Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Transcription: Viol Finally Textured

I am not superstitious person, but i just hit the 666th post, so I decided to move the post numbers forward and create a quick post related to my viol. As I mentioned before, the viol is like a 3th character for my animation, because it is through it that most of the action will take place. Though being so busy with the rest almost forgot about texturing it. So here is the final render of the textured viol.

Also I will add, some test renders and the texture map.

Finally, I will be doing a turnaround for the viol as well because it also plays an important role in the overall animation.

Transcription: Getting the last textures done for the Environments

The last few days continued to be all over the place, I don't mean this in a bad way though. Set modelling/ texturing environments/ some animation and rendering have taken place.
I finally set my mind that it will be impossible to finish the animation in the upcoming days, so I am taking a different strategy, instead of rushing all the way until the end. I will try to polish the work that I have so far , in terms of set modelling, props etc.  And generate less but better animation within my knowledge. (Indeed, I will be teaching myself throughout the holidays. Animator's Survival Kit all the way).
I'm taking this strategy not to show that I will produce less work for the last few days of this project,   but to have a solid pre-production/ production on this project, that will be in a final animation stage in a very close future. Therefore finished.
I want quality work throughout the overall project, and instead of rushing any set design, or texturing now.

But I guess is enough of "blah blah", and let's share some of the things I have been concentrating lately. As I said texturing as taken a lot of time s I have a few texture environments to show to show the amount of texturing I will add also the texture maps.

The Attic Hallway

Erich Zann Room

Although the room looks similar to the young man's one, I used even more printing shapes, heavy bold lines I was able to gather from my hand-made prints. and deliberately made them in direction to the window, indeed they will unconsciously lead the viewer to a side of the screen.

Lodge House Outside 

For this lodge house exterior, I emphasised again on the shapes, more irregular shapes carrying the creepiness of the environment, if you realise, the shapes here are also consciously placed in an order, they all directed to the window. A closer shot of the window is shown when the Young man sees the mysterious sight, therefore I want to directed the viewer to is reaction. and as if the black bold shapes are after the Young Man.

Continuing on the theory side, my next environment was the void, I had an interesting concept in mind, though I didn't know if it would work, I wanted to create a mechanism, in which it would create random shapes, therefore motion inside the void. 

Here is how it turned out: 

To note is the absence of any type of lighting, and that the animation of the void circles, are in some cases too fast. but it shows the mechanism working. It consists of 4 plates with different shapes carved on them, that when rotate create even more unexpected shapes, for the background I painted a mystical background, which at the moment seems already infinite. For the atmosphere   I will add lights pulsing as the same speed than plates movement, there fore create even more motion and atmosphere.

Finally as promised are the maps of the textures, I will just upload the colour ones, but all the maps had similar bump map also. 
Erich Zann Room Details

Erich Zann Room 

Attic Hallway

Lodge House Exterior


Oops, this turned out to be a longer post than expected, I should have advised in the beginning. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Transcription: Bits and Bobs 3

Past few days, I have been finishing the set modelling and texture, something I always underestimate how time consuming it is. However, during the night I am setting up stuff to render. So here is one of the scenes rendered the- the blowing the candle scene. Note that the flame in the candle is not rendered yet, and it will be rendered in separately.

Meanwhile here are some other test renders of the other scenes.

Falling Asleep Scene - Test Render

Monday, 28 March 2011

Maya Tutorials: Intro to Dynamic Tutorials Week*7

Here is the last week Dynamic tutorials, we continued exploring the Instancers settings, though this time instead of still object, we used an animated one. Again, this proved really helpful, as we can have a few objects on the scene behaving the same than only 1 animated base mesh. Also interesting is the way how you can offset the movement, so the animation looks slightly more appealing.

Goldfish Animation

Spiders Animation

Robot Walking Animation

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Transcription: Bits and Bobs 2

As I mentioned on one of the previous posts, I have been trying to catch up with more delayed tasks such as set modelling and texturing. at the same time that I am animating and setting up stuff to render. It has been hectic but things are getting into shape.

My first bit of good news came when I fully rendered the map scene without any problems, here is the raw version, not being yet edited. Later, I will take that into after effects and composited the maps.

In terms of texturing the environments, I am pretty much done with the first set, and here is a sneak peek, of the textures I have done to the young man room. 

