Imagined Worlds Project: Presentation feedback, and end of project summary

Okay, so lets stop avoiding the elephant in the room, it is time I talked about the feedback given by the lecturers about the project. My last post was before post-production, so I will put the links to the slides and the animation video itself at the bottom of this post.

We spent a lot of time trying to render out our animation on the day of the presentation, which didn’t really look good for us, but it was genuinely the best we could do. We then presented what we had, and overall I feel that the presentation could have gone better, because I was anxious and Ebonny ended up doing most of the talking, and I feel like I put too much responsibility on her there.

 

~ The Feedback ~

When it came to the feedback itself, I hate to say it, but I’m not surprised that we got the feedback that we received. It hurt a lot to hear, but honest feedback rarely means nice feedback. The only part of the feedback that got to me was the fact that we got a satisfactory for effort, it actually really hurts because we both put a tremendous amount of time into making it the best we could, it just unfortunately doesn’t show. Getting a pass feels fair, any higher grade would have been nice, but if I’m completely honest I am grateful for the pass. To look at our animation from an outside perspective, it doesn’t move great, and I get it.

The more personalised feedback is definitely going to help. Gary said that he didn’t know where the last two weeks of progress went, and that I completely understand, because the final animation doesn’t look too different to the blocking. I did work to my best ability to add as many frames in as I could, but in honesty, life got in the way a lot, and I got burned out after trying to rush everything to get things done in time, so by the time it came to making the animation look better, I was exhausted. This sounds like a terrible excuse, because there was plenty of class time to work on it, but this is just how it turned out. We also received some feedback on the lighting, which to be honest wasn’t rendered quite as we had hoped. The lighting did look nice on the test renders, but I guess we didn’t think about how it would obscure the animation and environment. We maybe should have just stuck with daytime lighting instead of making it dusk for the final render, because the dark lighting not only obscures the animation, but it also takes away from a lot of Ebonny’s hard work on the texturing and environment.

 

~ What I have learned ~

It is now time for some positivity, because I have learned an awful lot from this project. One of the biggest things that I have learned is probably to work in a bigger team, because in a small team there is still the same amount of jobs, its just that each member has more jobs. This sounds manageable in theory, but in practice it means that everyone gets burned out very quickly, and it makes it hard to recover. I’m probably the worst example of this, because I took on way too many jobs for someone who doesn’t really know how to do any of them, and ended up burning myself out on tasks that I wouldn’t even have chosen to otherwise do / be graded on. Another important thing that I have learned is that it is not as easy as it sounds to catch up on missed work time at home. If I’m honest, I occasionally wasted time at college, and it became hard to catch it up at home, and I ended up pulling a lot of all nighters. Not only is this kinda unhealthy, it also meant that my productivity became worse at college because it made a viscous cycle of having no energy or motivation, then having to catch up fast and burn more energy. This is a selfish work ethic, and it ended up being unfair on Ebonny, and she didn’t deserve that.

 

~ What I would do differently next time ~

For the synoptic project, I definitely want to work in a bigger team. Working with Ebonny was a pleasure, but if we had more members, there would be a more diverse skill range, and that is really what we were lacking. It meant that we both had to spend a lot of time trying to do things that we weren’t good at, and if someone with more knowledge and skill had done those things, it might not have taken so long. This sounds a tad defeatist, but I think for the synoptic project I might chose not to do animation, because I’m not sure its where my talent lies after all, and I think that its currently the wrong time to push myself at something that I don’t enjoy. It seems like a better idea to focus more on areas that I want to do, and I’d rather change my specialism to concept art, because currently I just find that way more enjoyable, and I’m less likely to get annoyed or stressed/burned out doing that. Lastly, this sounds bad, but next time I definitely need to spend more of my in college time on work. I got easily distracted during this project, and that contributed to things taking longer than they needed to, so next time, I will definitely be more focused in college time, because pulling all nighters to catch up on the missed time created a terrible cycle of making more work for everyone, and was ultimately kinda selfish. I think I was a bad team mate.

