Sunday, 28 December 2014

Why use 3D animation for films and animation?

With the huge advancement of technology, 3D animation continues to improve in its realistic imitations and is now commonly used in most major films. Double Negative, a studio that have worked on numerous films such as the Harry Potter series, Rush and Marvel films, show how 3D animation and effects enhance the films atmosphere. For example in the film, Guardians of the Galaxy, most of the film was depicted in space, with alien planets that differ in culture compared to Earths. The only means in which to create a space background is to create this using computer graphics that can hold a sense of realism through the advancement of technology. This shows that other backgrounds that are fantasy based can now be visualised through this use of technology in ways that historical films such as Le Voyage Dans La Lune could only dream of.

Le voyage dans la lune

In the film Rush, Double Negative not only modeled the race cars that interacted with the other race cars, but also the background, the clouds, the crowds and stands with the adverts were all added digitally. This change in weather affects the atmosphere of the scene, making it seem foreboding and dismal, and the addition of the crowd show that it is an important event. Adding these effects digitally not only helped with filming, having to wait for the forecast to be correct for recording, but also expenses with the set. The amount of money that would have been spent for making the crowds stands and also hiring extras to be the crowd for the scene, makes it far cheaper to make them with computer graphics. When the emotional event of the race car crashing occurs the whole scene is created with 3D models and effects. At the Bradford Animation Festival, 2013, Double Negatives Nathan Ortiz shows development work and research into creating Niki Lauda's crash scene, they not only thought about the points in which the car would collide with the ground and scenery but also the form and type of smoke that would emit from the fire. This addition gives a sense of added realism to the 3D effects.

Rush (2013)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Study Task 5 - Making a face

For this task I used the dope sheet I created for study task 4 to help me key frame the phonemes in which I gained reference from Preston Blair's Phoneme series. I found that saying the sounds and counting how many syllables each word had helped to plan what Moom would actually say. In order to key frame the lip sync, I created a quick set for the custom shelf that selected all of the facial features. I key framed all of the facial features whenever I created another key frame as to avoid a problem that I used to encounter whenever I would key frame individual parts of the facial panel. The problem I used to encounter was the individual key frames would contradict the other key frames, and trying to organize each individual frame was very time consuming task and it was difficult to find the key frame that was causing the problem with the movement in the animation; key framing all the properties together on one key frame helps to keep everything easy to understand and adjust if I needed to.

I found importing the original sound to the timeline in Maya helped me to key frame the lip sync as well as using the dope sheet I made for the sound. The main problem when creating the animation, was that I found the key frames were too close together making the word Moom was pronouncing not match up with the sound  as I noticed that for most of the lip sync I had to miss some of the phonemes to make the lip sync run smoother.

Monday, 22 December 2014

progress so far notes

- I worked on the locators with the soft toy, making him move alongside mooms right hand. I found this quite difficult, as I couldn't key frame the toy moving without ruining the movement of moom lifting it up. I found that I would have to move moom instead, it was time consuming but I got the animation to run smoothly.

- Worked on the first scene with adding audio and attempted lip syncing which worked well however it runs too fast for the audio that I imported on to the time line - I need to slow down the lip sync by adding more inbetweens.

- I created mother moom by adding the lips to a duplicate of moom,  using the create polygon tool. The tool was difficult to use at first as whenever I would make a completed shape and would press enter to finish working with the tool, the polygon would suddenly stretch across the plane. I found that the easiest way to encounter the problem was to draw directly on the plane with the tool, however it would only create a face and not a 3D polygon, so to fix this additional problem, I had to use the extrude tool to alter the singular face.

- Worked on the speed of the scene where moom time that moom sees the soft toy - I found that the seen was far too fast which was due to both the key frames of the controllers for Moom and the joints. I managed to smooth some of the movements to be less jagged and fast, however I had to delete some of the key frames as they rotated in the wrong direction which caused the jaggedness of the animation. I still need to edit the spin. I found that using ghosting helped to figure out where the next natural movement of the spin would be - much like onion skinning on photoshop or flash when animating.

