Wednesday, 20 January 2016

CGI Animation blink test

Can you add accents to the animation of a blink I asked myself???

Apparently you can!

CGI January 2016 update; character dynamic pose tests.

Here are some gesture drawing style poses for the two robots. I am now just trying the rigs out to see how they perform and what sort of poses suit each machine.

The Mark II below is clearly readable in more dynamic poses as planned and is pretty flexible with mesh overlapping anywhere.

Mark II bot
Mark II bot
The Mark I is more cumbersome with the tech on its back. This was obviously always meant to be the more basic / primitive robot and is less inclined to hit broad dynamic poses.

 Also; twisting the waist too much will make the geometry on its back overlap some other areas.

Mark I bot
Mark I bot
Looking at the robots now I can see that a lot of their design has to have come from the robot Hector in Saturn 3, an old sci-film from 1980 starring Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas and a young Harvey Keitel. The screenplay was by Martin Amis from a story by John Barry.

This bot made quite an impact on me when I was 14 and I still like the eyes-on-a-mech-arm instead of a head look. The robot was huge so the actor had his arms inside the torso. This allowed for more realistic robot arms on the costume, another nice touch.

Follow the link below for the full film on You Tube. Well worth a look and the robot is still creepy!!
Hector from Saturn 3

Saturn three.jpg

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

GUI's for the Robots

GUI's (Generic User Interface; in this case basic NURBS curve handles) for Robot rigs. 

The facial expression comes from roll bars above the eyes and at the chin. Bit like Chappie, but I thought of it first, honestly. 

Do love the work of concept artists and Aaron Beck though! Their work always looks like Boston Dynamics robots in ten years time!!

I can admit to Portal 2 and generally everything Valve being a big influence though.

Staffs Uni Animation department rig; iKON II

Here's something that is nearly ready for the students at Staffs Uni Animation Award to road-test.

I have updated the character that I made a couple of years ago for the students to play around with and make stings for the Awards. The iKON I rig (left) was inspired by box like paper toy figures / Minecraft, and was intentionally a low poly as I could get!

The new iKON II (right) that is now rigged and ready to go is inpired more my collectible vinyl figures like Qee's and Dunny's. The idea is to have everyone personalise their own copy with unique textures. It will also be 3D printed so we can cast up sets of them to be painted in the real world as well.

Stay tuned; I will post the results!

Follow this link to see the original version in action; 'BoxBot' - Adam scarisbrick & Ciaran Slavin

Inspiration for the shape and texturing possibilities...

Qee collectible figures.
Mod Nation Racers

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Sketching Update Christmas 2015

Here are some sketches that were never put on this blog. I have generally been posting things on Twitter instead of here so I thought it would be good to get this blog up to date over the Christmas period.

Denzell Gardens Book Festival, Altrincham 2015
Sketch done on the day, but I may add colour later.

John Rylands Library, Manchester, sketching

ENO on St. Martins Lane, London

Sketching ENO
Part complete sketch of ENO

Eiffel Tower sketch framed and up, 2015.

A nice shot from underneath the Tower; giving a great silhouette that really shows the fascinating structure.

An old tree at Dunham Massey.
Lonely looking old tree in  Dunham Massey, Cheshire.
A negative image of a quick life drawing done while students were working

Some dynamic poses, first time with a new pen

Multi-plane animation using Maya 2016

Two things that are always popular on the Animation Award are silhouettes and multi-plane animation; often a combination of the two. When ever students are introduced to using silhouettes for character design they tend to keep using this invaluable process for the rest or their time with us, often animating the results.

Th next logical step is multi-plane animation of the silhouettes to give some depth. The work of German film director Lotte Reiniger still has a powerful impact on people when they see it for the first time and represents some of the best silhouette animation you will ever see.

"The Adventures of Prince Ahmed" by L. Reiniger
Several games have been created with this look over recent years, the most memorable being the award winning 'Limbo' by Playdead & Double Eleven in 2010.

The game 'Limbo'.

To create their own rigs students have often built their own multi-plane rigs with panes of glass and wood, etc. The film by Nancy Lee-Overton below is a great example.

'Into the Trees' by Nancy Lee Overton.

These rigs can be time consuming to build and notoriously difficult to light due to the reflection and shadows created by the rig itself.
A multi-plane rig.

A horizontal rig made by the Fleischer Studio.

So I have found a way of doing this quickly in Maya by utilising the Alpha channel to give the impression of intricate cut-out puppets from very basic geometry.
Rigged silhouette machine.
This is not to replace multi-plane animation; just to make it more feasible at a student level, particularly for students not comfortable building wood and glass rigs.

Flat polygon planes are used to build the shape.
The true geometry!
The Alpha channel on the texture makes the white areas invisible...

Final look.
The model without texture.

The parts sheet used to texture the machine.
Side view of construction.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Base head mesh for student 3D Printing projects

One of the things that we want to support on the Animation Award is 3D printing; particularly for replacement puppet heads. It is a massive growth industry that will change the principles of consumerism in years to come, but right now it bridges the gap between CGI and traditional puppet making really well; making it relevant for Traditional Drawn, CGI and Stop Motion animators.

Aardman's pirate:
Replacement Puppet mouths from Aardman's 'Pirates; an Adventure with Scientists', create in CGI and printed.

Above is an excellent example of student work at Staffordshire University; by Andy Bell; Level 6 Stop Motion Animation & Puppet Making. All these mouths had to be hand made, which works for some people but not everyone.

The base head below should give one ore route to the pipeline options already available.


But it is a bit of a big ask to get Stop Motion students to get there heads around Maya in the time frame needed to make their puppets heads from scratch; as they tend to have the least interest in CGI; being more craft based by nature. 

So I have created a base mesh head with a replacement jaw ready to be adapted to their own character designs. Hopefully this year we can start to use this to speed up the development of replacement heads and mouths for student films. 

Fortunately our Engineering Department is well equipped with several different types of Rapid Prototyping machinery so getting them printed on site is straight forward. 

Mesh density is much higher in areas where the eyes and mouth will be modeled.

The bottom jaw can be secured using a small inlaid magnet with a steal plate inside the head.