titles. Be sure to click on the links as there is more content/screenshots to check out. If the group included a public version of their developer commentary, I also included that under the trailer for each game as a separate link to check out.  

Other than that, check out the games below. 


Elevator Pitch: "Bosky is a relaxing PC & Mobile game where the player creates miniature forests in a personal plant pot ".

Art: Alexander Murphy, Erin Biskup & Sie McEachern
Design: Idris Hunt
Programming: Idris Hunt & Pip Jadric
Audio: Diego Aparicio & Jack Rankin

Download Bosky:

'Me Myself & Die' 

Elevator Pitch: "Me Myself & Die is an isometric puzzle game where the goal is to orchestrate and manipulate your death to progress. Each time you die, you leave behind a block. Arrange these blocks to solve the puzzle."

Art: Martin Widdowson & Sie McEachern
Design: Jason Marsh, Mateusz Solle & Dean Subritzky
Programming: David Flintoft
Audio: Lachlan Willacy & Yan Parums 

Google Play:

Martin has written a fantastic blog post breaking down me myself & die over the 15 weeks, Check out Part 1 and Part 2

'Malfunction on the Orion Express' 

Elevator Pitch: "Malfunction on the Orion Express is a Hidden Object & Text Adventure Game. Agatha Christie meets Firefly in this thrilling Sci-Fi detective story. Solve mysteries by interacting with compelling characters and investigating the luxurious carriages aboard the Orion Express."

Art: Frances Adams, Nguyen Pham & Brea Fox
Design: Gavin Lee & Dana McKay
Programming: Jim Phimphravichith
Audio: Tim Duck

Download Malfunction on the Orion Express:


Elevator Pitch: "Slimelight is a third-person wave-based shooter with a Roman theme where you play as a slime fighting other slimes.".

Art: Samuel Bartlett
Programming: Ryan Pallesen

Download Slimelight:

'Planet Unknown'

Elevator Pitch: "Planet Unknown is a retro-inspired Sci-Fi 2D pixel platformer. Play as a stranded adventurer who has crash-landed on a hostile alien planet that must find their ship’s missing hull to escape. Traverse the strange environment, solve puzzles, fight enemy creatures, and gather as many ship pieces as possible with the aid of special abilities. ".

Art: Elise Allan, Angela Stevens &  Sebastian Tuckwell
Design: Chris Selleck, Tristan Duggan & Matt Solle
Programming: Sian Sallway & David Flintoft
Audio: Lane Stoddard & Rhys Cronin 

Download Planet Unknown:

'Meltdown VR' 

Elevator Pitch: "Meltdown VR is a game, in which a player must stop a nuclear power plant from exploding be performing a series of seemingly innocuous tasks."

Art: Charles Spall & Martin Widdowson
Design: Connor Jack & Rowan Brown
Programming: Tarn Cooper
Audio: Mark Campbell 

Download Meltdown VR:

This year we had a collection of interesting games developed for multiple platforms. We had more groups compared to last year with more students shared across multiple groups. Project management and task distribution were the major things a lot of the teams struggled with, Especially when the pandemic hit, Everyone did pretty alright but there was some room for improvement for all the games posted above.
However watching these students come from their very first day to the last day here at AIE, proud to see how far they have all come. Look forward to catching them at their graduation.

Congratulations to all the students involved, and best luck with the future.


Augmented Reality Project - For Australian Science Exhibition (Questacon) - Part 2/2

Making Of / 08 October 2020

Hello Everyone,
This is blog post is Part 2 of 2, if you would like to see Part 1 click here.

Back in 2018, I had the opportunity to work with Questacon through AIE on an exhibition called Born or Built. Questacon is Australias national Science and technology centre with more than 200 Interactive exhibits. 

"The Born or Built exhibition is all about what is it meant to be human. It examines the similarities and differences between humans and machines, explores our overlapping shared future, and questions the choices we will make to get there." 

You can check out a visual summary of the exhibition in the video below:

So more or less it is an exhibition for kids exploring ethics regarding AI and machines, with a whole bunch of interactive displays, and I was brought in to finish a project that was already in development.

The installation was an interactive LCD display using augmented reality, which allows whoever is interacting with the display/webcam feed to switch out different body parts with Human or robotic features. Works very similar to how Snapchat filters work, with the 3d Mesh or shapes being tracked ontop of a live video feed. You can check out more about the technology from the company's website Magic Mirror. The Idea is as you replace body parts, you will be prompted with the question "Are you still human? Yes? or No?".

