Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Tired and Annoyed with Flash Tutorials

The rig is totally finished for Luisa’s character but I can’t figure out the mouth… Moe gave me a flash file (thanks again!) which shows how to rig… but it’s impossible to pause the file so it shows how to rig and won’t stop when you watch it- you have to restart it from the beginning! It really is the most annoying flash tutorial animation ever- it plays and won’t pause or anything until the end of the 40 min animation.

..This is the only time I’m going to use my blog to let out frustration. Promise! :)

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Moe’s film

dog 5 dog 4

Here are more shots of the dog in Mudbox, still needs lots of work.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Luisa’s film- Rigging

Luisa needs the character models rigged so I’ve been busy rigging this one above. Limits have been assigned to EVERY limb and FK is used. Moving one hand down to the floor causes the entire character to move to keep balance… it’s looking pretty sweet.

I made this character rig carefully so it’s easy to animate. Don’t let my test animation above put you off- it took me literally only 50 seconds to animate it!


For now in Moes film, the explosion on the wall won’t be happening so no need for me to finish my development on the wall explosion. Oh well, I know lots about explosions now so I’ll try some out on other objects and see what effect that has- one scene in the background would still need an explosion with the new animatic we’re using so I’ll try some tests.

Gun Shots


Gun shots can be done in After Effects but they would be more effective and real in Maya… dots can be followed and would create motion blur and make it easy to define where smoke appears on the floor and when. Using some Maya tutorials it’s pretty easy to use the time filter and particles to make them look awesome- I swear I know everything there is to know about particles in maya now!


smokesmoke 1

Been working on animation and dynamics for realistic and spectacular smoke and fire for Moes film- explosions etc. There are plenty of tutorials online- most of them are for older versions of Maya and don’t get as good results. Here’s how it looks atm.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Extra Models

Moe decided to go back to the pitched version of the film- as a group we all support the decision. The bad part of this is that it means more work for all of us (BRING IT ON). I told Moe that copying the same model in the same scene to populate the village wouldn’t work well even if they are blurred slightly as they would look to similar and that new models would need to be done. However, with the time we have this would be an issue. I’ve been learning Autodesk Mudbox that goes hand in hand with Autodesk Maya. Using Mudbox I can morph and sculpt from a base model (I'd use Moe’s main film character) to create similar looking characters. I first observed this technique on the Incredibles DVD extras- they made a generic model which they morphed to create unimportant generic characters. The advantage of this is that we end up with lots of different looking characters/models in a relatively small amount of time.

Here are the first versions of the characters all sculpted from the original model- on the first image. The eyes are in a similar position so rigging should be easy… these characters wouldn’t need to talk anyways.


houses (2) houses We had a short meeting on Thursday were we worked together and also made sure everyone was on track to getting their work ready for Monday- so everyone can get on with more work later on. I made some renders of the inside of the houses I designed and suggested to Moe that we should have some interior shots following the girl- this would add more depth as we could experiment with shadows and show what it’s like to be there… adding more filmic language. Moe came up with some ideas about the camera panning across the buildings though windows so were both thinking on the same wavelength. This film is getting more exciting.

Above is an interior shot and one with some effects added above that… (the old style one is made just for funsies).

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Group Meeting

Group Meeting

We had a group meeting with Dan who also reminded us of what we should be keeping in our blog such as talks with the director we’ve had about the film, what our opinions are, camera suggestions… stuff like that so I’ll document more about what we’ve been doing and meetings etc… more of the boring behind the scenes stuff.

After the meeting with Dan I suggested we head to the pub for a good ol fashion group meeting. We headed to the Queens head and as a group we made sure everyone had tasks to do and everyone had a goal to achieve by Monday next week. I suggested everyone comes in on Thursday as a group so we can work together and make sure everyone is getting stuff done.

We discussed about Mike and Dan’s reactions to the animatics, the overall feeling was that the earlier one was better which (even knowing the sheer amount work Moe did making the more recent animatic) I kind of agree with. The earlier had more atmosphere and was emotion, the more recent version seemed more broken up and boring in comparison… I wouldn’t be doing both films the justice by nit picking particular aspects but in general the first animatic had better flow and atmosphere… i’m rambling… sorry.

