Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Busy times, looking into render passes

I found a 4 part tutorial for render passes.

I did get some help from Alex Hulse some weeks ago, ill dig out the notes i made.

here is a screen shot of how a test went for shot 07 of Leap of Faith

i rendered out 6 layers in maya. There was Ambient occlusion, shadow, camera depth, specular, diffusion and reflection. i wasn't sure how they would look, or how important each one would be. Also for this test i didn't add the character to her own layer, but that is what i probably would have to do, so she can be separate and we can tweak the colours an shadow and lighting on her separately.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Leap of faith_third pass_work in progress on shot 06

shot 06 is where the owl Reveals itself to the audience. We see a pair of eyes in the shadow, and the owl shuffles along into the light.
this is two play blasts from different angles to show what is going on without the lights on.
This took a few hours to do, and i didn't want to spend much time in this shot, but as things turned out, tweaking the animation in the graph editor can easily fill out a working day.
he starts on the very edge of the perch, and works his way to the other side, into the light. making him shuffle along was fun, I became more convinced this would work once i started adding ease in and ease out in the graph editor.



Sunday, 5 June 2011

Afew things to remember while working on Storytelling of Ravens Shots

This is work in progress for shot 3 of Storytelling of ravens. The head animation is first pass, and the Blue screen removal, or Keylight is still kind of unfinished, but for now it is just to see what the composite will look like. i would like the puppet to be very cleanly blue screened, but there were some shadows when it was shot, so it will be trick, will most likely involve alot of rotoscoping masks. But overall I am liking the roughness of it, i think it will work very well. Also, bare in mind, in the final version i will have a shadow in the background, so i haven't forgotten that.
i have done it before ,where i copy the existing layer of the character, fill it with a black solid, turn the opacity down to about 35%, scew it at an angle and voila, a shadow. I just didn't add it for this test as I was more interested in seeing the composite.

When trying to render Shot 3 of brans Dialogue, I encountered some small problems. when Rendering , I wanted the head to render on its own, so I can put the head onto of the Body in After effects. But I could not turn off the image plane.

At first i tried adding the camera to a layer and switching it off, but in the renderview it was still there, even when you tell it in the show folder to not show cameras, it still shows it.

So upon talking to sophie, I found out I needed to go in the Image plane properties:

and turning the RGB setting to None, thus it dissapears. also when rendering, i needed to turn the environment settings it had on down, as it had a blue background when rendered:

This is something I picked up in the last few days when it comes to rendering. whenever i pla a video when its rendered from after effects, it chugs, quite badly. it turns out the reason is when you go into after effects render settings, when you click on the filetype in the render queue, you can change the format from Highest to medium, which is prefered as it takes hardly any time to render and also its playable in quicktime.

Simple Rules of thumb which will make production that much faster when remembered. Any little thing about formats and rendering I come across, i add to a key, so that when i come back to it, its written down where i can remember it.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

work in progress on Storytelling of Ravens_ bran's Dialogue

some work in the graph editor , working with the characters head movement.

Here is something I forgot about, is to start animating the mouth and eyes, then do the neck movement, well i started with the neck, and really it works fine. this model works really well, it still may need some model work done, but its pretty much there.

the model can do expressions in the eyes when you click on the eye mover, and can make him blink, be angry , sad etc.

work is going well, another day of work, more graph editor, and i think it will be ready. i need a second opinion on the head movement as it may be lagging behind a little, or it might just be me being fussy.

Notes i have made for the Leap of Faith Third Pass:

Leap of Faith Third pass shots 05-20
By Alex Bax

Shot 05
o Sort out Quill clipping.
o Need to see candle flame.
Shot 06
o Blinking on owl
o Her head turn to the right could havesome ease out on the rotate Y AXIS.
o Get lighting back in.
o Transition needs to be smoothed out, owl movement works fine.
o Remove beam in the BG.

Shot 07
o Blinking, eye opening needs to be quicker.
o Need sky outside window.
o Be careful where hand is writing, tighten in a few places.
o Cant see grandfather clock hands.

Shot 08
o Clock hands are slightly off centre of clock.
o Sky needs to be out the window.
o Light needs to be changing to with passage of time.

Shot 09
o Turn up old lady smoothness.
o Smooth out her movement a little bit, otherwise fine.
o Replace Quill with flexible quill for follow through.
o Drop the sliding across the book hands.
o Right hand sleeve, try getting it not to slide as noticeably.
o Both arms stretch a bit too far, see if this can be improved.

Shot 10
o Cant see watch texture. Everything else fine.

Shot 11
o Hand move too jerky, needs to be smoothed out, overall good.
o Up character model smoothness.
o Replace page 18 with one without the highlight.

Shot 12
o Her movement is a bit jerky, do some smoothing if possible.
o Up the character model smoothness.
o At the end, have one hand constantly on the ladder, one hand should always be holding on.
o The candlelight is very bright, need to see the flame.

Shot 13
o Overall good, add a flap in the middle if possible 00:46.
o Beak doesn’t move, ad a little movement.
o A bit more feet shuffling back and forth.

Shot 14
o Up character model smoothness.
o Foot stops a bit suddenly 00:51, ease out on the Y translate axis.
o Foot clips a little into the step, see if this can be fixed.

