In conclusion…

Well, I’m gathering this is it. This is the end of my uni course and after this I’ll no longer be a student which is weird to say. This year has some what been a learning curve and I guess there are still things I need to try and resolve. For one, my lack of confidence gets the better of me. When I feel I can’t do something, I seem to make it final in my head that I’m no good at it and I never will. That alone stops my progress in my work and general self development. There’s been times where I’ve been consumed by anxiety, but I’ve had to put that aside and learn to just get on with it. I need to have more faith in myself. Once I managed to focus, I feel I managed to get my head down and work my way through. Through the past three years I haven’t found a specialism and instead I’ve always worked on the jobs that other people don’t do. In the end I became a generalist even if it wasn’t by choice. This year I thought I wanted to become a matte artist but I’m not so sure anymore. I think what put me off is the constant use of photos but I feel I need to experiment with actually painting over the photos. Again, it’s because of lack of experience that I’ve not narrowed down on a specialism but also why I lack confidence. That’s something I need to build up by honing my skills and deciding what I want to do and what I need to do to get to that point.

One benefit of being a generalist is that I’m glad I’ve managed to fill in my folders. I may not be strong at animating, but I at least managed to fill my artist and technical folders. This year has made me learn more about rigging and I’ve also learnt to composite for the first time, particularly in Nuke. As I’ve mentioned before, it has also been my first time doing matte paintings and projecting. I’ve learnt a lot of skills this year that I can bring with me out of university. I think this has helped me to understand the animation pipeline a lot better. When speaking to Amir for IPP, he suggested I look at a producer/director role due to my experiences. That’s something I can consider since I am quite keen on being organised and I have been a temporary director when Deon’s needed a break. Another area I want to look into is concept art and I have already spoken to a few so I know that concept alone will not get me a job. Again, my experiences should help me to maybe offer more in these particular job roles.

This film has not been an easy project, particularly as there have been family problems within the group (much like there was last year) and there have been times where there’s been a lot of conflict where people have had to walk away. The thing is, everyone comes back and continues working even if it’s not been easy. Although we’re friends, we’re also colleagues so we have to accept our responsibilities. I’m not sure if I can say I’ve enjoyed every part of it, it certainly has been difficult but we have had our fun moments and managed to laugh even during tough times. I think with this film, we’ve managed to show we’re capable and although there are mistakes that we wish we could correct, I still think the film is quite impressive. We need to remember, we did this as students and we’re still learning. I’m hoping to set myself a small project between now and degree show where I improve my concept art since it’s the quickest and most accessible right now. After wards I want to try different areas to see what I enjoy most and as I mentioned, to hone my skills. I hope you enjoy our film, we’ve put our blood and sweat into this! (not literally but we did sacrifice sleep and laptops).

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Applying Textures

Since everyone was busy with their roles, I decided to help out by applying textures to the models. Me, Ash and Niko all took turns applying it to the buildings in the background and afterwards I had the task of doing Tower Bridge, London Eye, and then the cogs for both Big Ben and London Eye. I simply had to assign a v ray material and add the diffuse, spec and bump correctly. I did initially assign from the wrong folders for the Tower Bridge unfortunately so when the file was transferred Tower Bridge lost its textures. However, I did learn from this and did the rest correctly.

Applied Texture to Tower Bridge

Deon had some missing textures, so this is why some sections have been left untextured.

Trying out Depth of Field in Nuke

depth

Deon requested that one of the things I look into would be depth of field although Gerome decided to also look into this in After Effects. I managed to find a nice tutorial ob Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/29414230

It was a lot simpler than I had imagined as it only required 3 nodes, shuffle, shuffle copy and Zblur. It was important that I had rendered in passes in order to have a separate Z Depth pass.

This allowed me to change the focus between the foreground and background although one thing I need to look into is be able to choose where I want to change the depth of field. I learnt from this tutorial that the Z blur node should always come last since if it comes before, the foreground image will bleed over the edge, at least the shuffles prevents that from happening.

Update: Unfortunately it has been decided that Nuke will not be used for the film. Due to the fact it is a software that is new to us, Deon thought it was better suit if we used something we already know like After Effects. Since Gerome and Deon having been compositing with After Effects for years, they’ll be the one compositing the film with After Effects.

