We are back for second semester and the start of the Creative Solutions module. For this project we have been put into teams and placed in a company that will set us our new assignment.
Studio Client Project – 80% – 10 weeks
Last presentation – Tuesday 4th April Final hand-in due Friday 12th May
This ‘placement-light’ assignment is intended to give an insight into a studios professional process from concept to development and final polish, with feedback/critiques helping to refine these different stages.
There will be 3 presentation during this project:
week 4 presentation – researching the company
week 7 – Progress and development
week 10 – final presentation ( 4th April)
Discipline of Choice – 20%
In support of our portfolio, mid-semester we will be required to choose a 3D/VFX/Animation related discipline to continue our personal practice.
This will run alongside the main project and take more prominence from Week 10 until final hand in.
After doing a few turntable renders and wireframes I put together my final showreel. I included a short explanation on what I did in each scene. I came across some royalty free music that I thought was appropriate for my showreel and in some places match the timing of the transitions. When putting the scenes in order I got a little advice from Alec on what the best work should come first in the video.
With the UV map already in place for the Bake I took a snap shot of it and brought it into Photoshop. There I added some colour and blushes in the place of the ears and cheeks. There was a little issue with the nails as the map was a little distorted and I couldn’t get the colouring right, so I left them as the where.
Looking back at all the assignments related to this module I can honestly say that I have learnt so much. From the walk cycles I have gotten more confident and better with animating using a rig. The next part of that task was to create a scene modelling in Maya. My team made a pirate cabin which I really enjoyed doing. This has gotten me confident in my modelling ability and also introduced us to UV mapping. In a way I think that part of the module would have been very helpful in first year. The next part was when we had to pick which subject we wanted, for this I went for sculpting in Zbrush. For this task I found it very enjoyable learning Zbrush and sculpting for the first time. However I must admit with everything else going on I kept putting this assignment off or only working on it for short periods a time. I regret not working on this more as I would have liked to explore more detail and adding materials and poly paint. During our time off before next semester starts I will be looking more into Zbrush and am going to try and do a sculpting piece for my show reel, giving it more of my time and effort. Although I can’t say I didn’t learn anything. This task has got me familiar with Zbrush layout and the different brushes. I have learnt about dynamesh and the importance of topology for animation. I have also learnt about baking and how that is used with very low poly models that are used for games. So with that in mind this task has been a good start to my Zbrush learning experience.
The animation assignment was given to us from the BBC. At first I didn’t like this assignment as I felt we were limited to what we could do for the animation and also our storyline that we had to work with was ridiculous. Not employing guys because of aids but really didn’t want gay men working for them? Seriously. Just no. So to begin with I wasn’t keen but like everything I try my best. As this is only my second animation ever, when looking back at our first it is clear how much more we included in this and how we were ambitious. I mean first year characters looked like a bean bag, this time we did real people. With the first task of walk cycles and modelling it got us prepared better for this task. We still ran into problems and wanted to pull my hair out a few times but in the end I really like the finished result. Overall I fell this module has been a great learning experience and has grown my confidence on Maya.
For hand in we are able to do rough renders of the animation due to lack of computers for renders and time restraints when uni was closed over Christmas. SO we did playblasts for each of the scene and I edited them in Adobe After effects
After I got them altogether in After effects I moved them to Adobe Premiere were I added in the audio script from the BBC. After I had the sound placed correctly I rendered it out and give the video over to Kirstin who added in the background music and sound effects.
Edna unfortunately had so many issues with her Rig that she was unable to do alot of movement. Her sculpt was made very late on and we didn’t have time to correct the rig ourselves since Mixmo would not do it properly. Luckily she is just sitting at her desk the whole time.
A big issue with her rig was the fingers. As you can see from the image below the rig seemed to just put the controls on the one finger and I could barely move her hand in the position to hold the newspaper. Because of this issues we had to think about removing the scene that she points to the sign and also turning the sign around. To replace this we will just be moving her head to look at the sign.