Shot 15
o Really good, maybe at 00:56, a bit more rocking back and forth in the pelvis. 00:56-00:58 pelvis should be going towards the steps so she can catch on.
o Up the smoothness on the model.
o Need to see candle flame, as it is I only see the glow light.
o Watch out for hair clipping into the arm, not a big deal, but do some secondary.
o Right hand cuff clips into her hand, not a big deal, play with pole vector a bit.

Shot 16
o Sort out smoothness of camera.
o Character model smoothness upped.
o Glasses movement is good to start with, make it more like the block out version. Glasses clip her nose a bit.
o Make sure spotlight obscures the planks of floor on the outer side.

Shot 17
o Candle black wire bit moves, delete key frames.
o Up character model smoothness.
o Quill is fine.

Shot 18
o Finger clips the wood a tiny bit, but not a big deal.
o Up character model smoothness.
o Ink pot floats a tiny bit, play with in the graph editor.

Shot 19
o Export the spotlight from this shot and add it to shot 16.
o Make the eyes wide slightly later.
o Up the character model smoothness.
o Maybe inkpot needs to be more visible in the darkness.

Shot 20
o Camera needs to be further away, for woman to be off in background, and inkpot to overtake in the foreground.
o Inkpot is not quite in view, needs to overtake the screen. The Landing is just right.
o Old woman at the start need not rotate the way she does, make the ark a bit more gradual.
o There are moments when the woman’s arms and legs “click” get rid of those unsmoothed moments.
o Need to see candle flame.
o Can’t quite see the window in this shot, but background image plane maybe needed.
o Old lady’s right leg should end up a bit.
o Up the character model smoothness.

I have sent the second pass of my shots to Depa masih, the Director, and also Dan Dalli for feedback, but for now i will be making these changes tomorrow, and over the following week. I personally think rendering will have to wait until later next week. Once I am satisfied i have done everything I can to get my shots ready for rendering. rendering will most likely take place in the college, using the Render Farm.

For me personally, there is not a whole lot more I can do for this project, if i had another couple of months to work on this, i would go over every character animation shot in the graph editor, smoothing it out, and scrapping ideas that seem a bit "lame", but as it is I am perfectly happy to let these little compromises in vision slide. i think i am learning to not be that precious with my work, all i care about is getting it done, and have a completed film. I am confident i will get that, even if I have to render out my Shots myself i'll get there.

Friday, 3 June 2011

leap of Faith Second Pass animation, Shots 05-20

This is still work in progress. I really want to do better graph editor work, but the time constraint is going to make it tight, as of monday we want to start rendering. really i would like an extra week to do that. But needs must. I will be going through this and writing a list of the things to fix. I may have to update my schedule, based on this new development.

On the side i am developing business cards for myself to showcase some of my 3D on it, i may use a snapshot of this as well as my early raven animation tests. I will be working on that this weekend :)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

work sofar on Leap of Faith Second pass animation

As i wait for shot 07 to finish rendering, I thought i would go through with playblast to show how i have changed animation from first to second pass.

One thing i have been doing a lot more is using the graph editor to improve arcs in a characters movement. this doesn't always work as the graph editor can sometimes goof. One thing i have figured out is the more time you have to do an animation, he better it is.

On the leap of faith shots, i have just been going with the planning we started at the begining in previous terms, right now, i have had to go ahead and crack on with each animation, as time is getting shorter and shorter.

It took me about three days to get to where i am with the second pass. As we stand, second pass animation is done, but i will be working on a third, as animation looks rushed and not quite what i want, again, more time to get it looking good, but unfortunately only a week to make improvements.

On the plus side, props and lights are all accounted for. So all that needs to be sorted out is the animation.


this is a new version of the owl looking scared.I took criticism onboard about the flapping about randomly, and what Depa was saying that the owl needs to take off the glasses and cover its eyes, and this somewhat works, it may have looked better the first time. Luckily i have been preserving my first pass animations, so some could be used and reworked.


foot going through ladder step, this I changed to make it seem more urgent, this will be clearer in the following. Looks better overall, its just she is a bit springy in not quite the right way. Hmm


Old lady climbs around lecturn to get to the steps. this was something I thought would be a fun animation challenge, took me all of saturday to get it done. It looks good in stills, but animation it doesn't look like real time, is kinda rushy, i groan at the thought of doing it again, but it is possible i can do it in half the time. But anyway, it may looks better when rendered in full.


Here is a really long ladder for the spectacles to fall down. This took some doing, and got a bit annoying getting the camera to behave. playing in the graph editor made it go crazy, and actually where the camera jerks upwards, i added the glasses going up deliberately to make it look like the camera is following all the action. looksok, the glasses go pretty mental, need to tweak that.\

here is Storytelling of Ravens latest version, I think based on this i will happily be able to add the characters head and animate it. James has been doing the tracking data for the character in PF Track, So i will be taking that and adding the 3D head and animating it into the scene starting this thursday. I will be spending this wednesday rendering all my shots.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


here, what i did was, animate the fingers a couple of times, then went into the graph editor and put it on cycle post, and got it to loop to a certain point. This way i can create some nice repetitive animation very quickly.

And also you will notice it is missing textures, this is because the textures i have assigned are taking up a lot of ram space, so getting a preview takes all day, which if your like me, cant afford. So if you press the "5" key, you switch off all the textures and are left with bare lamberts. Also the character smoothness is turned way down to also speed things along. So what would have taken me all day took a few hours.


