Monday, 22 October 2007

Day290 Animating and Massive

Episode51 Animating
It feels good to be onto the animation side of things in earnest now. There is something immensely satisfying about seeing things we have built come-to-life with the animations.
On the more mundane side, I fixed up Shot10 with the falling photo - this should be the final version we need (unless we need to render without the black strips). I did fix up a few more little bits - there always seems to be something that could use tweaking...

Collecting problems and sharing them around
We were google-chatting about some of the issues we have been collecting along the way with our production. One of the primary reasons, I think, is around our sharing of the work. We are trading files and sections, building on each others work and utilising less than streamlined workflows. This combined with the idiosyncrasies of Maya and our limited experience creates a breeding ground for the host of little problems we have had to deal with so far. James is having a problem with the 3D Character's eyebrows - the centre point keeps moving (creepy).

Stills - Shot 1 & 2
Since James is working on the larger animation sequence at the moment, to help reduce our issue rate, we will take it in turns for a bit. So I set about building the stills that surround our man animation, but are critical to telling the tale.

Shot1 is where it all starts and is the first intro to the characters. At first I built the shot as per the sketch, but 3D doesnt have the same level of extreme-close-up appeal as the drawing. So a played with the idea of having him cheekily popping up around behind 2D who seems to scale up elegantly enough.

Here is the sketch and then version1 WIP and version2 which tells a better story in the end anyhow.

[storybord to WIP image to current version of shot1]

From here I built a version of Shot2 that acts somewhat as a transition between this and Shot3 which is where Shot4 leads off. The images below show the storyboard versions and a possible 3D version of Shot2.

[storyboard to CG version then storyboarded shot3]

Storyboard and Animatic
The Storyboard in full was back on day248
The Animatic (Flash) was back on day253


Massive Software and Research
I was listening to my iPod (filling up with podcasts as it is) and was slowly coming to the realisation that I feel somewhat guilty that I am not 'discovering' something. The idea of becoming more research focused is growing on me as time goes by. The MDM is a great way to open my eyes and thinking beyond where I am today. But taking on a research-centric path could allow me to more intrinsically contribute to thinking, knowledge, understanding, capability and process of things in the digital design fields. Could this mean a PhD even?

What does this have to do with Massive? One of the areas that I could see as an interesting research area would be the intersection of crowd and people motion with spaces, architecture and visualisation. The Massive Software integrated with various 3D applications could make an exciting start-point for exploring this arena - and they have educational versions to boot.

Here are a few stills from their site showing the software in action:

[screenshots of Massive from their website]

Massive's homepage has a showreel that shows the firepower of the software in the right hands. The examples are entertainment based, but that is where there is so much scope. Bringing tools like this, and AI tools in the gaming/real-time environments has alot to offer in the architectural and planning areas. Perhaps a PhD or Reseach Masters linked to FBE's CityFutures Research Centre could work???

Their website doesnt let us see individual clips from the films, but we do get to see the full adverts that were done using their software. Some are simply beautiful like the "The Know" and others were a revelation like "Big Ad" which I thought was all filmed for real until I saw this. All of the ones shown on the site are impressive and are good quality vids.
For the impatient amongst us here is a youtube version of the Big Ad:

By extension the idea of research in this area gives us transport analysis and other time based systems like construction sites and factory floors even on top of the crowd scenes like train stations. The work that would perhaps interest me the most is the next step along which is building simulations or worlds that live and breath all on their own. Then when we come along we interact or observe this AI driven land. This would be fascinating, not just from a research viewpoint, but for gaming could be awesome.

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