Sunday, 19 May 2013

Major Project Evaluation...

So, it's been a almost a month since I did the last update, I've been very busy with Major Project, which is what I am now here to talk about!


The journey with 'ECHOES' has been an awesome project, even though we are all glad to see the back of it now, haha. It allowed us to work together to create something that we couldn't even make a fraction of by ourselves, and thanks to Ruth's Directing and her and Joe's Unity skills, we've actually made a game! It allowed me to animate a vast array of different creatures, which was great for my personal taste and my showreel. I also enjoyed doing some game rigging for the 'Bark Basher' character, and animating his complex anatomy was a challenge, but good to put me out of my comfort zone. 'ECHOES' has definitely improved me as an animator overall, and made me realize I have a fondness for creature animation.


I took over a shot and a walk cycle for Rachel Williams quite late in the project, but surprisingly I enjoyed animating in a tighter time frame. I wish I could have made the 'Shot_18' animation a bit better, as I was quite limited by the trunk following the monkey, but having to do a limited animation like that was a good challenge. The walk cycle was enjoyable to do as it was going back to the creature animation I like to do, and I have never animated a huge creature like an Elephant before, which added more diversity to my animations. Overall I wish I could have improved them a bit before having to hand them over to Rachel, but I was happy with how the walk cycle turned out!


I had been looking at the Tiny rig on Creative Crash for awhile now, so it was a rig I was keen to try for my personal project this year. I would have used the Nico rig as I think he's awesome, but as I already had a lot of creature animation in my reel, I wanted to do a body mechanic piece with a 2-legged character, which Tiny was perfect for.

As for the rig, it produced really nice animation, although it was a bit daunting at first to get used to all of the controls. I also noticed that you could break his hands very easily while attempting to get to know what moves what, and his wrists would twist when the elbow was pulled or had high values on them. The rig file was also huge, so that if I tried to delete him from the scene it would crash Maya, so he could be a little awkward to animate with and move, but he was still a good rig.

As for the animation, I was quite satisfied with it, but I would have liked to have improved it more. It was also annoying that his teeth didn't render! GGRR. Oh well. Again, the sequence was definitely another challenge to completed the jumps and slides, as was difficult at first, but again it was enjoyable to animate and I liked the challenge.


To conclude, I think I have challenged myself a bit with this major project, and wanted to do animations that I hadn't done before. I discovered that I like creature animation above character animation and would like to pursue this, and I enjoy working to a shorter time limit, a challenge which I thinks improves my skill. Overall I think this Major Project, while long (as sometimes soul destroying...), has been darn good, and I have enjoyed animating it. :)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Production Update: 1st Submittal. (Part 1 - Personal)

So today we had our first submittal for Major Project, where we were asked to hand-in everything we have done so far to show the tutors how far along we are, and for a last chance at some in-depth written feedback from them before deadline. So this will be a good chance to show the work I have done so far. Today I will just post the update on my personal work, and then the game animations tomorrow.

Starting with my personal Project, there was a bit of a change to what I am doing, as I am no longer doing the Dinosaur composite that I posted about before. I decided last week, that I would trash that project to work on my colleagues compositing film, by animating her Elephant. I am now animating a shot for her, as well as doing an Elephant walk. I've also been trying to update my Tiny rig animation, although it is still not finished.


Saturday, 13 April 2013

Production Update: Something Personal.

Taking a short break from some of the game animation I have been doing, I've been working on (or at least trying...grr) on the second half of my personal project, which is another composited piece with the dinosaur rig I used in Specialist Animation 2!

My plan for this 10 second sequence is to animate the dinosaur chasing my friend across the screen, and knocking him over. I was excited about the awesomeness of this idea, but I have had such problems camera tracking this footage since Major Project begun, it's almost killed me. Initially I used the same tracking software we used in Specialist Animation 2, which was Boujou. However, for some reason Boujou would only track my sequence into multiple camera solves, instead of just 1, which I could not use. So, my tutor suggested I use PFTrack, which is the program the VFX students use at our uni. Long sotyr short, it eventually worked in PFTrack, but I couldn't line up the 3D scene in Maya, so half-way through emailing my tutor that it was impossible, I tried Boujou again, and....It freaking worked. GUH.

I'm still having to try to a little guesswork to get it to line up, but at least I have something to work with now, yay!


Here is the filmed sequence the dinosaur will be placed in:

And this is the rough animatic I did in Pre-Production that I never showed, to show the rough placement of where the dinosaur will be.

Boujou progress screenshot.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Prduction Update: Cinematics and Death!

So, far the past week I've just been working on the animations shown, (although not much difference yet) and also beginning to block out and sort the cameras out for the dragon cinematic, for the game. Asides from this, I've also been trying out poses for the dragon's death, although...Not going so well so far. Oh well, here's some screen previews for now.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Production Update: Large Animation Update!

Not much has happened this week asides from continuing on with the animations I have started. I've updated the Dragon and Centaur animations, as well as posting a couple of new Fae animations! (The main character for our game).

I changed the dragon's flight cycle a little from last time, re-animating him to be more more erratic like a bat, due to his small size. The dragon bite swoop has also been improved on, but still needs a lot of work!


Friday, 15 March 2013

Production Update: In-game progression.

So it's time for another update! At the moment I am just continuing with in-game animation, as before. This week I begun to do the Centaur Walk Forward animation for the game. It's still only being blocked out at this stage, but I have been concentrating on getting the feet poses right. This is it's progress so far, however still needs a lot of working on over the coming weeks.

I've also been working more on the Dragon's bite animation this week, improving from the last video I posted. After pondering it over and discussing it with my tutor, I decided to was bes to change the animation, so that the dragon would do a swooping bite, instead of just a rear back and bite. This proved to be a bit easier to animate, and it always looked better balance and motion wise, too.
This is the animation roughed out so far. Will be working into it more in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Production Update: More In-Game Animation!

