Saturday, 8 September 2007

Day247 Storyboards, SC and Hair

Storyboards
Here is the textual breakdown script as I see it thus far:
  1. still frame '3 names' with very closeup image of 2D and 3D
  2. still frame 'present' image of 2D and 3D together friends
  3. still frame (title) '3D and 2D', both are in start positions
    2D "Hi 3D"
  4. 15 seconds starts - shift to live action
  5. 3D "Hi 2D, what have you got there" indicating the photo in 2D's hand.
  6. cut to close-up of photo, 2D "She's my new girlfriend"
  7. cut CU of 3D, 3D "she's ... nice, oh Hi babe" (sound of high heels)
  8. cut to full shot, 3Dbabe enters from 2D side, 3D is waving at her.
  9. 3Dbabe "Hi Hon" half waving back.
  10. 3Dbabe pinches 2D's paper cheek, 3Dbabe "... he's cute" (2D blushes slighly)
  11. 2D's 'jaw drops' and his hand holding the photo droops
  12. still frame 'full credit list CG side'
  13. still frame 'full credit list music and voices'
  14. animated short shot of 2Dgirlfriend picture floating to floor
  15. still frame 'thanks page plus COFA, UNSW, S2.2007 SOMA9209'


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Screen Culture
Since I am a 'respondent' on Tuesday for Screen Culture on the topic of 'Military History of the Computer Screen' I did my reading (Paul Edwards), which was actually quite informative (though concentrating more on Military funding than the screen.
I think ideas like propaganda and simulation might be good things to bring up, plus maybe how tanks and some aircraft are operated with indirect vision in effect just like a computer game (HUDs too).

So after a little hunting online I am now armed with these references:
War Propaganda and the Media by Anup Shah
America's Army on Wikipedia
Realistic military computer games on New Scientist
Interview on modern combat games
The Effects of Military Technology
Combatism
Simulation reshaping military training
Military simulation on wikipedia
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Remote Weapon Stations
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

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Maya Hair
With the possibility that we might want to take on Maya's Hair capability for our 3DBabe I grabbed some links which (like most tutes) make using hair seem viable - but I am wary...
http://wargasm.fortawesome.com/tutorials/MayaHair/MayaHair.html
http://www.cgarena.com/freestuff/tutorials/maya/lowpolyHair/index.html
http://www.3dtotal.com/team/tutorials/paintfxhair/paintfxhair1.asp
http://library.creativecow.net/articles/briggs_chad/maya_hair.php

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Hector's Life
James found this very nice piece of animation on CGSociety which was a piece for the Renault Espace back in 2005. It features a 2D paper character interacting with the 3D world. The animation and compositing are very clever and well realised. This should serve to inspire us to get 2D right.

[screenshots from the CGSociety article on Hector's Life]

Friday, 7 September 2007

Day246 Ratatouille and Character Ideas

Pixar's Ratatouille
It's here and it was fab. Pixar bring us another stunning piece of feature length animation and show off their skill at the task. Perhaps the tale itself isnt as strong as others they have given us, but it is still totally engaging, clever and full of character (really full).
This movie player thingo is chockers with little clips (click on the playlist - go on do it!!)

Links:
http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/ratatouille/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille_(film)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382932/
http://www.mouseplanet.com/articles.php?art=sr070629as

The character design is wonderful, the rats are fun, but the human characters are lovely. The critic (Anton Ego) is inspired, he is overtly exaggerated which fits the film fine. Not only is his model great, but the execution of his animation was beautiful to watch. Actually it wasnt just that, the lighting, music, 'camera' work all combined with Peter O'Toole's voice talent to make a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Other characters like Colette and Linguini were nice to watch as well. Alot of credit for this would have to go to Brad Bird, who has a gift for bringing characters to life, to have them flesh out a narrative and push far enough to make it all work while retaining its feel. There are some highly complex shots with zillions of rats in complex environments and it all flows and works.

