Saturday, 18 June 2011

Summers Treehouse Evaluation

What an interesting adventure this year has been! I do not think i have ever gone through so many emotions in all my university experience!! By the end i did not know whether i was coming or going and i just wanted to give up. But, i gained the strength to carry on and although things did not turn out the way i was hoping, i have learned so much. To think that i was originally not going to do the top up year, that sure would have been a big mistake. I feel as though i have learned more this year then any other previous year. Before i always stuck to what i knew best and thought that if i stayed on that path then i would become better at animation, but i was wrong. There had been so many things that i never even thought of trying because i was to worried that i would not be able to do it.

I am really pleased that i pushed myself and tried so many different tasks within Maya. I just thought i would mainly do character animation, but that soon changed to modelling characters which i was not keen on doing but as i was the team leader and no one else wanted to take on that task then i had to. I also done, prop modelling, environment modelling, UV mapping, Texturing, Lighting, Dynamics and Rendering, which i think is a lot, and i had to learn all that this year as well as being the team leader and supporting my team mates. The more i think about things the more i feel like i have learned more than what i would have if everything went smoothly. I don't think i would have touched Lighting, UV Mapping or Texturing, so in a way i am glad that i have a wider knowledge of Maya.

The good and the bad!

Well i shall start off with the bad first just because there was so many downfalls which resulted to an incomplete animation film. I feel like i made some bad decisions along the way this year. I partly feel like i should have asked someone to model our characters for us, as i took some time to make them. Learning new things at the beginning of the year may not have been the best decision. I also wish that Karl had stuck to the roles which he was planning to do which was rigging. I am disappointed that he only stuck to what he knew and did not try to learn new things. As much as he created some nice prop models i also feel like he let us down a little as all the problems started to roll in once he said that he no longer wanted to try and rig, without even testing it out first.

Rigging was the main thing that brought our group down, after Karl did not want to do it we had to find someone else, and as everyone was going to Clym i did not want to add to his list. Laura came on board as she said that she had previously done rigging and that she was happy to do that for us. With the rigging taking far longer than it should have with small problems getting in the way and Laura not being able to put much time into the work due to her job, it damaged our animation. I wish that i had been a little more forceful when i had said to her that we could find some one to do the blendshapes as she had her own animation to do, but she was confident to do so, and the best result was devastating. I was in tears and could not believe what we had ended up with. The rig and blendshapes did not look like much time was used to make our characters move. For me to have waited all year to bring my characters to life was the most upsetting thing i have experienced in animation so far.

The issue with my laptop breaking was unpreventable, my Mac had a manufacture problem and there was nothing i could have done regarding this, it was just another thing to add to the list of problems. This pretty much only effected me and made everything harder on me as i then had to travel to Ryan's pretty much everyday and traveling from West Sutton to New Eltham was very tiring. This was so that i could use Ryan's desktop that he brought from university last year. This was a big life saver for me despite all the traveling back and forth.

As i think enough has been said about the bad as there would be an endless list i need to think about the positive things that happened considering all the problems. Most of the positive things is mainly a reflection on myself. I have gained more confidence now that i have been a team leader twice in two years, although this animation fell through, some things just can not be helped. I really pushed myself this year more then i ever have before. Although i wanted to give up i still carried on being strong and took on new tasks that i had no idea on just so that i was not wasting time, and trying to get our animation pushed forward instead of it going backwards. I am really pleased that i have tried a mixture of things. I think considering all that happened i was still able to produce a lot of work this year and i can walk away being happy about that.

As a team, and a small team at that! We done really well to get as much work done as we did. When i look back at 'The Deep' and how many team members there were to mine, i just thought there was no comparison to whose is going to be of a higher standard. But for only to have three members and pretty much have had everything complete apart from the animation, i think that is really good. I sometimes thought to myself how can there be enough rolls for each person in 'The Deep'. I took on board about 7 different rolls and managed to complete them all, although the standard may not be as high to them as i had to move quickly onto the next task. Our team communicated well and had many ideas to share with one another, there was never any confrontation and issues that needed to be fixed.

If i were to do this again, there would be many changes. I would mainly want to see previous work from someone who said they wanted to be a character rigger of texturer as then i could have seen the quality of work myself before them jumping on board. I think i would have changed the story as i think we gave ourselves a bigger challenge then what we realised. As our teachers always say, keep it simple and i thought we were but i now look back and think, i don't think we made the best choice.
I would have designed Summer differently as giving her a dress was not a good idea, it was going to be difficult to animate the dress when making our film. I would have changed her so that she had shorts with long tights.