Here is a short video from Magic Mirror showcasing it in action:

Having not a lot of time allocated to it during the week while teaching full-time, it was a tight deadline with only a few weeks to pull it off. I was also picking up the project from a former colleague Dylan Young, who moved on from teaching to greener pastures. Dylan made an awesome 3d model of a robot leg that ended up in the final product which was used to flesh out the rest of the character in the end. 

My responsibility was to deliver 6 remaining body part assets. to which I modeled, retopo'd/baked, textured and rigged. I ended up using , Substance Painter, Maya, and Marmoset toolbag 3 for this project.

I also utilised some free models from Turbo Squid which were a great help:

These images below are the final assets in Unity's 2018 Beta viewport. The goal was to make robotic parts that resembled human parts while also not being too scary and fun for kids to interact with.

Chest Piece with human Heart Top Left, Leg Piece - Bottom Left, Arm - Right

Brain Cap - Top Left, Full Body - Bottom Left, Robot and Human Heart - Top Right, Chest w/Robot Heart - Bottom Right

Full body Kit - Left, Robot/Human Heart - Top Right, Robot Legs - Bottom Right

Below are some images from the opening day back in 2019. The kids really enjoyed the display and turned out quite popular. 

All in all, it was a fantastic experience, and congratulations to everyone involved, you can see everyone else who was involved in the photo above.

Catch you next time. 


Stelarc Head Scanning - For Australian Science Exhibition (Questacon) - Part 1/2

Making Of / 07 October 2020

Hello Everyone,
Back in October of 2018, I had the opportunity to work with Questacon, AIE, and University of Canberra. I was also lucky to be able to be involved with 2 projects for the same exhibition. This blog post is part 1 of 2, It will become too long to discuss it in the same post, so it will be separate.

I was called in to scan the head of a performance artist "Stelarc" for an exhibition called Born or Built. The Exhibit is now open to the public and is cleared with any art embargo so I can talk about the behind the scenes and how I have been involved.

Here is a summary of what the exhibition is about from their website:

"The exhibition is all about what is it meant to be human. It examines the similarities and differences between humans and machines, explores our overlapping shared future, and questions the choices we will make to get there."

The location of this exhibition is at Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre), which is located in Canberra Australia. However, the exhibition is designed to travel and be moved around to various locations in Australia and internationally. 

I was brought in during the first initial stages of the project to assist in capturing a 3D Scan of Stelarc's head when he was in town. These files were then processed to be passed onto the talented character artist Gene O'Reilly. Who undertook clean up, facial rigging, and blend shapes. John Millard who played the programming role put it all together and gave it life within Unity.  

The above picture is what the final result came out as, where the digital head will be running within Unity3d on an LCD screen mounted to a robotic arm that can detect movement and sound in relation to its own location and therefore interact with the people around it. Additionally, the head will respond to questions inputted via a keyboard somewhere located next to the art installation.

You can see further details within the timestamped video embedded below.

Jumping back to BTS, 

With the assistance of Damith, we used a handheld scanner called Go!SCAN 3D which was borrowed from the University of Canberra engineering department to do initial scans and capture the mesh and texture. Because of my previous experience with photogrammetry, I was tasked to make sure the data was collected correctly and we had multiple options to pursue if one of the capture methods failed. 

I only had a small time frame to test the equipment, 30 minutes before Stelarc arrived, so I made sure to capture images with the Canon 5D to support the scan if the texture resolution wasn't good. This ultimately was a good idea as the texture resolution and mesh integrity weren't all the best  (Lighting conditions were quite poor).

These were some of the results, Go!SCAN 3D produced, with very varied results. not exactly ideal for high-resolution texture capture however the overall mesh capture seemed to work. I did about 3 captures of the face, each had severe mesh tearing. Although it was a cool learning experience to try out the laser scanning setup and see how everything comes together. 

At this point in the project, it was handed over to Gene O'Reilly, which he worked his Zbrush and substance painter magic and repaired the model. You can check out his post on Artstation here, where you can see a breakdown of the final model.

Here are some photos from when the exhibition opened. Unfortunately, I am still yet to see it in person, it was traveling around Australia at the time of these photos.

Credits above ^

Overall it was fun to work on this project and help contribute to the overall exhibition and congratulations to everyone involved, In part 2, I will talk about another project for Born or Built. An augmented reality project that raises questions on what makes you human.

See you all next time,

AIE - ACT Training Provider of the Year.

News / 15 September 2020

Hey Everyone just a short post.
Academy of Interactive Entertainment, the campus I teach at here in Canberra just won the ACT Small Training Provider of the year for 2020.
Pretty awesome feeling, to be a part it, alongside everyone else who was involved.

The ACT Training Awards is an annual opportunity to showcase the commitment, innovation, and outstanding achievements of all those involved in the ACT vocational education and training (VET) sector.
Due to Covid-19, the event was live-streamed here, I just cut the video to highlight the section we were mentioned.

