3 Character performance Splining and Final

From the previous set of play blasts I had animated the key poses for the king character and splined the animation to see how it would look with the characters inside the animation all together. this playblast below shows the production of me and Hannah’s animation. Hannah already has her animation pretty much completed,  and has some smooth movement between each of the poses. However mine at the moment is still looking a little unrefined as the character seems to jump around a lot, with certain body parts moving in different directions rather than staying still. This means I need to go back and change the animation in the graph editor to fix some of the issues.

Below is the final playblast for this particular animation as a group with me, Hannah and Jack. Unfortunately Jack couldn’t finish his part of the animation which was the queen sitting in her throne reacting to each of the conversations. But I think due to different projects overlapping he was unable to participate in the is animation. Anyway the final playblast still has some glitchy movement and random actions occurring. However due to the deadline fast approaching I have decided to clean the animation up as best I could in the short amount of time and fix some of the issues.

However I know that we had a long time to make this animation, but I think due to my lack of time management, projects overlapped and I had to try and pick the most important animations. Although I have the main actions splined, I can see that the animation is really rushed and looks quite unappealing in some cases as the crown keeps moving around. I did my best to change that in the graph editor, but it kept going back. Perhaps next time I should try attaching the crown to the head rig as it will allow me to move each of the parts around with the crown following the head.

Anyway above is the final animation for the 3 character group production. Here I have added the audio from 11 second club over the top in premiere allowing me to line up the character actions with the dialogue. However in some parts the actions are just out of time with the audio but some parts are not noticeable. The textures for the floor where taken from creative crash allowing  me to make a nice royal throne room with gold chairs (Lambert texture). But I did not add a texture to the walls as I wanted to focus on getting what I could do with the animation first and then do the final render parts. But although my part of the animation is a let down the lighting helps to make the animation look cleaner, even though my animation has some issues. But I think next time if I manage my time better between projects I know I could improve on the animation rather than leave it as it is.

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3 Character Group performance- blocking continued and rough splining

After getting the basic key poses for the king character done I went through and added some inbetweens to help build up the actions with the imported audio file from 11 second club. So using the reference footage in the background I roughly plotted out the inbetween frames for the main actions. Plus I positioned the key poses for the sword model that I had made previously to help make the scene more interesting. Below is the first playblast from adding the inbetweens to the blocking animation.

Below I have made a playblast without all the controls in the scene, as I wanted to see how the animation looks without having the controls covering the poses making it harder to see what needs fixing. Anyway my character (The king) is starting to look a little more like the reference footage in the background so I need to continue with the blocking and then move onto splining.

Below is a playblast with not only my character splined but Hannah’s as well. Jack is currently working on his character for this animation, but I have imported Hannah character into the scene to help me position my character’ body and head so that the character reacts together. Looking at Hannah’s animation a few times I know that she used my animation as reference so now I will do the same, allowing me to build a interaction between the characters, that fits with the dialogue.

Below I have started to improve some of the issues that have been noticed in the playblast above. For instance the arms and crown seem to twist and move around a lot which is something I need to improve on in order to make the character performance look more appealing. However by using the Euler filter in the graph editor I was able to remove those twists in the arm, making the animation look more appealing than before.

Looking at the animation I can clearly see that I need to edit my character animation as there is a lot of jumping around which is very off putting. Using Hannah’s animation as reference I shall use the graph editor to improve the look my animation, making the graph more refined without all this random jumping around. As you can see in the playblast above I have added some dialogue from the 11 second club just to show how the two characters will interact together. But there will not be any lip syncing as I want to focus on the actual actions of the character before doing small details. Therefore my next task for this project will be to use the graph editor and fix the issues with the movement, helping to refine the key positions of the character.

Simple bot Walk cycle feedback

After remaking the walk cycle animation with the simple Bot I asked Luke for some feedback to help improve the animation. Looking through the animation Luke showed me some of the issues with the animation, and he made some changes in the Maya file to demonstrate his ideas. These changes are shown in the playblast below. Although I liked my walk cycle animation, I could see that Luke’s observations have shown me some things that I need to change to make the walk look more appealing and natural.

As seen in the playblast above you can see that Luke has edited the animation for one of the steps. This means I can then go through the other steps and change them using this reference. By changing the timing of the steps and adding the small leap, has allowed me to see some interesting ideas that can be implemented into the animation. I like the new idea for the walk has it has a happy aesthetic which makes the walk more appealing compared to a regular walk.

Looking at the changes I can see that my animation has some rather large issues, for instance the feet touch the ground and rise with unnatural timing. So by using the reference I have now, I can go through and add the natural steps with the feet touching the ground and not hovering.

