Thursday, 4 November 2010

Heavy weight walk

Just made my first heavy weight walk.


Animated monkey having a hysteric fit. Consisting of the classic "jump and smack ground" followed by an attemmpt at a wallflip and finished off with a gorilla like display of "im the MAN/APE".

The first part was simpler yesterday. But then Georg pointed out that due to the monkey`s size and weight of hands, his lower body would most likely leave the ground after such impacts from the hands. And that was a good observation, because when i added that, i can see how it gives much more overall life to the character. At that time at least.

When i was happy with the first part, i made the jump on the wall, then the gorilla chest punching.
There is something wrong with the jump and the landing. cant put my finger on what it is. And i worked alot on it, but i cant make it better!

I was originally going to have him walk angry towards the camera for a few steps, but i figured i might as weell go straigh into the gorilla move.

Then i added some facial animation and called it a day.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Monke see, monkey do

I tried to animate a monkey walk cycle.
This was pretty forward and similar to a human walk except for a few things.

1. Monkeys walk with their hands AND feet. They balance their weight between the leg and the arm that is touching the ground.

2. Monkeys lean forward quite a bit to get the weight divided between legs and arms.

3. A lot of shoulder movement when leaning on the arms.

Here is my very simple monkey walk:

Mine does`nt actually look like he is leaning on his hands. They`re too long!!
Gorillas usually have relatively straight arms (the one their leaning on) while walking. For this one to be doing that, he would be standing straight, and NOT look like a gorilla. But he isnt anyway, he is a chimp.
We are going for a gorilla look animationwise so that willl need more researh into how they move. I think disneys Tarzan would be great to watch. tonight.


I tried to fix the animation a bit. Adden some upper torso rotation and set the movement a the hands a bit off from before ( to make the hands touch the ground sooner).#

It looks a bit better, though a lot of improvement could be done.
I am going to look at gorillas now and how they run.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Improving animation..

Georg pointed out a nasty little mistake with my mushroom jumping animation.
When the red guy bounces off the second mushroom, in mid air he seems to be hitting an invisible ceiling.
After some thorough investigation, we came to the conclusion that this error was caused by ceveral stuff...

1. I have been animating the Main_cntrl handle (not neccessary! will only complicate things).
2. The graph contrling the y axis movement of everything going up at that time, was badly adjusted.
3. The characters arm would normally come up after that mid air key pose. mine did`nt. And that was a big reason why it looked wrong.

I have tried to fix these errors and i think it is definately looking better now. But like i said, this tweaking could go on forever. Id rather move to the next branch and keeep on swinging. Like a monkey.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Georg`s Character keying script

Georg wrote a script in Maya to make it easier to animate two or more characters at once.
I call it... "Georg`s script for animating two characters at once". or GSFATCAO for short.

It basically keys both character sets at the same time. And has a little UI with a KEY button on it, that does that.

I set up a scene with two Optimus prime characters. I wanted them running towards each other and then crash.
A simple animation to test out with.

Animating it went flawless for what it is. I didnt pay much attention to making it look good. I only wanted to get used to the script.

I think the script will be most useful when animating two or more characters doing DIFFERENT things, but that interact with the others. A fight for example. Or a wierd dance or something....

Man with BO staff

To practice animating a character interacting with an object i wanted to animate a kung fu type waving a stick around.

A very important thing to keep aware of, is the relationship between the object and the part of the character that is going to control the object. In this case PARENT CONSTRAINT in maya.
In addition to keying the "on and off" of the constraint, its also important to be aware of the object`s position in world space, which also have to be updated and keyed in order for say, switching an object between hands.

Once Georg taught me all that, i animated the guy first, then rigged up the constraints, then tweaked the movement of the staff for optimum pleasure.

The last thing i did was add some basic head and facial animation.
I could keep tweaking this as there are a LOT of improvement possibilities, but since this was only meant as a practice for object interaction, i am going to leave it as it is and jump to the next thing.