Finally, is a quick sneak peek of the candle scene shot, I have rendered two shots one with the candle light on and the other with it off. I will be then adding a flame and render it separately. 

I will update the blog soon, with the rest of the textured environments as well as any other updates. 

Maya Tutorials: Intro to Dynamic Tutorials Week*6

This week we continued the with dynamics instancers, however this time we tried something more advanced. Being able to have a mesh attached to a particle, is really useful, though as default  its control was limited. therefore we were introduced how to create attributes to control the direction in which the instancers will move. From aim to rotation.

Arrow Animation 

Rockets Animation

Pointers Animation 

Alongside animating with instancers were were introduced how to also use them as a tool to randomly place objects onto a scene. It is indeed very difficult to randomly place objects by ourselves as we unconsciously arrange a pattern to place them with this tool, it is fairly simple to get a good random selection .

I remember last project, placing my own trees onto a scene, now I can easily to that.

Maya Tutorials: Intro to Dynamic Tutorials Week*5

Here is the Week 5 dynamics tutorials, this week we were introduced to instancers, which seemed a really useful thing, having a base mesh which can be attached to particles and then duplicated and assuming a certain animation.

Robot Animation

Bubble Animation

Meteor Animation

Shapes Animation

Crowd Animation

Transcription: Animation Diary Entry *2

Wanting to have some of the delayed tasks up to date I havent spent much time animating, though I can say that so far the scene inside the young man apartment is almost full animated, I just need the scene in which the young man can't sleep and the one he gets inside the room. Something I will spend some time tonight to animate. Meanwhile, here is the animated scenes I have so far.

Note that they are not rendered, or even textured in this videos.

Firstly is the close-up eye scene, it appears shortly the young man falls asleep, and when the young man firstly realises the music that is being played upstairs. This shot is really quick and it will jump onto a fast cutting montage of shots.

Following is the animation on the ceiling that despite the music don't have any physical power it will be used just to emphasise its weirdness and strength. 

After I animated the sceptical face of the young man, when he realises the strangeness of the song. letting him curious about the knowing the player behind such weird music.

Following is the clock animation, I have shot the 2 clock animation together which then i will take into After Effects and slice them accordingly. on the first animation we just see the clock hitting 12 at night. and the second animation shows the camera fast cutting as the clock jumps from 12 to 1 to 2 in the morning, having the symbolism that the hours passed and passed and he listened. 

Finally I have also animated the last shot f this sequence, which will lead the to characters meet the following day. It is a camera movement from the apartment window, to the moon lit sky. Once again this scene emphasises time. 

Updates will come as soon as possible!

Maya Tutorials: Intro to Dynamic Tutorials Week*4

For these last few days , I have been trying to push the different fronts along, from either the project or any delayed tutorials. While on the project, I have been doing the texturing finishing the set modelling, animating and already rendering some scenes. In terms of Maya tutorials I was able to catch -up with the dynamics side of it. Mental Ray on its way.

So here is the week 4 when we learned how to create dynamics simulation of 2 objects interacting, from metal on metal creating sparkles, to rain and to bowling alleys.

All very helpful, and surely something I will take further on my projects.

Metal Collision 

Rain Collision

Bowling Alley

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Transcription: Animation Diary Entry *1

Being well into animating my short film at the moment, I decided to create a diary post with all the animation I have been doing throughout the day, this will be done for at least a week. Meanwhile tomorrow, I will be able to render some shots in uni so it is a battle against the time. Though no rushing is needed.

So here it goes today I have been animating the initial scenes inside the lodge house with the Young man. where he first hears the music. 

Firstly I animated the candle shot, in here the young man will blow the candle before he falls asleep.

Secondly, I was trying to merge the previously done walk cycle for the young man,  onto a scene. although it is still a bit jerky, I was able to get it working at some extent and with the ncloth bag working. for this shot I will have to tweak the animation and the gravity on the bag at the moment it is too jumpy.

Next came the falling asleep and listening for the first time the Music of Erich Zann shot.

Alongside those scenes I have set up all the minor cameras and animations which will be used between these shots. Such as the extreme-close up of the eye opening and the ear shot. 

more updates will come tomorrow, Keep tuned!! 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Transcription: Update On Animation

Carrying on animating my project while finishing the environments, I have concluded the motion for Erich Zann, this is a walk cycle for the old man. My approach for this was slightly different than for the young man, I wanted to convey a slightly more forced walk, just like a sacrifice. therefore I emphasise the walking on the placing of the feet.

