Over summer we needed to practice making something in the subject we would be focusing on most next year for our synoptic projects. I chose to do an animation rather than concept art for this because I need more practice animating and had a few ideas in mind.
I have had issues with my laptop all summer as it would freeze and shut down constantly but I finally got it to work in time to make something.
I downloaded a CGSpectrum Tiger rig to use for my first 4 legged animation. I wanted the character to interact with another object so I used a sphere (coloured as a rubber ball) for it to play with as I’ve seen videos of tigers playing with a ball before.
I tried to incorporate facial expressions and tail movements to give the rig more life and I would like to go further with this animation.
I had problems with this rig because I couldn’t get the textures to show at first and the polygons would always select when I tried to click on controls so it was time consuming to do, but I just need more practice with Maya so I know how to solve those issues in the future. I also had to change the render view in the viewport as my playback wouldn’t work at all and when I changed it it played back at about 1/3 of the speed of my playblasts which meant some parts only looked too fast when I checked the video footage, so I had to go back and edit them. These are probably issues with my computer sunning slowly, though.
Eventually I got the animation done and have a playblast of it but I would like to do lighting and rendering for it too.
Not long ago my group finally finished up our Low Poly Project meaning all of our low poly assets had been put into one big group model- a tile with 4 different environments on it.
We settled on doing ice, forestry, a race track sideline, and desert themes. We created all kinds of assets to build this up and some are even animated, like Oscar’s penguins and Jack’s fire pit.
We each contributed different models, not only sticking to one of the 4 themes each, and I like how it turned out. Every asset is under 1000 tris and we used textures and style to bring them all together as one race track tile.
The scene is animated but I don’t have a recording of it yet. The car drives around the road over and under, as the campfire burns, cones fall and penguins flap their wings.
Here are some images I rendered out of it this week including a block coloured render which looked interesting. It was a fun project and I’m happy to finally see it finished.
Over Easter break and last week I have been working on character animations in Maya. We were given the task by Matt to do a walk cycle and a more difficult choice of our own, so I began by making Moom do his Moom walk.
It was difficult to get the hang of, but I started by placing the feet in the right positions- starting and ending the cycle in the same position. I then switched them over for the other foot mid timeline, and then did the in-between movements. I used pose-to-pose animation for the legs and arms so I could go between the main key-frames and add realistic transitions, such as the ankles rotating before the foot lifts off, and the knees bending and arms swinging at the right times.
The animation does loop, and each leg and arm has the exact same movement as I copied down the transitions from one to the next.
For my second animation I did a skipping cycle. I figured a skip was hopping on one leg whilst stepping the other, then switching legs. Again, this animation loops and I did it pose-to-pose.
I enjoyed making this because of the fun movement and a rig which suited the lively skip. Ellie rig was fun to use but took me a while to get used to. I have found this a challenge but I am happy with the outcome. Ellie’s arms don’t swing, but lift as she jumps. I experimented with making the hips move and the head bob.
The last step with this rig was to make the ponytails bounce and I think it made the jump more realistic. I was really proud of how this turned out.
Both animations were difficult because walk cycles are new to me but setting it out by using the first frame twice (once at the end) and doing it by the numbers to make it smooth and repeatable. I also did both animations walking on the spot, so that if they were used in game they wouldn’t just walk forward and glitch back when it loops, they’d walk only where you move them.
A while ago I tried my best to write my own code for the chest in my room game to open. I tried all kinds of program blocks which kept sending errors my way. Eventually I had one which should have worked, but I thought something was missing from it as the chest still wouldn’t budge.
I had made the chest earlier in Maya, then animated the lid opening and exported it all as an FBX. The animation imported into Unity, but nothing I did could trigger it on mouse down. It would open automatically if I left it on that option, but it would have defeated the purpose of going inside to look for the key.
As I already struggle with programming, not being able to do such a simple seeming feature by myself was very frustrating. Fortunately, with Ant’s help, I got it working.
In my inspector I had these three things leading directly to the animation working. I had physics on my model so I could click on it, code embedded so I could give it a function, and the animation to link in with the code.
This is the code that eventually worked. It only played on click because it all got linked up in the animator. Ant added the ‘New State’ stage between the other two. That means it will not play until it is clicked. It turned out exactly how I wanted it to in the end.
