Saturday, 13 October 2007

Day281 Gaming Social Contracts WD334

Jervis Johnson's Standard Bearer
The new issue of White Dwarf (334 October 2007) has a nice feature article on their new expansion for WH40K aptly titled Apocalypse as it sports enormous battles to keep the hardened player happy. The Standard Bearer 'column' by Jervis Johnson, while relating to the design notes for Apocalypse explores game theory ideas around "social contracts", "playing in a friendly spirit" and "sportsmanship".
The article explains the importance of these ideas and how they have written them into the new gaming logic it seems quite explicitly. Quotes like "Apocalypse is meant to allow you to play themed games that emphasise fun over winning at all costs" show the drive in this direction the designers are trying to achieve.

Day280 PC Powerplay 144

PCPP External Videocards
On the trip I had fun reading through my PC Powerplay Issue #144 (November 2007).
The Tech brief on External Videocards by Lindsay Handmer was why I purchased the mag in the first place. I have been looking forward to the day when video grunt would be plug-in-able esp for laptops. The article shows us where this tech stands today and it seems that we are creeping closer than ever. The ASUS XG Station seems to define one way this may come to be - esp if we can get PCIe 16x slots for us.
I for one could think of many applications for external video grunt - hell external physics firepower would be groovy as well.

The same article also points us at TripleHead2Go which would let us fire up a single signal onto 3 screens - I will have to test this for real on 3 x 46" plasmas!!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Day279 3D&2D Ep51 work

3D&2D Episode 51 Work
Some more work on our project today. I need to get a few things to the team for the weekends efforts to come. Our goal is to have the basic characters in place in a master scene fully rigged and the start of a 3D animatic.

3Ds Tattoo
I created a new tattoo sketch for 3D's forearms sporting 3 Maya dragons swimming upstream through a current of leaves spawning from Apple logos. This was then scanned and coloured in a simple styling. YE can then use the file with its transparency to UV overlay onto the model.
Once I got the image drawn out and scanned in - I ran a few filters and adjustments through it to tidy up contrast and edge details. I used an anisotropic diffusion filter to get some fluidity back into the linework after the adjustments.

[b/w and coloured versions of the new 3D tattoo]

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Day278 Bimboing

Bimboing Blend Shapes
I set about creating the blend shapes for Bimbo - duplicating the lips and adding teeth (simple white plane) for when her mouth is open. Unfortunately I built the nice new shapes with duplicate pieces. So when I 'combine' the meshes (I seem to have to do this in order to blend) then it gets confused because the duplication wasnt made on the whole - I may have to go back a step or two to re-create the shapes :-(
I could just go back a few files and create blends using the pieces - so blend the top-lip then the bottom lip etc (drive key them even).

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For blend shapes I referred to this tutorial by Larry Neuberger. This is short, sweet and has a cute mouse to boot.

Day277 3D

MDM 3D
Met with the team again on our 3D&2D Project. Rigging certainly has its pitfalls, but the models and rigs are coming along. After the class with Will, our eyes and blend shapes are all much more under control. We also have better cluster, handles, driven keys, constraints and attribute controls. Apart from each others enthusiasm, it is good to catch up with Will, whos consistent advice to 'keep it simple' is important to hear!
All of us had our issues with creating the pose2pose animation homework. Will seemed to like my 'pull' but recommended more exaggerated back arching - which was good advice.

I created pages of smilies to play with how 2D's face might need to look for various expressions.
aaaaaaaaaa
[one of several reference pages or 2Ds face]

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Day276 Ep52-22days & Civ4 BtS

Episode 51 22Day Schedule
I Put together a timeline of tasks, activities and ownership for 3D&2D Ep51 in excel. With just 22 days left until the submission and a heap of separate tasks to perform this will be valuable to ensure we just dont run out of time.
We will run through this in detail with the group on Tuesday.

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Civilization IV : Beyond the Sword
There is a nice new expansion for Civilization 4 called Beyond the Sword. The short review in PC Powerplay #142 by Nathan Cocks talks of the new non-military gameplay they have added. He also covers some of the quite radical scenarios that really highlight how well Firaxis built the civ4 engine to support modding. I know I dont have time to play this glorious game!!!
Here are 3 images showing the variety that this modding brings - these are included in the Beyond the Sword expansion for us.

[scenario images of Civ4 Beyond the Sword from the Civ Site]

Links to attack:
Sid Meier Civ Site
Firaxis Game Civ Site
Civ4 Site

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I also spent some time watching the modern masterpiece that is The Fellowship of the Ring. I should have been modelling in Maya - but I couldnt resist :-)

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Day275 Seeker & Reference Rig Reels

The Seeker : The Dark is Rising
This adaptation of Susan Cooper's novel, I thought held some promise. Though I havent read the book, after seeing the film I am more encouraged to do so - the film seemed to leave so many holes that I now feel the book would have bound things together far better than what we got in the cinema.
The trailer at least held some promise for us, but The Seeker: The dark is Rising never quite brings it all together for us. The plot leaves us wanting in so many areas that I wont cover it any further - the books just have to be better. There is some serious potential around all the characters, but none of them is explored.
Things arent all bad though, the cinematography by Joel Ransom is excellent and breaths a whole heap of life into the shots. The musical score by Christopher Beck also brings some tension and mood to what would otherwise have been flat. The special effects work was pretty good actually with some nice swarms of crows, snow and ice sequences and such. These guys cannot rescue the film alone though - lest just say I am disappointed - it could have been so much better.

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Rig Reels
I spent a little time admiring details of a few Maya rigging, skinning and animation videos loaded into Youtube. It is wonderful to see the control that a bunch of handles and morph targets can bring. Here are some worth watching:
Joel Beaudet - Rigging Reel
Felipe Sanges - Rigging Reel
Phil Sloggett - Rigging Animation Showreel
Dawei Sun - 3D Rigging Reel
Giorgio Bertolone - Caracter TD Reel (not Maya)
Vancouver Film School - Rigging Reel
(indeed do a search for VFS in Youtube and there are many great things to see)
Animation Nation - Wendy Rig
Dan Robertson - Maya Character Rigging (embeded below as well)

What I like about many of the rig setups shown here is that they use some nice graphical feedback, handles, zones and UI elements to extend things beyond direct control through the Maya rigging elements. I still like the rigwork by Victor Vinyals I looked at on Day256.

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Worked on my Screen Culture Review a little as well.