Render, render, renderrrr farm

Image

 

So from the beginning we knew we would be using our laptops to render our animation. Particularly since the render farm is so temperamental. However, Deon decided we should combine all our laptops to create our own render farm. In total we had 8 laptops and 2 pcs were linked together through a switchboard. Deon’s pc was the main one as the other laptops and pc lent their processing power to render. It hasn’t been working perfectly, in fact far from it. It’s something new that Deon had tested out and we have had a lot of trouble with it. I hope it’ll run smoother.

Animating

My animating role was to animate the robot I rigged. I would have used Niko’s one but there were some problems. Well, for me anyway. No matter what version of Niko’s rig was sent to me, one of the controls would NOT work so I used my own rig. I guess this also demonstrates how my rig works. Initially I was done and dusted with my walk cycle, but then Ash and Niko had problems cycling the walk. Ash told me that I need to keep it to exactly 25 frames for it to loop perfectly.

First walk cycle

 

Due to the problem of being unable to loop my animation, I had to redo my walk cycle unfortunately. Ash and Niko gave me tips as well as video recommendations.

Niko recommended me this video which made since it is from the Animator’s Survival Kit

In all fairness I knew about the logic of back legs moving in the opposite direction of the front legs from term 2 when discussing with Lily about animating a spider.

Ash also gave me some videos from Digital Tutors where one particular image was very helpful

walk cycle reference

This would help me with the front legs and I guess all I had to do was do the opposite for the back legs. However, I found the back legs more complicated than I thought.

If I had more time I would definitely have sat down and learnt how to animate properly. It’s something I’d like to learn because I always think about how living things move and the secondary animation. I am a bit disappointed, but I guess I need to improve time management or my group on a whole needs to. As soon as I was given the model and finished rigging I did try to animate straight away but I guess I didn’t allow myself enough time. If it was a normal two-legged cycle, this would have been fine. At least I’ve learnt from this for next time.

Designing and rigging

Another task that was given to me was to design the main character at the end.

Character collage

 

When describing the character Gerome gave me three works, pollution, devil and works. The obvious choice in my mind for pollution was a gas mask so I tried to find some references for that. Since our film is called ‘Devil in the Works’ when considering the word works, I initially thought of builders. I had the idea of trying to incorporate the uniform into the design. In contrast, I also thought of businessmen. The reason why I considered these things are because in our city, in order to survive you must have the right uniform (i.e. the gas mask for the pollution) as well as having some sort of strength or intellect. Initially when designing this character, I imagined him to be quick and cunning.

Gerome human concept1

As you can see, this character is slender and I could imagine him being agile. I have given him a body suit since his skin can’t come into contact with the air. On the back I intended to add the ‘Devil in the Works’ logo as if he belongs to a company much like builders. I imagined that some of the humans that did inhabit this city would belong to this organisation and be considered as the ‘devils’ for a higher power. This is how the humans would generally be dressed like in order to continue inhabiting. However when showing Gerome and Deon, it seemed that had imagined the character differently. They had imagined that the character would be bulky and hench, possibly even mutated from the pollution. Due to this, I decided to scrap this concept.

character concept2

The previous one I was more looking into creating a realistic human being, but I realised that was not what was wanted. When designing this character, my initial inspiration was Mr Incredible.

He has a top heavy torso and yet humorously tiny little legs. I decided to do something similar with my character and that it would be more far fetched rather a realistic design of a human being. I still kept the idea of the uniform but instead of making him sleek and well dressed, he was ragged almost like a barbarian. I altered the gas mask a bit more and added an oxygen tank as well as deciding to place our group’s logo on the back of it. Deon suggested that I added mechanical limbs so I made the metal arm slightly larger than his normal arm. To elaborate on him being somewhat like an over grown builder, I added a toolkit onto his belt. To further emphasise on the ‘Devil in the Works’ theme, I decided to alter the gas mask with devil horns and more menacing eyes. For the final touches I gave him a few dirt marks or specs of blood. This concept design couldn’t be further from the previous one but I do quite like it. More importantly, the others loved this design.

front and back_005

I did an orthographic concept for Gerome (which I did plan to go over darker). However, he forgot about this and modelled straight from the the concept art so the model didn’t really end up very accurate.

Gerome devil rig

I did manage to rig the model similarly to the robot models, but Niko was extremely displeased with the model and approached Gerome. Gerome admitted he didn’t feel confident enough to do a human form in such little amount of time so he remodelled the character to be a complete robot.

