You require additional skinning

The skinning has required a lot of attention, I’ve been tweaking Yesims body to something like a final bind and roughed the skinning of her face. Some areas  will have to be controlled partially by corrective blendshapes or even clusters/lattices to behave acceptably, but overall the mesh is deforming nicely thanks to the edgeflow.

Spent some more time finding rigging solutions for various props, like JP’s sword and waterbottle and with tweaking the settings on the hair systems in their clothes and Yesim’s hair. The sword got a setup similar to that of the clothes, together with a collision box parented to JP’s leg. For the bottle i played around a bit with lattices, as soft bodies with springs and rigged with jiggle deformers. Although the physics driven springs looked and behaved very nicely when moved with a light hand, they tended to act up and go crazy as soon as the control object made a rapid movement. As fixing this seemed to be an issue of time consuming iteration of settings with a rather uncertain outcome in the end, I chose to go with a jiggle instead.

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My past weeks: modeling

Why, it seems I’ve forgotten ’bout this place. Well, I’ve been busy modeling, then remodeling. As Oskar wrote, we decided on a different design, again. As the goat character’s been scrapped, there’s been some changes. But at least, by now, most workflow-questions have been cleared up. Been a bit tricky, trying to optimize yet still doing all the sculpting I wanted, and finding an efficient way to create different variations  (more or less broken, for instance) of an asset. Way it now works is a bit roundabout, going through xNormal and whatnot, but seems to produce solid, clean results with few visible glitches.

Anyhow. Here’s how it looks now. I should probably write a longer post, describing my workflow, but I’ll save that for later.

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Block in animation & ‘Midvis’

We have had to make some minor changes the story since we simply don’t have the time to model, rig, skin and animate the goat-character. Sad but true. Because of this, some of the block in animation may leave some to the imagination right now. The necklace rig and model are still mockup, so the animation for it is very, very rough.

I’ve done a lot of cutting and camerawork last week and over the weekend. Playblasting the shots from Maya and cutting them together in Premiere. Experimented with different camera motions to get the flow between shots and the composition between shots right. Generally, I’ve tried to keep the composition of the picture in left or right diagonals and the camera is placed to get the focus-objects on that diagonal. (Basic rule of thirds thinking.)
The cameras are always moving, some are more subtle than others. In a couple of shots, the cameras are moving ‘against each other’ and not in the same direction as they probably should. I thought this added some tension to it.
A couple of angles and cuts are still not perfect. But it’s fine for now.
Seven new very short shots were added just before the ‘chase’-sequence. (The intense locking back and forth.) We realized that something was needed to build up the tension that leads to the fast paced ‘chase’ -sequence. Instead of more running and jumping animation we decided that this was the fastest and most efficient option for this.

Generally this is how our final version will look. Some touching up, and a few minor changes will be made, but nothing major.


My rough block in animation shots for this short.

The last shot is changed. And the one before that (struggle and zoom/pan) was originally Hannes, but since skinning Yesim took a bit longer than planned, I blocked it out in a couple of days.

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re-block shot 26

Since we changed some props I had to re-animate Yesim in shot 26. This was originally Hannes shot, and Jean-Francois’ leg animation is still his, but he is busy rigging and prepping Jean Francois for skinning, so I re-animated it instead.

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finishing basemeshes, rearangment and som zbrush

Hello! it’s me again.

So this week Stefan and I have been modeling the rest of the base meshes in the scene. We decided to make the theme of the temple complex “goaty” instead of “birdy”. I finalized the Terrace I was working on and I have also made a domed building and it’s adjoining wall on the left side of the compound. I’ve also been rearranging some of the objects so that they are positioned better for key shots.

So this week we will sculpt everything in Z brush and finalize the surfacing. so far i have logged a couple of hours on the terrace. so this is a early W.I.P:

The Terrace stone is inspired by the Taj mahal where they have a similar arrangement on the walls.

so that’s it for me this week. see you again next week.

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Skinning and additional rigging

Due to some slight rearrangement in schedule, this has been a mostly technical week for me without any actual animation going on. I’ve been trying out ways to add additional control over the mesh in regards to  contact surfaces, implemented dynamic secondary action in the rigs and begun the skinning of Yesim.

We have several shots in which the characters have close encounters with the ground, often quite forcefully and with other bodyparts than their feet. Therefore it felt like a necessity to get some additional squash and stretch control over the meshes at impact, to strengthen their prescence in the environment. Since time is of the essence right now, i’ve decided to stick to something I have some previous knowledge of and solve this by connecting lattices to the rig and hook the lattices up with clusters.
I have yet to stress test this and see if we’ll have to stick with a bare minimum, otherwise it would be nice to be able to add some smear-like drag in the mesh and other such flourishes in the animation.