Continuing on with some in-game animation, I begun to use my rig for the Bark Basher a couple of days ago to begin animating the in-game walk forward for the Bark Basher. It's going good, however there are still many tweaks to make and smoothing to do!

I've also been trying to rough out the animation for the dragon's in-game bite attack, however it's been a bit of a struggle trying to get the poses and the balance right. It's not animated yet, so it's just a rough out, but this is the anticipation for the bite so far..

I'm still not liking the look of it. Will have to keep trying until I get the base animation right. I will keep hacking at it in the coming week!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Production Update: The Bark Basher is ready!

So after a couple of weeks of testing and rigging, the Bark Basher is ready to be animated! Here are some shots of the finished rig!

I found the rigging quite enjoyable, actually, and would like to do more in the future. Asides from that, I've also been animating the dragon enemy this week, as I am animating his fly forward for the game. It looks like this so far, but I may be changing it in future, since the animation makes him appear larger than he is. Still, onwards!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Production Update: The Beginning of the Bark Basher Rig

So this past week I have been updating more on the Tiny rig animation (Slowly), and also working on the Bark Basher rig for our game, which will hopefully be finished in under a week. Some previews are below!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Production Update: Girl and Tiny Preview

It's been about a week since my last progress post, and the girl animation is coming along nicely. I've been spending more time on the Tiny Sequence now, a 10 second body mechanic piece for my personal project, which I will be showing the progress so far in this post. So far it has taken me much longer than anticipated to get this animated out, due to the numerous problems I have had with animating the sprint at the beginning before he jumps, which you can see here:

As you can see, it really doesn't look right. The sprint isn't natural in itself, and it doesn't look like it's providing enough force for him to jump with, especially with that heavy body. I think I've re-done this sprint numerous times over the past week or so, trying to get it right...But it's not working.

So after having a talk with my tutor, we decided that a double jump, compared to a sprint, would be a much easier way to go about it, and would give him a more convincing take off! So after re-animating that verion this past week, here is how it looks so far now (Keep it mind this is far from finished):

I am much happier with this result! I've also been getting along with the girl animation nicely, which I plan to leave for the moment to do other animations, but this is how it looks so far:

Friday, 25 January 2013

Finally, Production!

So, from the 16th we finally moved onto production of our Major Project, and our game, 'ECHOES'. There's been a lot of preparing up to this point so it's nice to finally get onto making what we have been planning for awhile.

So far I have been animating the girl wave/beckon for our game (I showed some pre-production of it a couple of posts back). After speaking to my tutor, it was decided it looked more natural for her to put her hand on the tree and she peeked around, before doing the hand gesture. The only problem this caused was switching between FK to IK, as I couldn't get the poses to line up properly, so they would snap between frames, which, obviously, didn't look good. So In the end, I re-did the animation with just IK arms, as the motion of the arm follows the hand in this case, so even though the hand was in the air, I could also get away with animating it this way easily.

It's obviously not completed yet, but this is how it looks thus far.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

End of Pre-Production...Part 2

Ending yesterday's post (And ending Pre-Production once and for all!), the final thing I was working on for 'Echoes' was the rigging of the boss character, the Bark Basher.

To go ahead with the rigging in production, I needed to make a good plan of where the joints of the rig would go, and how they would move. So to do this I made a basic test rig to try out almost a beta version of the rig, and also planned where they joints and the controls which will be used will go, into the artist's turnaround.

Over-all, I found this part fun times! Here's a look at.

 My rigging plan on the Artist's turnarounds. Turnaround and design by Fen Evetts!

So...That's pre-production finally over....yay!

Onto the fun stuff! ANIMATING.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

End of Pre-production

Pre-Production finally ended today (We got a 2 day extension). So today and tomorrow I'll be uploading some more stuff I did for pre-production while we begin working on Production from tomorrow.

So, onto the last bouts of the pre-production!

These were the storyboards I did for the 10 second 'Dragon Cinematic' for our game 'ECHOES'. The idea was for the main character to walk into shot as the scene will play mid-game. As he walks in, the dragon will fly past him and land on a tree, giving a roar.

I put the storyboards shots together to make this rough animatic GIF to give a better sense to the timing and motion of the cinematic.

Asides from the storyboards and the rough cinematic, I decided to do a (very) rough CG pre-viz of the cinematic, to get a slightly better reference of how the scene will be placed, timed and animated.

I also repeated this process fro the Bark Basher intro cinematic, the boss character for our game.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Looking at Horse's for the Centaur Character.

Another character I will be animating within the game is the Centaur enemy, a half horse, half human character. I will be animating his walk forward and his damage in-game animations. For this I have been researching horse's, naturally, to see how they walk. I've managed to create a nice animatic folowing some thumbnails of horse walk poses I have done, to get a better understanding of the poses of the legs, and the up and down of the body.


These are my research sheets, looking into horse anatomy for muscle movement, and reference of horse's walking.

Deadline is approaching! Gah!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Researching for the Boss Character...The Bark Basher.

For part of our game. 'ECHOES', one of my colleagues is making the boss character for the game, nicknamed; the 'Bark Basher'. He's going to have heavy bark shield like arms, whilst having a crab's body. I'm having quite an involvement with this character as I will be rigging him, doing a couple of in-game animations for him (the walk forward and death) and will be animating him in one of the cinematics.

Since he has such heavy arms, I've decided to look at Gorilla's for reference as they move predominantly with their arms, as the BB (Bark Basher) will.

 Below are the rough animatics I made as rough pose reference for the BB's walk forward, with the Gorilla as front arm reference and the spider walk cycle as his legs.