Monday, January 28, 2008

Pivot points...

  • "Locating Your Center" - No this isn't a philosophical rant. Having such a hard time keeping my own in check hardly would afford me a seat of authority on that matter. Pivot points matter in more than life changes; they have a good deal to do with proper rigging. Some examples might be wheels, orbs and the like. If you start spinning one in 3d and it's pivot point isn't dead center you're gonna get wobble. Like a flat tire.....more on that in my next post.

    Today I was rigging a car and for reasons unbenonced to me, the joint for the steering wheel had a pivot that didn't align with the tilt of the wheel. For various reasons I create a separate skeletal hierarchy for the rig and bake the animation down to the skinned hierarchy. Not having the luxury to fix the underlying issue I was looking for a good method to find the exact orientation of a pivot that would allow that wheel to spin properly on the steering column.

    To do so, I wanted a script that would find a center pivot based on a selection of verts and place a locator there so that I might snap things to it. I don't like reinventing the wheel, so my first stop was highend3d where a quick search revealed a handy script that did just what I was looking for.

    With that in hand, it was as easy as finding the center of two edge loops worth of verts snapping a couple of joints and reorienting the joint to the correct orientation.

Quick example with some dummy geometry....

Good edge loops and this little script have aiding the placing of Olaf's finger bones quite nicely.

If you know a faster way of accomplishing the same, by all means let me know.

  • Rig for Olaf - I think I'm gonna give John's tools a try for the body. He works with my buddy Dave (speaking of, looks like he has a new site in progress) and we're using the rig on Dave's film. It's pretty darn good.

A Deflated Day...

In the grand tradition of lessons at my expense, yesterday was an interesting day to say the least. It started as a beautiful Austin day - slightly overcast and mid 60's. Great day for a bike ride. So I went out to grab my bike from the patio to find the back tire was empty. I rode about a month ago and found this puzzling. However not enough so to not air up my tire and call it good to go. I headed out into the glorious day. After a bit, the riding got tougher than normal. I hadn't ridden in a while so chalked it up to my wussyness. When I was about 8 or 9 miles out and was going down this hill on some trails at a park and something just really felt wrong. So, I hopped off my bike and took a look. My back tire was 3/4 flat. I had forgotten an extra tube. My bike pump. Or my phone to call a friend. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself. Jolly even. I asked around the parking lot for a few to see if anyone had a pump to no avail. There was a gas station a 1/4 mile away, but their air pump was out of service. Bracing myself for an afternoon of walking I set out. A couple miles down the road a kind employee of Apple was kind enough to stop and give me a lift. Apparently they have a call center here in town and it's literally across the road from my apartments. Thanks Don for the saved time. That's one more notch on my list of why I am probably gonna make the switch. Oh, I washed my wallet too. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Olaf is approved for Rigging...

Can you believe how different this looks from the last?

Heard back from Cory this morning and Olaf has been approved for a dose of skelegro. The main difference from the last one is a head shrinkage surgery that Olaf came marching through like a champ. I actually did a first pass on modeling his teeth last night. Don't they look great!?

Hey, if you don't have X-ray vision don't blame me.

Been working some renders for a side project at night which detracted me from much Olaf progress. It's been a fun little project. Hope to wrap that up tonight.

Waiting on a rig from Dave to get started on my next shot for his film. Can't wait till he announces it and I can stop referring to it as "Dave's film" or "Dave's Project." Get on it, Dave!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"1.#QO" - the value of DOOM!

Working in games and getting things to play nice in a game engine can be "fun." By fun I mean hey-kid's-let's-play-rake-the-leaves-on-a-windy-day kinda fun. This week's mind bender had to do with a crash every time I tried to do a pretty basic function of bringing in animation. What's especially endearing is not having error messages to have any idea what happened. So you start trying things. Fast forward multiple hours later and it turns out my Maya sim mentioned several previous posts past had sent an object into a quantum singularity known with translation and rotation values of "1.#QO." Now, I can't really fault Unreal for not knowing what to do with that. I didn't have a clue what to make of it either. Frankly I'm impressed Maya can still chug along will no mention of an apparent black hole in a scene. A couple of curves deleted later and things went swimmingly. Weird. Note - A quick google search informed me that this is the default value Visual C++ uses when a division by zero occurs.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Olaf, Come FORTH!

So, I finally got off my keyster, put down the video games and books and am working on Olaf again.

One of the things that has frustrated me personally so much in CG is that it takes sooooooooo long to get a fully realized character ready to animate on. Lately I've been looking at quite a few available rigs on which to animate on. There's some great ones out there, but I've been wanting to animate Olaf for quite some time AND I need to get some reel stuff ready. As animation is what I wanna work on right now and not cloth dynamics nor the fat jiggle settings for the rear end of a troll, I came up with a temp idea on Olaf - throw a low res animation body on him, rig up his face, and voila!

I really don't know why I didn't think of this before. It makes a lot of sense, especially in cg where proportion of the arms, fingers and all are so vital. Dumb it way down on a simple structure to see if it's working.

When I started this time, I made some mods to the proportions to make him a little closer to the young and spry versions of the character my buddy drew. I'll see what he says and go from there.

Side note - it's amazing how good one feels when doing those things which one is passionate about...almost like putting high octane in a sports car. Like we're doing something we're made for. Not that I consider myself a sports car...more like a Civic. LX, not EX - I'm not that flashy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Last fall I wrote this script cause I was sick and tired of having to manually filter the graph editor with the curves I wanted to edit when tweaking set driven keys on a facial rig. It was useful for me, maybe it will be for you. Eventually I'll add a section of the site for the few scripts I write. And cause I love icons....

TITLE: jbGraphSetDrivenAttribute
AUTHOR:Josh Burton
DATE: October 26, 2007

Script for use with setting up set driven key poses. Sometimes you wanna see all the curves
of one attribute in the graph editor and not manually select them.

1. Select an attribute
2. Run script

- Select an attribute with set driven keys connected

10.26.07 - BIRTH!

global proc jbGraphSetDrivenAttribute() {
global string $gChannelBoxName;
string $selected[] = `ls -sl`;
string $selAttr[] = `channelBox -q -sma $gChannelBoxName`;
string $fullAttr = $selected[0] + "." + $selAttr[0];
select `listConnections -p true $fullAttr`;

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's a new year and I accomplished about 2 of my resolutions from last year. Let's see, what did I do this year? Hmm...

  • Got engaged to my amazing fiance
  • Taught a semester of college
  • Finished working on 3 games at work (Stranglehold, Blacksite, and the next Ballers)
  • Learned to write some mel scripts
  • Grew my beard back
  • Read a copious amount of books
  • Visited Yosemite
  • Moved to Austin
I guess that's not too shabby. I've got some resolutions for this year, but I'm not writing them on my blog so I can't see them a year from now glaring at me having not accomplished them.

What else is going on...
  • Glumpers - Amazing sound, beautiful animation. Just watch it.

  • Project No Name. Still chugging along on my buddy Dave's film. I'm really excited to be working on full body stuff again. I've blocked a couple of scenes and am looking forward to digging in. I think it's gonna be a great piece.
  • Share the Potion! - Check out an Animated short/commercial by my buddy Cory.
  • Dynamics - I hate thee. I've been working on some dynamics at work and it's about to eat my lunch. I hear Maya's rigid bodies aren't well suited for what I'm making them do, but I don't have any other options at present. A work flow of move this, run 5 minute simulation, move that, 5 minute simulation isn't the most efficient. I'm sure there's better ways of working, but I did find this heartening read that let me know even the big budget movie guys have the same frustrations.

All the stuff on this site is 2000 - by Josh Burton...unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.