However due to the time before the deadline I am going to leave this animation for the moment and come back to it. The reason for this is because I have a lot of the individual and group productions to work on which are more of a priority. Therefore my next task will be to work on them.

Improving the Walk cycle animation

The main reason for improving this animation was to develop the movement of the toes as the character walks along. As Sophie pointed out in her feedback the characters feet seemed to roll upwards to much to the point where it looked unnatural. Therefore taking on board this feedback I decided to go back and improve on this point. Below is the first playblast for the improvements on the animation. So by using the toe roll control I went through each of the poses in the graph editor and lowered the toes to have a more natural looking step.

Furthermore I have improved the hip movement, as before there was not really a natural bounce like before so I used the graph editor to go through and improve the quality of that natural bounce when the character walks.

I have also refined the movement of the eyes and mouth to make a natural looking character. By using my research from previous posts for the timing of a blink, I made the character have a regular blink motion which gives the animation that realistic sense. Looking at the animation I can see it looks much better than before as the toes do not flick up like before and the steps look more natural than they did before.

However the issue I think I should address and perhaps go back and improve again is that the walk cycle has some points in certain frames which look unnatural as the legs stretch outwards in a straight motion, so perhaps I need to go back and remake the animation. I was thinking that if I have time I should actually import reference footage into the stage to help make the poses and timing look more natural than this version. But I did have a lot of issues with the simple bot when posing.  As when posing the characters legs and hips for the walk, some of the legs would go of the ground which looks like he is floating. Although that is not in the animation now it seems like some of the animation needs some more refinement.

This animation was rendered using mental ray to help make a clear view of the actions and have a clean visual image of the character in the scene. However next I need to get some feedback from Luke on how to improve on the animation, as then I can get some help on improving the walk so that the legs move naturally without the issues I had beforehand during the production. Next I need to start developing the 3 character performance animation with my group (Hannah and Jack) so that I can combine the other shots with mine before the deadline.

Remaking the Stylised walk cycle

Gaining feedback and using my own opinion of the previous version of this file, I decided to remake this animation from scratch. Although I already had the animation finished, I watched the final render to see that the stylised walk did not really have a stylised theme to it. Looking at the animation I could see that the walk did not really look like the reference footage, as it seemed to look like a normal walk cycle with the hips crouched rather than standing. Therefore having the feedback and my own opinions of why I should change it, I have decided to remake the animation using the reference footage. Below is the first playblast for the remake of the stylised walk, as you can see I have started blocking out the key poses for the simple bot.

Using the simple key poses above I added in some inbetween frames to make the blocking look more natural. Plus having these inbetween frames has allowed me to develop the timing of the steps in the walk to help make the stylised walk cycle.

After blocking out the main key poses for the animation I used the graph editor to start splining the hips and legs to help make those natural curves for the walk cycle. Because this is a stylised walk cycle I have managed to get the almost sneaking like movement which is in the reference footage. But the main focus here was to get the legs and feet moving in a natural way avoiding the feet moving backwards or sliding on the floor.

Below is a side view playblast with the reference footage in the image plane in the background. But the playblast below shows the development of the animation where I have splined the legs, feet and hips to match a similar action to the reference footage. But I had some trouble like before, as the simple bot only had one control for the hips to make the curve in the back as you crouch, so it was quite difficult to recreate that look in the animation. But using the translate Y axis and rotate X axis I was able to create a simple bend which makes the character have that crouched look. The idea was to create a sort of sneaking walk cycle to try out something different.

So the crouched animation looks better than it did before as the walk cycle has a stylised theme to it. Furthermore as seen in the playblast below the legs actually move in a way which create a limping action which makes a more stylised effect to the animation. By using the graph editor I was able to refine this action so that it matches the movement of the hips as they bounce naturally when the character steps. But as you can see I have refined the movement in the camera as well as the character, as having the character follow the character helps to show the walk of the character, without having to zoom out and missing some of the key elements of the walk.

After having all the animation refined/ polished with simple eye movement and blinking I was able to render the animation. By using mental ray I was able to add the sun and sky lighting system which makes the animation much neater and more appealing to watch. Plus I have the natural lighting of the sun with shadows on the floor.

Looking at this animation I can see the movement is a looking a lot more stylised than the previous file. However I do think that the animation will need some feedback as I still feel like the animation is in need of a more stylised look to it. Looking at the animation I can see the movement of the walk is there and the timing looks natural for a walk. But as I mentioned get some feedback will help me to see what others think and improve from there. Therefore the next step will be to refine/ improve the walk cycle using simple bot as I had feedback from that which suggested I should improve on some elements of the walk cycle.

