Saturday, 29 March 2014

RayFire test

The above link shows the awesome power of RayFire

I got my grubby mitts on a trial copy of RayFire. I did this test to try it out.
The Plane is a Static Object, the Ball is a solid object and the box is fractured. When it collides with the other objects, it shatters.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Modelling a Tank top

For my Simulation project, clothes will be simulated in 3Ds Max.To make the clothing, you use the Line Tool and draw out the panels and stitch them together, like you would in real life.
The video above is a tutorial for making a tank top.

First attempt:
To make the vest, I used this image to draw the base of the shape.

First attempt. The shoulder straps connected fine, but the side seams would not. To fix this, I just need to extend the sides out a little further.

I found that if you simulate so far, then remove the "Use Seams" option, then simulate local again, it removes the seam lines and replaces them with edges, filling in the gaps.

I decided to test it on the Muscle Man rig, or "Goliath" as I call him. I have a lot to fix with this vest, but it's getting underway nicely.
Once the clothes are simulated, it's possible to export it as an .obj and use a modeling program, like Zbrush or Sculptress to add more detail to it. Although I wont be doing that in this project, it's something to bear in mind!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Hair Simulation

I made a Mohawk and a mustache for the model. I also added stubble to the head, where the head has been shaved, leaving the hawk.

I want to add a vest to the model, but I'm having a little trouble with the Garment Editor at the moment. I'll be looking at fixing this, however.

This will be a test for my Simulation final piece. I am looking at simulating a model in a long coat swinging through a window, then kicking another model with a Mohawk. I'm debating whether the Mohawk character will ragdoll down, or have him hurl the character in the coat through another window, ragdolling him.

The simulation elements would be, Cloth, Hair, Breakable object using Voronoi Frature, and Ragdoll. 

Voronoi Fracture Script for 3Ds Max

The website has a whole heap of scripts for Max to use. Linked is the Voronoi Fracture script.

I have also made a tutorial for how to use the Voronoi Script!lZYmDSQJ!QyaG5IWmIs55MFEeFqF3PYANQnWcGFu-TBCyVC8ZG0c

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lighting and Camera Settings

All of my renders are set the same way. 3-point lighting and a 50mm Camera.

Keylight - Intensity Setting 1.0. This replicates the main source of light, i.e the sun or a lamp

Fill Light added - Intensity Setting 0.1. The Fill light softens the shadows.

Back Light Added. Intensity Setting - 1.0. This light sharpens the back lines of the character.

The Camera Setting I use is a 50mm lens. Why do I use that? It is a ‘normal’ or ‘standard lens’: Don’t let the words normal standard mislead you. By normal it means perspective rendered by the 50mm matches the human eye. So it gives a natural look to the images.

The Renders are all Rendered out to Quicktime .mov and uncompressed. I import them to After Effects to add sound in the case of the Lip Sync, or to "stitch" together the multi angle shots, or repeat the sequence a few times for ease of viewing.
When I Render them from AE, I render them with a H.264 video codec for the final uploads, or Uncompressed to put on Youtube, as Youtube compresses to H.246 anway. Any audio is rendered out as .AAC 48Hz

Final Uploads and Information

Jump animation. For context, I placed the Rubber Duck prop which I used extensively in Year 1.

Walk/Strut animation. This is the Milt Kahl style strut. The more I watch this, the less happy I am with it, really. The CAT Rig jerks around a lot and the arcs are weak. This is the reason why I prefer Motionbuilder. The rigs don't turn flimsy all the time! Haha

The Sneaking Cycle. I quite like how this turned out. It's all about the balance the character keeps.

Morph Target Facial Rig. I love how this came out. This has easily been my favorite part of the whole project!

And this is how I made it!

Facial Rig, Bones. I really don't like facial rigging this way...

This is how I set up the rigging for bones.

The Muscle Rig! This Hi-Poly mesh was tricky to set up. Thank god for Paint Weights and graphics tablets!

The Zombie Character's Range Of Motion tests and the skinning and rigging.

The following are T-poses of the Zombie skinning. Both showing texture and the Wireframe.

Movement Research and Research into Zombies

I planned on using Motion Capture data for my figurative animation but hit a few snags in that plan...
1, the Motion Capture room has been out of commission for some time. When we were told it was up and running again, a few of us went up to get some footage!

It wouldn't pick up data, however. It seems the cameras may have been pointed too low and they weren't able to collect enough data.

So we took some video footage to use!

Sadly, the cameras were recording at different frame rates, so when put into Max, they weren't synced up at all. Damn.

Zombie Reseach

Using the Zombie Survival Guide, I had some Physical information about Zombies which I used for acting as a zombie (in the above videos)

I also have a calendar themed on Zombies which give field notes from "Dr. Robert Twombly". Similar in style to what I got from the Zombie Survival Guide.