Monday, 23 May 2011

metalking about timing of shots, and my schedule

here is an example of me working through the timing of all the shots. i was showing my work to Dan Dalli, and he had some advice, which harkens back to first year when working with timing of the shots. We had noticed looking through the edit that the pacing was pretty "flat line", so what i am doing is going through every shot, so for instance, i will count using "1001, 1002, 1003, 1004' and with that, I can feel if a shot is too long. In this case thats the problem with a lot of my shots, too much languishing, the shots need to be snappier.

so here i have the writing shot, this is meant to be quite long, but i am using the timing to gauge if its too long, and we should move on.


I need to get the timing and animation done for all of Depa's leap of faith shots, starting today, and when we meet on Thursday, all agree on the timing for the shots. once those are done she will hand it over to Georgie the sound designer. Freeing up time for me to work on Sophies project "Storytelling of ravens" over the weekend, provided she has finished the raven rigged head for me.

I think Sophie has a lot on her plate right now, we shot the background plates and the puppet for the project, she needs to put a cut of the film together, hopefully that will be done for Thursday, but no guarantee the head will be ready.

Over al i think for this unit, my time has been spread around quite nicely. I am doing roughly 3 shots a day, i would like to do more, but i am spending more time at home these days, seem to be making way for more leisure activities. Thats not to say I'm not dedicated, thats not an issue at all, by default i work hard. In fact even when i am not working on my college films, i am making way for personal short films and digital paintings.

I seem to need to mix things up, have a bit of a different challenge now and then, instead of the usual. Really, I am doing my best on both projects. it would be nice if things could be ready when you want and such, but i am being understanding to my directors and groups every step of the way and letting them get on with their work. I work pretty fast, so as soon as their jobs done i step in.

My communication with my groups and tutors have improved a lot i can feel. I am not timid or shying away from asking, partly is just not having time to beat around the bush or dance around the issue or whatever, but i like to compliment people on their work before i ask them if they've done the job i asked, its just good manners. becomes all the more important in stressful situations, subtly showing people your not taking the piss. Over all i have kept my cool very well. i have the odd moment of loosing my cool, but thats to be expected, but over all i am feeling i am getting a lot better at coping with these demands and deadlines and expectations.

i guess i would like it still if i got to work quicker, instead of holding it off for as long as possible, things would get done quicker and i would not stress out over it as much. but i am less interested in perfection and more interested in getting it done, and at a professional looking standard, which i am confident i can do, its just starting, and dealing with scrutiny. Now i just do the job, accepting that its all work in progress. Anyway, in short i am BETTER than i was, and want to continue down this direction for better or worst.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

work for leap of faith_first pass animation

LeapofFaith shots05-20 First Pass may2011 from alexander Bax on Vimeo.

This I worked on over Saturday 14 to monday 16. Was a lot of work to get all these shots animated and rendered, but i pulled it of.

There are plenty of things left to do, such as missing textures on the clock, glitching with the main character, but we may just change the colour of the inside shirt to the same colour as the cardigan so it's not as noticeable.

I will need to get feed back from Depa o all the shots, we went through some of it yesterday, but i will get more today. Feedback as in for the second pass, how to improve the animation. Granted some shots look fine and may not need changing, other shots i didn't do much in the graph editor, so will need to spend an ample amount of time improving it rather than blasting through it as quick as possible in two days. But I aim to have it done and in the can by the end of next week, as this week i only have thursday and friday to make changes.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Getting the first pass aimation done:

Here is reference I found online for the agitated owl shot in Leap of faith:

freaky owl coming at the camera, at least i can see what is going on with the wings as he flies.

fun bit of playfulness, not quite the agitated look i was looking for, but woud be good as a looped bit of animation.

quite like how he fans out his feathers, seems abit freaked out.

pretty useful so i can see how he looks at his surroundings.

this is probably the closest i have gotten to an owl being scared and making lots of little gestures.

another one of an owl faning out.

This one just because it is really amusing, the owl is saying "are you looking at ME?" O_o Funny.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

may2011 work in progress

Shot 15 playblast of the old woman hanging for dear life on the lectern, is a work in progress, need to smooth it out some more.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Leap of faith latest works

my first pass.
This is my work in progress for shot 14. It is the shot wherethe step breaks. I took most of the day getting this shot ready, as the books were missing textures. Fortunately, i imported them from another recent file, so hopefully all the shots will look consistent.

I did have a problem wit hthe old lady model, when i go to resize using the glabal scale, whenever i want to make her blink, the head goes back to the origin point and back to big size. I emailed Clym to ask if there is something he can do to fix this quickly.

This is a screen grab of my work in progress. for the step, i duplicated it and deleted half the faces on each side, so i have two parts. Hopefully this will look fine with abit of motion blur in the render.

Last week, we did have Alex Hulse giving us a render layer tutorial. Plus how to do focus distance with a camera, using simply a luminance matte. From the sound of it it seems simple enough, being able to pull focus during the action, so what's in the background blurs and the foreground is clear, so u can get the audience to focus their attention where you want.

Work is going kind of slow, but for now I am going to aim to get my whole first pass completed by friday. And Depa can give me some feedback over the weekend and next week i can start on the second pass.

