Saturday, 11 April 2009

Generi Detonator WIP

I have some 26 key/breakdown frames setup in Generi's little animation with the detonator so far. Building up to here has been fun, starting with just a handful of the main keys (about 6) and building in the detail and changing things as it went along. I find that after I switch from stepped to any of the smoother animation curves, I need to rework the timing. To get the variation in pacing setup and the actual speed of any of the actions needed plenty of work in both the graph editor and the dope sheet depending on what I was doing.

I changed the camera position to give the whole animation a more dramatic feel, which also meant changes to the key poses to them better aligned with the new camera. I much prefer how things are going now and as I add all the breakdowns that allowed for some much better arcs and nice little details which make the whole thing work.

I have been experimenting with both the spline and plateau tangents in the graph editor, each delivering different results. The spline version gives a more fluid overall feel, but creates heaps of overshooting and doesnt express the key poses with the same clarity. The plateau version feels safer in a way, but does adhere to the keys better and requires less cleanup. In the end I have used a mixture of both types in different parts of the animation and for different elements of Generi himself. The Mastering Maya book by By John Kundert-Gibbs, Dariush Derakhshani, Mick Larkins, Eric Kunzendorf covers these two types as well and they seem to come to the same conclusion - the plateau needs less cleanup and respects the extreme keys.

I will post my animation checklist later on (still needs lotsa work) , but I have been trying to incorporate as much of the theory as possible from our first 5 weeks. I will need to refine Generi's character as well, though his fun, cheeky, mischievous feel is coming through nicely already. The kids have been having fun mirroring his actions and giving some feedback which is fun.

Here are a few of the keys:

And here is the playblast on youtube:

Next steps, apart from the supporting docs and perhaps some titling is of course more refinement and the ending with the explosion - I have been saving that bit for last :-)

City of Heroes - Issue14

I still have very fond memories of City of Heroes, I wish I had time to MMO these days...
Issue 14 has arrived and it looks quite special. The Architect issue allows players to create missions, characters, story arcs and more for other people. This is quite an advance for an MMO and should keep players going. There is more info on the expansion in the interview on ZAM, the official site and the mac support is nice to see.

Here are some recent shot of the game in action as well:

[Screenshot from City of Heroes via the official site]

Generi, Supers and Tarzan

Working on Generi's animation over the last few days has been great. The larger project and the extra time has allowed the suite of references and tips we have explored in class to find a place in the workflow. I am still building a definitive checklist, there are so so many things to work through.

As reference, I took the time to watch Pixar's The Incredibles and Disney's Tarzan again. Both exhibit some very classy animation throughout and in both cases the weight and movement style of the different characters comes across beautifully. When Tarzan battles the leopard, there are some great shots of each moving quickly and slowly in fluid curves melding complexity and simplicity. When Elastigirl is breaking into Syndrome's compound we get her stringy movement again at various pacing. There are so many nice sequences in both films and I can see how much work is required to build in the energy and style.

Imparting as much 'character' as possible into Generi is something I am working on and these films are great reference for exactly that.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Generi Jumping About

One of this weeks tasks was to get little Generi to jump. I set about trying hard to do this one quickly as I am finding my animating is taking too long. Refining things definitely takes time, but I need to get the keys and timing and breakdowns in there more quickly.

The reference docs are really chock full of great advice and bring some real experience to how I would approach and refine animations, both on a larger scale and in the tiny tiny details that make it all work.

Well things went pretty well, Generi is doing an interesting jump and comes crashing down nicely. Picking up on the Mr Incredible's crash into the building, I took a few frames and keys to have a basic thump to the ground. I had to wrestle with splines in a few places by putting in more breakdowns, but this was good as it allowed me to guide which parts ofGeneri were leading and which parts followed through. I can see I would need further breakdowns to get the motion to be smooth for each body part - having the hands lagging well behind the arms and so forth.

I skipped the fingers on this one, concentrating on the bigger picture. I like the anticipation both at the start and at the bottom - plus there is almost another at the top of the jump. It may seem cruel, but it is great funbouncing Generi with the time slider - boing - boing - boing.