Improving the pendulum animation

Using the peer feedback from Sophie for my pendulum rig animation, I went back and improved using the points she addressed. The main issue that I realised as well was that the pendulum swings at the end too quickly when it should be slowing down. Plus the swing at the end is just there, as there is no movement for the pendulum to swing in that way. Therefore I have decided to improve on the end of the animation rather than completely remaking the animation. So looking at the playblast below I have improved the movement of the swing by moving the top of the pendulum quickly from side to side, allowing me to make the swinging action to go with it. By having the pendulum moving side to side quickly it allowed me to improve upon the original swinging action, making it look more natural rather than just randomly swinging.

Furthermore I have improved on the camera movement as well, the reason for this was to help see all the swinging actions when the pendulum spins and flips around the stage. By having this dramatic action it was difficult to get all the actions in a single shot, without cutting out some of the pendulum. Therefore by using a follow shot like the ball on a track animation, it allowed me to show all the actions without cutting anything out.

After improving the individual parts of the pendulum and the camera movement I used mental ray once again to render the final animation. Although there is no platform/ floor for the pendulum to be on, the mental ray render helps to improve the quality of the look of animation, rather than being really dark due to inefficient lighting. Having the animation refined with the graph editor I now have a animation which looks much more natural. Beforehand the pendulum did jump a few times while spinning around, so using the graph editor I was able to refine the curves making the animation look much more natural. As another part of my feedback was that the movement stops in some places rather than flowing naturally, but I have fixed that which has improved the animation.

Looking at this animation I can see that the quality is much more refined than the previous version of the file, as the pendulum swings and moves more naturally rather than having random swinging actions. Using the follow through and overlapping action principle of animation I was able to make the swing move naturally, as the curve in the graph editor was refined to contain smooth curves compared to actions stopping half way through. The next step will be to get some feedback on this animation I find out if what I have made is improved from before. Plus I shall need to start re-animating the walk and stylised walk cycles in order to improve the quality of the animations that I made previously.

Re-animating the Jump parkour animation with simple bot

Getting feedback from Sophie for this particular animation, I decided to go back and change the animation by remaking the jump parkour animation to improve the quality of the jump animation. The feedback mentioned in the previous feedback blog post says all the comments for feedback on this animation,  but the main concern in the feedback was that the jump from each block did not look very natural and the hips did not have a bounce when the simple bot jumps. So to change this I decided to completely start from scratch and re make the animation rather than editing the animation and risk spending more time trying to fix the different keys in the timeline. Below is the first playblast for the blocking pass of the new jump parkour animation.

Blocking

Above and below I have blocked out the basic key poses for each jump from each of the blocks on the floor. By remaking the animation it allowed me to go back and do something that I know I should of done the first time. As in the previous animation I simply watched the animation and went through it frame by frame it quicktime player to get the frame numbers. But this time I have decided to add the image plane, allowing me to add the reference footage that I collected from YouTube.

https://vimeo.com/217953487 

Using reference footage unlike last time has already improved the quality of the animation because the overall timing of the animation as well as the key poses look so much more natural than the previous version of this file. This blocking pass shows all the basic key poses and inbetweens for the main parts of the animation including hips, toes and legs allowing me to have a more appealing animation. The next step today will be to start splining from the blocking pass allowing me to develop the animation in the graph editor.

Splining

Below is the first splining playblast where I have used the graph editor to change the stepped graph into a curved graph. As you can see this has made the animation slightly more refined as the movement flows from pose to pose smoothly rather than jumping from pose to pose. But this playblast has allowed me to see what needs changing in the graph editor, as some of the feet do not stay in the right place or they move backwards slightly so those small changes will need to be edited.

Below is another playblast in the spline pass where I have started to refine the legs and hips in the graph editor to have that natural bounce when the character jumps. Plus I have made the legs and feet look more natural as the character leaps from block to block as seen in the reference footage behind. I have tried to make my animation similar to the reference footage in terms of timing as I want to make sure the actions look natural like the reference so keeping the timing as helped to achieve that.

The playblast I have developed animation further by using the graph editor to spline by right clicking and going to tangents and then selecting spline. This has allowed me to refine the legs and hips further to get that natural leap action on each of the poses. In this stage of the animation I can see that the actions look a lot more appealing to the eye than the previous version of the animation so the production of the remake for the jump parkour animation.

Therefore the next step today will be to start polishing the animation adding the toe rolls, eye movement and blinking. So using the graph editor I shall start to add those small details and refine them to make the animation more appealing.