Last week I finally completed my animation assignment. My final steps were to Batch Render, and export my animation.
To export the Maya animation footage I did a Batch Render of the scene. This created 3 files of images in my project folder. The second file had the correct perspective of the camera zooming in at the end. I then had to do the process of setting up a project in Premiere before importing the images. I followed Matt’s tutorial and this all went smoothly. I almost tried using Premiere Pro to do the next step at college but there was no time, so I downloaded it at home.
I had never used the software before. I had to try exporting a few times before I got it to work. I had a number of issues, from the background not importing due to my alpha settings on rendering, the lighting being dark, the export settings having an issue, and having the background I added be a second too long. I tried to fix most of these at the time of the export, but the video had to be cropped once it was uploaded to YouTube to eliminate that second at the end.
I had to try multiple different export techniques as a setting wouldn’t show up for me on the one in the tutorial. Thankfully, I restarted the software and did the same thing again, but this time it showed up, and everything worked perfectly.
Because it was late as this stage I exported everything, then realised it was the wrong perspective, so I redid it with the proper footage. I wasn’t too bothered that I did that, though, as I was just excited to hvae figured out how to do things correctly.
To convert the movie clip file that exported into an MP4, I downloaded WinXHD Video Converter Deluxe and ran it through that software before uploading it to YouTube.
I am so happy with the animation I did. I have always wanted to animate so even something short like this is a big achievement. I want to still, later on, fix things with it (like adding another light- though I like the colour payoff here it could still be brighter and have the same effect-, maybe adding sound, and extending the final second of the video) but I’m still proud of what I came up with so far.
This week I finished my animation. I animated movement in my hat, and the pauses where I felt they were necessary.
My ident needed to be 5-10 seconds long, and have the inanimate objects in the scene come to life with emotion.
The idea behind my animation was the robotic-looking Santa Claus would interact with an undelivered present he finds trying to hide under his hat. This present then flinches away when he reaches for it, then comes to him. The hat in the scene represents what maybe eyebrow movement would for emotion; when Santa is shocked, the hat goes straight, and as he leans in towards the present, it drops forward towards what he wants.
I don’t have a Playblast from this week as I’m in the process of batch rendering before I export it, but Matt helped me put a ‘use background’ in the scene and some lights with the shadows enabled. I took a render of this to see how my batch would turn out.
Sunday was for finishing the game off. We had a lot of code left to do including the random generator which Luke kindly helped us with. It made the waves spawn in on the bass strings and fly along the level left. Then we programmed the waves to be a trigger to kill the character, Rick, on collision. Over time the waves get faster also, and will only spawn on 2 strings at once, never more.
I had to animate Rick on Sunday to make him bounce as he stood, so he wasn’t static. I selected each limb on his body separately and imported each file into flash on the stage as separate files. I animated each piece frame-by-frame and exported it. Ant then turned this into a sprite sheet and imported it into Unity. This replaced our static character with a moving one.
Jack created a main menu page and I wrote instructions on it, we named the game Bass Booster, and I did a game over screen. I took inspiration from the Donkey Kong game over, as I edited Rick to be injured and bandaged up accompanied by the game over text. Kyle then put a button on the page and it linked back to the menu.
On the menu there were two buttons, one leading to the game, and one to a credits scene we made.
Jack’s music was imported after that. he edited his tracks into a compilation and we put them on loop in the game, so it had variety. He then chose tracks to put on the menu, credits, and game over screens.
Kyle and Ant fixed bugs in the game to stop Rick jumping off screen. Then, finally, we were pretty much done! So, afterwards, we uploaded the game onto the Global Game Jam and sat down to watch Ant live stream our games, one team at a time, on Twitch.
Overall I really enjoyed the weekend and I’m proud of what we accomplished. I wish it could be refined a little bit more, but for two days we made a whole lot and it is a completed game which sounded a bit impossible before now.
Firstly this lesson we had a peer review of our animations by someone else in the room. I paired with Adam (whose animation is a burger and drink arguing, it looks great so far) and he gave me some constructive criticism. I was told my animation was good and had a lot of effort put into it, but at the time I hadn’t animated the hat fully so that needed to be fixed. He also advised me to leave some pauses in my ident for dramatic effect, which I will hopefully do near the end of my production. I think the overall finish of the product includes edits in timing which would be easier to do when the whole scene is animated.