So here it is:

Also I had the cloth simulation and after a few problems at the beginning I could somehow overcome them with simply luck and logic.

Finally, I have looked at the Young Man walk cycle and I corrected some feet placement, though I could be tweaking it a lot, though it is still a lot of animation to do and its time to move on.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Transcription: Bits and Bobs

this post is a mixture of the things I have been up to in the project today, I have been jumping around again from getting the extra head textured, environment modelling done and setting up some scenes to begin rendering.

Firstly is a shot of the map featured in the first and last scene, though it is only a normal render, with the power of compositing I will create a Avant- Garde montage. For the scene I have added the Gobo lighting.

Meanwhile in terms of environment modelling I have been doing the Young Man apartment, where most of the initial animation will take place.  

Thus far the set is all Uv Mapped I just have to add the hallway bit, where Erich Zann will come.

Transcription: Erich Zann Insane Head Texturing

For Erich zann's extra head I have also used the same texturing technique with normal maps, surely you get a lot out of the model though I still have loads to learn. I will explore with some more time. However here is the extra head, I have added more wrinkles and a big areas of excessive skin.

So here he is the insane man, note that I used a colder type of lighting, provoking the head to get a creepier look.

Also here is the Zbrush sculpted model with a little more detail than final outcome. I chose to not overdo the detail of the normal map, as I didn't want an extra detailed head. therefore I soften the Normal Map. 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Transcription: Animation-Update on the Walk Cycle

I decided to get back to the previously animated walk cycle and tweak it a lot. I found that the in the initial walk cycle the body was too firm and provoking the character to act in a less natural way. This time I corrected some legs movements, and arms, as well as adding chest movement and neck. and add little motion on the hands and the feet.

I can see it is looking much better, though to time restrictions and animation knowledge I think this will be the last version, however I could be tweaking endlessly until it looked better.

Transcription: Initial Animation- Walk cycle

Here it goes the first post about animation, last few days I have been doing a bit here and there of animation, but also coping with the rest of the work that still needs to be done.
With the initial map scene set-up ready for some camera animation and then render. I started animate the young man.

Firstly, with the aid of the Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams, I started to create a walk cycle for the Young Man. As you can see the initial walk cycle is to jumpy, it looks somehow that is going up the stairs ( useful !! :) ) Note that is not polished, and still jerky in places.

Though for a more normal walk cycle in which the character will move from one place to another I felt that it should be less bumpy when moving the feet forward . So based on the down pose walk cycle by Art Babbit, I tried to recreate a more natural and less jumpy walk, by moving the not so high from the floor.

Here is the initial cycle, though it still looks too stiff, So I will revisit it later and try to soft him down.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Transcription: Erich Zann Final Turnaround

So here is the long awaited Erich Zann Turnaround, in this turnaround I added a the texture turnaround and did a occlusion pass to get a better quality out of the model.

The previous post showed that I gave a lot of attention to the face, though the same detail was carried through the overall model. Here are a few detail shots showing different parts of the model.

 All these design choices were made with the logic of my character, for instance based on my reference pictures I saw that elderly people, have a lot of wrinkles and liver spots in their hands to I tried to emphasise that.
In clothing terms, Erich Zann is older, lonely and careless, therefore his clothes are dirty, muddy, like they are mouldy. The back has this "dirt" spots, which means than any dust coming from above rested for a long time.
I did not gave much attention to the colour palette because the animation will be in Black and white, i just wanted to dress him a little darker than the young man.

Now it is time to continue animating.

Transcription: Erich Zann's Head Texturing Using Normal Maps

What follows is a long description of the process used to get a better texture effect using normal maps, this description may be used in the technical paper, which is asked by the brief.

This process was based on the Gnomon Workshop DVD- Introduction to ZBrush 3 Interface and Workflow by Ryan Kingslien. In this DVD tutorial, Ryan Kingslien introduces us to Zbrush a powerful sculpting software used nowadays in the industry to create stunning CG Models. Although he explains the software from the very basic to more advanced stuff, my interest laid on using it to create a textures which later would be applied to my model.