- Whilst animating the translator tool changed its direction of pivot, it was set to a diagonal movement, I fixed this by centering the pivot in the translate options, to centre on the object.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Study Task 4 - What a Dope

For this task we chose a sound clip and broke down the syllables of the dialogue to then easily translate to animation. I chose the Ghost Busters clip, that involved varying pitches with "wow" "gotta" and "in?", which I thought would be a challenge and practice for my own audio.

As we broke the sound clip down we recorded the syllables and phonemes on a 'Dope Sheet' which is a simple chart used to show the breakdown of audio against actions within the animation, and is a useful tool for lip syncing. The dope sheet really helped with aligning different words that would be spoken in each frame to mooms possible movements, for example in the audio clip one of the sentences ends in a question mark, which could involve moom lifting up his arms slightly and shaking his head. To help with a few of the words, I used Preston Blair's phoneme examples to understand the mouth movements as well as looking at how others and myself pronounce certain words.

Ghost Busters sound clip dope sheet

Phoneme A I and Phoneme E

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Using locators and notes

For my animation I needed Moom to hold and pick up the soft toy, in order to to this I needed to use locators. Using locators helps for the object which I want Moom to hold, follow the motion of his hand as I animate. I first turned the invisibility of Mooms surface off, and showed the joints/skeleton of Moom in its place, making it easier to parent a locator with part of the hand skeleton, then parenting the joint and the locator together. This hand would be the hand that the soft toy will follow. I then added another locator in the soft toy, where the hand would pick up the toy and then used the parent option to parent the locator and the toy together. I then parented the hand locator and the toy locator, allowing the soft toy to the movement of the hand, and I can turn off the parent by going into the channel box and setting the locator to off. I found that you cannot key frame the locator, turning it off and on, which I found was a problem as I wanted to animate Moom going to hold the toy before doing so. I found the solution to this problem was to separate the scenes, which helped with organizing the lip syncing and adding more key frames.

+ Create the locator in the Create menu - and place inside the joint you want the prop to move along with.
+ Display - animation - joint size - ensure that you make the joints smaller so that its easier to see the locator and parent it with.
+ Using parent constraint you can make the prop follow the locator in the joint - joint parented with locator and then locator parented with the prop.
+ Easier to animate the main movement first and then add the prop so that it can follow the main movement.
+ Ensure that the offset is ticked so that the movement will be smoother, however if you want the prop to follow a different joint - create another locator with in the joint and parent it with the prop, however in the channels box ensure that the first locator is turned off or the prop will move between the two locators. For this ensure that the offset is turned off to let the prop transition the movement smoothly - however you can keep the offset but will have to translate the prop into the joint.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Progress so far - Music box scene

For the next storyboard, I created the music box prop in which Moom interacts with through out the scenes. The modelling was quite simple as I purposely made the doll that would spin with simple polygon shapes as to fit with Mooms model and focus more on the animation. The box lid was quite difficult, as the lid needed to close, and the pivot was centred in the shape so when I rotated the lid, it would only cover half of the box. In order to solve this problem I used the shortcut key 'd' which allowed me to only move the pivot point. After moving the pivot to the bottom of the shape, I was able to create a smooth close of the lid. I also encountered this problem with the doll as it needed to disappear as the lid closes, after moving the pivot point to the bottom the doll's feet I was able to rotate and translate it as the lid touches the doll.

I accidentally put the last few key frames for the dolls spin too close together which makes her spin from a normal pace to a frantic spin just before the lid closes. I actually quite liked the effect it made as the scene involves Moom listening to the music and not liking what he hears he shuts the lid close. I felt that the frantic animation of the doll could possibly add to the humour of the scene as the doll realises that Moom is going to close the lid. To add to this I would need to speed up the audio as the doll speeds up.

