Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I spent much of last month working on lighting solutions. I know it's pretty simple as it is -- it's just a boy and a mirror. I want to light it as best as I can though. The previous solution was straight up Maya 3 point setup. No GI, no final gather. Simple shaders. I'm still sticking with the simple shaders for the most part, though. Lamberts for the clothes, and I'm pretty happy with the hair. I'm rerendering in Mental Ray though, and it has a wonderful shader for skin that looks like it'll be a viable alternative to what I'm currently using.
I looked into GI, but it won't work correctly with the fast skin shader, so Final Gather with HDRI is going to have to be the solution. And I can't complain -- it's a vast improvement over what I was using before.
Anyway, hopefully this will be done soon. And with any luck, I'll get some original music to go along with it for the Siggraph submission.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I just finished the (temporary) lighting, and am now going to go back to clean stuff up. The lighting's a little blown out... for some reason I have that tendency. I think I just like bright colors. As far as animation, there are many places I just forgot about, and I didn't realize until I started doing reflective renders with the mirror... You can see the entire other side of the boy! So I have to go back and make sure those look right from pretty much all angles.
I say this is temporary because it's specifically for the R&H computer graphics competition. The final, final render of this film won't be done at least until the end of summer. I still have to materialize/light/render the room, plus figure out what I'm going to do for audio. Right now I'm going to have to use temporary stuff.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I'm also having a little fun with the hair shader... I'm not one much for shader network stuff, but it's nice messing with the pretty colors. Nice break from animation too. Quick post for reference:
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I think overall doing this short was a good idea. It's a good indication of my current skill level, and doing it has also shown me that I have a long way to go. It will be a while before I do another one. I'd like to focus more on short dialogue pieces for a while, and really break down what makes a good performance. I value that this was a silent piece -- it's helped me realize how to show a character's thought process without the use of dialogue.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
There's still tons left to go back and polish, which is the next step. I'd like to be able to do some preliminary renders so I can submit what I have to scholarship competitions before I'm out of school.
This is finally starting to come together. I can't wait to see how it comes out in the end.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
There's an exercise I've always wanted to try... take a really, really good piece of professional animation and just try to duplicate it, frame for frame. Though it'd be completely worthless as a reel piece, it might get me to sort of get in the head of what the animators were thinking when they did it... we'll see. One animation at a time.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I think the whole arcs thing trails back to traditional 2D animation. I haven't studied this stuff, so I'm hypothesizing, but I'm beginning to see the value of it in animation. It's just more visually pleasing. Seeing someone move in arcing motions is just more appealing than seeing linear interpolations. The question then becomes, well, what do I arc? Keith Lango has a good tutorial on this, and he says the most important part is the hips. I think I agree. If you arc the hips, you indirectly arc everything that is attached. From there, I think overlapping through time adds more, as well as paying attention to your appendages - the arms, legs, and head. I tend to pay particular attention to the wrists, since I think a lot of the time people keep their eyes on the characters' hands... what are they doing? So I focus a lot on that. Plus there's a lot of negative space around the arms so if they're moving fast, the eye is naturally drawn toward them.
It's funny... the more I pay attention to arcs, the more anal I get about them. This is a good thing, I think. I wonder if you can overkill on them...
Friday, March 17, 2006
I worry about the story... I think I worry more about my sense of humor and that people will buy into it. I hope it's well received. I also hope that everything -- the animation, the style, the textures, the lighting, the sound -- will make this piece add up to more than the sum of its parts.
Once the animation's finished, I'll post a playblast of the 1st animation pass (sans cloth/hair dynamics and additional cleanup).
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
Word of caution: Whenever I give any sort of animation tip whatsoever, use caution: I'm quite sure I don't know what I'm doing half the time.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Guess I should just keep cranking... it's at about 2:40, by the way. It's spring break right now, so this week I should be able to push out a lot more than I would normally. If only I could have it done by April...
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I've found, though, that using this method limits the complexity of your animation. "Cartoony" animation tends to be very complex, I think... jumping from one pose to the next, sometimes with only a frame or two inbetween. You can't do this with the layered technique. Plus, doing cartoony stuff, you often throw anatomically-correct physicality out the window.