Speaking of character design, a picture tells a thousand words and all that. The short article on CGSociety (http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id=4144) shows off some character work by Pixar's Jason Deamer. Here are a few of the pics from that article:

[images from CGSociety's article]
The main Ratatouille site has some nice images of the characters that again show off how well they carry the individual traits. Here is my favourite:

[this is the same file/pic from the Disney site, but lifted from slashfilm.com]

The CG look and effects work is another triumph for Pixar. The fur and hair are truly amazing, we get to see them everywhere (human and rat) and in all manner of situations and lighting. The emotive rain/water sequences interact with the fur as well - sweeet. Paris looks beautiful, in a stylish and slightly wonky way that melds with the interiors. There is a consistent look and feel to the whole film, where the music plays a solid role as well.

Here are some stills of the characters Pixar brought to life for us:

[still shots from the movie courtesy of wikipedia and mouseplanet]

Anyhow, there is no doubt that Pixar have again shown how amazing CG films can be, it is a lovely tale, beautifully presented - cant wait for the DVD to see Brad Bird and the rest of the gang walk us through its creation. Inspirational stuff Pixarians...

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Lifted
The Pixar short that came along for the ride with Ratatouille was Lifted. I adored this little piece, it was funny (got more laughs from the audience than the feature :-) and showed off the Pixar animation talent again for us.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifted_%28film%29
http://www.pixar.com/shorts/lift/index.html

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15 Second Characters
I did get some designs down on paper of my own for our 15 second short to come. Though these sketches are starting to reflect the character, they may all be toooo complex for us and need pairing back to a simpler more easily animated model. Here are some of them:


[character sketches for 3D, 2D, and 3Dbabe]

By way of working on the Character Bios and thus to help flesh out the character designs as well here are some word associations for our 3.5 characters (multiple versions have been looked at of course - these are the set I am liking atm):
3Dbabe:
cool, confident, sexy, alluring, stylish, in-control, cheeky, intelligent.
lush blonde hair, sunnies, refined lips, neat trim clothes, cleavage, jewellery accents.
3D:
hip, stylish, youthful, happy, happening, techie.
beanie, headphones, goatee, casual clothing.
2D:
old-school, weary, happy with his lot, friendly, simple.
drawn on paper, simple linework, a tie?, still has a charm about him.
2Dgirlfriend:
sweet, polite, pretty, happy, uncomplicated, innocent.
stylised, simple linework, eyelashes.

Reference Imagery
I thought I would have a quick look around for images of babes that might inspire more detailed work on 3Dbabe. Here are some links that have bits to offer:
http://au.comics.ign.com/articles/705/705361p1.html
http://www.eye-care-inc.com/designer-sunglasses.html
http://feverishthoughts.com/celebrity/tag/Fashion-Accessories
http://www.lollipoplingerie.co.za/costumes.htm
http://www.shoppingblog.com/archives/aug05/
http://halloweenfantasy.com/product.php?productid=17262
http://www.harringtonvision.com/sunglasses/oakley.php
ebaystickerbabe
http://sexy-robots.roborama.info/image-galleries/hajime-sorayama/hajime-sorayama.htm

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Day245 Compositing, new iPods & Storyboarding

Compositing Talk
I am giving a talk to the undergrad project students next week on the concept of Compositing. Apparently there was some discussion in the group about why one would do this crazy rendering out the same image lots of times. So after I gave a brief rundown of what I thought the benefits were - I have been asked to come and make it all clear to the class.
I will concentrate on 2 main examples, one is compositing a 3D rendered model into a photographed scene. This concept will be specifically relevant to the Architectural Computing students, though it is handy for all. The second is fully CG scenes where the complexity makes single pass rendering either non-viable or limits control of the look in post.