I was talking to Sophie Lodge today about storytelling of Ravens. it seems things are going good. She is currently working on the 3d bird hear, working on blendshapes and textures so we can use them. I have been invited around her apartment along with James Ferdinando so I can participate in the puppeteering of the ravens. I will be looking at the block out reference i have done for Bran, and aim to get it looking just like that. i think optimistically, we can shoot all of our reference we need on friday, maybe saturday. i am confident we can get all the reference done for the dialogue shots. Either way, I am feeling like i have plenty of time to get on with my animation. I am using the graph editor alot more often to get nicer looking curves and ease in ease out in my character actions. I am mostly going on how good i think it looks, I am not trying to make it live up to things i have seen. SO rreally I dont care at this stage, i am confident I know how to make a good animation.

for example:

Ravenwalk2 side and front1 from alexander Bax on Vimeo.

here is my latest walk cycle for the Storytelling of ravens. Now , with the new direction with the project, this wont feature (as far as i know) in the final film, but it will be something to put in my showreel for industry.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Walk Cycle using our latest model


This walk is my latest animation for storytelling of ravens. I basically animated the first 2 steps, and in the graph editor, put it on cycle, and post infinity, so it looks kinda like he is continuously walking.

I think now i see it outside the software, i can tell its not perfect, but i plan to try again, try and get a hop looking good.
I think the key is not to get it looking perfect the first time, just to keep doing it over and over again and you get better and better results.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

here is a walk cycle I did with the latest Raven Rig (there is a new model i need to get hold of this week)


Here is my work for both "Leap of faith" and "Storytelling of Ravens" .
So far, I have assembled the scene for leap of faith, characters, props and environment. Unfortunately the modeler Nathan modeled in Maya 11 and I am using 2010. So what has happened is importing it an the material images, they have not been connected. So apparently in maya 11 when you open a file, provided all the source images are in the source image folder and the project is set, the images should automatically be assigned to their appropriate parts of the environment. I did all this and the material images didn't assign, so these will need to be reattached manually. Not a big deal, I just need nathan to reassign all of them for me.

As for Storytelling of Ravens, I have to wait for a redesign of the model to arrive, and be textured before I can work on animating each scene. So time is slipping more and more away for me to get those shots done t the quality i want. We have a second year, Jure redesigning the model, so hopefully I will get hold of that this week as I want to start animating ASAP.

For now I have just been working on walk cycles. There is a technique I was taught by Sophie, i nthe graph editor I can highlight the first few steps keys, and go into curves and put them on a loop, and I should get a good repetitive walk cycle. I can bake animation as well, making it a bit less work to copy all the frames. For some reason this is not quite working, it is creating keys but not duplicating the ones i already made, so i need to go through that with Sophie today.

So for now I am focusing on getting leap of faith worked on. I may do a walk cycle for the Old lady.

Also here is a new version of the block out for the sound design people.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Final Term of College, here is what I have been up to lately

First off, the models i need to work on both films still aren't ready, AND ITS FINAL TERM. So if the films are not as polished as they could be at the degree show, then this is the reason WHY, NOT ENOUGH TIME.

On the plus side, i have blocked out every shot for both "Storytelling of Ravens" and "Leap of faith" and the crews are happy with my work on the block outs and are willing to go ahead with those. So the crews are putting their faith in me to do a good job in the animation. I should feel intimidated, but i dont in the slightest. This is within my abilities as a digital artist. I am competent enough to get it to look at least decent. Like i say, with only 8-7 weeks left to go before we need to hand them in, there is only time to do one pass, maybe two if i get it done really fast. But ultimately, we will have to settle for whatever I produce.

I want the films to look as good as they can, so in an ideal world, the models would have all been completed by the MIDDLE OF TERM 2, and by the time we got to the easter holiday, we should already have a first pass of the animation. BUT it seems this is no longer possible. On the plus side, we have trimmed alot of the fat away from the storytelling of ravens project. Eventhough, we have recently completed a new draft of the script, with the help of a professional script writer, it involves all nine of the ravens all havng cameos, which is not possible to deliver on in the time. So instead we have gone with a version of the story depicting only one of the birds, the one the class all agree was the more entertaining. So the film is not at all what we wanted, but at the very least, the audience should feel entertained, and I think that is fine. The other draft will be shelved until after college is over, and we shall see, maybe Sophie and I can collaborate on a much more elaborate version of the story and have all the time in the world to make the new script happen. Storytelling of Ravens in its current form is only 8 shots, which may or may not include a flash animated intro, since we haven't heard from Andi benett lately, so we dont know how that is going.

here is some screen shots of the model we are working on at the moment:

The model is great, i am working on a walk cycle right now. The reason i am not working on the shots now at this late stage is, Sophie is working with a second year modeler, Juri , who is "Frankensteining" a new rig together , using wings body and legs an The movers and combining with another model with a different head. So trying to combine the best of previous models into one.I have been promised it will be modeled and textured some what by some time this week.

actually, one reason i upload the pictures is, something i didn't notice while trying to make a repetitive walk cycle. When you lift the feet, their is another mover which seems to control where the floor is. Some times, i was accidentally animating this instead of the foot, so when i went into the graph editor, needless to say i was confused to find no keys.

But anyway, doing a decent walk cycle is getting easier and easier. our next E&E session is not till wednesday now , apparently. It was meant to be tuesday but its been rescheduled. I will be coming in on tuesday anyway for Depah Masih's group, to give her all my block out shots for the leap of faith film, as she needs to give that to sound design students to add a score to.