I'm trying to strike a comprimise between the two methods. For the short I'm working on, I'm trying to use pose-to-pose as a guideline -- essentially, making sure there are a few specific poses I hit, and layering from the root node out as I go. I think it's working pretty well, especially for the more complex scenes.
I'd like to try something in a more cartoony style after this, strictly pose-to-pose and see how it goes. Never really done it before.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I've seen that lots of people use video reference of themselves to get acting ideas. I've kind of always shied away from this (I think because I hate seeing myself on camera), but it's probably something I should start doing. All those little details become clear when they're recorded, and those details inspire more ideas. Plus it's a good starting point for blocking. Ha, I really feel like I suck when I see things other students (that are FAR YOUNGER than me ;) are pushing out... Check out benjaminwillis.net if you get a chance... That kid's gonna go far.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
I can see it being valuable in the prototyping stage, especially when expressing my ideas to others. I remember one time at Crystal I was animating a creature whose movement we were still trying to define - our director asked me to do some quick sketches of how I thought the movement might progress, but I couldn't. It was a horrible feeling.
I still find that when I get to a computer, though, the ideas just flow, even without penciled prototypes. I'm generally able to find poses I like and create the motions I imagine, without the aid of a paper and pencil. Still, I think if I want to progress from my current skill level, to give my animation the detail I want to achieve, I need to take this step. At the very least, I need to get proficient at quick sketching - capturing the main ideas behind what I'm thinking in a very quick pose sketches.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Unlike most people, it wasn't Pixar / Disney / Dream-works that was my initial inspir-ation. I think I'd always admired them, but I wasn't focused on that kind of stuff so much back then. It was actually SquareSoft. When Final Fantasy VIII came out, I remember being floored by the emotion brought through those characters. The CG was absolutely beautiful for the time... I think it still actually holds up well today. But at its core this was a love story. I don't remember many CG features that had touched on this element beforehand, and I think this is one of the reasons this game was so inspirational to me. Looking back on my work, I can see it's been influenced heavily by Square's style.
Nowadays it tends to be more traditional/acting-type animation that inspires me. The three I mention above, of course, plus all skilled animators I come across on the internet. It's funny how once you learn what animation really is, how your influences are significantly reshaped. Anything that will make me feel something, I think, is inspirational.
Monday, February 27, 2006
I'll post progress on it once the next major section is animated.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
That, and drawing. God, I suck with a pencil. Once this short is done I'm drawing at least 2 hours a day -- no exceptions. It's just something I've always neglected... too busy programming in the past. But I don't want to lose my ability to code! ...Man. Life is hard.
Friday, February 24, 2006
So Juggles is an animated short I've been working on, pretty much exclusively since November. It's come a long way since I've started it. It's essentially about a boy who teaches himself how to juggle -- well, not exactly, but sort of... his reflection teaches him. The exercise here is to try to successfully pull off the brain switch test -- using the same character, create the illusion of two entirely different personalities. (Click the image to view what's currently complete -- 10 megs, divx. I'll probably start posting in Quicktime once I figure out the best compression/streaming scheme).
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The piece I'm working on is a 3-minute short called Juggles. I started it while I was back at Crystal Dynamics in the fall (the modeling and rigging). I've been animating it since January 1st (yes, January 1st) and I'm at about the 50% point. I guess that means I'm working at about a pace of 2 seconds a day. When I was at Crystal we were doing 10-15 seconds a day. I think there's only so much you can do with a given amount of time, but we did our best. Now I'm trying to do something to the best of my ability... I hope it turns out as I'm hoping it will. I learned a hell of a lot while I was there, and I am so thankful. I didn't know what I was doing before then... maybe I still don't...
I have good friends that are helping with stuff. Basically everything I can't do, or do craptastically - texturing, lighting/rendering, sound design, and music composition. I really respect these guys, and I'm sure they'll be masters in their fields one day. I was never trained formally in this artsy-fartsy stuff, consequently I don't draw, but I made some storyboards that pretty much only I can dissect. Pretty bad. From this though I figured out timing, camera placement, and all that blocking jazz. We'll see how it goes.
P.S. If you haven't already, go play Shadow of the Colossus. Best game ever made.