Niko rigged this character instead and it does look a lot better than his previous model. I am a bit sad that because of timing and lack of experience, my concept wasn’t fully realised. For example the idea of the uniform, the general overgrown bulkiness of the character but sacrifices have to be made under pressure.

Rigging

Apparently Dan had spoken to the group before I had came in for the lesson as I was told that we should add some sort of characters into our film to provide us something to animate for our folders. This was quite short notice considering these things should have been sorted by the second term, but these models and rigs didn’t have to be sophisticated due to the nature of our film. There is more emphasis on the environment rather than the characters. Gerome had decided we would just add a few small robots, and the main character at the end that we had previously talked about adding for some sort of narrative at the end. Deon added that there should also be a giant robot in the background but it will not be in focus as he’ll change the depth of field. With this new addition to our film, I knew I would most likely be the one doing quite a lot of the rigging, although Niko is quite capable of doing it also. Due to this I had to stop learning Nuke and start rigging straight away since this seemed like the most immediate task to do.

 

The only thing I’ve rigged before this previously were a spider and spider legs for our compositing project and although the robot’s legs are somewhat similar to a spider’s I’ve never really rigged the more human parts. I figured I would take the approach of making the skeleton and merely adding IK handles for the shoulder to elbow to wrist, and the same for the finger joints. However, this was most definitely not working out. The IK handles connected to the elbow joints kept bending backwards which wasn’t right.

  • Dominique Koomoshan

    • Hey, sorry to ask so suddenly, but do you know about rigging arms? I just need a basic rig for a robot. I haven’t rigged in like a year, and I’ve only had one day to rig these robots D: I’ve rigged everything but the arms aren’t working out. I’ve used IK handles though but I figured for something so basic it would be okay.

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • If you send me the file I will have a quick look to it!

  • Dominique Koomoshan

    6 May

    Dominique Koomoshan

    • Do you want it with my rig or without?

    • if with, don’t laugh at how basic it is lol

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • haha don’t worry send me with rig, cuz I don’t have time to do the full rig cuz I am leaving for FMX tomorrow so I am not sure if I will be able to do a long hours job today! But I shall have a look .

  • Dominique Koomoshan
  • 6 May

    Dominique Koomoshan

    • thank you!

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • whats the problem u having with this rig again ?

  • Dominique Koomoshan

    6 May

    Dominique Koomoshan

    • rigging the arms

    • well, it bends weirdly

    • So I’m gathering I’m going to have to rig the arms in a different way.

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • and right hand dont have fingers ?

  • Dominique Koomoshan

    6 May

    Dominique Koomoshan

    • no, suppose to be some sort of weapon

    • (I’ve only just seen these robot models yesterday)

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • I dont get it, cuz if its a robot then you dont unnecessary need ik for hands , plus the mesh of the robot is 1piece. so I guess your attempt was not wrong I would put an IK as well if its 1 mesh. Normally robot rig mesh needs to be separate like palm, elbow, shoulder screw nuts ect…

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • I am not very sure how do you want the movements to look like

  • Dominique Koomoshan

    • I’m not sure how it was planned to look like either tbh

    • I literally just got the mesh yesterday and was told to rig it

    • but I was just planned to put a basic rig since they’re not vital characters

    • we just needed some sort of animation in our film so Gerome created robots.

    • They don’t actually have an important impact on the film.

    • I think, it’s okay for a basic rig since the robots will intentionally be rigid. I just don’t want the arms to go backwards I guess lol. I just want it to move somewhat normal.

    • Sorry for the long explanation by the way. I’m not quite sure how it was intended to look when animated. Even Deon isn’t sure.

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • Seen as this is a mechanical character, you may have been better off modelling it in separate pieces and using curves with Orient constraints to the parts that move.
      My suggestion would be that you remodel the arms and the parts that you want to move as a separate mesh and constrain it with controllers, which would be the easiest way. This looks very complicated for skeletal rigging.

  • Dominique Koomoshan

    6 May

    Dominique Koomoshan

    • I didn’t model this lol

    • It was Gerome who did. I got the file from Deon.

  • Arpit Achha

    6 May

    Arpit Achha

    • yea I don’t mean to say you made a mistake haha but I think this model is hard to be rigged mechanically

    • sorry I cant help

Taking on board what Arpit said, I deleted the IK handles and decided to parent the joint to the control with an orient constraint. Instead of moving the controls, you would rotate. This worked quite well particularly for the fingers when curling them into the palm. However, the next problem I encountered was trying to keep the controls in uniform and to stay with the joints and mesh.