Anyway, I think this week will be tons of animating, actually the next 2-3 weeks will be a mad dash to get all the shots for both projects done as quickly as possible. like I say I am positively confident i can deliver on time and have some great looking animation. My only complaint is the short amount of time to make changes and the like.

I have been promised this rig will be ready


Since I haven't posted it on here and its been a week, here is my Munin the Raven Lip sync animation, done using Clym's model, and there's not much work been done in the graph editor unfortunately. Mostly because i had to fight with the Rig to get it cooperate at certain points. Not good. But we are doing away with this model as it isn't quite as real and easy to hand as Sophie would like. But anyway, i got a pretty decent looking bit of lip sync animation out of it. And BTW my Girlfriend provided the live action reference. But since we are tossing out the female characters dialogue and shots, I will just be going with the male Ravens' shots.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Clyms latest Maya Raven Model

a decent piece of work, But i think asking any more of Clym might be asking too much as he's pretty busy. Sophie is hoping to rope second years in to work on the model.

But for now I will like to have a go at animating with this.

Friday, 18 March 2011

My latest piece of animation and plans for this weekend

this is my render for bran the Ravens last bit of dialogue in Storytelling of Ravens. This was a lot of fun to work with. I happened to be watching Dispicable Me and Megamind at the time, and was in a really good animation mood. I need to get more of the smoothness in there that pixar and dreamworks get into their characters. Granted they spend a lot more time and have alot more animators to work on each bit. What they would spend months developing and animating over and over again i churn out in less than a week. Partly its attention span, i want to move onto the next thing as soon as possible, and just a lot of back and forth trial and error that can get tiresome. Thats not to say i dont put alot of love and attention into my work, THAT, I DO!
Its just growing a thick skin, and not being distracted, and seeing a project through to the end i am working on.

Anyway, it is hard not to be discouraged when you think what the people you show it to may think, comparing your work to the greats. But really i just do what i am enjoying and thats all. I am comfortable at my level right now, and when i am ready to up my game, I WILL UP MY GAME, I DO NOT NEED TO BE PUSHED DOWN A ROAD OR WEINED OFF ANYTHING.

So anyway, work with the Ravens is going very well.

And we had a fantastic bit of LUCK recently. The Modeler, Daffy whom Sophie and James and Andi were talking to for advice in modeling the raven, recently revealled he is working on a feature film adaptation loosely based on Edgar Alan Poe's life, and featuring a Model Raven Rig. So Sophie managed to acquire this rig. this is fantastic news for Clym as he could use it to help his modeling, and I on the other hand can try animating a walk cycle over the Easter break using this model, as the Model seen in the Lip sync video animation i made is a very limited and ungraceful rig. So this will be great as we are still waiting for our raven model to get done. and the sooner we get it the better.

Recently , I downloaded a big folder, 2 GB worth of videos recorded off of Digital Tutors all to do with character Rigging. I got this to Sophie saying if she wanted to practice rigging over the easter break, these videos are incredibly easy to follow and a great help if you are not that interested in following a book.

I will have a watch of it over the break as well. But this weekend i will test out the raven rig, try doing a walk cycle maybe. But for now , Sophie and I put together our presentation for monday. I don't know if mike is expecting anything specific, we just are going to explain it for the benefit of the second years who maybe have no idea what the third years are up to. So i basically took out our presentation from last decembers formative and updated all the videos and images to where we are currently at with the project.

So hopefully that will go down well. Sophie sais come in for 10 O'clock monday and well ad some new videos she will work on, maybe a new edit of the animatic. i added in images of our schedule, we may or may not go into that, we want to keep it under five minutes if we can.
And finally, my last meeting with Claire Bennett went well on thursday, she gave me the idea to add a pie chart figure to help with my dissertation, fleshing out my contextualizing of how money is distributed when developing a game. So now all i need to do is get my dissertation essay finished and submitted for Friday.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Something I noticed while working on Bran's Lip Sync

Working on Bran the Raven, i noticed something i learnt in first year in life drawing class. That of drawing the line down the middle of the character so you know where the character is shifting their weight.


Goes to show I paid attention in that class as The 3D character is a bit more believable and grounded.

Block out animation for Leap of faith

this is the Animation Block out from shots 05-24 on leap of faith. I have been given the shots to animate which involve the Librarian writing in her book, closing it and climbing down the ladder, only for it to break and her fall to her death. The last shot is her being saved by the doves emerging from the ink pot. This block out took about 3-4 days, The animation was fine and went very quickly using this Alfred Rig, since the one i need to use is currently being Rigged.

I have gone through Shotgun with Depa Masih and we agree on what sounded like reasonable milestones. I am scheduled to receive the character model at the begining of april, and the environment and props. I have said I can get a first pass of the animation to her completed for around 2nd of may. This is based on roughly how long it took to animate and render in mental ray, which was about half an hour animation and 45 minutes render per shot on average. I imagine the actual shots will be significantly more as there is secondary animation, as well as some post production i am involved in. Once the animation and lighting is done, I will be creating some dust particles in after effects to add abit more atmosphere to the scenes. Luckily I have quite alot of experience with particles as I had to do a particle system for a music video animated entirely in after effects outside of college.

It is difficult to know whether the times we have agreed on in Shotgun is realistic or not. As I will deffinately be working on to get the Storytelling of Ravens film completed. So The most work I can do as early as possible the Better.