Well this year sure has been challenging and all though the end result is not a happy one for me i am still pleased that i created lots of work in different areas of Maya. I really enjoyed character and prop modelling and am thinking of taking this on board as my main skills as i think i am stronger at modelling than what i am animating.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Character animation

Well i managed to get some animation done although sadly there is not a lot of it. I mainly wanted to focus on facial animation so i thought it would be best to stick to this. From the storyboard i choose a few face expressions which has the most movement. I first had to get used to the new character which i found through

Here is my first pass for scene 23. Here i have placed her into position and key framed the timing of the head movement. I have begun to start key framing the eye for for this pass i have made her open one of her eyes as she previously had them closed as she was scared of what was coming towards her.

For the second pass i have focused more on the eye movement when Summer moves her head, making sure the timing for her blinks are current. The double blink is to show that Summer is making sure that what she is seeing is real.

For pass three i have placed her into the tree house and ever so slightly changed her eyebrow movement as i know that the eye brows can send out a message before the attack to what the person sees happens.

The first pass here was to key frame the timing of the head movement and getting Summer to smile at the end. I made the smile a little to large which makes her cheeks look slightly strange.

For the second pass i added a little tilt to her head which gives her a relaxed posture as she is relieved to find that it is only Pandy who was trying to scare her. I also lowered the smile a little but opened her mouth slightly which creates a nicer smile.

For this scene only the eyes and mouth have been roughly keyed out so that you know what is happening but also needs a lot of work to make more convincing.

The second pass i have focused more on the eyes and eyebrows as they are the most important part of the expression for portraying Summers emotion.

Here i have added an extra small head movement as the head movement looked to robotic.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Meeting with Dan about character animation

I spoke to Dan today regarding the issue with the character rigs. At first Dan did not think that the characters would have wrong with them and that we should be able to get past it, but once i showed Dan a short clip of Summers mouth movements and some basic poses he soon came to realise why i had not done any animation. Dan agreed with me that it would have been unfair to try and animate with the characters as they would show poor animation which would reflect badly on me. Dan asked if we tried to find someone to help but sadly was unsuccessful in doing so, like i had said in an eariler post, Clym did help us slightly but was unable to complete the job for us.

After a while Dan came up with an idea of downloading a character which already has a rig which looks similar to Summer, so that meant trying to find a young girl. Dan had to go and ask Mike if that would be okay as he is the head leader of the course. Dan said that this would be a good chance for me to try and get some animation done even if they are only short clips. Dan also said that no one would know the difference between the two characters and the audience who would watch the animation would not know if i had modelled the character or not.

The only thing about this now is that i only have a week to try and animate whatever i can which is going to be tough as i currently trying to sort out my three folders and i know they will take a few days to do. I feel like i am rushed off my feet, i have tried so many new things and done so much that the character animation has got pushed aside a bit. I shall see what i can do in this last week and hope that i can get some character animation done.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

More Dynamics

When doing the Dynamics for Ryan and Karl's name i thought that it would be best to have them slightly different from mine so that they did not all fall exactly the same. Ryans name has a slightly less bounce than mine where are Karl's has more movement.

Karen Block Dynamics

Now that the end scene has been completed, i have now started to experiment with Dymanics, which is another thing with in Maya which i have not tried before. I first had to create extra letters to make the team members names so that i could use the blocks as a way of making our names appear when the credits role. I thought of this when i was doing the torch animation as i thought this would be consistent with the animation.

As i had not done dynamics before i done some research online to see what tabs did what so that i would have a small knowledge on what to do. I first had to select all the blocks and turn them into active rigid bodies. The ground plane had to be a passive rigid body so that the plane would not react to the blocks and then i had to add a gravity field so that the blocks could fall.

Here is the very first test i ever done. You can see the floor plane in this which i never thought about until it was rendered. To solve this i made the floor plan higher so that the blocks would be higher on the screen and made the plane transparent.

Now that i had solved my first little problem i now had a new one. Although the blocks bounce quite nicely from the ground, they fall down rather slow, which looks unrealistic as the weight from the blocks would make the blocks fall down quicker.

I changed the height of some of the blocks so what they would not fall in a straight line as they looked to robotic and tidy. I wanted the blocks to fall down a little more randomly as if we were to do a real test, all the blocks would fall at different speed rate. Now that i had done that the letter 'N' had to much bounce and would now rotate backwards as it bounced. This actually gave me an idea to try and have the cube the wrong way so that when the cube would bounce it would rotate to the letter i need.

With the idea in mind tested, i liked how there was something more exciting happening to the blocks, but it also took a while for the movement to happen which i was not keen on. So i thought i would take that idea out, but i am glad i tried it out.

And here is the final one, as you can see i have made the speed of the blocks come down faster which looks more realistic and there is now only a small bounce in the blocks as there would not really be much movement as they are made from plastic.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Prop animation

Although it seems highly unlikely that i will be able to do any character animation, i can still do some prop. With me sorting out the lighting for this scene, i know feel that i can start the torch rolling across the floor.

With the first animation test you can just see the torch going from left to right, there is nothing all that exciting about the movement, it is all of the same speed which i think needs to change as it would not realistically move in that way.