In previous meetings over the holidays I had suggested making film in day light (see previous house renders to see the lighting I was proposing). Dan and Mike agreed that a scene in the day would be better… night time is a tad contrived and cliché and wouldn’t do our textures/scenes the justice they deserve. Having the animation in daylight would add to the shock factor that this happens in broad daylight- suggesting that this is normal for the area and that the criminals have no one to hide from.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Moe’s film Animals

dog 3 dog 2

I’m learning to use Maya Mudbox to create models, Mudbox is made by the same people who do Maya (Autodesk) and is much like zBrush. I decided to learn Mudbox over zBrush as I can’t get hold of zBrush at the moment and Mudbox works better with Maya as they are the same company. I start of with a cube and I mould the cube, add another layer of definition and start sculpting it more and more to look like my finished model. So far it’s nothing much to look at but I’ll work on it over time.

Moe needs some animals for the background and also needs them to be rigged and textured. I’m making a dog model- will post updates.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Leaf Dynamics

leaf test

Been working on more nDynamics in maya. When it came to 5 leaves the computer slowed down so I decided to reduce the polygons which made it able to cope with 10 and then reduced the number of nucleus solvers which looks like it will allow it to render around 50 which would be fine for the film. The downside is that the gravity and where the leaves should move is less accurate. We’ll see how this comes along.


Playblast using Maya 2009 x64

It’s important that we don’t rely on nDynamics too much… it all adds up to CPU time. During one scene in Moes film, it might be an idea to have leaves fall from the trees in the background after the explosion. It doesn’t need to have to be very accurate in how it handles the falling leaves but it will add more detail to the film by having it there. Here is a test of falling leaves using the same leaf I created in the last test. Here it’s been instanced and had gravity and turbalance fields added to it- as well as some expressions.

The '' tutorial used to help out with the above test


I suggested to Moe that there should be more debris, leaves, etc in the film to add an extra depth of detail to the film so he asked me to try some leaf tests. The main worry was that having lots of leafs would add too much to CPU time. I’ve kept the polygon levels for the leaves low and used the least amount of dynamics as possible and it worked out really well. This test scene can be rendered live without any fuss from my laptop… I’ll see if it will kick up a fuss if I add a few more.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Flower Power- Render

Here’s a test render of the scene using mental ray- left it on rendering over night. youtube keeps saying video unavailable for some reason so this one’s using soapbox.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Reverse a video

Here is the program I used to reverse the video. It’s a French program and you might need to race to the ‘download now’ button before the page times out, but It’s a useful program for anyone wanting to reverse a video.

More Flower Power


Here’s another flower I made, if Luisa’s happy with the other flower, I’ll go on to animate this one too. Textures can be done later if she wants to change them as no rigging is involved in these.

Flower Power

Flower 1

Luisa wanted me to model some flowers and sent me images she’s researched before so I know what she wants. After modeling it, I had a quick go at a water colour texture.

Flower Power! (grow flower! GROW!)

A growing Flower- Playblast from Maya 2009 x64

Took a while but once I worked out a method it doesn’t take too long to animate it. Each petal is keyed in 3 places- start, opening and finish, then the object as a group is keyed so it grows and finally a dynamic is added using nCloth, and then the scene is played and edited in another program to reverse the scene.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Gun Fire

These videos demonstrate smoke puffs from fun fire. When the character in Moe’s film falls down, he is surrounded by gun fire. Dynamics will be used to show the dust from the floor and hitting the walls.

What I’m aiming for-

Here’s a link Moe sent me, he wants the explosion in the film to burst rubble, and a fire to continue that fades to smoke.

Creating Dynamics

kl scene

Moe sent me some one of the *VERY* early test scenes. Here I can import and create explosions and dynamics. It’s important I get the size right as the dynamics would need to match the size of other objects from other people in the group. As we’re on holiday communication between us is mostly via windows live messenger or using scene screen grabs like these above to describe where things should be.

Production files



Looking at other blogs, I see they’ve pasted screenshots of their production timetable. Above is the one for our film The North Star (now called The Light of US). Clicking the link above gives you access, I’ve made it public permissions for now. Love this skydrive thing- tis kewl.



Modelling of the flower… animating it is the lame part though!

Plant Growing

Here’s a plant I modelled and animated. I’m using an ncloth technique here to get flow. It’s getting there, imagine seeing this video in reverse… it does look like a growing plant.

Water way to go

Here’s a video render of the baby done a few weeks back, I’ll put it up now before I forget though. We came up with an idea that the baby-like character is full of water and leaks as he walks. Unfortunately, when I tried at making a shadier for it, it came out looking too much like plastic. We decided to leave this idea alone and try another style. The water shader seemed to look fine on the test model but not the final version, not sure why though- possibly because this is a deeper model?? oh well!