For now my work on leap of faith stops here, until term 3 when the characters are rigged. So for these last two weeks, I have my dissertation to get done and submitted before March 25th and be ready for an assessment presentation for next monday. I think beyond that, just getting walk and hop cycles for the ravens completed as we will be using these to help with the storytelling of ravens shots. Sophie Lodge tells me once we have the models she will be helping out with animation, so we have divided the lip sync between us, i can do Brans dialogue and she can do Munins.

Recently, Sophie Rerecorded Munins dialogue:

I will be working on this up until the end of term.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Looking at Disney animation to help with animating for Leap of faith

Something I find myself watching now and then is the animation for the funny old man George from Disney's Aristocats.

I was just looking at how the animator has done his boney old frail legs trying to support his weight. i will need to get this shaking in the old ladys hands for Leap of faith.

Friday, 4 March 2011

lately, what has been happening this week.

i just completed work on referencing for Bran's last bit of dialogue on Storytelling of Ravens:

i filmed myself in live action and edited the best takes together, as well as drew out the key poses. I have been discussing with Depa the animation for her group, and we agreed some shots may have to be omitted or cut to get the run time down to 2 minutes. Exactly which shots to cut i am not sure, i will work on the ones i have and we will see them together and see if any are unnecessary.

On thursday, I did get my feedback for my Dissertation draft, and it was mostly positive with a C grade. I guess thats fine, i would like a B, but writing is not at the front of my mind right now. it was nice to take 2 weeks away from it and concentrate on drawing and 3D. Mostly my feedback was shortening certain paragraphs, make sure my Harvard referencing is all there as mine was incomplete. Since i am talking about video-games, something i am pretty knowledgeable about, it can be hard for someone who have never touched a game to understand my writing. Short of changing alot of it, i think instead i could rewrite some, but put a key at the end in the appendix to help understand the gamer speak and the short hand for certain concepts and Genres. Oh well, a draft is not meant to be perfect, just a regurgitation of ideas and see which one sticks. and I guess I had more information than i could squeeze in, so it is best to see which i need the most, and the rest maybe save it for the appendix.

I will get on with that on tuesday, maybe have some progress ready for thursdays meeting.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Latest piece of animation for Storytelling of Ravens

Lately, i have been working on a new piece of animation for ravens. it is a piece of bran's Dialogue right at the start where her describes his job role. This took me a few days of stopping and starting to get the result am looking for. I am pretty proud of how this one is going. it has some nice expressive poses. I like the head twitching in the middle. I would like that a bit more evenly distributed through his action as it is a bit out of place here. All in all this one looks pretty good and am keen to render it out as soon as i can


also i have been doing work for the leap of faith crew. these are storyboards I put together for the shots i am going to do for their animatic. i am pretty much doing the meat of it, so i did a little plan to make sure what was said in the shot description made scene when committing to doing it in 3D

here is the shot description i drew these from:

Hi Alex

Thanks for this I'm so glad you understand the story and script. I have made amendments where appropriate. Hope this is clear if not don't hesitate to contact me.



Subject: Leap of Faith ideas for storyboard
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 13:10:44 +0000

Hi Depa, here is a transcription of what we were talking about for the shots.
I have made a few extra shots that may look interesting, and may flow a bit better, it will be clearer when i have done some storyboard panels.

Shot 1: Long shot/Full shot/Establishing shot - camera low, close to the runs of the ladder to sell the height. Lectern to look like a thrown show power. Owl is perched on stand on the left hand side of the lectern.
Shot 2: Medium Close up - Zoom in of the owl. not much movement, he can be static, and after 2 seconds blinks and ruffles a bit to show is not stuffed. Camera pans across to the librarian...

Shot 3: Medium lose up - Frontal shot of Lady writing. she is still, hardly any bodily movement. Hand is writing with secondary coming from the quill,
possibly some finger drumming. glasses slip down her nose, she stops them and pushes them further up her nose. Her head moves as she studies. Clock is ticking away in the background and the scene shows a clock close up as she is studying to show time and night.

Shot 5: Mid - Shot - Front - She yawns.

Shot 6: Mid - Shot - Side view, can see from her right that her spine is curving exaggeratedly. maybe some comical bone cracking noises.
Shot 7: Mid - Shot - looks at her watch
Shot 8: Extreme Close up of watch face to show time.

Shot 4: Extreme Close up - Ariel view She slams the book closed, we see by the cover it is a holy Bible.

Shot 7: Close up - Aerial view she climbs down from the lectern. hand on the side, other hand on the top run of the ladder.

Shot 8: Close up - Foot thumbles around looking for the next run of the ladder (may need to get some live action reference) foot comes down darkening camera.

Shot 9: front of character we see her face through the runs of the ladder, as she tries to steady the wobbling ladder. (ladder may need some rigging) (nice)

Shot 10: Close up - Owl starts looking agitated - faster blinking.

Shot 11: Close up Foot goes through a run of the ladder and she looses her footing!

Shot 12: Long shot Camera looking up - of her suspended Body is suspended in the air as she hangs on the ends of her fingers. Show height.

Shot 12: as she looks down, her glasses fall off and the camera speeds down the extra long ladder to catch them smashing on the ground,
to speed back up to the top. Showing if she falls she wont survive. Not sure if the smashing will occur we can cut the scene before it reaches the fall

Shot 13: Close up - Front view from the lectern at the struggling fingertips. Rocking back and forth rapidly as they try to take the weight. Fingers shuffle along.
Camera shunts along, bringing the ink bottle into view, knocking it off balance. after a comical little pirouette on the spot, the ink bottle falls away in slow motion (like this) The ink bottle will have a magical prescence so when the camera views the inkpot a glimmer of light will just encircle around the glass to show that it is special or magical.