I will reference sites like:
Maya video compositing of torus into picture
http://www.digitaltutors.com/digital_tutors/video_details.php?v=552
3ds Max compositing of building into picture
http://www.aecbytes.com/tipsandtricks/2007/issue21-Compositing3D.html
Plus this very blog (and the photoshop file used)
http://3doinkfrog.blogspot.com/2007_08_19_archive.html

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New iPod
I was just getting used to my new iPod, it still feels like a new toy to me (hadnt had anything like it before). Then hey-presto they release a brand spanking new baby like this (http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/).
The new features, so well shown off on the site, give us much of the iPhone in iPod instead. The 'classic' iPod as it is now called swells up to swallow 160GB of stuff now - but classic - that is a little rough.

[image of the lovely new iPod Touch from the Apple site]

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Storyboarding for 3D Foundation
I made some very tiny storyboards that get us to 15 seconds. I will have to write up everything and work a whole lot more on the character design though. With the storyline we have, we need to nail the characters and thus - I need to work a whole lot more on this side of things!!

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I watched Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the WereRabbit - love this film. It has so many clever characters, plotlines and comic moments. The actual production method with the clamation is a feature of their work and is a joy to watch. Infact we sit there wondering far more about how they do that stuff than we do with digital cinema. In relevance to our 15 second piece - the animation is inspired and uses their medium and character designs to great effect. (http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312004/)

[image from the wallaceandgromit site]

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Day244 Stolen Life and MDM

Stolen Life
COFA hosted the Sydney chapter of SIGGRAPH's screening of Stolen Life a machinima tale of an investigation on an asteroid with a robotic cast. (http://sydney.siggraph.org.au/event/2007/machinima). The turnout wasnt as good as I was expecting (only one more from my class).
The visual quality of the piece was 'limited' due to the copyright of higher-end engines and the total cost of the project. The animation itself (plus modelling) even with the A6 engine were simplistic. That said the whole thing was inspiring and very enjoyable. The soundtrack, audio and the voice acting was all excellent and it built for us a narrative that was engaging. It took a little time for us to build a relationship with the robotic machines, but soon enough the events and the very human activity of the robots had us hooked. The plot was clever and the characters rich and with no budget at all it is a lovely piece of work.
Over on Zipworld (http://www.zipworld.com.au/~raz/nima/SL_Tumb/sl_ss.html) they have a nice page with details of the production of the film. It was a 3 year end-to-end process with only a handful of people to make it all happen. The same site has info on some of Nanoflix other work (http://www.zipworld.com.au/~raz/nima/nima.html).

[screenshot from Stolen Life - from the Nanoflix site on zipworld]

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Finished up my Screen Culture take home exam. Did some work on storyboarding up our 15 second animation making use of the titles on both ends. I started playing with more character designs as well which is great fun.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Day243 The Cold Rush

The Cold Rush
There is an excellent article on CGSociety on a short film by four French graduating students called The Cold Rush (http://features.cgsociety.org/cgfilms/cgfilm.php?story_id=4227). The short took the team one and half years and looks to have stretched all their skills to deliver a product of such class. It is quite inspiring to see that a small team like this can create magic - it doesnt take a huge budget with 300 specialists and the writing of new code and massive renderfarm resources.
The full movie is available from the article (plus through the student's site) and there is much fun to be had. Because of the snowy setting and the bear it reminds me a little of the World of Warcraft Trailer. There is alot of control shown here across the full spectrum of making a piece like this - I cant wait to be able to create things like this.

[3 images from the CGSociety article showing the creation of models for The Cold Rush]

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MDMing
We presented our story concept at the 3D class and it was apparent that our idea is just too long. We have already started looking at ways to tell the same tale by stripping it all back to the minimal essence of what we have planned. With 15 seconds and some clever editing and use of the opening and closing we should have our story told and still get all 3 characters animated. We are keen to use the Maya tools for modelling and animation like the deformers and particularly blend shapes (Will showed us a few pieces of both today and they do look very cool).
Will strongly suggested we watch the entire series of Hollywood Camera Work, the DVDs are in the COFA Library for us and they did look extremely helpful from the snippet we saw.
Over the next week we need to build our character bios and a full set of story boards. This shoul dbe fun as our characters are interesting and our storyboards have a fun tale to illustrate.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Day242 Animation Story

