Monday, December 13, 2010

First animated shot...

A little ahead of schedule, I was waiting until I had all the sets and characters modeled until I started animating, but this shot in particular was going to be one of the more challenging technically, so once I had everything ready I took a day or so to get the animation right.

This shot calls for one character to take a cloak off and drape in over the shoulders of the other, a tricky proposition in 3D because you start getting into cloth simulations and other really slow workflow methods. I typically never use cloth simulatons just because they take so long to tweak and calculate, you're better off using a low poly model and animating by hand, with a little bit of 'flex' modifier on the top of everything to give it a convincing wiggle.

A desaturated anaglyph preview of the final shot...
The lighting in this scene is really blue, so it doesn't
look as good in anaglyph unless I desaturate it...

Now, I'm not going to show the shot until everything is finished ;) so you'll just have to trust me for now that this worked, and I'm exceedingly happy how easy this actually was, once I figured it out.

So... simple thing, one actor takes off a cloak, hands it to his partner, and they wear it. If this was live action, it wouldn't be a problem. 3D animation means we have to take into account all the physics involved, and depending on how long you want to wait for your computer to calculate will determine how you do this. As I said, I've always had bad luck with cloth simulations, it's possible they've improved them but that's what I get for being stuck with an older version of the software (I can rant about avoiding "upgrades" later...)

Once I figured out that the cloak has to basically follow the contours of the character's bodies, I made a third skeleton rig for the cloak, and copied the motion of the first actor onto it so that it appears to follow his motion. Then in the transition, "simply" move the rig over to the other actor. The rigs are all hidden in the final render, and I've also hidden all the 'biped' bones that I didn't need for the cloak. The cloak itself is very low poly, so once the animation was tweaked to get rid of any intersections, I applied a mesh refinement and the flex modifier onto the edges to give it a 'cloth' like secondary motion.

Most of the other shots won't be as complicated... at least until I get to the fight scenes ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cool animated shorts vol 7...

I found this little gem on youtube tonight:

My first knee jerk, blurt-out reaction within the first 10 seconds was something along the lines of 'Lol I can see your polygons' Then the rest of the film unfolds in a stylistic perfection of low-fi, low-poly that works perfectly for this short. It's rare these days to find a film that doesn't follow the "pixar/dreamworks/disney/animation school" herd of photorealistic cartoony characters and modeling, and it's refreshing to see someone with such a well developed and consistent artistic style. I'm going to be pinching bits of this style in the future, for sure ;)

Animation, and digital animation in particular, enables a wider variety of artistic expression than is currently offered by the big hollywood studio system, both in terms of art direction and style as well as the subject, content, and execution of the art itself... so why not break the mould and strike out with your own visual and narrative style, that's the only way to stand out of the crowd now, and increasingly in the future as (hopefully and inevitably) more and more people will be doing this kind of thing.