Monday, 25 October 2010

I started animating!

For my 3rd year project, i am basically focusing on building a strong showreel full of character animations.
And i am hoping to get involved with as many of the projects in our class as humanly possible.
That way, i will get a lot of diversity on my showreel. As well as practice animating different styles.

I started doing animation tests for the "Tom Dowler- group".
Here is the first scene i made. It is meant to be comical and cartoony. It is part of a chase scene where a hunter-character chases a little creature through a field of bouncy mushrooms (!?!?!?)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Animationstyle: super cool

I remember really liking the Moomin animated series growing up. And i noticed the animation was different from the Disney movies, but still thought it was an awesome style.
I later recognized the same type of animation in japanese films.

I knew Moomin was from Finland so i figured it must have been made by a finnish crew.
But today i found out that almost the entire crew of that series is japanese.

And you can definately see alot of typical "japanimation" techniques used (even just in the intro thats in hebrew), like paralaxing and the very(!!) simplistic lip syncing.
Even when they animate action stuff, its really energetic, but can be insanely simplistic.
A good exmple of that style is the intro dream sequence to Kung fu Panda.

Gotta love it!
In this style of animation has the best use of slow motion i think. Its great for making a powerful anticipation for example.
And even though the actual "action moves" sometimes are very subtle, and sometimes they´re not even there(!), they feel very energetic.

One more example of this is this Ill Bill music video. Notice the simplicity of the animation, but how COOL they´ve made it by throwing tons of other stuff onto the animation.

I am definately going to try to copy this sort of style. Japan 4!!

Basketball jones

I tried ToonBoom just to see if it had any advantages to adobe flash.
To be honest, i thought it was exactly the same. But i only tested out the very very basics.

I animated a basketball dude doing a cool slam dunk:)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Over the summer

I havent done much animation related work over summer. which i now regret.
But i did make a little experimental thing with a friend of mine who is a DJ.

The idea was to have simple 2d animated figures move and do wierd stuff to the beat of the music my friend had made/ was going to control live.
The figures were also motion tracked onto real footage backgrounds to make it a bit more interesting.

The "old super8 look" is just because of the club he was going to play at. They usually show stuff on screens with the same type of look.

It was simple to make the animations. But matching it to the (changing!!) beat of the music, was super duper difficult.
We figured the best way would be if we could somehow control the "beat" on the animations interactively. Maybe this could be done with flash? i dont know.. we´re scratching our heads.

Anyway here is a sample of what it was gonna look like:

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The mesh..

The Wolf MESH is probably what got the least attention.
I was not really interested in making a good model. The importance was in the rig.
But i did make a simple little thing and i did adjust the weighting a bit, but i really couldnt afford to spend much time on it.
It still works to show the movement created by the rig. i made him bark a bit in the test animation just to show that the jaw is working.
The mesh has a fair amount of polygons, but of course they would have to be weighted properly.

I was going to try playing around with the fur effect bulit into maya. If i can get fur on a mesh that is weighted properly and where the rig works even better than this one, that would be it basically.

Here id wolfie running again!

About the rig...

The rig i have made is fairly simple.
All the legs have ONLY ikHandles. no FK ones. This seems to be the noral way of doing quadrupeds.

For the back feet, i just threw a normal ikHandle on. But with my particular leg dimensions, i can see that i will need an extra something to make the foot react more realisticly.

The feet have a heel, a ball and a toe joint. Like a human rig. In case i would need toe movement.
I only included that because it is simple to make, and though i doubt ill use it, it cant hurt.

The head has a neck, head, two ears and one jaw joint.
I should have made the neck a little bit longer considering the way dogs sway their head up and down to create extra momentum while running.
So if i had more joints in the neck the motion could have been made more fluent.
The ears should also get a bit more attention. A lot of a dog/wolfs emotion is displayed through the ears. So if i needed to fold them back and forth, it will need to look good!