3D Animation Story
After our discussion yesterday, we all agreed to head off a write up our version of the story and a brief description of the characters (maybe even some visual reference).
The story:
  • Scene opens with 2D (paper-like character with 2D animated face) standing to right of frame holding picture of girlfriend (very stick figure cartoon that she is)
  • 3D (simple but definitively 3D, similar look to 2D) enters from left of screen
  • "Hi 3D, how are you going?", "Good thanks 2D, what have you got there"
  • "This is my girlfriend" 3D looks and says "She's nice" somewhat uncertainly.
  • "You should meet my girlfriend, here she comes"
  • Both look to left of screen, 3D proudly, 2D in awe.
  • 3D girl enters (gorgeous, curvy, sultry, sexy - newer 3D feel but still stylised)
  • "Hi babe, this is 2D"
  • She heads over to 2D and pinches his cheek (holding the side of his paper)
  • "arent you cute"
  • She then circles around him once tracing her hand across his chin
  • As she circles he follows to a point and we see how truly 2D he is in comparison
  • She then heads back to 3D and then head off screen together pinching each other on the butt
  • we are left with 2D who is still dumbstruck (perhaps a little depressed as well)
  • His hand holding the picture of his girl slowly slides down and he finally drops her
hmm I wonder if 2D should be on the left like PC is, hmmm

Characters:
2D: old school, simple, feels inadequate, but still likes where he comes from and has character
3D: young, cocky, cool, confident, flashy, overt
3Dbabe: hot, stylish, playful, self assured, sexy

Character Sketches: (2D)


Reference clip Mac vs PC
These ads are so cute (well I find them frustrating in many ways) but they are funny, cute, clever and endlessly parodied. Here are some of my favourites.
The Virus one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQb_Q8WRL_g
The Bloat one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EbCyibkNB0
The Pie Chart one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot9Jp6-mB-8
The Network one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU9EflLJuf8
The Upgrade one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci2D1ig4df4
The Cancel/Allow one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxOIebkmrqs
The Touche one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6vbKRQsq1k
The Spyware one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDuB8NLTj_I

[Mac vs PC holiday girl advert clip as loaded onto YouTube]

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Worked on my Screen Culture take home exam a little as well (half way there)

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Day241 Story Ideas Meeting & SC

3D Animated Story Ideas
Had a good story ideas meeting with the team today. We brainstormed a large suite of ideas brought together from all three of us. We liked a good many of them and were all throwing in variations and expansions of ideas. We ended up abandoning a host of great concepts: grey and coloured characters getting it together; snooker ball date; particles who wont be swept into the pan; virtual revenge on 3D artist; characters on a drop ride; punkerella - half ballerina and rocker; seasick and the albatross; burp battle; painting argument ending in union; movie sequence re-enactment and many more. (hmmm listing them like that doesnt do them justice)
Anyhow, we worked together to flesh out an idea of using the Mac vs PC commercials but using 2D and 3D as the characters. This allows us to play with not only a very cute format (the ads) but also have fun with some stereotyping of 2D and 3D work. After working through a range of ideas we settled on using a comparison of their girlfriends as the plot (little 2D sketch vs a voluptuously sexy 3D babe). Next step is to write up the whole thing and detail up the characters and their respective looks.
The 2D character was inspired by these sketches I made - though he may change for the final.

[early sketches of 2D paper character ideas]

One of the fun things about the meeting was seeing some good brainstorming in action. Ideas kept coming and things stayed very positive while ideas evolved and gained more depth with the 3 of us working together. Each of us could draw of nice examples from media of various forms to give flesh to ideas which was fun. In fact the final story ended up being a rather nice blend of many of the bits we liked from the full range of ideas we all brought along to the meeting.
If the team can work together this well for the rest of the project we should end up with a great product and have a great time along the way.

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Screen Culture
finished up re-referencing my Remediation Presentation good to get that out of the way.