All n all, huge congratulations to everyone involved, and congratulations to all the finalists and winners tonight.

Photogrammetry Zephyr Pipeline Tests

Work In Progress / 16 December 2019

Doing some quick, photogrammetry pipeline experiments with Zepher.
The objective was to blast through the pipeline, to experiment how quickly can an asset be created using this pipeline.

The Pipeline:

Photos -> Zephyr (Computing) -> Agisoft Delighter (Delighting) -> Maya (Retopo) -> Marmoset (Baking) -> Substance Painter (Cleanup) -> Engine

Using the tutorial video and the images supplied. (
Threw them through Zepher Free Trial, which allows 50 free images. 

Alignment: 5 Minutes
Pointcloud/Meshing: 15-20minutes
Export and Texture: 5 Minutes. 

Dropped the raw scan from Zephr into De-Lighting tool and painted a 20-second mask identifying shadow and lit areas. 

The final results for such a quick job turned out great. The delighting tool works wonders compared to other workflows I've used in the past.
Delighting: 4-5 minutes

Here are some more quick breakdowns. 

I mocked up a low poly model in Maya, which took about 5 minutes. And baked it it marmoset toolbag. 

Stock standard preset settings so far are alright, seeing how much effort is put into the process. 

Finally threw it through. Substance painter to remove the baked grass and other artifacts. (This took another 10 minutes, due to fiddling with some normals from the projected grass). 

Cleaned up the model in substance painter ^ 

Finally, here is the Sketchfab model to check it out. I've chucked it up for free to download. The final texture res is 2k.

Final thoughts:
The pipeline is unbelievably quick, and affordable considering the other options out there. Zephyr, allowing 50 images free, 8k export is amazing. considering the other free alternative 'Meshroom', which is open-source. It takes double the amount of time process and there is a lot of cleanup involved before you can even consider baking.
The Agisoft delighting tool which is free is a game-changer, as the direct sunlight that was present within these tutorial images would have easily been too much effort for what it was worth. 100% introducing this into my pipeline, however, considering the texture did become a tad bit overexposed in this test so it would be good to explore if there are ways tweaking it.
Substance Painter's clone stamp tool was essential in covering up the projected grass on the stump. However, the normals were the most challenging as I ended up painting over a generic normal intensity over problematic areas. So There's probably room for improvement there.  

All n all pretty successful took just under 1.5 hours in total. with some experimentation in-between stages within the pipeline. *coffee etc.

- Finn 

Second Year Student Major Projects - AIE Canberra - 2019

News / 14 December 2019

Another year has wrapped up. and another year of students wrapping up their two years of study. 

For 15 weeks, 2 days a week at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Canberra. I have been helping mentor the students for their final year major projects along with Tony Oakden and Rik Lagarto. Students developed pitches that went under multiple culling processes and then pitched it to an Industry panel which the teachers filtered down to four games to be green-lit.

It was great to see these students, improve and overcome the challenges they faced during the 15 weeks, it was a pleasure seeing them evolve and develop these 4 little titles. Be sure to click on the links as there is more content/screenshots to check out. 


"A Top-Down, Retro Arcade, Shooter.  Where you can rotate the map to fire upon enemies from different angles".

Art: Jonah Bauer & Anna-Rose Barrett 
Design: Jonathan Hosking
Programming: Francisco Romano

Download Flank:

'Child of the Night'

"A casual top-down 3D stealth game where the player - a vampire - must sneak around the town and consume their victims before the sun rises".

Art: Meg Groeneveld, Lani Parker, Molly Trehy & Anna-Rose Barrett
Design: Blayne Cuzner
Programming: Justin Cragg & Callum Burden


'Legion Fall'

“Legion Fall” is a 3rd person, historical-fantasy game, where the player fights barbarians while exploring a mysterious valley to find the Legion’s lost messenger.

Art: Sarah Staley, RJ O'Sullivan, Robert Dickson, Aaron Lalor & Chris O'Neill
Design: Saxon Hutchinson
Programming: Thomas Wooster 



"A 2.5D puzzle platformer where you play as a marshmallow trying to escape the appetite of humans"

Art: Jaymie Sibree, Alyssa Barry &  Cassandra Zanin
Design: James Wilson & Jackson Lello 
Programming: Sean McCarthy & Reece McIntyre 


Benjamin Roach - [Q&A] (Level Design & Founder, Upsurge Studios)

Article / 22 August 2019

Hey Everyone, 

AIE had their open day last weekend. I was in doing two Animation workshop's for the general public. But Benjamin Roach was our Industry Speaker for the general public and shared some advice of his career pathways and how he got into the Japanese games Industry with Square Enix, Sega and FromSoftware.  

