Saturday, 3 November 2007

Day302 Episode51

Episode 51 - that last few percent
We are in the home stretch now with 3D & 2D : Episode 51. But those last few percent always take plenty of time - for anything! I have my updates from James' shots and set about making the refinement we discussed to my shots with the intent to have a full new composite done today.

After adjusting the normal angles on 3D's balls ;-) I updated the references. It was James who suggested that 2D's mouth should blend in relation to Bimbo pulling on his cheek. This seems obvious now and was pretty simple to add to the sequence. I took the opportunity to mae a few minor changes to Bimbo's hand - clamping it better to 2D's cheek. Even though in 'reality' it would be Bimbo's hand that would drive this move - it is built to look right in terms of 2D, and then Bimbo's hand follows. I added a subtle animation to the tips of 2D's paper as well, it just gives the cheek pinch a bit more of a natural set of reactions. Below is the playblast from this sequence, this close we can see the reactions and even the keying of her boobs. (Youtubes compression makes a bit of a meal of it - but it is still fun to see all the handles etc moving as well).

[WIP playblast from Maya of the cheek pinch sequence]

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Compositing About Face
I was starting to get the hang of the most basic use of After Effects, but it is kinda painful in the way it deals with Audio. Having to use the RAM Preview to get any sound at all is just weird, and not being able to see the audio waveforms makes aligning things even harder. So despite that excursion into AE, I am going to abandon it.
Into Premiere - which I havent used for 10 years, this should be fun. If this fails I will just live the awkwardness of iMovie and GarageBand and get it done. But Premiere is doing a super job so far, it is handling my formats properly.
I did need to use SoundConverter to get from m4a to aiff for the audio. GarageBand seems to only spit out the m4a format - and I cant even get that if I have a video track.

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Pixels, Stills and Videos
The inconsistencies in my compositing between the still transitions and my movie footage was something I had lived with until now. It was really starting to torture me, but I found this nice thread on the Apple support site that explains things at least. The way the pixel proportions vary between the various formats is truly frustrating. And it is this that leads to applications (like iMovie) trying to allow for this variation with, in my case, unwanted results. It is also it seems because iMovie doesnt understand my 720x576 PAL format properly.

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Complexity and challenge
Despite Will's utterly sensible advice to "keep it simple", I am really glad that we ended up choosing 15 seconds of animation with 3 characters to model, animate and interact. This meant there are enough pieces to the puzzle for each of us to have a bash at things and get some experience at each part of the whole. We have made plenty of mistakes along the way, but have learnt heaps via that process. What we have at the end isnt world-shattering - but it is our very first piece of animation - and for that is bloody good. It really inspires me for the 3D courses to come and what we are set to accomplish.

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Background Inspiration
While working away in Ep51 today I had some DVDs on in the background for inspiration - perhaps for some distraction as well. Pixar's mighty The Incredibles - just sooo good in sooo many ways. Finding Nemo was next, continuing the Pixar wonders. The visuals here are the standout, it is just gorgeous. Star Wars I was next and there is some definitively classy animation in the Gungans and droids that holds together entire sequences of the film. I finished off with a bit of The Polar Express, which I hadnt seen before, but it turned up on TV. While it is far from perfect in so many ways, it is still breaking a fair bit of ground and did some things very nicely. The humans somehow all feel like they are over-acting - here perhaps 'pushing' is proving harder to get in there.

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