Here are 5 of the 13 keys:

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Generi Detonator WIP

Starting work with Generi on his Detonator sequence has been fun thus far. I am trying to incorporate some extra comical moves. Some will come later in the details like wriggling fingers, but the BIG step is right out of a cartoon. I am enjoying the extra big anticipation this brings and with a big 'ol detonator sitting right there, this piece is relying on a fair bit of build-up and anticipation.

I have a new variant I am toying with as well, after Generi plunges down the detonator, I am thinking of having the actual detonator explode instead. This is a nice mix of realising the anticipation and adding a twist as well. I hope to still get a nice piece of cartoonish ragdoll explosion in at the end - perhaps freezing him just as he is upside down spinning out of top of frame...

I have tried a few key-poses for the anticipation frame of the step and my timing needs lotsa work - but the structure is coming together. I will post the keys in order later - these pics are from all over the place.

Monsters, Aliens, characters, modelling, animation and more

I took a break from Maya for a while today to dive into the fully 3D realised animated world of Dreamworks' Monsters vs Aliens. Articles and reviews around the blogosphere and beyond have been looking at this film from a wide array of angles, most notably because of the emphasis on the full 3D production.

First up, let me look at the character design, drawing it back to my current COFA courses as well. Doubtless a real blast for the character design folk, they got to create some uniquefrontline characters and also slot in some fun supporting humans as well. Some of the human characters are great, The President being a case in point, and big Susan is nicely done throughout. One of the nice touches in the characters and their animation is how differently they all move - heightening their specific 'character' in that. We have the fluid motion of Link, who brings his aquatic roots along with him, B.O.B. is his gooey self and Dr Cockroach movesjusk like the little critters scampering across our floor. The variety in the characters keeps them distinct and that follows through to colours and definately the sounds of each.

You can see the various personality traits in their various designs and how the characters are presented. The modelling is wonderfully done, B.O.B. must have tortured them with the need to create a rig that would work with his free-form motion, arms coming and going and continuous oozing. I really liked Link, his blend of person, amphibian and fish is lovely to watch and though he was outshone in the film, he is a great little character in his own right.

The 3D (IMAX at the Entertainment quarter this time) is indeed wonderful, apart from some fun at the very begining, the 3D isnt played with much at all actually. It simply becomes part of the immersion and makes sequences feel all the more lushious. When real people walk in front of you at the cinema - they are walking through the shot on screen - awesome. I have seen a few things in 3D now, and this was as low-key as they come, but itdefinately does dramatically enhance the whole effect.

The 3DWorld article by Mark Ramshaw in Issue 116, covers in good detail how Dreamworks had to work very hard to make a fully 3D cinematic experience. How they handle cuts between shots when there is 3D in the mix was just one fo the challenges.

There is a feature article on CGSociety by Renee Dunlop which covers more ground on the production. Below are a few images from the article which show some of the characters and their construction - plus an awesome piece of concept art for B.O.B.

[images from Monsters vs Aliens production via the CGSociety article]

[Concept art from Monsters vs Aliens via the CGSociety article]

The Official Monsters vs Aliens site is a fun place as well and has a nice little production video showing Jeffrey Katzenberg and his crew talk 3D for the production. I really like the 50's monster flick ideas in the film and here are a few desktop backgrouds from the official site playing with the idea:

[Monsters vs Aliens imagery in classic film styling]

As for a cinematic experience, I loved it and the kids have been reliving various parts of it all afternoon. The characters are great and the story fun, combine that with nice cultural andfilmic references and the luschious 3D visuals = makes for a highly recommended (if light hearted) film. Oh and if you can get your brain to think design, modelling, rigging,texturing, polygons, animation and more then the treat is beyond question.


Looking at Generi, he doesnt have quite the same style as these characters, but he can still act out a scene if I can get enough feeling into him. Looking at Oinkfrog, he feels simple now, but I think has enough character to hold his oddly shaped head up high.

Lets finish with the trailer:

speaking of which - the trailer for Star Trek up on the big loud screen - droool.