Thursday, 29 November 2012

So about a week ago, we began the 'Specialist Animation 2' project, involving us in finding a good high poly model to rig with The Setup Machine in Maya, and then composite the animation into some live action footage!

We were given permission to use free models from the internet, so I decided to use the Albertosaurus model from the infamous Albertosaurus rig. Not only is it a good model with a great texture, I get to animate a friggin' dinosaur! Aww right.

So we went out as a group to film footage of where we were going to place our models. In the end we chose beaut park in Cardiff. I chose to have my dinosaur walking around and jumping on these large circles of stones which are a feature in beaut park, figuring the stones with the tree's behind them would make a decent setting!

These are the storyboards I used to plan out my animation, to plan his movement and actions for the footage. I decided I wanted him to walk between the stones, sniffing the floor before jumping onto the large rock in the middle.

Before all this though, I began to rig the model using 'The Setup Machine' before deciding my animation, as we only had this first week to rig and skin our models. These are screenshots I have taken of the rigging process.

Once the rigging and default skinning is completed, it's now onto tweaking the skinning to make the model deform nicely before animation!

Friday, 16 November 2012


This is the mini-showreel of animation I did for the 3 week 'Specialist Animation' project (as in previous posts to this one) in Uni, animating bouncing balls and a walk cycle using the ball-with-legs rig we had to create within the project (see below for rig making post). Technically this is about 2 weeks worth of the project as I cut out the week that we experimented in 'Motion Builder', as that wasn't pure animation so wasn't needed to be in the show-reel (it was also a train-wreck of an exercise...). I was a bit rusty of little practise in the summer, but, yeah! :-] Check it out.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Uni exercise: Rigging an IK setup in Maya

During our 3 week Maya exercise, one of the weeks was spent learning how to rig within Maya with a basic IK leg setup, which was then layer used to create a walk cycle.

In order to create the bones for the rig, we grabbed an image from the internet to serve as a guideline to place the bones within, as usually when rigging there will either be a model or an image for the rigger to place the bones in.

Once the bones were created and matched up the leg in the image, they were then mirrored to create the other leg quickly.

After that, the IK handle was created, from the hip to the ankle, in order for the foot to control the motion of the leg, emulating the natural motion of the human leg.

The image was removed as it was no longer needed, and then we proceeded to create a foot-roll control switch which the animator can use in the channel box to create a quick foot-roll motion of the foot, as someone walks.

The same process was repeated for the other leg, completing the legs. The next step was to create controls for the feet, knee's and hip so the animator can control the rig, as you cannot animate straight from bones. In Maya we use NURBS shapes, such as circles to create 2D wire-frame type shapes which are then parented to the IK handle/bones so that the bones will follow their movement, thus allowing the animator to move them and therefore move the rig. In this case I used oval shapes for the feet controls around the feet, circles for the knee controls and a big circle for the hip control.

Most rigs will usually have a model that it will be created in and then skinned to, however since we didn't have a model nor need one for this exercise, we made feet, legs and a ball for the hips out of simple shapes which are then parented to the bones, so they will follow them, eliminating skinning time. This can work for simple shapes/animation exercises like this. After that was done this was the finished rig, ready to animate a walk cycle to!

A little rig test:

Will update soon with the finished mini-showreel of the final animations!


Saturday, 3 November 2012

First previews of Pre-Production

A quick update inbetween posts!

Before we begun the Specialist Animation 1 project, we did a week of Pre-production for our upcoming major project at the end of the year. For my 3rd year showreel/Major project, me and my uni colleagues will be creating a game called 'ECHOES', a fantasy RPG game. I'm the lead animator for the project, and will be producing some of the in-game animations for the game, as well as two 10 second cinematics.

As the lead animator, I created this time-table of which animations will be done by which animators for the game, including my own, under 'Hollie'.
I've started with research for the dragon animations, as this will be the first rig completed after the little girl rig. So far, I've been researching how bats fly, as reference for the Dragon's fly forward I am animating.

I'll be adding more of the pre-production I have done and will be doing, in further posts.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Long time no post + huge update

Hello again!

It's been awhile since I have posted here, and it's time I begin to jot down my work within university again, as a personal 3rd year journal, almost.

I will be moving blogs after University to focus more on professional grade work, but until then, this blog will serve as a good documentation of my 3rd year work, mostly about a collaborative PC game I am working on, called 'Echoes' for our 3rd year project, as well as work I have done so far.

The first project I have just finished this year was a Maya exercise  where we had to animate a series of bouncing balls within Maya, build a ball-with-legs rig and animate a walk cycle on it, and then piece together and animate some motion-captured footage in a new program called 'Motion Builder', by Autodesk within 3 weeks.

Using motion trails in Maya allowed us to see where the keys where in 3D space to create smooth loops for convincing ball bounces.

In the next post I will be showing the rigging process to create the ball with legs.