Shot 14: Long Shot from down below as the bottle falls slow at first and covers the camera as it seems to fall through the camera.

Shot 15: Close up - Fingers loose grip one after another.

Shot 16: close up of the librarian eyes - film noir type lighting where the light is a strip across her eyes. show fear...mouth open eyes widening... as the she falls away into darkness.

Shot 17: Woman is silhouetted in the background, as the bottle falls in the foreground.

Shot 18: bottle smash and the contents (ink) spreads out and transforms into a spinning tornado of birds. over too Diogo. Yemi Modelling Doves

i have added some shots here and there Depa the help make sense, and some shots I combined into one.

i'll upload a storyboard as soon as i get it done.


Monday, 21 February 2011

Work in progress Lip sync on Bran talking about his role


I was talking to Mike Smith about my animation. and we were saying some of the poses are a bit soft, maybe have it start out faster and put a few key frames at the end, give it this slight follow through that makes it look not static but more immediate to the eye. i will work on the some of the key poses here as some of it is a little sloppy.

have been taling with our Modeler

I met up with Sophie and James from the Raven team today. Sophie was just talking about rerecording osme of the voices, and talking to sound design students for the music. james was trying out some different render styles, so far the 3d spheres he has been using blends with the lighting in the scene very well. I want to get some animation finished so i can give the model to him for him to see how it holds up in the live action. We are talking about getting in touch with a compositor. So james will look into that when they get in touch.

I am doing a piece of lip sync animation using the old bird model. Talking with Mike today, he reminded me to plot out my animation in stepped to begin with:

Sunday, 20 February 2011

videogames in the 3 act structure

Open This! on date: 20/02/2011

this link is your winning ticket:

A Videogame, in Three Acts
by Jeff Tidball, 31 March 2009 11:44 am
Filed under: jeff tidball, aliens, game design, issue_195, movies
A Hollywood feature film is 110 minutes long.

Sure, you've seen movies that are shorter (most animation) and longer (Peter Jackson), but you've also seen pickup trucks with six tires and you'll still tell anyone who asks you that a car's got four wheels.

The script for a Hollywood feature film is 110 pages long, because it turns out that a page of script takes, by and large, a minute of time to play out on screen.

Film business outsiders are often surprised to discover that a movie's length is so proscribed, and that the correspondence between script length and film length is so definite. But they're usually even more surprised at the concrete structure of what goes inside those 110 minutes and pages.

Yes, most moviegoers know instinctively that films are formulaic. But comparatively few know that a massive body of common Hollywood wisdom dictates that on page 27 of the perfectly paced script, the first act ends with the declaration of a dramatic problem, with which the protagonist will grapple for the next 63 pages and answer conclusively on page 90 at the end of act two.

It's possible that Google will break irrevocably when indexing this page, having, as it does, the words "Hollywood" and "wisdom" next to each other. Sorry about that. But as much as the page-27 and page-90 benchmarks are give-or-take estimates, a concrete way of thinking about three-act pacing does, in fact, prevail in Hollywood filmmaking.

It sounds stifling, presented so starkly. Wouldn't more flexibility make better stories? Can we really reduce the breadth and depth of filmic possibility so neatly?

No. But yes.

Here's the "no": The numbers 27 and 90 are slavishly obsessed about only in screenwriting books and classes that promise to reveal the secrets ("Secrets!") of success ("Fame! Riches!") in Hollywood. But there's some truth behind the gurus' hype: The fact that you can distill any decent narrative movie - any movie that tells a story, even a documentary - into three acts is no more negotiable than the reduction of the English language into 26 letters, or the reduction of computer code into 0s and 1s.

To leave the gurus and their get-rich-quick prescriptions behind, the sensible way to think about acts is not in terms of magic numbers, but in terms of function. So here it is:

The first act establishes a dramatic problem.

The second act resolves the dramatic problem.

The third act answers the question, "What then?"

For those edicts to make any sense, they require a clear definition of the term "dramatic problem." A dramatic problem is a question - always a question - in whose answer the audience is emotionally invested and regarding which they have very clear, very concrete hopes and fears. As an example, let's take a look at the movie Aliens.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

What has been happening recently..

not much, i spent monday to thursday this eek getting the first draft of my dissertaion first draft done. And after handing that in, i just need some pracice in maya again. i just took friday off to relax. been havin some fun saturday, and sunday ill be working on my 3D. next week will be the week we get our schedules sorted out on wednesday.

Monday, 14 February 2011

it has been a while since my last blog entry.

But not alot has happened 3D wise last week. i am focusing on getting the first draft of my dissertation completed. But here is what I have got sofar for a new piece of dialogue for "Storytelling of ravens"


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Need to

agree on a day to meet the teams, that are set in stone for me to meet up by the next lesson with Jared.
Not too difficult once

if you cant make the meeting, let them know what I have done, and email me goals for the week.

schedule, For my Dissertation

These thursdays will be the day I work on my dissertation essay. some lessons i have only every two weeks, so thats extra time to work on projects as well as dissertation. need to have it done finally before april.
I animated the beak today. I was mostly in for some feedback on how my work is going with mike and it was pretty much all possitive. Mostly we were just talking about improving voice acting for the script, but otherwise we could lock it down as we are all happy to work with this latest thing to mention, where i point my arm to someone off screen, i am going to swap the arm around for the bird as i think it works better that way, it just didn't occur to me while I edited the footage.

