Wednesday, 13 January 2010

3day animatic project

On our first week back we have been put into groups with 5 or 6 animators and 2 or 3 writers, we were given a brief that specified that we had to produce a 90 second to 2 minute animatic with a fairytale theme, that had to be produced in the genre that we were given. The genre our group was given was promotional and from there we had to come up with a script that fulfilled that genre. We came up with a number of different ideas for the script, and the first idea we thought of was the three little pigs and how not to build your house. We also thought of other fairytale story twists like a Red Riding Hood delivery service and a Goldilocks and the Three Bears travel lodge. The idea we settled on, was Hansel and Gretel and from there we came up with several twists of the fairytale like the notion of not taking candy from strangers; as well as other hard-hitting topics like child abuse. From there we thought of the promotional adverts like the nspcc. In our spare time on the first night we all decided to go away and come up with some concepts for character design and backgrounds, below are a few images from my sketchbook of some background idea and a few quick character sketches.

On day 2, we were a man down due to the weather and had to pick up the work load as a group so we all shared out the storyboard work and background and character design finalizing between us. I did some of the backgrounds for the storyboard with Lucy drawing the characters on them and some backgrounds for the actual animatic with Pete adding some effects and changes in photoshop to my image.

Day 3 we got in nice and early and I started cutting out the characters the girls had drawn, using photoshop. For this I used the magic wand tool to get rid of white backgrounds creating an alpha channel, so that the cut-out characters were animatable in flash. Through this process I managed to learn a few more tools on photoshop and as a result producing what I needed more quickly and effectively. I then organised them so that each character was in its own file and ready to use for each scene. For the first scene I brought the characters needed for it into flash and set them up. Unfortunately my knowledge of flash is limited as I tend to work more in 3d (maya), so as James had just arrived and was proficient in flash and I had already done his storyboard with Lucy the day before he helped out with the animation which was very handy as he was better at flash than any of us, so James and I worked through the first scene and first dungeon scene with him animating it and me directing how it needed to look as we were still bringing him up to speed on the story and how we intended to plan it out. If we had more time we would have been able to put much more animation into all of the scenes particulary the dungeon scene that James and I worked on, but we were very short on time and that couldn't be helped due to the bad weather stopping James from getting here for the first 2 days. I think we all did very well considering how tight for time we were over the three days and with having to change elements of our story after the first presentation. Considering Pete had such a short period of time to edit the footage we had made he pulled it together really well and the fact the computer crashed on his first project while compositing the animation animatic turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I think if we had given Pete more time he would have been able to put in the smoke effects on the text and the sound effects which would have given our animation more impact. If we get time we will add in the other effects to finish off the animation properly to present to the nspcc if the opportunity came about as one of the writers had a contact in the organisation so it would be great if it got used. When I get all the images together off the other group members I will post them below and the final animation.

Above is a render from the final animatic and below is the video of the animatic.

Friday, 8 January 2010

modelling the marine...

To start my space marine off I got back in touch with trying to remember how to make image planes which I have done many times but keep forgetting but then I did a quick refresh on spafi ( and found a quick tutorial to remind me how to do it, this website is a very useful website for 3d animation resources in case anyone hasn't already found it. I has some blueprint resources for modeling anything from a handgun to a tank ect. I projected the side view and front view of my marine onto the corresponding image planes and started to model the head and this is my progress so far see below, the head is a little bit different than I originally drew up but im not going to add any detail in till later maybe have a play in mudbox later once i get the hang of that then bring it back into maya then back and forth till I get the right look. Though so far I like the overall shape of the head. I think it is a little bit darth vader looking, I need to work on the top part to make it look more like one of those wooly russian hats the ushankas which is a distinctively sterotypical russian hat but I only want it in the shape of a ushanka as its supposed to be made of metal that represents the shape of the hat to give it that russian ussr look.