Polishing

After splining the main components for the simple bot I decided to change the angle of the perspective view in order to start applying the eye movement to the character. Changing the angle has allowed me to clearly see the new add ons to the character, providing me with a clear view of both eyes and the other parts of the rig to see if they look alright in a different angle compared to just a side view.

Here I have managed to refine the eye movement and blinking by using some timing I found on the internet to make a natural looking blink. Furthermore using a different perspective angle I have moved the eyes around to follow the movement of the character, so the eyes follow the head without the pupils disappearing.

This playblast below shows the final animation sequence with some camera movement attached. By having the camera movement I was able to get a similar look to the reference footage. The reason for adding this camera movement was to show some different angles of the character, almost following the character as it leaps across the stage. By having all of the animation refined I thought that having a camera would help to make the animation more interesting to the audience.

The final step today will be to use the render view to check that the scene fits in the screen resolution box and that all the textures work with mental ray and the sun and sky lighting system in mental ray is in the right position before batch rendering the scene.

Final render

This is the final rendered animation for the new jump parkour animation where I have rendered the animation with mental ray to help get a clear lighting to see the character clearly, while also having that natural lighting which has improved the quality of the visual animation. Plus the production has gone quite well from the previous version as I have used the feedback I was given to improve the animation and get a natural bounce on the jump in the parkour movement. Looking at this animation I can see that this animation defiantly looks improved than before as the character actually looks like he is leaping from block to block rather than simply stepping with a unnatural jump.

Next I shall need to go back and animate another one of the animations such as the stylised walk or the normal walk cycle to help improve the quality of the animation, using the feedback given to me.

Modelling a character 360 turnaround

After modelling a character in Maya using the youtube tutorial I decided to make a 360 turnaround. Because I have screenshotted the process of each stage from modelling to rigging, I thought that making a turnaround could help to show the working elements of the rig and a full view of the model. Below is the playblast for the turnaround where I have all the controls on the character, with the camera circling the character. I made this playblast to test the movement of the camera, as I had problems before hand where the camera would follow the circle and then go back again.

However to make the camera circle the character model I made a motion path for the camera to follow. So making a circle curve form the curve menu. Then adding the camera into the scene I used the x, y and z axis to move the camera into position so I could see the full character. Enlarging the circle allowed me to then attach the camera to the motion path allowing me to rotate the circle and the camera would follow.

Once again I have used mental ray to render the animation so that the natural lighting makes the shadows on the ground. The 360 turnaround was mainly made just to help show a 3D image of the character rather than simple screenshots that do not show the full character. Therefore making this turnaround has allowed me to show all of the different views for the character model.

 

Re-rendered Weighted bouncy ball animation

Here I have improved the quality of the visuals on the animation, as by using the mental ray render into the animation I have re rendered the animation as I wanted to make a more three dimensional effect than a simple 2D flat look. As by having that natural sunlight lighting in the scene, as compared to a white plane background the lighting makes those natural shadows that give the balls the three dimensional look. But the overall animation and timing seem fine to me as I have got feedback before from the previous version of this file and the feedback given suggested that nothing needed to be changed. Therefore to improve the visuals of the animation was not really required but I thought that it would be more appealing to look at.

Re-rendering the Bouncy ball on a track

Looking back on past animation from the beginning on the 3D production module I decided to go back and re-render the animation. So like the ball with tail animation, I used mental ray to render the animation. By adding a lighting system with the mental ray panel I added a simple sun and sky lighting which creates a simple sunlight light making the animation look so much more refined compared to how I rendered the animation before using Maya hardware render.

In addition to the new lighting I have added a follow shot on the camera, as it follows the ball around the track allowing the audience to see the ball clearly as it moves around the track. The change in camera allowed me to see the whole of the animation more clearly, with a creative aspect to it. As looking at the previous version of this animation the camera was in one position, which was good but because of the large bounces around the stage, it was hard to get all the actions in one camera position, without the camera being zoomed out a lot. So I decided to add the follow shot on the camera to help see the actions/bounces more clearly.

Furthermore compared to the original this animation looks much better, as the mental ray lighting makes the animation so much clearer and the camera helps to show all the actions. The reason I have not changed the animation is because the actions of the bounce with the squash and stretch look fine to me and show a clear representation of a ball bouncing around while losing power over the course of the track. But as this is a very bouncy ball the animation shows what I wanted to. However I think I should get some peer feedback just to see if there is anything that needs improvement, as what I see as good may look awful to someone else so I shall get some feedback and improve the animation based on that.