I struggled with moving Mooms arm to make it follow and appear as if it was closing the lid; the inbetween made Mooms arm phase through the box lid. I realised that this was due to the rotation of Mooms shoulder rigging, as the rigging wasn't completely straight on, the arm had to rotate to fit the end keyframe that was straight on. I fixed this problem by moving Mooms shoulder and elbow joint slightly and adding another key frame inbetween, which made the movement seem smoother.
I wanted to Mooms hand to hold the top of the lid, so I edited the pivot of the fingers using the channel box. This worked well as it made it seem that Moom was pushing the lid to close.

I still need to animate the rest of Mooms body to make him more interesting and have some character to the animation.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Qwertee, Progress so far - Space Dandy

I took one of the possible t-shirt designs and imported it to photoshop so that I could create lineart and experiment with different versions of the silhouette. From the scan I mainly used the pen tool to create the lineart due to the ease of creating smooth contours and straight lines. After I had created the lineart, I felt that the circle behind the character was too small and needed to be seen more for a better contrast. I created different versions of the size and placement of the circle, I quite liked the composition of the circle being slightly to the left and raised higher so that the circle was near his hair, however the last design worked well with the characters foot resting against the edge of the circle. It gave the circle a purpose for being in the composition, as much as I liked the idea of the black contrasting with the white space of the character, it didn't seem to fit with the design as well as I wanted it to. With the last lineart design I made, lineart 4, the size of the circle gives room for possibly more silhouettes such as the space ship and his other companions that could be jumping out of the circle, to give a sense of foreground and middleground in the composition.

From this lineart, I started to plan the colour scheme that would be used for the silhouette, I wanted to use the main colours that depict the character in the show, in which I obtained from the character sheet of Dandy from the pre production art for the show. I felt that this silhouette worked well as the hues contrasted well and the viewer can tell who the character is. However I want to experiment more with the structure of the composition and adding or subtracting the colour, adding gradients to change the style of the illustration, or changing it from a silhouette and into a detailed illustration.

Example of scan and pen tool

Lineart 1

Lineart 2

Lineart 3

Lineart 4
Example of silhouette so far

Qwertee - Space Dandy

After researching into Qwertee and other t-shirt websites, I decided to chose 'Space Dandy' as one of my designs for a t-shirt to submit to the site. The programme Space Dandy focuses on the main character Dandy, who travels space in his ship, the 'Aloha Oe' makes a living from capturing rare aliens as he stumbles across new dimensions and planets by accident. The show itself is written well with hilarious and meaningful narrative that is met with beautifully animated characters, with vivid colour schemes and interesting character design. Space Dandy revolves around the main character which I want to focus on for the t-shirt design. I found it useful looking at how the show and other characters interpretations of the main character are portrayed through the expressions that he makes and body language.

Space Dandy character sheet

I then began drawing the main character, Dandy, in my own interpretation of the illustrative style to generate ideas for a possible t-shirt design, whether it is presented in silhouette or halftone colour to create the illusion of shading. Other designs on the Qwertee website that were printed do contain alot of silhouette designs, which is a good possibility for a t-shirt design.

Whilst sketching Dandy, I preferred the designs that used an angular perspective rather than drawn straight on perspective. The different perspective gave the pose a sense of movement and dynamics, which I believe would work well on a t-shirt.  I wanted to capture the fun humor of the show and the main character, so I explored different facial features that could work to depict this. Drawing this helped me to visualise and understand the personality of the character more which I was able to continue to take inspiration from as I drew the character Dandy in different poses.

I then took one of these designs and created a possible t-shirt print from it, by adding a black circular background for the silhouette to stand out against. I wanted the logo to be placed in the white space that is left from the black circle and also have a quote from the show around the circle to add to the humor of the show, "A dandy guy from outer space."