Last week I animated my box. I had issues with Maya last week, so I didn’t save where I was up to. I had 2 big errors. I had to use a lattice on my box to achieve the squash and stretch effect on it properly, and this caused issues. The lattice was so close to the cube that Matt had to help me be able to interact with the lattice points rather than the cube’s vertices. When this eventually worked I tried to move the frames for the cube along the timeline, but no matter what I had selected in the scene, no frames showed up for my box. Matt also couldn’t figure out why I was having the error but found the frames in the graph editor so I could move them on there, it’s just less convenient.
The other error was that a vertex from the top my santa model had pulled through the entire model and made a spike out of the bottom of the mesh. I tried to move this back and it kept saying to turn off ‘Preserve UVs’ which at the time neither me nor Matt could do in that time. Thankfully the next lesson Matt fixed it for me straightaway and now I now how to d that myself in my modeling settings.
Errors aside I did get some of my animation done that week and finished the majority of it In week 4. I Managed to do the 3 assets; present, santa, and hat. I firstly animated the hat flip, then realized it would wobble a lot trying to make it follow the head movements manually- so then parented the head to the hat and struggled against some automatic movement at the beginning frames for the benefit of having the hat sit on the head and move with Santa as he does smoothly. This took quite a lot of time to figure out but so far I think the animation looks almost exactly as I’d planned.
I still need to do some pauses and other refinements to my animation. I am very pleased with the WIP and I will do cameras, lighting and background next week to complete it before I render it out.
I am analysing this Pixar short, Mike’s New Car, for it’s use of the 12 Principals of Animation:
At the very beginning we have anticipation, where Mike and Sully are behind the door, then in front of it, and then after mike walks away Sully opens his eyes and sees something we cannot yet. This is suspenseful and makes the viewer wonder what it is he can see.
Mike goes through a few emotional states while Sully keeps adjusting his seat; at first we see squash and stretch as Sully has to squeeze into the vehicle, then slowly relaxes as his seat moves down, only to squash into the side afterwards. Then we see appeal as Mike reacts to the situations and grows frustrated until they both are a bit shocked by the beeping.
When mike is standing at the bonnet and the hood is closed on his fingers there is a pause before he jumps and screams in pain. This is an example of squash and stretch and also of exaggeration because he lifts off the ground. Immediately afterwards he is launched in the air by the same hood, and lands on the machinery inside, causing him to spin, jump, and scream in pain; all of this is secondary action, and his arms flinging around is overlapping action.
The scene set up is an example of staging because you are outside of the car looking in through the window like a pedestrian on the street outside so it feels realistic, and you can see the action from the big front window. When the car malfunctions totally near the end the camera view shows everything at once and then pans out and you see the car from a distance, where all of the action is happening in just one part of the street.
In week 2 we learnt what animation blocking (pop-through) is in more detail and what passes are.
A Pop-Through can be made by editing your graph editor by setting the tangents to ‘Stepped’. This eliminates the curvatures between key frames and lets the animation ‘pop’ between key frames, letting you see the timings of your animation and the positions of your rig in a block fashion, with less confusion. The animation can disguise which frames were manual when playing through, so without the automated movement you can only see which frames you have made and how naturally they transition. This is also known as blocking, which seems appropriate for how stiff the movement is and because it’d the first step to building your animation, like the building blocks.
We also watched videos of some movie animation passes. We watched one of Tangled, where mother Gothel and Rapunzel are interacting, and one of Anna from frozen as a child. The Tangled one showed more in depth processes, including the acting, so I’ll link that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM8fXYZ-6u0
As a huge fan of tangled and every part of the production of the movie, it was really cool to see that video as I hadn’t before.
I finished my model textures for now, the Santa claus and the box are textured, not exactly how I’d like, but good enough for now as I’d like to focus on my animation next lesson and tweak what I need to at the end.
I made my model into a rig by using hierarchies and moving my pivot points.
I made the belly the main parent and dragged the head, arms and face in to be its children. Then I made the hands the children of the arms, and the hat and box separate entities.
This should allow me to make the rig into a character set to make animation smooth when it comes to it.