Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's good for the goose...

Yeah, I know. It's about time I did a Morphy animation test. As I was looking to update the ole' reel last week the lack of a quality lip sync was striking so I'm gonna remedy that as I can find time between gigs. Decided to do a clip from one of my favorite movies though one I haven't seen done much because it is a pretty popular film. I had a monologue from another movie I wanted to do but I'd never done a full keyframe sequence with a lot of characters so thought I'd give that a go.

Rough Blocking

I've already learned quite a few things by using Morphy in an animation which is the best way to test stuff. So first off, apologies for some wonkiness in some places on the rig. Here's a few things I've learned:

  • polySmooth causing major issues with simple customization - When I changed the surface of some faces and then ran a poly smooth, the shaders go all over the place. So, because I'm using mentalRay, I just have a mesh approximation setup to use my viewport smoothing and that works much much better. When I go back I may find a way to do the polySmooth that will work, but it's annoying. Apologies.
  • The uiCam's pivot is nutty - I gotta dig in to what's going on but in the meant time if you select the uiCam and turn off inherit transforms, it'll behave properly
  • Some of my geo has flipped normals.
  • Turn off the face shaper's visibility after you're done customizing so you don't keep selecting them inadvertently
  • Locking the geo selectability - While I understand my reasoning for doing it, it's a little annoying. 
  • Shoulder and wrist rotation orders - Still don't think I got this right. I'm playing with different setting as I'm working through my anim and will post what I think are best choices when I'm done
  • Eye orb mesh creasing against the cheek and in the brow when doing some customizatoin scaling - You can alleviate this to a large degree by selecting the mesh area verts that's getting wonky and smoothing the skin weights there
  • Limb scaling switching isn't as intuitive as it could be - having to manually change the stretch settings on the fk and ik to ensure matching isn't the best workflow. I've got some ideas at how to make that process better.
  • Head placement on the neck - taking the head's blue mover control and positioning the head a little more forward on the neck seems to work a lot better.
  • The spine blows - My pivots stink and I apologize for it. The hips are especially offensive. This shall be fixed.
  • Want to add pose mirroring
  • Want to look at the body geo to get better muscle topology
  • Fingers - Think I probably need to add an alternate finger setup what's more direct
  • Face controls - Though I like them for the most part, I think the lip roll should be on a separate control than the lip movers. One thought I had was to just pull all of that off the face and do a faceUI similar to what I have for the bodyUI (which I'm really enjoying). 
When will I get around to updating Morphy? The minor stuff here I think I can do before too long but the big stuff will be a while. Bokser and I have a long way to go on our rigger which I'll be using to do 2.0. 
Feel free to offer thoughts on the blocking or the rig thoughts. Thanks for all the support:)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Best of Morpheus (and one of Squirrely too) - June 2011

Morphy Tip of the Month: Adding some of your own customization to Morphy via clothes adds a lot to your pieces and will help set your shots apart from others as Morpheus starts populating other people's demo reels. It's always nice when it takes me a second to figure out if the shot I'm seeing is Morphy or not. :)

Finally got a bit of time to catch up on some stuff and the Best Of post was one on the check list. A big one I wanted to point out was the great work that some buddies of a buddy of mine have been workin on. Dennis inadvertently tested out something I'd planned on doing whenever I found some time - namely to use the Morphy head to help genearte a good first pass on shapes on a new head. Thanks Dennis for the R&D. Check it out here. Can't wait to see how the project shapes up!

Here's a sample image from the post.

Nice bit of animation from Leon. Lookin forward to seeing how his 11 second club piece shapes up this month:)

Great one I came across on the 11 second club wip forums. Thank you for using the shoulders well:)

A really nice WIP piece from Katy:

A few from last months 11 second club:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Project NoName Revealed!

Project NoName (more widely known as Nintendo's E3 2011 3DS Animation Thing) went live at the Nintendo keynote on Tuesday. This is what we've been burning the midnight oil on for a while now. It was awesome seeing it live on the internet and Bokser was in the audience so we all lived vicariously through him. 

I'd like to throw out thank you's to all the people involved but I don't know whom I can talk about yet so I'll just say, "Thank you [you know who you are], for letting us be a part of this and for all your support."

The story of the how this project came about will have to wait for another day along with a clean render to put up whenever I get the clearance but I'm gonna say what I may. The clean version doesn't have that dark panel on the bottom either (it was added after it was too late for us to do anything about it...ah well).

The Pitch:Nintendo wanted a series of segments to first show off some upcoming 3DS titles and two as a bit of a show piece utilizing projection mapping. 

The Limitations:
  • Established well known IP's - As such, how characters move and what they can do is fairly well established and must be adhered to. Also, characters from one game could not be on the screen as other characters at the same time so clear delineation between segments was a must.
  • Flexibility - The segments were required to be created piecemeal so that the order of them could be changed right up till the show.
  • Projection mapping - For those of you not familiar with projection mapping, there are certain "rules" if you will which need to be obeyed for the effect to work to it's best. The main one is that you have to "color in the lines" which on a building is a fairly large are but when you have lots of panels like in this case, require creative thinking to work around. So for example, no character or main content piece can cross a panel's edge that is closer to the audience. You can come from behind a panel but you cannot start at a front one and jump down to a lower one over the edge. It's a bit confusing until you start playing with it - but it is what it is. The reason you don't do it is that it causes major distortion in the image. We did break the rule a little on the effects but they're so fast that you don't really see it. 
  • Assets - First off, Nintendo's support was great on this front and for the most part we took skinned characters and assets and added our own rigs. We only had so much bandwidth to make stuff from scratch so we had to use that time judiciously. Because of that many of the sets and concepts evolved based on what they were able to provide.

The quick facts:
  • Production time - 6 weeks
  • Preproduction - 3 weeks 
  • Resolution - 3335 x 1080
  • Animation - 5 segments ~ 18 seconds apiece 
  • Characters rigged - 12 
  • Props rigged - 17 
  • Sets - 5 
  • Pots of coffee drank - a lot 

Visuals Team (alphabetical!) - The audio and some other work was handled by some of the great people at the company I've been working with but don't know if I can mention them yet. However, I will name our visuals team and give each and everyone of them a hardy thank you for their great work. Without further ado,  Team Project NoName :
What did I do?
  • Co directed and acted as project lead and liaison with ...the people I can't talk about yet
  • Acted as art director/animation lead 
  • Segment Concepts and boards
  • Set Designs 
  • All set modeling blocking (Berenty cleaned it up along with my nasty booleans) 
  • Layout and Animation - Kid Icarus segment only 
  • Character Rigging/TD
    • Kid Icarus 
      • Pit
      • Eye
      • Gun/sword
      • Bullet particles 
      • Set rigging 
    • Mariokart
      • Particles - smoke, sparks 
      • Road modeling, texturing (cave to loop only)
      • The poka dot mountains in the back
      •  Set Rigging
    • Starfox
      • Fox
      • Arwing
      • Set Rigging
    • Mario
      • Particles - implemented the prep work Bokser did 

Saturday, June 4, 2011


We wrapped up the project that has consumed the last 2 months of my life and delivered to the client. If you happen to be at E3 next week you may catch it.  This was an amazing project and one I plan on writing at length about as soon as I can.

For now, I'm catching up on a myriad of emails and relaxing for a few days. Today I get to hang some blinds for my wife and make some bird houses with neighbors. Nice change of pace.

In the meantime, if you haven't seen this film yet you really should. I love everything about it.

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