Apart from the incredibly frustrating back leg setup, the spine and tail was the worst.
I struggled a good while before i understood how spline iks work.
The spine could also have been a bit more complex.
If this would have been an aim for a proper rig, the spine wouldnt be good enough. I only have one cluster in each end of both the spine and the tail. +the twst attribute.
This basically means limited movement in a place that might be important in making the dog look natural.
The tail itself isnt moving at all. I could not figure out how to make a good controller to make the tail swing from side to side AND up and down. The tail would also need a few more joints. At least make it bend in more areas.

The control curves i made are pretty standard. Most are made from nurbs curves so they dont show up on renders. For the pole vectors i used "invisible" polygon geometry that also can only be viewed within maya. And i made all four different, because i thought they would all be on the inside of the wolf's leg, and thereby easily end up on top of each other, making them harder to grab.
I made some original control curves as well.
For the jaw i created a jaw looking curve that u simply rotate in whatever axis you want, and the jawJOINT will react perfectly.
For the ears i made curves shaped like ears and a bit bigger that the mesh ears, just to make them easier to grab.
The foot control i made in the shape of a dog paw. The base controls the whole foot, while the little toe symbols control... just the toes.

I also added something i havent actually seen on any other quadrueds. Which is a parent to both sets of legs.
I made one controlcurve for both the front feet, and one for both the back feet.
I did this because when four legged creatures run, they roughly move the back feet the same, and the front feet the same. with a slight difference though.
I figured it would be easiler to animate if i made this curve that animates two at a time, get the timing right, and then adjust the difference with the individual foot controls.

I did not bother with a reverse foot control. Its easy to make, but i did not need to test anything out about it, because i know pretty well how they work, and im not even sure i will have any use for it on an imporved version of this rig.

Trouble with the feet

I had been studying the Great Dane model for at least a week, and followed a tutorial that explains how to make the back leg of a dog.

The trick about dog`s back feet are that they have one additional joint in their skeleton.
This means that i would need a different, more complex ikHandle to go from the hip to the foot.

After about a weeks struggle and both me and Georg scratching our heads, i came to the comclusion that the effect i would gain from the tutorials` technique was not worth spending this much time on, so i decided to stick to a normal ikHandle stretching across 3 joints, as opposed to the normal 2 joint.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Wolf

I started to make a simple wolf-shaped mesh in maya.
I also started to make the rig.
Im gonna keep working on both alongside each other and also test some fur-stuff maybe this week.
Heres what the wolf looks like so far.

Thursday, 29 April 2010


For my negotiated project i am going to go through the process of making a 3d wolf. Playing around and getting used the the different aspects without actually completing them. Just to get an idea of the time and effort needed.
Ill be looking into rigging a 4 legged creature as well as animating it.

I made an important discovery today about the runcycles of dogs as opposed to runcycles of horses.

Horses jump with their front feet and lands with the back ones first.
(in mid air their legs are gathered and body leaning forward then backwards before landing)

Dogs (and cats) jump with their back feet and land with their front ones.
(in mid air their legs are stretched and body leaning backwards then forwards)

Maybe this is common knowledge, i dont know, but i thought it was interesting.

Here is a little test i did on a premade dog-rig:

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


A bit more progress...
Some very simple colors just to easily separate the different parts.
Some parts need smoothing, but im gonna keep them that way until everything else is finished.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Still pirategun...

The pirategun is coming along nicely.
The bigger parts were actually harder to make than the small ones. Partially becuase the small ones are a certain shape and youll recognise them as that shape even if theyre slightly off. Thats not the same with the big parts like the wooden shaft and the barrel. And those parts needed a ot of cleaning up since theyre prob gonna have different maps on them so a minimum of faces is always good.
anyway here it is so far. Just a few more bits n bobs, and then its probably on to texturing.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Working on the gun

I am still modeling the Pirategun. It is starting to take shape, but the hard part is in the details. These types of guns have a lot of wierd little parts that normal guns dont have. This type of gun is a couple of hundred years old.