For the second test i have now slowed down the movement near the end but i am now starting to think that it would look quite nice if the torch goes off the screen altogether.

This test now shows the torch going off the screen but the movement does not look right, it does not look as though it is curving round, it seems to just be moving to the right in a straight line.

Here you can see that the animation is slowly coming together but there is still changes to be made near the end of the movement.

The last test you can now see that i have sorted out the timing of the torch movement so that it is now slightly slower and the the torch light goes completely off screen which will now make it easier to start the end credits from.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Prop Horse animation

I thought it would be nice to have the rocking horse slowly rocking back and forth in our animation as it would be windy outside in the storm, and it is highly likely that wind would come into the tree house. Having the rocking horse slowly moving would also seem slightly scary as i can imagine having creaky sound effects creating a slightly unsettling atmosphere.

I had to redo the rocking horse as when i first animated it, i forgot to move the pivot point to the bottom of the horse, so the movement looked rather messy. Once i had changed this, the rocking horse was fairly simple to do.

I have also done a crayon falling off the chest of draws as the wind would be able to effect many things in the treehouse.

Friday, 3 June 2011


As i had now figured out the night lighting it was now time for me to try and get the light for the torch. I was finding this rather difficult for a while as a spot light is different to an area light.

I could not seem to get the intensity of the light to be all that strong, although it was up to the highest on the bar, it still was not strong enough. I started playing around with other tabs to see if they made any difference but they were only making things worse. After a while i had to ask James and he told me that i could just write in the number i wanted for the intensity instead of pulling up the bar tab. It was something so easy and simple but as i was new to this i did not know. That is one thing i have already learned about lighting.

The main problem i was having here was the light which is going behind the blocks. I did not understand how it was going through the object and going onto the wall. At first i thought that if i made the light beam thinner then hopefully that shall make a difference but it did not. I had to ask for James help again after a while and he asked me how i was rendering out as that would make a difference to the lighting. I tried different ways of rendering out the image but that was not making any difference. After a while i finally solved the problem, i used the penumbra tab down which made the light much softer and have a blurred edge as the light was far to sharp along the edges.

Lighting is rather interesting, i must say that it is fairly difficult and can be very time consuming when you do not understand the meanings of the strange tab names. It seemed to me that was my main issue, why do they not have simpler words for the tabs? I think i can happily say that i would not take on lighting as a profession, but i am interested to learn more. Lighting is very important to an animation and can send out many emotions. This has been a great little learning process for me and i am sure to do more in the future.

This is the end result to my lighting which i think has turned out really well, although i think i could change the light beam as i think the light is spreading out a little to far.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Finding Stength

Although there has been so many problems lately, that has not stopped me doing work. I have lately been working on some lighting which is something i have never done before. I thought it would be really nice if i could try and get the end shot done and then try and start with the credits.
The end shot is where Summer realises that is it only Pandy who is playing a trick on her and when she goes to grab and hug him, Pandy drops his torch.

I done a series of tests to try and sort out the night time light. It was rather difficult to try and get right as we do not want the light to be to dark or we wont see any detail to our props, but we also have to remember that you wouldn't be able to see much in the dark.
I tried putting a colour into the light but this was far to blue, although i think a hint of blue would look nice, a bit like the night time in Pixars UP. This was to bright and needed to be toned down.

Here i have started to get the right kind of lighting but everything looks rather flat, there was something missing to make the objects stand out a little more.
I thought that the shadows were turned on, but by default i found that you have to turn them on yourself and once i had, this was the result i got. This is much more realistic to what i had when i first experimented with lighting. I still think that it could be slightly darker, but i am definitely learning. I tend to find with lighting that you need to experiment with the tabs to see what they create then by knowing what to do straight away.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Rigging Help

After the character rigs fell through i tried asking around to see if anyone might be able to fix the problems that we have been having. As i know we are now near the end of the term everyone is now stressed with getting there own work done. I messaged Clym to see if he might be able to help. The next day he replied saying that he would see what he could do and within half an hour he had changed the smile blendshape control. The difference between Laura's smile to Clym's was massive, i was so happy with what Clym has managed to do and clarified that there was nothing wrong with my modelling as Laura said that there was to many vertexes to do the blendshapes properly, but Clym never found that to be a problem. Sadly Clym said that he would not be able to do anything more for us as he has so much work to get on with.
Here is The blendshape which Laura done for us, this is the smile to its highest point. As you can see this looks incomplete, the cheeks do not move with the smile so her cheeks now look like they have dropped.
And here is what Clym done for us within half an hour, as you can see, the smile has been completed to a much higher standard. The cheeks move with her mouth which makes a massive difference to the results.

This actually made me more upset knowing the standard that my characters could have been if only they were done properly. I felt so passionate about my characters and as it has come to a dead end i also feel the same.