Facial designs




Character designs - Mad Hatter

For the book cover and illustrations I wanted to change the appearance of the characters, making them more child like to attract the 5-9 year old target market. John Tenniel's prints for the Alice in Wonderland book are iconic, the depiction of the Mad Hatter and Alice are what we relate to Lewis Carroll's Book. I needed to stick to the iconic characteristics and appearance of the characters but twist these elements into my own style of illustration, they need to be recognisable.

The Mad Hatter is mainly associated with his top hat, quirky hair and his victorian esk attire, which needed to be kept with in his design. I wanted to change his appearance by using simple shapes with in both the facial features and the body. I started with the face, using oblong and circular shapes for the structure, which helped me to experiment with the placement of the facial features; whether the eyes should be closer together or just a dot, perhaps the nose should be longer or narrower.
Whilst drawing, I was inspired by children animation such as Over the Garden Wall, Gravity Falls and Adventure Time, whose character designs use simple shapes and interesting portrayals of the characters facial features.

Through feedback, I was able to chose and create a final sketch of the Mad Hatters design. To attract the main target market, I added a spirals to the edges of the top hat and added a card of hearts from a deck of playing cards in the fabric of this top hat. I made the hands and feet bigger than the right proportion to make the features seem cuter and child like.

I took this design to photoshop and added colour to the composition, however I did find this difficult to chose a colour scheme that would work well with the Mad Hatter in comparison to Alice's design.
I wanted the Mad Hatter to be slightly desaturated so that Alice would stand out compared to the rest of the Wonderland creatures. I created three different colour variations that included contrasting colours which worked well with the other desaturated hues used in the composition, my personal favourite being the red and green design that works well with how quirky the Mad Hatter is with in the book. The other design which could also have worked well as the final colour scheme, is the orange and blue structure.
Initial approach
Design possibilities
Profile and portrait perspective

Mad Hatter colour variation

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Notes on Qwertee

Qwertee is an online t-shirt company, that use artists, students and peoples designs to print as voted by the public. The more votes that you obtain the more likely your t-shirt will be printed. Every 24 hours 2 t-shirt designs are selected to be printed, in which have the most votes so far. Unfortunately you only have two days to be able to buy the print selected before it is then gone forever on the site. It is a very competitive site that requires as many votes from the public as possible to be able to see your t-shirt design. I decided to use Qwertee as one of the five briefs for the individual practice study task as to develop my illustrative style further, that I could adapt into sequential imagery; I wanted to improve my use of colour, layout and structure of my illustrations that I could adapt into a stylised animated piece for my future modules this year. Not only did I want to improve my design work, but also practice with submitting work to sites and competitions, to gain more confidence with my work. I feel that my social networking accounts lack my work and this is due to my lack of confidence of wanting people to see my work. I believe that Qwertee will help me overcome this and force me to design finished pieces of work that I can use for a portfolio.

Qwertee popular t-shirt designs

Most popular theme - Studio Ghibli
Before I started to design any t-shirts,  I looked at the most popular t-shirts that had been printed and ones that were still up for voting to gain inspiration and insight into what the public like. I found that the most popular theme is from the Studio Ghibli series, such as Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. I believe these are the most popular as buying t-shirts that relate to them from shops or popular online sites such as Amazon and Ebay are very unlikely. Other popular designs are from Japanese animations, games and western comics, such as Hellboy, Batman, Fullmetal Alchemist, Legend of Zelda, Nightmare Before Christmas. Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts are quite popular with the t-shirt designs, which I was inspired by and began designing for the themes.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Making the Music box

To make the music box I used my design work as a basis for the maya model. I wanted to make the music box as simple as I could to work with the background design and the Moom model; I need to focus on the animation of the composition.

I created the box by using subdivisions to create the hollowed part and duplicating the main cube polygon for the lid. However the doll was more complicated through the use of the cone shapes and how I would create the lips. To make the shape of the lips, I used the 'create polygon' tool which allowed me to draw on the plane to create the polygon that I wanted. I found the tool to be much like the pen tool on photoshop, however in order to add contours to the shape, I would have to add subdivisions and edit the polygon to a curve.