BUT then we came to another problem, her left eye that was rigged didn’t have a good texture as the UV map was wrong. This is because it was the high poly texture going onto the low poly mesh. I had the same issues with Ross but I was able to move the UV shell and I got it in the right place. With Edna’s right eye was able to get into the right position but the left could not. The part where the pupil was meant to go was in the seam of the UV map. I tried remapping it but when I moved her head the texture warpped. I couldn’t rotate the eye because once the head moved the eye left the socket!
There is only two days until hand in and I don’t have time to retop and rerig Edna with the better eye. Since we have until the end of January to get this completely finished I will work on Edna more. For now I have to make do with some eye movements and blendshape expressions with her head not moving.
As part of the assignment we had to retopolgising our elephant low poly. I retopologised using the Zremesher in Zbrush. I used the guide brush to mark our any loops I wanted in the mesh or try to fix where it didn’t quite retop correctly. Once I was happy enough with the retop I projected the detail of the high poly onto the low poly also in Zbrush. Below are the images of the low poly.
Once the mesh is low poly, even with project it still loses alot of the detail. To fix this I baked the high poly detail onto the low poly. Firstly the sculpt had to be UV Mapped. I did this by using the UV master in zbrush. I then I was able to do this in Maya after I exported the sculpt out of Zbrush as an OBJ.
Below is the two meshs after I have baked them. They both look the same detail but the one on the right is high poly with over 3 million polys and the left is low poly with below 10 thousand polys.
So my team has split up the Ross animations between myself, Kirstin and Samantha. For my part I am to do the newspaper peeking scene and the ending when the door finally opens so he can apply for the job. So when I began to animate I quickly realised that the Mixamo Automatic rig was TERRIBLE! It totally had a mind of its own. I wanted Ross to side step in a sneaky fun way behind the newspaper, and just doing those simple steps was a hassle. The rig has a foot control and a knee control that must be moved to correspond with the other. Which is fine, until you do one move, move onto the next and the previous move you did completely changes! Also I noticed that the rig controls seems to move the way you want, but the foot of the mesh does a little dance whenever is pleases. I couldn’t do anything about it since the rig control itself was staying steady and the graph editor showed that no other movement was meant to be happening. The only other explanation was that the movement of the waist control that moved the body downwards was effecting the feet, but that didn’t help much when I couldn’t find a way to fix it. To resolve this I made sure that Edna’s hand partly covered the foot so you didn’t see it when the feet left the ground at one point.
I got some feedback from Alec during the animating and he suggested doing a follow though and over lapping motion on the head when he moved across. I also did something similar to the hands.
Other than the dodgy rig I still had fun with the newspaper scene. He just breaks the door and tries not to make it obvious by sneaking away. I then made Ross peek over the newspaper the same as in the animatic. He looks over the paper with a curious look, turning his eyes left and right and wondering what the receptionist has been doing all this time and why he hasn’t been called. We wanted to make it slightly funny so the first look is over the top and the second is to the side. The whole time Edna is ignoring him and I rotated her head slightly as if she is just reading the newspaper and not paying any attention to him.
I used different blend shapes for the emotions of Ross. When creating the blend shapes we did not realise they had to be made before the character was rigged so that they would have been part of the rig. At first we thought the only time we can use the blend shapes was when his head wasn’t moving. Further down the line we were made aware by Alec that they can be used when the rig was moving and that the settings just needed to be change. Although with my particular scene it didn’t matter since his head wasn’t moving during the expression changes anyways.
The other part of Ross that I animated was when he looks around to see that the door is now opened to let him through. At first he looked confused at the sudden change in the receptionist mind ( which I thought was very similar to the script as the change in policy was also very sudden) Once the door opens and he turns he soon realises that he is being allowed in, which makes him smile happily. For this scene I tried to get a natural swing in his arms when he turned around to see the door. I did the movement myself and made note on how the shoulder plays a part in the turn aswell as the waist. I tried to get a follow through motion with the arms as they softly swing. I moved his head first because the sound of the door is what causes him to turn, and then be directly followed by the shoulder.