When I discovered that I couldn't really use the footage, I had to change my angle slightly. I planned on doing my animation in MotionBuilder (I find MB to be better for figurative animation) but the pipeline for taking a rigged character from Max in to MB, isn't as simple as from MB to Max. The way Max labels it's CAT rigs is different to how Motion Builder does it. To get it in to MB, I would have basically started rigging from scratch and renamed everything to the Motion Builder Pipeline. I didn't have enough time to do that, though, so I ended up having to use Max. I think Max is perfect for setting up controlled rigs and animating through that, for modelling environments. Interiors, props, things like that. But I prefer to animate within Motion Builder. It handles animation and motion capture data better, in my opinion. Besides, it's used in film and game for animation, where as Max isn't as much.

I did a Walk Cycle in Flash last year to use as motion reference for projects.

I turned to the other Survival book I have to help me with the motion research I would use for my final animations. The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams.

The Milt Kahl walk/strut/skip. I tried to emulate this in my walk cycle. It makes fantastic use of Squash/Stretch, arcs, timing and spacing to name but three. It results in a fantastically cartoon-y walk. You see this kind of strut in a lot of Disney films. I found it difficult to emulate in 3D, but I would like to try this walk more.
This image was my reference for the arcing, trailing hands and arms for the walk. I would really like to have more time to really nail this as it can look fantastic when done right.

These screen shots show how I went about the Milt Kahl walk.

The use of "broken" joints gives the character a little elasticity in his movements and really helps exaggerate his happy walking.

I also went to make a Sneak cycle. This uses a lot of weight and balance to get right and make convincing. The lead foot connects to the ground ALWAYS at a point, where as the trailing foot leaves arched.

Sneak Contact #1

Sneak Passing Position

Sneak Contact #2

 I tried to get a zombie walk made, too, but I was not impressed with the final result. There is a lot to keep track of when the character is dragging his foot like this. His balance and transference of weight is completely different to a normal walk.

When I tried making this walk/shuffle and I was adjusting the curves to remove some of the jumpy movements.

I used this video to help with my Jump animation: (I cannot find it on the Videos From Youtube searcher on my blog)

Some of the curve editing I had to fix on the Jump and landing portion. I used Easing extensively to give that explosive action.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Animation - Morph Targets and Bone Rig - Facial Animation

Using Zbrush to edit the Ape Man model was, for me, a nightmare to start with. Once I FINALLY got to grips with the program, things started to fall back into place. For most of the targets, I used myself as reference, taking photos and working from them, but one of them was based from a chimpanzee.
The cheeks form part of the smile, but also as part of other expressions to some degree. The important part, I found, was getting the crush around the eyes right. Too much and the eyes would be shut, too little and it just wouldn't look right.

The Ape Man's nose flare is essential when making the character look either angry, annoyed or disgusted. This had the lips edited for maximum anger, if mixed with the eyebrows, or to show disdain.
Another reference shot, plus the final Ape Man result.

I thought I could improve upon the Eyebrows we were given, make them look more furious than they already did. I was sure to keep the furrow in the center of the brow. Mixed with the Nose flare/Lips, you get a really angry looking chap!

An "OO" styled mouth. This is used in both human speech and for Ape characters. I wanted to make sure the lips protruded enough to look convincing, so used multiple shots.

The eye above was a first attempt at it. After a couple attempts, I managed to make the final results. I couldn't find a way to flip the mesh in Zbrush,  and when I mirrored the OBJ in Max, when I attached a slider, it would animate the Morpher flipping. Even when collapsing the stack to Editable Poly, it would continue to do it. In the end, I had to try my best to recreate the eye on either side.

Here is a comparison of my Custom Morph Target and the provided one for the Angry Eyebrows. My one (left) has a more severe angle, and the furrow in the middle really helps convey the anger.
I placed the Sliders in sections for easy use. Eyes/Brow on the top, Middle face in the middle, then mouths on the bottom.
After I finished placing all my targets onto the scene, I also made a list of which I made, as the provided morph targets would help with the animation.
Here two of the morph targets are imported into the scene, then added to the Main Rig's Morph Target list. After this was done, I would just hide the morph targets, then link the sliders to the main rig.

When programming the sliders, I found the easiest way involved adding *100 to the wiring. It became second nature to me to do this (or else the move would have been a tiny amount) and I couldn't get away with the alternate way we were shown.

The first two completed Morph Targets were the cheeks and the "OO" mouth. Here I rendered them one at a time, then together.

Using the image above as a base, I tried using a couple of the Morph Targets to make an angry Ape
 This was before I had made my own Morph Targets, and was more for just getting used to animating with sliders.

This video shows my set up and shows the sliders directly affecting the rig.

Whilst preparing to animate the facial rig, I selected the sound file I would work from and imported the file into 3Ds Max

This is what I ended up with. I put this video on Youtube, and also sent it to a couple Animators I talk to through Facebook to get some critical feedback.
Stephen Brooks of Rubber Onion Animation (LINK) gave me this feedback. Once I have made this, I shall update this post.

With the feedback taken onboard, I went back and created this version. I think the cocky smile at the end is a great addition.

