Thursday, 5 December 2013

Character Animation (Production)

After all the planning I had to begin animating. I was super excited to start animating again, though I was worried that I'd be rusty with maya.
I went through two to three stages of blocking before I went onto smoothing it and getting the weight there. I then moved onto the lip sync and facial animation, making sure that was working before going back and tweaking the whole thing. I enjoyed getting into the routine and method of animation. I'm sure this is something I will perfect when I am more experienced.
During the smoothing stages, I realized I had underestimated how much movement I added to the hands. I found it tricky to get the timing correct on them. There was also a lot of problems with the hands and arms slipping across the legs and clipping through everything. It took a lot of work to fix it while not detracting too much from the gestures I wanted initially. I was ultimately happy with how the gestures turned out with the time I had. I personally talk a lot with my hands and I love character animation that uses hand gestures well. When I had a friend look at this she mentioned how it scared her because my character had the same gestures as me. I suppose you animate what you like and what you know without realizing.
Here is the finished character animation and the facial animation from the project:

During the weeks on this project we learnt a lot about humans facial expressions and eye movements. I found learning about when and why we blink especially interesting. I always enjoy gaining more knowledge about people and why we do things. Even how we look towards different directions when we are remembering something or creating something in our mind. I wish I had known this when I did A-level drama. I would have been the best little actress there. 

Over all I would have liked to spent a lot more time on this honestly, especially with the facial animation and the acting of the character. Even looking at it now, I know what I would change. Still, I am happy with this and it has made me want to do more character animating as soon as I can. I love bringing life and emotion out of a character. Its definitely something I have lent towards since the beginning of the course and wish to pursue in the future. 

[This animation was made using Josh Burton's Morpheus rig]

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Character Animation (Pre Production)

For this project we were given a 10 second clip of audio and we had to create a character and animate them to the audio clip.
Fist off was the pre production. This included creating the character and deciding who they are, what they do and how they are feeling during this scene. This also included thubnailing and story boarding the clip, along with animatics. (and of course filming video reference)
The planning is really important to me. I honestly don't think I could produce anything without a lot of planning first. I keeps my brain happy and in order.

These are a few sheets from my character pre production. I had a fair few sheets of work for this as I wanted to create and understand the characters personality and motivation for the clip. Even though it was just an 11 second clip, I find it really useful when it comes round to the acting part of the animation.

 I enjoyed coming up with a character, though I was restricted with my sound clip. I had to go for a type of character im not really used to, nor a fan of drawing. In the end I was happy with my concept and was excited to start planning his animation.
I first scribbled a load of rough ideas down just as a sort of visual brain storm. From there I would be able to show others what I was thinking and see what was working best.
After initial planning I went in with more detailed ideas but still rough planning.

I found coming up with ideas for my dialogue was quite difficult as its not a particularly emotion filled clip. I felt massive movements and gestures would not fit right with the clip and thubnailing subtlety was a challenge. I had to push some poses just so it was readable.

After I filmed video reference and then drew up some final storyboards. I tried to capture some of my natural gestures in my final story boards. Again, they were subtle but as long as the general idea and timing was there, then they would be useful for my animation. I also turned them into an animatic to finalize some of the timings and to show others to see if it will work.

I was quite happy with my idea after pre production although it took me a while initially. I looked forward to including the little gestures and getting into the acting of the scene. I like pre production because it sets me up with a solid idea with the animation, but because this was the first project of the year where we were back to animating, I just wanted to get stuck in.

Hand Modeling

For this project we had to model our own hands. First as a low poly in maya, then we had to take it into mudbox for some high poly sculpting and finally we had to take it back into maya, and using maps we created in mudbox, we would make our low poly model look more like a high poly model. I believe this is used a lot in games, as for obvious reasons, models cant be crazy high poly.

First off the low poly modeling.
Using photos of my own left hand I modeled a low poly model. The most challenging part, I found, was making the wire frame neat. It was important for the next step that our low poly was clean and clear. This was so when in mudbox and subdividing the polys, they are all of equal size. It was quite a brain challenge to figure a way to make sure there were only polys in the model to. Triangles will forever more be a shape a strive to get rid of.
I think learning how hard it can be to get rid of tris it will effect how I begin to model in the future. A lot of problems I faced could have been avoided knowing what I know now.
Here is how my low poly model turned out:

After this part was done, we went on to take it into mudbox. I really enjoyed this part as this was where I could make hand look good and not have to focus on the cleanness of the model. This was my first experience with mudbox and although it took a bit of time, I eventually found it really easy to use (especially with my tablet.) I enjoyed it more and more as I worked up to the higher division levels of polys as you get to a detail level that would be very difficult with physical clay.
I also enjoyed the texturing part in mudbox. Some of the tools were really cool and aloud me to get a realistic skin effect.
Here is the final look out of mudbox:

I was quite happy with how this turned out. I would have liked to have done some more work on the nails and some other places here and there but over all I  didn't think it was too bad.