 


Important links:

The Google Slides Presentation

The Animated Short on Youtube

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Imagined Worlds Project: Animation blocking

So it has taken a while, and it didn’t feel like any of the collective small amounts of progress were worth posting about, but I finally blocked out our animation!

 

 

It took quite a while, but by using Ebonny’s animatic as reference, I blocked out where the characters need to be for each part of the animation. Nothing went wrong while doing this, to be completely honest! There was some technically difficult things to figure out, like keyframing the visibility on Zach, and making sure everything was clamped and stepped (because for some reason those settings just wouldn’t stay right, and things kept switching back to splined).

The good news is, the models will definitely be moving for the MVP deadline check! The bad news are that we are not really where we should be, but hopefully it will at least look pretty good for the overall deadline, after all, it’s mostly about the world and sound design, but I’m determined not to let the team down!

Imagined Worlds Project: Life imitates art!

Over the past couple of days, I have been continuing to skin the models for our animation! With Lilith complete two days ago, I set off with my newfound rigging skills to attempt to speedily and efficiently skin Zach.

To be honest, I didn’t use any new techniques on this. I duplicated the skeleton that I made for Lilith, because when modelling the characters, I used the same body with the intention of making rigging easier to save as much time as possible. With the duplicated rig, I then skinned Zach’s character model to it. I attempted to use the interactive skin bind with capsuling like I did for Lilith, but for some reason it didn’t want to work, so I manually painted the skin weights for all of the muscles myseslf. This took quite a while, but turned out rewarding, because I’m happy with how he moves! I then decided to pose the models and get some renders of them in a pose inspired by some concept art created by Ebonny.

Rowdy_Kids

 

Bros_dabbin'Bros_dabbin'_zoom

Overall, I am over the moon with the progress that I have made in this project. This experience has been invaluable, because rigging is really difficult, and now I can skin two models in the space of a week! Now that the models are skinned, I can make the control sets, then start animating! There isn’t much content in this post, but it felt worth blogging about because it’s progress!

 

Imagined Worlds Project: Lilith skinned

After a week of slow progress, Lilith finally has a rig! *Final Fantasy victory theme ensues*

It took a considerable amount of work, but boy has this been a learning experience! Rigging is a completely new thing for me, so skinning Lilith has had it’s tribulations. The first thing that I did was to ask Matt for help. He showed me the character rigging tool which generates a human skeleton, and then scaled it down to Lilith’s size. We moved the joints to where they should be on Lilith, then used the mirror function to make it symmetrical.

Lilith skelebob

I then used the interactive bind skin to capsule the areas of the model to the skeleton. This is where I got confused, because I couldn’t really work out what was happening, and everything just felt like it wasn’t working. I didn’t understand that areas that aren’t capsuled go crazy unless you cover them with a different capsule, so I thought that all of the parts that the capsules automatically cover would have to contain what they do as they first appear. This sounds confusing to read, but to give an example, when I loaded the interactive skin bind, the left arm capsule covered the entire head, ears, and torso of the model. When I tried to move it, the ears went crazy, so for about 6 days I thought that the left arm capsule would have to contain the ears to stop them from trailing along the ground. Only yesterday did I figure out that the head capsule could contain the ears, and that this would stop them from going crazy. After capsuling the model as good as possible, things still didn’t move right, so I had to ask for Matt’s help again.

Today, Matt showed me the paint skin weights tool. It took me a small while to figure out how it works and how to use it properly (because for some reason it just perplexed me and I couldn’t make it paint?), but eventually it worked! To try and make parts work better, I used a combination of copy and pasting vertex weights and painting on weight to make the muscles bend as close to humanly as possible! After testing the movements individually, I decided to test a whole body movement…

LilithDab

Overall, I am so happy with this! I’m slightly annoyed at myself for taking so long to skin her now that I know where I went wrong, but it’s a learning curve, and it’s something that was previously entirely new to me, so I can forgive myself for taking a while. I’m happy with how it looks and moves, so I think for now she is done! My next steps will be to skin and rig Zach, then hopefully Ebonny will have put together the environment by tomorrow so that we can start animating on Thursday or Friday!