It works just like an oldschool cannon. Gunpowder and an iron ball inside the tube, and then a little mechanism to ignite the whole thing on the outside. Thats it... but it has to look good...

Heres a very lazy playblast.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Thoughts on dissertation topic

In one of Anns lectures on what topic to choose for out dissertation, she mentioned something about the link between ancient mythologies and modern day superheroes.
Being a total nerd for anything mythology-related, i decided to go for that, and hopefully find an approach to it that made it more interesting. A little bit of epic, if at all possible.

That is what i love about mythologies. Its ability to go above and beyond epic. Despite the fact that even thoguh they are totally made up and sometimes really really wierd, they can also give you a sort of epiphany that makes you think twice about its meaning, its importance to ancient societies as well as our own!!!

This is where the superheroes come in. After reading up on ARCHETYPES, which is the main link between it all, in both mythologies and superhero comic books, i see a reaccuring theory that makes me chuckle. Namely that superhero stories are our modern day mythology! They might mean more than we think. And i am going to find out!
This is going to be epic. EPIC!!!

Corked- Working with 3rd years

"Corked" was one of my favourites of all the 3rd year students presentations. And luckily i was chosen to help them make it.

It is a story of a pirate who tries to escape from the prisoncell of rival pirates. It is a comical story with a twist in the end and has a snappy, high energy feel from start to finish.

I was first assigned to work on the weighting of the 3d characters. But we had some problems and im not particularly good with that, so a bit later i got to start working on the blockthrough. Which i actually really enjoy, because like an animatic, it gives you a very clear idea of all the visual stuff like timing and the shots etc...

After just a few days working with Andy & co, we had powered out the first 8 shots. Though the animation is very very rough, you still get the idea.

I am looking forward to continuing this process, but since i am home in Norway and dont have all the necessary files, they gave me another job well suited for my interest; making a gun.
THE gun that is going to be used in the film.

I enjoyed making the highpowered-fullyautomatic-superkiller for our sfx project. But this time its a bit more subtle. The gun im making is a classical 18th century "pirate-gun".

Andy gave me a toy gun to use as reference, but i realized we have an almost identical (real) one hanging on a wall at home. So that should be plenty to go by.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Its finished!!

We finished our sfx project, but we didnt have time to render all the clips. Just the most important ones. So the rest will be added later.
But here are the shots:

Monday, 15 March 2010


Now were finally at the stage which this project is all about! The compositing!

First things first, the footage of us had to made into high quality image-sequences for Toxik to recognize them. Toxik is of course the amazing software we are doing the work with.

The first thing we did was keying.
Since all our footage was of us on greenscreen, we just had to go through them one by one and key out the green, so that in the next step we could just add the needed background and then add all the fun effects and color corrections etc...

Sometimes there wwere clips that was tricky to get all the green out of. So we had to rotoscope masks to remove the remaining stuff.
That was probably the one thing that has taken the longest time to do on this project. but once you know how to do it, you just put some headphones on and let your hands do the work almost without thinking about it.

The next bit is by far the most fun one.
This is where we had to make the different layers of each clip look like the same.
There are alot of different things that might be needed for those layers to look right.

We mostly did it in this order:

2d transform - to place the clips around in the frame to make the shot we want.
Time offset - to make the clip start and/or end at the right time.
Color correction - to adjust contrast and color value.
Add grain - to make computer perfect images seem like they have been filmed with the same videocamera as the real life footage.
Blur - to simulate a shift of focus by blurring different layers.

Now all the clips are finished and we are really happy with the results! It honestly eceeded my expectations. We have managed to make something that we would be impressed to watch two months ago.
The thing i am most satisfied with, is the fact that we successfully merged a 3d object onto real life footage. I consider this a very powerful skill to have experience in. Because essentially anyone could do it, but having tried it, like we have now, definately builds an advantage for whenever we do this for real!

Rendering & Composoting

The rendering process has been very hectic and chaotic mostly due to the computers being a bit difficult.
They seem to crash whenever we need them the most!

