VFX – Skinning Effect

Like in Iron Man 3?

Tony stark flying about yet again whilst fighting of hordes of enemies which seem to look pretty steamed up… literally.

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Skinning example (Iron Man 3)

This effect gives an immense amount of depth in the characters face from within, the effect mimics that of a photo shot of a hand with light shining through revealing the inner skeletal and vein structure.

 

hand-over-red-light
Skinning effect shown in real life photo

Applying this effect required a MP4 sequence of a face in any view preferably being;

  • Front facing
  • Side facing
  • 3/4 View
Skin clip
After effects composition setup.

This alongside a JPEG image of veins and the fractural Noise which can give the cloudy effect between the veins. Furthermore, the use of the external software of ‘Mocha AE’, movement can be tracked using the bezier tool and the data from that process will then be copied and moved to the mask & pre-comp.

Skin Bexier
Bezier Tool

Going back to the tracking for the scene, this can be explained with a short gif that I made in another composition  to show of Mocha AE tracking capabilities within any environment;

Tracking Feature

Using the Bezier tool I can select a specific point on the video, preferably with contrasting colours and hit the track forward button to begin gathering tracking data and this tracking data can the be applied to the masks within After effects of the image layers.

VFX – Pulling the strings

Like a puppet, the theory and practice of rigging both in 2D & 3D is basically bringing something to live which has come from a mere idea tucked up in your head.

Rigging in after effects is just like rigging in Maya just without the work of taking it to a higher dimension… picture this if you will; one would need four tires, another would only need two.

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2D Side View (2 Wheels)
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3D orthographic view (4 Wheels)

For this blog, I will be explaining the process of rigging in After effects alongside the practice of joining through an asset hierarchy method.

Firstly there had to be assets to rig, we started with a robot asset with backgrounds and added effects to add aesthetics to the overall composition. At this point I had a slight idea to the concept of rigging for VFX animation but needed extra insight to come to use it for further projects. I have these few screenshots from the process of animation used in after effects.

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Character rigging or in other words ‘Puppet making’ in my opinion can only really be effective with pictures such as humans or and other animal as long as it has a natural concept to be bent or have joints which can bend, unlike inanimate objects unless an animator is thinking about the fantasia times from Disney where anything is possible.

 

‘Character Design’ – Head Moodboard

I have brought together a few images of heads for a mood board, this is to visually present the different angles and ways artists can perceive drawing heads in art or in this case, character design.

Heads Moodboard.jpg

This is my mood board on heads which can be used for concepts in character designs or a way to start creating measurements for facial construction. This can be further shown from the sketches of heads which only have a wire-frame like look to theme. These drawings basically show the lines of the position of each facial feature such as the nose, Mouth & eyes… consequently by doing this should show a build up in a well drawn face based on measurements that the artist has made with their construction lines.

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Study of Facial construction drawing.

On the right side of my moodboard, there is a picture of ecorche…

Ecorche – The use of drawing to represent the skin removed to display the muscularity of the body

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This practice of character design gives an artist closer estimation of the type  of body mass that is being worked with. This can be worked best with human anatomy but trying to work ecorche with anything but will consequently not work at all.

I have drawn out my own version of ecorche over a photo of a high definition portrait. I find it a lot more guiding to know that I can draw out the main outline of a face to capture the main base to therefore find a starting point, now usually I would begin with the nose for the fact of it being the visual centrepiece of the human face but this time I started with the eye and made my way from there to the nose to the mouth etc.

ECORCHE-1 copy.jpg

continuing onto the bottom of the moodboard, below are a trio of models which have been made to visually represent the base structure and the possible muscle locations of the human face. This seems to be a simpler way to show the basic structure and features of the face such as;

  • cheek bones
  • Jawline
  • Eyebrows
  • Forehead

Here are some other drawings I done for facial exaggeration, the only struggle I faced whilst doing these drawings is that I tend to get into a habit of having everything within proportion consequently making the whole drawing bland and showing no hint off exaggeration withing the piece.

BOOK SKETCHES-1 copy

 

Self taught game feature in C# – UNITY

As I prep for my exam in programming and game design, there is  task which I have to blog about, and that is to create a new project in Unity and create one asset which has been coded with a small C# script which has a small paragraph of code in it. It was just finding what feature to place in the scene…

WHAT!!

 

This quite small gif shows both the scene in action alongside the code which has been in use for that scene. Basically, the scene shows the stage lighting up a vase as the player gets closer which infers a trigger command has been coded for the players visual help. Also adding life into the scene ever so slightly.

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Position of the lights on the stage.

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flashlight

Heirarchy ‘Parent & Child’ animation…

Coming closer to my portfolio presentation, I have time to improve on my 3D skills in animation. The lesson today consisted of learning about the hierarchy and its connection with the terms ‘Parent & Child’.

Parent & Child

This is a term where the main object is classified as the parent whereas the connected object is known as its child. Here is a visual representation of what I’m trying to explain;

comp_aboutskelhier

After engraving this information in our heads, we set out creating a simple character and animating through the hierarchy and practicing the parent and child method.

This was the basic undeveloped animation heirarchy graph for the character I made which shows that each panel is an asset which has been created in maya or already built into the scene during launch of the Maya application.

Each panel is a parent but only if I give something for it to parent with, this is where the term ‘child’ comes into more focus. It’s exactly the same as in real life, for example; A person is not a parent until child is there to be parented.