sketching over xmas

While i was away at xmas i took my sketchbook with me in case i decided to do any drawing. I managed to get hold of some digital art and 3d art magazines to read while I wasn't busy. I did some life drawing of emma on the beach but only a few drawing that are in my sketchbook which i may blog later in the yr as part of my extra life drawing work. I made a ninga knight thats crossed with a oriental style of knight that I saw in one of the digital art magazines which was my inspiration for this piece, which ive started to add some colour to in photoshop just for experimental purposes. I copied this style of drawing a character and added my own elements to it, i liked the way the knees and arms looked so these where features i decided to copy but the rest of it is my creation with the sword, helmet and top body armour.
I also drew this apetroll which is inspired by a cross between a cave troll I saw in a magazine and king kong from the video game, i like the way that a troll and a ape have similar bulging features and top heavy body shape, it is only a basic sketched drawing with some moderate shading so there isn't to much enthasis on it as a character design it was just an idea that popped into my head. I struggled with the hands and feet, i think i would need to look at anphibions and monkeys hands and feet to get more of a understanding of the type of mutional cross i would need to have in the hands and feet to make them look more like a cross between a troll and a ape. Other than this though i think its not a bad start for a new creature design for a sci fi sketch or something, I may try drawing him in orthographic views to model in 3d.
When i was browsing through a copy of digital art on holiday I saw this awesome space marine and a step by step guide how to make your own. So using this as a rough guide I decided to come up with a design for a space marine I could model in maya myself. I was inspired by a book me and my dad had both red on the battle of starlingrad during ww2 called "starlingrad" dada by anthony beevor and I thought about a similar battle over a russian city in a cold war period that may have escalated into another world war with new enginiered soldiers like post apocalipto marines similar to that off the shadow of chernobyl characters, the warhammer game series style marines or that of some fallout 3 characters. Anyway below is 2 images of the russian space marine i designed for my post apocalipto scene, a front view and side view for modelling the proportions are not perfect but they are a guide to model in 3d in maya. For some reason unknown to me there is shadow on the scanned images but you can still clearly see there design.


When I got home from my xmas holiday I cracked on with some little bits of maya here and there continuing on from the penguin I started way back at the end of the summer. I was up to the stage where I would texture the penguin so i set about doing that, this was something i had done before, but I was to texture this model using paint effects which I had not used on a character model previously. It didnt take to long to get the hang of it and I did my own little pattern down the side of his chest instead of copying the flowers directly, this process was quite easy and fun and with some more practice using the different tools I think this would be handy to texture this way in the future on certain models I create. Below is a images of the paint effects on the big z character i made.

I then went on to make the skeleton of the penguin which was easy enough and straight forward but I did it anyways for good practice and I discovered the x-ray feature which was useful for seeing through the geometry partly while making the skeleton. Once the skeleton had been made it had to be binded to the geometry, there where several different methods covered in the chapter skinning from the most basic of parent binding where by the geometry is parented to the joints, to smooth binding where by the skin needs to weight painted to the joints. I will refer back to all these different types of binding as and when the need may arise for different models that need skinning. Below is a image of the penguin with its geometry smooth binded to the skeleton and x-ray turned on so you can see this.

The next lesson I looked at was blend shapes which is something I haven't done that much of in detail before, it was a short section and very easy to follow and you could see the results easy, and I think if I had textured my characters face a bit better and i spent some time tweeking the different emotion shapes I could spin out a large variety of blend shapes for this character. It is a very quick way of moving the vertices to achieve different mouth and eye shapes without distorting the original characters head or body. I have found this tool very useful for achieving different emotions in the characters face and I found that if you slide between more than one at once you can achieve something different between the ones already made. Below is a few of the different blend shapes i created using this character.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

experimental animation final

here is my final animation for my experimental animation, i was quite happy with the diffierent sound effects i eddited into it and the effects i used in after effects to give it a ghostly trance like quality, but i feel that this cut out type of animation is very new too me and i need way more practice at it in order to achieve a smoother and more varied animation, i thing the set up is all there and i need to just apply what i have learnt from this to other animations of this nature in the future. In the future i will take more time to get the correct amount of photos to have the characters moving at the correct speed by following my dope sheet more accurately. Apart from these issues i think it wasnt bad for my first attempt at cutout animation and im glad i tried it as its made me more aware of the possibilitys using other animation techniques.