January 30, 2012

This is a short post because this week, I have only been animating the Flamingos if I'm not at work.  Below is the final render.  Hope you like it.

January 23, 2012

This week I had my first round of meetings with my graduate committee to go over my current progress on my project and my paper. As it stands here is the current idea that I am working on.

  • It will be a two to three minute animation that is focused on the character performance and non-vocal communication. My research finds firm grounding in the animation principles created by masters of traditional hand drawn animation and brings in some current ideas that have expanded on these original principles. Lessons learned from the study of theatre and film acting are additional areas that will inform my character’s animations. 
  • The story is centered on the idea from Greek mythology that every life is connected to a life thread, and these threads are all controlled by the three fates. The delivery will be from two points of view: the three fates, and the hero who is attempting to change the fate of his child. The fates spend their time watching the terrible results of their interference in people’s lives. They have begun to damage the life thread of the hero’s child, and the story will follow the hero as he finds the fate’s lair and attempts to steal his daughter’s life thread in order to save her life. 

There was a lot of brainstorming that happened in my committee meetings.  There were two ideas that I really liked that I'm going to use in the developing story. One is that the hero is a worker in the sisters residence. That will be how he has the knowledge of where to go to find his child's life thread. Also, it provides a greater change in the role of the main character. He goes from a somewhat compliant helper to a rebel who is trying to change things. The second idea deals with how the fates are interacting with the life threads. My initial idea really only allows the fates two types of influences: torturing and killing. This is good for a few clips, but the new idea is that the fates will use the life threads to embroider an image that will affect the life of that person. This new technique will give the fates a much greater range of torments.

Outside of my thesis, work marches on with the short animation and below is the progress I have made on the characters in scene. I'm liking the weight on the Flamingo's, but I had a bit of a setback during the initial stages that is still somewhat noticeable now. I was using the play feature on the timeline to check how the movement was playing out, but in fact it wasn't until I used the playblast feature that I was able to see how the animation truly looked. The playblast was a lot faster than the animation looked when played on the timeline, and as a result the animation was frantic. I have tried to slow it down, but I still feel like the Flamingo on the left is too aggressive when it contacts the other Flamingo.  I'm going to keep working on this so keep your fingers crossed because we submit the animation for judgment next week.

January 16, 2012

This week I spent the majority of my time working on the rigs for the characters that Adam made for the 11 second club animation.  These two characters are the third and fourth unique rig that I have made in 3D.  I am a little worried about the flexibility of the rig that I have in mind because of the limitations of the types of things a joint can do in Maya.  The Flamingo only uses joints for all of its deformations. I attached a quick pic of the head rig controls, and I'm not totally wild about how it turned out.

 I had some problems when I was mirroring the skin weights, but I'm sure that has more to do with my inexperience than it does with Maya.  The Croc was my first attempt using blend shapes.  There was a moderate amount of cursing as I worked out the kinks to get the deformations linked up, but in the end I really fell in love with that work flow.  Below is an example of the smile that is a result of only using blend shapes.

Moving forward, what I learned about how to rig the character to get the types of deformations that I want is as follows.  Joints are used where there are bones in the body, and blend shapes are used for everything else.  If I want to get a crazy smile, or unique brow raise then blend shapes are a much more efficient way to accomplish that look.

January 9, 2012

I'm using this blog to track my progress during the final stage of my masters program at NC State.  At the moment I have a very good idea of what I want the story to be for my thesis animation and should be posting my progress on that shortly.  Another important part of my progress will be animated shorts that are only 10 or 15 seconds long.  The first super short is being made for the 11 second club which is a monthly animation contest in which the audio is provided for you and you must come up with the concept and animation.  I am collaborating with Adam Osgood who is another NC State graduate student for this project.  He is handling the character and environment modeling and I will be doing the rigging and animation.  Accompanying this post should be the rough animatic of the first of these super shorts.