Recently I have been working on model in my spare time that I can now for practice my animation, hierarchy and parenting skills… not that in real life of course.

As I started this project at home my first thought was what can I create which has a simple skeleton and has a very simple movements such as a walk and idle stance or cycle. Finally I also thought which can be the easiest to make which is not like which is not like me because I like to have a challenge with modelling and animation. And then I clicked, ‘What was the dinosaur called with the long neck which is really slow?’  – Alamosaurus 

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Alamosaurus Mesh 

Why not, giving the fact that it’s tool it has a long neck and other distinctive features. It seems easy enough to model, with a good JPEG image plane to work with and the right tools to use. And within a few hours I had a full model of an alamosaurus ready for Rigging and waiting to be brought to life.

Rigging- the method used by animators to set up a simple skeleton frame within a model to animate with.

Afterwards I started setting up the hierarchy for the skeletal structure and it wasn’t easy for the first time trying to get the grasps with what goes where in the hierarchy in terms of ‘what should be the parent and what should be the child?’.

I finally figured it out when I thought about logically what should be connected to what, I started by saying Head, Shoulders, body, hips, legs, feet. Basically working from top down but with the head being the main parent. Just like in the image of this blog you see the shoulder connected to the elbow connected to the wrist connected to the hand. Quite logical when you think about it… here it is laid out more simply for you.

 

 

 

 

Shoulder > elbow > wrists > hands.

 

Up to this point I am currently trying to get my head around ‘painting weights’ for the animation so therefore my model does not bend unnaturally to the key pose I give it. I have inserted a clip showing you what painting weights in Maya is below this paragraph. I hope this teaches you as good as it has taught me.

How to create a hierarchy with Maya.

Autodesk Maya – NEXT GEN IDENT

I have been progressing ever so slightly with my I dent animation developing and refining it with minor changes by using the motion graph editor to help me with ‘block animation’ which also means step-by-step animation to help me get those main poses or key-frames just right…

I’ve also been meaning to redo the lighting to either expose the scene and enhance the aesthetics of the scene. In other words basically bringing out those nice colors and making everything look spectacular. The method I thought which was best using was the three-point lighting method this will contain a main light, filler light and a back light that can bring out much more of the model or the scene.

During the pipeline of development, I was told about a new renderer called TURTLE. Turtle, like mental Ray can enhance and improve lighting by taking characteristics of lightning from real environments and apply them to your own scene which overall can inject realism but on an uncanny level which also introduces the term ‘uncanny valley’.

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I DENT scene with motion blur + DoF (Depth of Field)

Uncanny valley – A term used when an event or a scenes characteristic turns out to be not fully realistic.

After all the lighting was complete I then moved on to cameras and the animation of the cameras, for this I did not need to use block animation. Instead, I switched over to the camera view which I wanted to animate and by moving myself to where my assets looked best I could insert a key frame, this would show off my version of what I wanted myself and the audience to see.

The only problem that I faced during this task was trying to get timing right, but I learnt that by going through the timeline I can pick out key points in the scene and position the camera to where I want when I needed. By doing this I found it a lot easier and a lot more successful to improve camera animation within Maya.

Continue reading “Autodesk Maya – NEXT GEN IDENT”

Block animation in the industry

When starting an animation, you will have to take into consideration the pipeline of development from beginning to end and for animators to do this they have to start with either one of two methods and this is how I will lead on to the main subject of this blog which is the use of block you will have to animation within the games, animation and film industry.

The first step in the pipeline of develpment is to either drawer out concepts for a storyboard of your scene which can make it visually easier and better to tell the story you are trying to show. These drawings must match up with positioning of characters or effects and also the position of the camera within the scene and the frame.

Another way to start developing animation for the characters on scene is to actually go out, rehearse and act the specific actions which the characters will undergo during the animation regardless of camera movements. The aim is to simply get the key poses for the characters on the timeline and to also find out how long this scene will take and this is why I block animation lends a hand.

By using the method of block animation, animators can analyse those key poses and place them specifically where they should be when they should occur. And with use of the graph editor tool in Maya animators can fine tune the movement of the animation and this means going into such detail as the X Y and Z axis also known as the ‘vector movements’.

  • Vector 3 – X, Y, Z ‘Axis’
  • Vector 2 – X, Y
  • Vector 1 – X

As soon as block animation is finished the movement of the characters is then made to be smooth and given a more natural look to them. So basically hand movements and footwork will look more natural have more Curve/arc and anticipation which are a few of the many principles of animation that I have learnt over this year.

I have been working on and IDent which either promotes myself or the next gen course, I was told to put the block animation method into practice which I did but didn’t find it easier to use as some of my tangent Lines why not being ‘blocked or stepped’, this made it incredibly hard to add efficient timing into my work and also made the animation design seem a lot more harder to work with. I finally chose to not use block animation and therefore cube with the smooth estimated movement which Maya calculated for me and then fine tune the animation movement later if needed.

Blocked and stepped – a method used to show key poses of a character or scene without estimating movement within frames of those poses. Keeping animation very clean and organised.

Throughout the time learning about block animation, I have realised the benefits and drawbacks of using this method such as timing, preparation between key poses and making it either easier or harder to animate a character step by step to give it more natural looks and movements.