Following the tutorial, I firstly exported my base mesh ( the head that I have modelled before) from Autodesk Maya as an OBJ File and imported to ZBrush. While in Maya is often used to create base meshes, particle and fluid simulations, keyframe animation, etc. Zbrush is mainly used for sculpting the base meshes into more detailed and visually stunning models.

Base Mesh Head

When I had my mesh onto Zbrush, I decided to play around with the brushes and start sculpting, the first thing to do is to divide the mesh, being the head a low poly model, it didn't have enough geometry to create more details. So with the Tool > Geometry > Divide in Zbrush, I increased the number of polygons on the mesh.

What followed was a really intuitive process, which consisted in mainly look at the model and recreate possible creases that a elderly person would have. Based on reference pictures I began to sculpt the head.
until I got the following outcome.


When I was happy with the sculpting, I returned to the tutorial and watched the following step.  In the tutorial, Ryan Kingslien used a plug-in for Zbrush called Zmapper, which allows to capture the normal map out of a sculpted mesh. In basic terms, it allows to get a map (normal map) with data, that when applied as a texture onto a low poly mesh it receives the same bump value, therefore it looks the same.
Having a Apple Mac and finding the the Zmapper plug-in hasn't been released for it, this process was done differently. By using the Zbrush default normal map exporter, I was able to gather the same map with data based on the sculpted head. However a  few issues rose, when exported I found out that the map was flipped and it would not sit well with the already laid out UVs. Tough after taking it onto Photoshop, I just flipped and worked fine. Mentioning laying out UVs, for texturing this way it is crucial to lay out UVs well and never use any auto-mapping tool, otherwise problems with the texture will be more.

Erich Zann Normal Map

Though I found out a problem about my Uvs, though we were taught to lay out Uvs for a head this way, By planar mapping the head and then cut the central edge and unfold. I found out that for a bald head the Uvs have to be laid out differently if you don't want to have a ugly line of either colour texturing or normal maps down the centre, the head has to be laid out in portions. This will not be a problem if your character has hair.
Returning to the process, I opened the exported normal map in Adobe Photoshop, flipped it and began to clean it. By using a clone tool or the normal brush, I soften some of the bumps and mainly tried to hide the centre line on the head. When happy with the normal map, I saved it and it was ready to bed added in Maya.

In Maya, I created a Blinn texture shader, connected the Colour map and Spec Map, previously painted by me, and under the bump map added a file node and connected the normal map file and from the drop-down menu chose Tangent Space Normals... Voila!! It was done!

Before                                                                                     After

A few thing I have learnt from this process:

-With this way of creating bump maps, you can get a lot of detail onto a low poly mesh, therefore a crucial method used in the games industry.

- Laying out the UVs correctly is the key to create great normal maps without facing problems of mesh penetration that can occur when connecting the normal map onto the Low Poly mesh.

- Normal Maps are really powerful and when used have to be careful managed otherwise you can create extremely excessive bumps onto a face.

- Although you need to stare for hours in front of a purple map, you can adjust the map as you want with photoshop tools such as Clone tool and Spot Healing Brush.

Now I will use the same process to texture the insane head of Erich Zann. I must admit that using normal maps is the way forward in texturing characters therefore a process I'm willing to do everytime from this time onwards.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Transcription: Young Man Final Turnaround

Lately, I have been working on different things on the same day, from beginning to animate (later to be posted), to finalising he character texturing, finalising the prop modelling and getting some environments out, it has been a wrestling few days.
Though many things are going fine, animation will take its time but I am enjoying it. Texturing the characters is going great, with help of Alan I was able to get a nice wrinkle effect on Erich Zann, I will post it later, and the rest is getting shape also.

I was able to finish texturing young man character pretty quick and decided to render the final version of the turnaround. I have also rendered out an ambient occlusion pass to get a more 3D look, based on lighting.

So here it is:

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Transcription: Paris Map Concept Art

Just before starting to animate and texture, I want to get all the concept art that needed to be done out of the way. With a clear idea of my world, the depiction of the same will be done straight on the 3D World. Though at the beginning and end of the animation is a Avant- Garde montage of map shots, so I decided to create a texture map for that scene.

Now to do is set up a scene and animate a camera closing up on the map. which later will be edited all together in After Effects.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Transcription: 3D Characters Initial Turnaround

Today, apart from doing some tests with cloth, I have been painting the map which will feature in the animation, and getting the characters ready for animation. Also I have been trying to create professionally a turnaround to display my characters.