The model

In order to colour the doll, I used a new Lambert shade however the colour for the head of the doll was difficult to achieve. After creating more subdivisions I was able to select the faces on the sphere in which I wanted to be an orange hue. It was time consuming but it was the only sure way in which I would separate the skin and hair hues. I did try to reduce the amount of subdivisions and select the few faces that would be the hair, however when I added the subdivisions back to make the sphere more contoured, the colour disappeared to the opposite end of the sphere.

Colouring part of the faces
Mental Ray rendered

After creating the music box, I imported the design to my acting up scene in maya; I wanted to see how well the music box would fit with in the scene. I quickly added a few area lights and rendered the scene with mental ray. The outcome worked well as the style of the prop worked with the style of moom.

In scene with Moom

Monday, 1 December 2014


My performance needed to reflect the action shown in the storyboards but also show emphasis and expressions that moom would have when doing that certain pose. I found it really difficult to act with my first recording as I had to guess and imagine where certain parts would be, and I didn't have enough space to show that I had gone to another scene/place in the frame. I felt that the performance would have been better if I had directed and asked another student to perform for me so I could see how they could interact with things in the frame and what angle/shot I wanted for that action. However using myself as a reference not only built up my confidence but it helped me to gain a better understanding of the movements that I would be soon animating. Unfortunately I later realised that the video quality was quite poor and too small to be able to take reference from, so I had to make more reference.

With the newest reference I was able to include more props and easily act with the table, being able to visually see what I would be interacting with and how moom would possibly interact with it. I changed a few of the angles compared to the storyboard as I felt that it worked better with in that angle and is more realistic to achieve, this can be seen in the last gif, where moom turns to mother moom. Originally I had moom turn with mother mooms shoulder in the foreground as a blur, before zooming out to see all of mother moom, however I didn't think that I would achieve this effect well with the cameras in Maya and I found that the tracking shot in my reference was funnier and emphasized the dialogue well.

Study Task 3 - Strike a Pose

For this task, we were given a choice of multiple emotions in which we had to choose 5 and portray these on the character model, Moom, using primary reference. Using myself as reference for each emotion that I chose, I was able to depict these emotions quite well, by making the poses as emphasized as possible, giving more personality to the pose.

For the first emotion, 'Awe', I wanted the facial expression to be happy and shocked at the same time to show  'awe', and for his body language to be 'on his toes' to give that idea of movement, with his hands curled up to show the containment of excitement. I found it was difficult when thinking of how to pose for the reference but with the basis of the reference I was able to make Moom more emphasized and dramatic to suit the emotion.

For the next pose I looked into I needed to create a stance which portrayed confusion. I thought about different ways in which you could show confusion with body language instead of just relying on facial features. I referenced the pose with a shrug and an 'I dont know' stance, the typical arms up and hip slightly to one side pose. I felt like this worked well with the final composition as the merged facial features and pose made Moom looked confused.

To portray the next pose 'tired', I used a stretch, elongating his back and arms to show the movement in the body language, along with creating a yawn on Mooms face. I found this pose difficult with the feet, as I wasn't too sure how I could move them to suit with the stretch, I felt that feet needed to be outstretched, so I moved them slightly apart.

For the 'cruel' pose, I used a scheming and calculating face, dramatically rotating his eyebrows to add a more evil smirk like expression. I gained inspiration from the character Mr Burns in the animation 'The Simpsons', with his hands and a hunched back posture to make him look sneaky and devious. I added a green spot light to the composition as the colour green is associated with villains and it helped to bring detail to the piece.

For hunger, I used a sad pose and facial expression as if Moom is upset from being hungry, I mainly used is hands to portray his hunger by resting them on his stomach as if to stop any growling noises from his belly. I made his posture slightly hunched over as to emphasize the extent of him trying to stop his stomach growling but also to work with his facial expression.