Creative and Technical Model: Planning

Today we discussed what we are going to make for our creative and technical model. Since we are making an animation, we decided it made more sense to make the characters as our creative and technical models so that they would be done sooner and available for the animation part quicker. We split the tasks of the models that needed making so that Ebonny is making most of the environment assets, and I am making the base character model. After the base character model is made, we are going to make both of the character models from that, so Ebonny is going to make Zach, and I will make Lilith. Here is a visual representation that I made to try and work out how to make it…

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The modelling pipeline consists of first doing the research, collecting reference images and/or concept art for the model, then working out design choices and concepts for the final sketches and annotating as necessary, then making the low poly model, then UV unwrapping so that the UVs are set, then making the high poly model, this point is a good time to work out naming conventions, then bake the model to get the normal map, then texturing, making sure to check that the model will work in the required destination, then exporting to the necessary engine.

My next steps for this model are to make the low poly base model so that I can then make the high poly one to distribute to Ebonny so that we can finish the characters as soon as possible.

 

Summer Project: Ballet movement animation part 1

Over the summer holidays, I decided to try and animate a ballet movement for my portfolio. I myself am a ballerina, so I filmed a movement and used that for reference. I then repeatedly watched the footage and looked for the main poses within the movement to use as the main keyframes. I made rough sketches of each keyframe poses, along with taking note of the time-stamp, and then worked out where this should be in frames.

These images will be replaced with proper scans later on…

I then took the time to keyframe and animation block the main poses of the movement. This took quite a long time because I was having some issues with actually getting the frames to save into the timeline, however I managed to sort it out through the graph editor. I made a quick playblast so that I can show what I have so far.

Unfortunately, this was as far as I managed to get with the project so far because I took quite a lot of time to make the hammer textures, however I plan to try and complete it as soon as possible so that I have something unique for my portfolio.

Imagined Worlds Project: Inital ideas and planning

This afternoon, we worked out most of the Trello planning for our project. We added in the deadlines and worked out when we need to have things done by and what to prioritise. We then got to brainstorming some ideas and planning what we are going to animate.

We considered making either a victory animation style dance sequence, a magician and assistant short, a general performer short, a cooking mishaps short, or a map reading mishaps short. We then discussed what we could do for each one, and looked up some inspiration to try and develop our ideas. Our strongest ideas were victory dance, cooking mishaps, and map reading, because we developed some good ideas for those right off the bat, and then we took to the internet to do some research and whittle down our ideas.

First, we wanted to research victory animations from various platformers, because those animations are good examples of cartoony, fun, and appealing dances. We looked up Jak and Daxter, the Overwatch character emotes, and Kirby to see what works and what doesn’t for their victory animations

Jak and Daxter – https://youtu.be/vuJPTUlVqIo

Kirby –   https://youtu.be/Eo4YRyugCMs

Overwatch dance emote – https://youtu.be/RoFLh5e3D7E

We then discussed what we could do for the cooking and map reading animations. We ended up having some great ideas about making the characters get lost and make something inspired by the animation from the Trail we Blaze from Road to El Dorado (https://youtu.be/DsWklwCFOoI).

We then talked about how we want to make the environment around them, and we considered making a 2D background so that we could have the characters scrambling through the foreground, mid-ground, and background to try and find their way. We then looked at the scenes from Miraculous Ladybug where Marinette is explaining things, and she is still a 3D animation, but the background is an animated 2D background, and we are hoping to take some inspiration from this.

Overall I feel like our planning today has gone much better, and I feel more optimistic about our project in general. We took some time to figure out how we are going to make and rig the models, and our next step is likely to be our concept sketches and planning related to that.