Here is the the 2 turnarounds for the Different Characters, to note is the absence of a textured version, of the character something I have been working on. It was really funny to think as the character and pose them.

Erich Zann Turnaround

P.S: For the final turnaround I will have to re-render 10 extra frames in the end so the jiggle in the beginning provoked by the ncloth will disappear.

Young Man Turnaround

I have to say that tomorrow is the official day in which I will start animate, so posts related to animation may take a while to be uploaded though i will find some time to do, other subjects will be uploaded as normal.

Transcription: Prop Bag Cloth Simulation

Lately, I have been testing how to achieve different dynamics in different props. Here is the bag that the young man will be carrying around, in the beginning and in the middle of the animation.

After checking some tutorials on internet I found one which consisted in creating a bag with marbles inside.  howver I dont want marbles inside my bag, I dont want to have a mass inside the bag which will create volume so the bag doesn't collapse. after I created a dummy bag which held the marbles inside, by selecting to some of the top vertices I constrain it to a curve and voila!

 I have a bag which moves around and collides with objects.

Here is a quick test:

I dont know if this method of doing the bag is correct, but surely gave me the effect desired. I will be asking Alan to suggest on this on how to create a candle flame.

Transcription: Gobo Lighting Test 2

Today, apart from finishing my animation dope sheet, which will serve me as a guide to create the animation. I have done experiments, with small things which will add a lot of atmosphere in my animation, I have modelled a candle so Erich Zann and the Young man can carry it around, I have done some more ncloth simulations for the bags which I am pretty happy with and will be uploaded tomorrow.

And I have experimented further with Gobo Lighting.

This time I have used one of my previous handmade prints, as the texture for the spot light. Firstly I sent it to photoshop, added a test gradient to the back ground which serves as the colour used. then brought it to Maya and quickly set up a scene with some dummy shapes. and added a 3 point light rig. where in one of the spot light I connected the image previously done.

Here are the 2 results:
(using 2 different background colours)

This test also consisted in finding how an object would behave with certain light. So I did a quick test animation, with a ball rolling on a plane which has been influenced by the Gobo Lighting.

I am really happy with the outcome, however to better understand the animation and what the characters will be doing, additional light will be added to the scene.

I found that by adding a gradient background instead of a single colour, it gave a better effect.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Transcription: Young Man Final Facial Rigging- Blendshapes

Today, I spent sometime sculpting some blend-shapes and finalising the facial rigging for the 2 characters. which was my aim last task for this week, so they would be ready to start animate next week.

the process was fairly straightforward, I had to create duplicated faces and sculpt them as the faces I pretended, when I had a good set of them I could connect them back to the original move create a control which I am able to easily keyframe for animation.

Here is the set of faces I have produced:

Raise                                       Angry 

Awe                                           Whistle


Note that this is just the eyebrow sculpting, this and more expressions can be created by moving the jaw or to mix this.

I have also created a quick test animation to show the emotions working: 

Transcription: Erich Zann Final Facial Rigging- Blendshapes

Knowing that my characters wont have any dialogue, I didn't have to create any visemes blend-shapes for the characters, though the eyebrows will play a lot of importance conveying the expressions.

So after finishing the young man I have moved onto Erich Zann, I really like this character and this sculpting was a lot of fun to do. by doing the same process mentioned on the previous post I sculpted the extra heads and then connected them back.

Here are the faces sculpted: ( note that each eyebrow was made separately for a full control on the expressions)

Angry                                         Mad


Additional Jaw movement will be added to emphasise and create different expressions.

Once again, I have create a quick test animation showing the controls, expressions, etc.

Finally, a few days back I found the problem that the NCloth would not follow the overall mesh after the character being rigged. Interesting enough, it was not needed any online help to solve the problem, sitting down and thinking a bit about the case I was able to find the solution. And it was simpler than I thought. I just needed to parent the Ncloth group under the Main so the cloth will follow the mesh preserving the constraints, presets, etc.

Here is a picture of the solution:

And funny enough when you move the mesh around and you continue your playblast the ncloth creates a really interesting effect.

Already senile and now becoming slightly pervert, poor old Erich Zann.

Ready to be textured and animated :)