I apologise for the lack of updates, as among other things summer related things, I've been away from the computer while I enjoyed a week away from home. You'll be glad to know I'm still here and I will endeavour to post some more behind-the-scenes nuggets as I go along, but it's all go from here on out as I push on with final animation. Though, to be honest, anything I haven't explained already is is actually very simple, mostly achieved by extracting what I can from the very basic toolset within Maya. The material I'm using a is good example of this approach.
Everything in Owl uses the same base material but with variations to the: colour, bump, reflection, rim light and glow depending on what the scene requires to work. The 'texture' is actually the reflection of a tiled environment sphere which you never seen in the animation itself. All really simple stuff. I've never been one for over complicating things in Maya, because when it goes wrong it's that much harder to fix.
I think with this project I've always tried to utilise all the disparate elements, without compromising their natural properties. Neither one nor the other is trying to be imitative of the other: the models aren't trying to be photos and the photos aren't trying to be CG. From that point of view, I would say it's the most unique thing about the art style. Will it be it successful? I hope so!