Monday, 26 April 2010

What did you learn?

Before the final update, I figured I would update this a bit with some things I've learned. Animation is hard, well, I say that a lot, but really it's just long. It takes a long time, and a lot of takes. I've been over each animation at least 3 times, and each time I go over it, I think of something I can change. The biggest issue so far is timing. If you place keys randomly the animation will be really fast or really slow. Getting the right speed is essential. Playblasting helps, but one can never truly predict what will happen. So far, pose by pose is the best way to figure out timing. How long it takes to go from one key pose to another is a good estimate, but not always. Jez (is that how you spell his name?) taught me a few good lessons when it comes to animation, mostly how to carry on animations without splittings into dozens of scenes. Just duplicate the character node and animate with a fresh character without keys, because some transitions are just awful.

Another thing is reference. Getting good reference is hard, I mean, I'm animating a kid in a playground, so if I wanted reference, I would need to take a camera to the park and film kids playing on stuff. Yeah, that'll end well. But even standing around doing the actions yourself helps with a lot of issues. The hardest part is getting the character to feel life-like, which I'm not entirely convinced I've done, but it all a learning experience. Stuff like subtle motions and the little details that help push everything. Facial animations as well, hard stuff, especially with all the controls and being able to mix and match them; subtly blending one look with another. Overall, animating everything in one scene is a huge challenge.

Another thing that took a god awful long time to do was the lighting. I'm still not entirely pleased with it, but after rendering a few scenes out I'm happy with it. I could have spent so many more days messing with it (hell, a whole semester), but lighting isn't my forte, nor my interest. But it does help for stuff like this. I think I spent more effort learning out to light my scene than how to animate it.

This isn't the final light configuration, just a few failures.

This is it, though my heart is skipping beats because it looks really bright now, and before it was really dark. So I'm not sure what's going on, but hell, I can correct the whole damn thing later on, so who cares. All I can say is damn my deceptive, whore bastard of a monitor for screwing me over. Well, whatever.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Forgot the Title. Figures.

Figured I'd add these as I go. These are some prelim animations of the short video I'm doing (hopefully I won't need to emphasize the short part later on). The most worrying part about this whole project is rendering it and lighting it. I might cop-out with the daylight rig (set to night time... so the... nightlight rig) and use that instead of spending days tinkering with lighting solutions. The most annoying part of this whole project will be animating the lattice deformers so that everything moves around. Luckily, I don't even have to think about what they're doing unless it is specifically scripted, so the motions are easier and faster to do.

Anyway, these are simple videos of playblasts I did in Maya. Though, I think I forgot to turn off the control curves and deformer things, so, yeah. The first two videos are of Haruka waking up in this strange playground.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Twisted Playground

Well, I finally started my twisted playground concept for animating Haruka. I'm not sure how far I wanna take this, I think it's more of an experiment for the last semester, but regardless of how far I take it I'll gain some valuable experience.

For now, the textures are...I wouldn't say unfinished, but the flat trees and bushes are pretty much placeholders. I'm not sure what I want them to look like. The area doesn't have the whole creepy feel I want for it yet, but I haven't played around with the lighting yet to get the look I want, nor do I have a sky box or a way to seal off the area convincingly. All in all it should come together nicely. I'm doing a few quick sketches for story boards now, but the idea I have of this is basically Haruka waking up in this weird playground. She looks up and sees all the (rides?) moving around and being all creepy and wobbly. As she gets up, everything calms down (either right away or as she approaches). At first, you see Haruka playing around normally by herself, but after a while something happens with what she's riding and she gets thrown off or repelled. She isn't aware of this happening (or rather, why), so it gives a good context to move around to each different ride.

God, I forgot what you say about each individual piece in a playground. I remember just hearing stuff like, "Go play on the swings." and never anything else. So I'm at a loss. Oh well, more next time. I should be updating more often now I have something to write about. And hey, maybe there'll be crappily animated movies next time. Yeah, I bet you're looking forward to that.