Really getting to grips with the Curve Editor. It often lets me down in the past, but I've really got behind it this semester in both Max and Motionbuilder. Once I got stuck in, it began to make sense to me more and more. I still have a long way to go to be perfectly comfortable in it, but it's a start!

A second review from Stephen Brooks on how to further the animation, and in some cases, step it back as there's a lot going on. Again, I will update this post as I continue.

Version 3 of the Lip Sync. Using the Curve editor, I smoothed out the "pop" on the mouth, which gave a nice Easing. The mouthing of "and" was removed (which, when looking at how I speak, "and what" are formed simultaneously.) The Eyebrows were removed from the end and the eyes opened up.

I then went and used myself as a reference instead of the Van Damme clip.

Version 4. It's nearly final! The only things I need to do to this is more of an "OO" on the mouth when he says "What" and a bit more easing on the final eye position.

Version 5, the final version. The wrinkles are ironed out and the brass is polished. A big thank you to Stephen Brooks who took time out of his schedule to give me pointers. Your help has really brought my work on in leaps and bounds.
Animator Rob Yulfo (LINK) was also asked to check my work. He liked it and was interested in how I made it.

I skinned the mesh to a CAT rig and weighted it appropriately

Using the CAT controls, I was then able to Keyframe animate the rig

Using the Curve Editor, I smoothed out any jerky movements.

I skinned the mesh to a CAT rig, then I animated the rig to give even more character.

Stephen Brooks agreed with the edits I had to make and had no further changes that he could spot.
Alan Thompson is a 3D modeller who makes models to enhance PC games, from weapons to characters. He, as of posting, doesn't have a website.

As I really enjoyed the Morph Target facial animation, Alan pointed me in the direction of a book he used in his Dissertation, Paul Elkman - Unmasking The Face. I would like to do more facial animation in the future, so this book will come in handy. Thanks, Alan!

A friend of mine who studied Architecture in at Uni asked if I would like to use Vray as my renderer! So I gave it a shot! It took about 40 minutes to render on default settings with Vray.
I did a test on High Quality and it was going to take more time that I'd want to spend on a low poly mesh which has no texture.

Instead I opted for Mental Ray. This still took almost 2 hours to render (and it's only a couple seconds. This clip is repeated for ease of viewing). It is on High Quality. I opted to stick with Mental Ray for this render, as the time difference and the image quality for Vray was not worth it. If I was doing a 3D environment, Vray would be the way I'd go, but for a low poly mesh and strict time constraints, I'll be taking Mental Ray this time.

Lip Syncing is something I've had trouble with since I started animating in Flash in High School. It was always getting the timing right that would make it or break it.
I have two excellent points of reference. 

Rubber Onion have a couple "Tip in a minute" videos on Youtube and he tells you everything you need to know in that one minute. Key points are form the shape of the mouth a few frames before they say it. As Brooks says, "Think See it before you hear it"

Richard Williams has a great section on Dialogue in the Animator's Survival Kit, breaking down through the phrasing and how to set it up on a dope sheet. The interesting thing I found on the Dope Sheet example was how he broke the words down on it into the sounds, rather than the spelling. In his example "I'll slip into..." the Dope Sheet reads, "I-LL-S-L-E-P-E-N-T-EH"
This makes for the character's accent and makes it clear which mouth shape you need to use.
It's just a little thing, but it's something that I had never thought of!

Bone Rig Facial Animation

I found a couple videos of Youtube for the muscle structure rigging of the face. Although this is not how we have been shown how to set up the rig, it's good to keep this in mind.

They show great facial expressions.

Bone Rig facial animation.

I really did not enjoy this way of facial rigging. I didn't feel I had as good control over the rig. A few areas that I tried to skin, the nose, the cheeks, seemed to destroy the mesh. I had to leave those parts out as I could not get them to work, which really affected the final piece.

Having made the mouth in class, I moved on to the Eyebrows. Adding a bone from the skull, then resizing and aligning the bones in place.

I made three, then arched them around the eye. This would allow some good articulation on the eyebrow. The same was repeated on the opposite side, then they were skinned.

Using the Reaction Manager, I would link the slider to states, which would create the animations just by moving the sliders.

Sliders with the states set up.


I found setting up bone structures to be a real pain and didn't allow me the control that the morph targets did. Any mistake in the animation resulted in having to redo sections from the animation layers which were time consuming, whereas the Morph Targets had their expressions pre made in Zbrush and were solely dependant on the sliders to deal with. I don't think the mesh was too helpful, either. the face seemed to have been smoothed right down. The Morph Target mesh could have possibly been a better choice. As time can be a large issue as deadlines loom, I think I could see myself using Morph Targets to do facial animation. I was just more comfortable with that pipeline and process than the bone structure.

CAT rig facial animation part 1

Part 2.1

After watching these videos, I see that Bone Rigging, on a good looking model, can come together really nicely. If I was had to (or got the chance to remake this piece for my upload) do Bone Rigging again, I would follow this tutorial. (I really wish I had found these sooner).