After making and saving out maps from mudbox, I was back into maya. I applied the maps from the high poly model to my low poly model. This was much more difficult then I expected. They definitely did not work straight away, they required a fair amount of editing. This was probably the hardest part of the project and I would have liked to have had more time to make them work better, but unfortunately I spent a lot of time getting the low and high poly models look nice.
Here is the end result of the whole project:

Over all I am pleased with this project. Looking back there are a few things I would like to change, but for a first proper modelling attempt, I think it was ok. I would have liked the maps to have turned out nicer, but of course the final maya version will never look as nice as the high poly mid box one.

I really enjoyed learning to model, and although I ultimately want to pursue animation, I am happy I have a basic understanding of modeling in both maya and mudbox. I would like to do more modeling in the future and I am extremely looking forward to a character design project we have coming some time after Christmas.

Story Boarding (Part 2)

So like I mentioned before, I had to story board a script from an episode of teenage mutant ninja turtles. This was more challenging but I really enjoyed it. I had quite a lot of dialogue and not really much action with my section so I couldn't go too crazy, but it definitely made me want to storyboard more.

Coming up with camera shots was really fun and a nice creative part of the project.
Imagining how it would look and play through in my mind was cool and it made me want to carry on and actually make this part of the script into a finished animation. I think its because of the crazy amount of cartoons I watch, I loved the idea of making my own ( even if the script was already written)

I wish I could have spent more time on the drawings, but we only had a week for this whole project. I had trouble to begin with when drawing the turtles because I don't tend to draw in the style of the show. After struggling I came to the conclusion that i would enjoy the project more and it would ultimately turn out better if I didn't hinder myself by drawing in a way I'm not used to. So yes, maybe they look like babies, but I liked drawing me some cute turtles.

I really enjoyed this project and enjoyed learning about camera angles and techniques. Its amazing how you take things like the '180 degree rule' for granted until its broken. You only notice camera movement when they are off or wrong. (I guess that could be said for all aspects of animation and film making)
I loved learning how, with just the direction you pan across a room, you can make audience feel comfortable or incredibly uncomfortable. It can really change how you are meant to feel about a scene and how you perceive the situation happening.

I did go back and find the episode the script was taken from once the project was over. I didn't want it to influence my decisions before. I must say, the scene was done in practically five seconds and had no where near the amount of shots in it as I did. It was quite funny to look back and think how much time I spent on mine, only to see the version that was actually aired and see how simple it was. Though to be fair, it was very old and things have definitely progressed since. ( hint hint, the 2012 ninja turtles series is super cool)

Over all story boarding surprised me. It was a cool project to begin the year with and get my creative juices flowing. It also made me want to get stuck into the animation part again. I think its something I would definitely like to continue with and pursue in the future.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

And So Year Two Began... Story Boarding

So for our first project we had to create two storyboards.
For the first we had to choose a 30 second clip from a trailer and then create the story board from that. Then once we had mastered that we were given a script from an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We each had a page and had to story board that, as you would in industry.

To begin with, i had to choose the trailer. After much deliberation, I gave in and chose the 'How To Train Your Dragon' trailer. It had a many varied shots and well, lets face it, its an amazing movie. Plus i would be drawing this for days and the style inst far off from mine, it made sense.

Now, onto thumb nailing. This was to help me plan out my shots and the timing of them. Though the shots were already decided upon (as the trailer is done and there, im not making it) it wasn't too difficult. The hard part was deciding on how to make the shots as clear as possible. Though that probably doesn't come across in thumbnails because they are just scribbles. But really only I need to understand them.

After everything was planned, into the final thing. These are still rough drawings, but as they are story boards they shouldn't be works of art. They are to get information across. Though professional story board artists manage to make even their scribbles look make masterpieces.(how very jealous I am of their skills)

I really enjoyed doing this. Its was super fun and i definitely would like to story board more in the future. I would have liked to spend more time on this one, but i think it did its job.

Im going to post a part two to this because with all my scribbles its gotten to be a rather large post. That will be up shortly.