Craig Brown organized, interviewed and edited the video and Tom Magill who was in charge of capturing the event on camera. Without these two, this video wouldn't exist!

Make sure to check out Benjamin Roach's Artstation and check out the great stuff he has been working on.  

Hope its handy for any prospecting peeps. 

- Finn

James Lucas - [Q&A] Interview & Experiences within the VFX Industry.

Article / 22 May 2019

Hey Everyone,
James Lucas was in town last weekend, to do an interview with Craig Brown at the AIE Canberra Open day. The Q&A, was mainly about James experiences he has had within the Australian VFX industry and advice for prospecting students who are eager to enter the industry.  And what it was like to work as a Texture/Environment artist.

James has worked on Aquaman, John Wick 3, Men In Black International, IT Chapter 2 and now is currently working at Quixel.

It was an absolute pleasure to finally meet James in person. I've known him for a while, but only in the digital form. I helped teach the AIE Online courses back when James was a student. And I was luckily enough to have had James in a few of my classes. Though the sheer credit to his successes is himself, with dedication and commitment he has put to his craft. :)

If you are reading this James, keep up the stellar work! I look forward checking out the adventures you embark on next. Especially that which involves with sweet sweet... Megascans and other awesome texture goodness! haha

Make sure to check out James Artstation, it has lots of pretty artworks to check out and goggle at.

I also want to shout out, Craig Brown who organized, interviewed and edited the video and Tom Magill who was in charge of capturing the event on camera. Without these two, this video wouldn't exist!

- Finn 

Flashback Friday: First Teaching Gig (2012)

General / 29 March 2019

I thought to share a flashback to one of my first teaching gigs. Back in 2012.

It was the first time teaching Maya and I was responsible for teaching Certificate 2 in Creative industries at Lake Tuggeranong. Every Wednesday for 10 weeks for a duration of 3 hours, I would travel down to their school and teach them the basics of 3d Modelling and animation.

The last week of the course, instead of me traveling to their school. They would come to the AIE campus for a full week (10am-4pm) and develop their final production. Which they ended creating a cyberpunk car chase set in a not so distant dystopian future all within a week!

From memory, I think it was rendered in with Maya Software or Mental Ray.  But they had a blast. and we had a lot of fun together over the 10 weeks. Especially as none of them at the time have touched a 3d application before in the past. And the assessment requirements and qualification didn't demand a whole lot. But they went far and beyond with this animation and made something great.

It was also a great learning experience for me as well, my first real teaching gig besides doing mini-workshops during odd parts of the year when school holidays are on.

What I find interesting reflecting about it now, is that about ½ of the students continued studying. Completed their advance diploma, formed or joined existing mini indie studios and now have shipped games under their belts. While the other half have moved onto other industries doing things not related to 3d or games etc. (From what I am currently aware of)

Although I have lost contact over the years with the students in this class. If you are reading this. I would love to know how you are doing, and what you are up to regardless of the situation you are in now. Love to catch up!

Student Credits:

  • Nick Williams
  • Jordan Prasomsouk
  • Banjo Ward
  • Miles Sale
  • Kyle Nash
  • Nick Silec
  • Caitlin Davis
  • Cody Brook
  • Partick Collins

Music Credit: Power Glove - Streets of 2043

That's, all for today.

Catch you all next week. 


Michael Norback - Interview and Presentation - Advice for Aspiring Students

Article / 28 March 2019

Michael Norback was in town a month ago and did a presentation on how he entered the industry. The recording has just been uploaded and thought it would be useful for aspiring students looking to enter the industry.

Michael has worked at Method Studios, SlateVFX and The Mill within an assortment of roles. The video covers his personal journey, and the evolution of his portfolio and how he got his first job. Additionally, also giving a list of advice to other inspiring artists who are looking to enter the industry, the do's and don'ts etc. Overall great talk!

It was absolutely wonderful to have Michael drop in and conduct this interview/presentation here on the campus. And hang around with the students afterwards to answer questions and do a live demo in the class. The students and teachers appreciated the time he spent with us and look forward to hunting down his name within the credits of past and present projects he has worked on.

If you want to check out more about Michael you can find him on linkedin. :)

I also want to shout out, Craig Brown who organized, interviewed and edited the video and Tom Magill who was in charge of capturing the event on camera.

Although I was merely a participant to the talk, you can hear me asking questions for the students at the end. And if Michael is reading this... Thanks again and stay in contact! Drop in anytime if your in town, Always welcome!

Have a great weekend everyone, Enjoy the video!

- Finn