I think i will get this lip sync done, and do another version using Clym's model. We will check with him to see how the new version with feathers is coming along. we need to know what Fahran is doing, whether he will be available for character texture mapping.
come Wednesday we plan to put together our schedule using Shotgun. Hopefully if we get it then, as we have needed this for a while to figure out the pipeline. I think we will get this done even if we have to do it in excel. I think the plan is to have some models we can animate by the end of term.

I think since next thursday a first draft of my dissertation will need to be handed in, I have printed out a copy of the blog i started around last summer's term break, it is very long but i need to remind myself of all the quotes and possible useful material i can draw upon which i will write. make a key for what goes in what chapter. i think I can do it, just going to set aside time this week as i will be in nearly every day. So now is as good a time as any.

Also i recieved instructions from Depa for what she would like me to do for the Leap of faith animation:
3/02/2011 - Meeting with Alex to go through animation.

As discussed please see below what is needed for the animation. The shots are heavily governed by extreme camera angles, stretch and anticipation.

Please see below what is needed as discussed last on Thursday.

Example animation using moom of a character sitting perched at a table studying with glasses. The pose is detrimental to the age and style of the character. So leaning over with head close to the book studying. I would like the character pondering head moving side to side and maybe pressing twill to her mouth. Secondary animation will occur with the twill. Writing whilst the feather moves. As she is studying her glasses slide down her nose and she moves them back up. She yawns looks at her watch and then stretches as she decides to call it a day.

Studying characteristics maybe tapping fingers on the page. Hands or finger pressed on the lips or face as she is thinking...pondering...eyes moving along page...eyebrows move up as she finds an interesting text. She looks over to the ink pot.

As the animation goes...

The camera looks up at the lectern....extreme shot of looking up......A lot of the animation is looking up at or looking down as in order of power. The camera looks up at the lectern as in the animation I showed you then fixed on the owl.
The camera pans closer to the owl (zooms). The owl is in shadow with a beam of light across his eyes. Lit by candle light...As the camera zooms the owl twitches looks side to side generally in a calm state.

Next shot librarian sitting at the lectern studying. Please see above description. Include blinking. and eyebrow moving.

Ariel. Next shot she is looking up at the camera with hand closest to the camera as she is stepping down the ladder. Background blurred She in focus. Close up. She is looking straight at the camera.

She climbs down the ladder

As she climbs down she stretches her foot and thumbles to find the next step. The camera is looking below her so the foot and step almost on top of the camera. She steps down to the next step very carefully as she is old. The ladder wobbles as she climbs down.

Owl is seen again in the shadow..blinks...slightly agitated....

Next shot looking up at the the foot as it reaches the next step it snaps....her weight drops...then she grabs hold to the side of the lectern as she manages to find the next step again. Lots of shake from the fall. As she falls her glasses fall off and falls to the ground...might have the camera pan on the glasses as it falls.

She looks down then the camera pans quickly to the ground and back again to just get the picture of how far the fall is. She looks scared as her body is stretched as shes hanging on for dear life...

Close up her fingers Ariel view as shes holding to the side. she knock the ink pot it wobbles slowly build up anticipation and then suddenly fall in slow motion...her fingers slide off one by one Then she falls....

Looking up you see the bottle falling in slow motion and the librarian falling in the back ground. The bottle comes towards camera getting larger in larger..
Please look at this animation for stuff we discussed and look at storyboard with link I sent

Animation example -

Animatics -

Cheers Alex

Remember to use the graph editor, and this will help. for instance, when the raven s walking, there is a bobbing up and down in the pelvis. It goes up slow and comes down faster, I started with a mechanical goes up and down at the same speed to make it easy to do a repetitive animation. Heres what to do, go into the graph editor, Highlight the Y axis, go into the curves menu and you want to turn on pre and post infinity, go to view and turn on infinity. BTW you only need a few frames, like 3, the beginning middle and end. once you've turned on the infinity and played with the tangents with the incredibly fiddly middle mouse wheel button. you can create an infinitely looking animation that makes the flaws easier to spot as well as make it easier to make changes.

once this infinite curve is switched on, you want to bake it into the animation, to do this, select the Y axis in the menu to the right, open up the bake menu, put in the time index from start to finish and make sure you put it on sparse. as you dont want a million frames to suddenly appear. once done what should happen is a whole bunch of duplicate frames will appear.

Pretty cool huh?

Anyway, this will be important when coming back to do some more walk cycles.

I recently completed this walk cycle with the basic raven model. From this picture I remembered how to up the quality on the depth map shadows. Since I had not rendered in a while i spent some time looking for this. i also created a tun table by key framing the bird mover to spin 360 degrees and 720, so it rotates twice. also the camera rotates 360 degrees, i did this by creating a curve, key framing that to rotate 360, and parented the camera (with aim) to it, and it works out perfectly fine. A technique i remembered from second year when I wanted smooth camera motion. Could be a useful technique come third term when i am animating the shots for real.

I did recently get soem feedback from Sophie along the lines of a great start - maybe damp down the Y on the pelvis?
and the feet should be snappie. So I will keep that in mind for future walk cycles :)