Luckily, not everyhting we needed to render was animated. Only the gun itself is animated and it took ages to render! The backgrounds were only one frame each, so they were done relatively quickly.

There has been a lot of ups and downs during this rendering process. It seemed like one day we got bad news, and thought we were doomed. Then the next day we would recieve good news! And its been going back and forth like this for a couple of weeks.

The rendering process has been long and boring, but quite a bit has been learned.
We used render passes on everything, mainly to have control of everything in toxik. So if anyhting needed a bit of a tweak, we wouldnt have to render the whole thing all over.

Nothing creatively challenging in this rendering business, but its def. an important part.
But now that whole jazz is over with, so were moving on to compositing which should be more fun!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Things are coming together!

I've been spending most of my time finishing the gun. But now we need to wrap it up. And i am happy with it anyway, so we should get moving on to the next steps...
Pete finished the tracking for one of the main shots.
The clip is where i pick up the gun and start shaking it ( shooting).

Witht the movement all tracked and put into maya, we could now see the first test of matchmoving.
This is what that looked like.

We are very happy with the result! It definately gave us a good chuckle, but to be serious it is what we wished for and we can actually see this all coming together and looking really cool.

Ive finished texturing the gun. To be honest it could have been a bit better and more realistic, but we need to move on to the next stage which is rendering.
Which means that we have to animate the gun (prescicion is crucial!!) and then render it. The rendering is, as always, gonna take a LOT of time, so we need to get that out of the way so that we can spend the remaining two weeks composoting, keying, maskin, tweaking, frustrating and maybe succeeding, all to make it look as good as possible.

Here is a little preview of the finished gun in action.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Greenscreen session and the first rough-cut!

We spent a whole day in the greenscreen studio, getting the footage we needed.
First we had an induction on how to use the greenscreen (its a big dangerous process to get it down from the ceiling). Then we got the rest of the day to spend in the studio.
Thankfully we were able to check the footage right away on my laptop, so we could do a couple of tries, adjust the camera and then try again until we got it right.
There were only 5-6 shots needed, but we have tons of bloopers that are quite funny (Pete actually falls over himself when he kicked me).
It was a lot of fun. And for the first time i have used a professional greenscreen. So hopefully the footage will be good and it will all look good in the end!

Here is the first rough cut we put together today.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Special Effects project- Making guns!

This project is all about nice n glossy special effects. We Teamed up in groups of 2 to 3. I am in a group with Pete and Simon.
We spent some time beforehand to figure out what COULD be done in accordance to what we would LIKE to make.
In the morning meeting, where we all pitched our ideas, i realized that all of the groups had really good ideas and i cant wait to see them all come together!

Our idea was initially to have me and pete come in to a totally white environment, and then (in the video) gradually "create" everything around us. Sort of like a breakdown, but as part of whats happening.
Then we wanted to have me and pete turn against each other and start fighting with various cg created weapons. Im talking guns, bombs, throwing weapons, even vehicles!
The oucome of the fight was never planned though.

BUT since this would require WAAAAY to much work, we shortened the whole thing down to one clip each of the effects we wanted to show.
So there will be one major establishing shot to show mattepainting background with 3d objects (a big bridge), one shot of us fighting to show interaction between real footage and cg environment, and then a shot of me picking up a big cg gun from the ground and then shooting pete. This is probably the trickiest of the techniques were using, but with georg´s expertise, we´ll get there soon!

My job was to create the "box" which we were to use as a tracking reference for the cg gun. And also to make the actual cg gun in Maya.
The Box i first wanted to make out of cardboard boxes and spraypaint them in one solid color. But i figured a paper box would be too weak, so i made one out of shelves i bought.
So i hacked up the shelves and assembeled them with handy screws and spraypainted the whole shebang in florescant green.