 

arm_rig_001arm_rig_003arm_rig_002  arm_rig_004 

You can see that when I moved the arm, the controls would go flying off. I’m not exactly sure what happened with the last image…the rig may have broken although it was somewhat humorous in an annoying situation. I couldn’t contact Arpit anymore because he was in Stuttgart but thankfully James Waters was kind enough to help me through this.

Here are a few emails we exchanged:

Hi Dom,

I have attached a file which demonstrates how each curve is parented to the next.  The knuckle controls of the fingers are all parented to one another, going down to the knuckles themsleves, which are in turn parented to the wrist.  The wrist is parented to the elbow and elbow to the shoulders.  In addition to that, make sure that the history of all the curves are deleted, the transformation is frozen and pivots are centred with the curves before you make any constraints.

I would also recommend creating drivers for the fingers as it is less laborious than animating each knuckle control individually.

I hope this is useful and let me know if you need any more help.  Particularly if you want to set up an IK/FK switch.

To James

Sorry James, but the file got corrupted :/ Also when you said the pivots centred, where should the pivots be? Do you mean pivots centred of each control, or the whole mesh? I’m not sure what you meant. Would you suggest I go back to the beginning to make sure I sort out these pivots first since I’ve already added orient constraint.

Ah ok, basically, what I meant was that when you select a control, the pivot should show up in the centre of that control.  When I initially opened the file, I found that the pivots for many were very out of alignment with their respective controls.  Yes definitley go back to the beginning and make sure each pivot is centred within each control.  Hope that makes sense.

 

Here is the same file, this time saved as .ma, so you should be able to open it.

 

To James

Sorry about this but I’m having another problem 😦 I tried parenting like you said and it duplicated the controls :/ I did delete the history and freeze transformations

 

arm_rig_007

Hey, that is strange, I have never come across that before.  Do the duplicate controls have any impact on the joints themselves?

To James

Yeah it does, it seems to restrict the joints, as if it’s torn between the two duplicates.

Ok, Dom.  I see you sent me two files; the more recent one, 026 looks perfectly fine to me, all the relevant constraints have been applied and each of the controls are parented so nice going with that.  It needs to be weighted, so it will be believable as a mechanical character, but I’m sure you know that anyway.
Yes, always use the default settings when you’re constraining; the only change you should make is checking the “Maintain Offset” box.  Anyway, I’m glad this was of use; I’ve been working on here all day so I’m going to finish up for the night.

Speak to you soon.

After exchanging many emails back and forth and speaking over Facebook, I finally managed to sort out my problem. I simply had to parent all the handles together. The legs were already done as the IK handles worked perfectly fine. Before James I had asked Niko about the rig the day before but he was too busy. He decided to also rig the same robot and gave it to Ash.

comparing controls

However, when inspecting Niko’s rig, I noticed the control on the robot’s waist wasn’t working the same way mine had. When I moved the control down it would bend the legs as if adding weight. When I tried Niko’s, it dragged the whole robot down. I looked at the file on both Niko and Ash’s machine and it worked fine. Niko sent me a fresh copy of the scene and even Ash sent me his animated robot and it STILL would not work on my laptop. I wondered if my Maya be buggy since while I was working on these rigs, they would suddenly break without being able to undo. Thankfully I had common sense to constantly save and particularly as a new file (I had about 40 scenes of different stages of me rigging). I think the arms on Niko’s robot bent better and more mechanically as mine seemed to squish like a human’s arm. Niko didn’t rig the fingers though which is the difference between ours. I decided to make the most of that difference by making sure to position the fingers in a pose.

 

Here is a video of the rig I did for the worker robot

Although I hadn’t actually rigged the legs yet in this rendered image, you can see that I have rigged the arms and fingers which I think works.

After this one, the next robot didn’t seem as difficult due to the fact that I’ve overcame the many problems this seemed some what easier for me.

Soldier_Rigged

However, due to the way the joints were, I wasn’t able to parent controls to the hips and be able to create weight on the legs/ball. That was one thing I had much difficulty with. I also learnt from Niko how to take away weights when painting weights, this was something I’ve never really been able to do (I usually use the component editor but this time I used the painting weights tool since the meshes should NOT be influenced by other joints since they’re metal, not human flesh). That was the only regret I had about this rig and if I had time I would have tried to get around that.

Testing rig of soldier robot