The handles i created was covered in black tape so we could keep them instead of keying them ou and replacing them. That would add a lot of work.
But when the thing wa finished i got way to excited, picked it up and started shaking it ( i was pretending it was a machine gun ratatatatta), and then i broke one of the handles....
But it wasnt a big problem since we had one handle left. Still very stupid mistake...

We hve done a lot of testing with The Box, but havent quite gotten the results we need. So while Pete was struggling with that, i was working on the cg gun.
Its almost finished, but i have a very essential part of it left - texturing.
It may the most important part of convincing realism to the audience.
This is what it looks like so far...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Writing collaboration project

This project was meant to bring us animation students together with Creative writing students and make something in a group where everyone has (and sticks to) a specific job within the team. For example Producer.
The idea was that the writers came up with the story, and we had to make it into an animated animatic suitable for a professional pitching.

The brief was basicly to make a promotional peice for The National Union of Fairies, Sprites, Elves and Druids (NUFSED). The animated peiece would be used to raise awareness of the organisation. And the whole thing would have to be based around an already existing fairytale.
My group for example, picked the story about Goldielocks and the three bears.

I was given the job as the Storyboard artist. Initially i thought i would only have to illustrate whatever the producer/writers envisioned. But since there were no director of photography or director at all, i figured it was my job to lay out the scenes cinematography-wise...
I like setting up scenes and playing around with how the camera should tell the story. I´ve never had any specific lessons on the subject, but i really enjoy doing it. It is almost like you make the whole film right there on paper, and then you just have to follow through.

When the writers started to form the story, i immideately saw the scenes in my head.
And when the time came to get them on paper, i thought it would be better if i went above and beyond in terms of camerause. And with a very "cartoony" approach to the animating of the characters. This way, i figured we could tone it down to the bare minimum if we needed. Its always better to have too much, than too little.
So when i finished the first half of the story in storyboards, we had way too many shots and the expressions and movements of the characters were over the top.

So we cut it down, and Jacob (animation supervisor) and i, figured out how we could cut the whole thing down. Cutting it down would of course make it easier to make (deadline was slowly approaching) and easier to watch for the audience.

The whole team was great. I felt we all worked together very good and everyone did their best on each specific task. And the result was way better than expected. Especially Holly (designer) who powered out some amazing illustrations of Goldielocks in a matter of minutes. And when the hours started rolling, it only became better. And that of course goes for the whole group. Everyone was working hard non stop for those three days.
Our producer Craig always had a good attitude and mood. But he still managed to keep control of the whole "pipeline" of work.
The writers brought a good vibe and humor to the piece. Our given genre was "Dramatic narrative". The writers pretty much layed it down from the very beginning. With various adjustments along the way of course. But they really know their stuff and how to play around with it.
The only critisicm i have is directed at the fact that even though the genre was "Dramatic narrative"(which i imagined would be scary or serious), we ended up with a houmorous story about big gay bears. But i told the writers sraight away, but they explained how that genre could be "bent" either way. So trusted their decision, after all they know this waaay better than any of us.

The moral of the original story is of course "Dont venture unknowingly into the forest"... or something like that...
But we sort of wanted this old moral to be more adjusted to the modern, friendly society.
Therefore we had Goldielocks become friends with the "meterosexual" bears, instead of fearing and running away from them.

As the days went and we could see the end coming, we had to continiously cut down on the work. So even more shots were cut, and so was the story and dialogue/narration.
Short projects like these always seem to sort of get tensed at the end. Everyone is stressing to meet the deadline and sometimes it helps to push us, and sometimes things get forgotten and the whole project crumbles and fails. But its all good experience!

That is why i thought this was a good idea right from the start. We get experience of how it is to power out a pretty decent pitch animatic. And of course working in "jobs" made sense as it will mos likely be like that in the "real world".
I dont remember what i expected of the writers, but i definately liked them and the way they work. I migh not have seen exactly what they were typing, but we all had a good time and thought the whole thing was pretty funny. And the whole team was both impressed and satisied with the end result.
It made me want to actually animate it and finish the whole thing.