Skinning of Yesim is in progress, the process is time consuming and will require more than the two days I had assigned for it. I had planned to use interactive skin binding, but upon seeing the initial, not at all optimal placements of the influence capsules I chose to let do with a standard smooth bind rather than to spend time troubleshooting. I go about the skinning by flooding everything to the root joint, thus ensuring I get a clean slate to start from, then moving all influence to the next joint in the hierarchy, only leaving behind that which is closest to the parent and repeat this process until I have traversed the entire skeleton. By doing this rather than painting the weights I can be certain I get the initial weighting exactly as I want it. Next I create an animation for the area I want to tweak so I can see the deformation easily, lock all the joints except the ones I want to have influence over this area and start to add and smooth weights between them.

Yesim will get some automatic overlap and billowing action in the hanging parts of her clothes. This is achieved by a spline IK rigged to a hair system, which is in its turn kept in order by FK controls, allowing both great control for the animator and a realistic touch to the fabric without painstaking hand animation.

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Characters ready for skinning

So I finally finished the modeling of the two characters. Of course, there’s still a bit of sculpting yet to be done, but that will all be in the displacement/normalmaps and won’t affect the basemesh. Since the skinning is starting to take off now I will have to put a freeze on any modeling that has to do with these base meshes. I have been experimenting a lot with topology and deformation to try to get a decent result. A lot of things had to be retopologized in the last days and that has been a bit of a new workflow for me. It all went very smooth though and it gives a nice freedom to be able to do most of the modeling and sculpting before you focus on the topology. After the retopo was finished, I could simply project my old mesh on top of the new one and regain all of my detail. In some cases a bit of cleanup was necessary, but generally speaking it worked out fine.

I had to make sure i had insides to everyting that needed it (clothes that will move around etc.) I then began deleting all unnecessary faces, partially to save polys, but mostly to make the skinning a bit easier. Double layers of cloth over the shoulders turned out to be a bit troublesome, so such things had to be adressed and corrected.

While in the process I went back to the male characters face and worked on it a bit more, just to make sure i was happy with the overall look. Most of the detail will have to wait until everythings ready for skinning though. I also decided that since we don’t seem to have time to develop a suiting hair/fur system for the characters I will model it instead. I gave Jean-Francois a beard and eyebrows as seperate meshes to give more control for the riggers.

The final thing on the male character was to fix a way for his sword to hang on to his belt, so I quickly made a leather strap to do the job. This will of course have to be rigged in a dynamic way to allow the sword to move around a bit by his side as he is running around. I also just quickly blocked out his backpack in from a sphere in zbrush to try to decide a bit of its form and size. I will have to make the real model for it some time next week.

The next thing now should be blendshapes. General blendshaping shouldn’t pose that much of a problem, the main thing I will have to solve is how to get the corrective displacement maps working along with the blendshapes. I will have to do a bit of research on this.

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Block in progress

Just a quick update with the blocked in shots. Due to some changes in editing and props, there’ll be some slight changes. Those will be taken care of during the polishing stage.

Tomorrow I’ll start skinning Jean-Francois. I estimate this will take around 3 to 4 days.

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Character retopo and some progress

Ok, so the past week I’ve basically been tying together all the loose strings left on the characters, at least when it comes to making them ready for skinning. I have retopologized all that needed new topology, mainly the heads and hands. I then projected the detail I allready had back on the retopologized meshes and touched that up as well.

Before this I first had to take care of the face of Yesim, something that I had neglected for far to long. We were looking for a memorable kind of character designing has proven quite tedious. After som progress back and forth Stefan made a Zsculpt I really liked the feel of. We had a bit of a chat about it and I descided to start working with his ideas of design as a basis. I look his proportions and made a whole new topology, animation friendly and took that into zbrush, trying to get as much of the feel of his concept but making the sculpt fitting for production. The result turned out quite nice. Hopefully I will be able to go back and give the male character some more attention.

All in all, both main characters now have descent topology and are more or less ready for skinning. Next up is refining the forms in zbrush a bit more. The only thing that has been sculpted so far are the faces. Everything else has been done in Maya, I feel quite confident that the sculpting process for the rest of the characters will be done quite swiftly. When this is done it’s time for some blend shapes.

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and once again!

So yeah as my esteemed colleague Stefan said we started from scratch. so this week i have been testing the boundaries of normal mapping capabilities and that took, i am sad to say, a long frikkin’ time.
I “remodeled the same area 2 times just to get a satisfactory level of detail on the base meshes. but at last i found a good middle ground. we have also decided to go with Object space normal maps instead of tangent space normal maps since these handle edges alot better and also is cheaper to render. so here is the final sculpt in Maya with just some flat color and cavity in addition to the normal map, more texturing to come, and it is of course lit with the magnificent preview lighting created by Stefan.

I also started to model the “Terrace area” and begun adding some of our fur grass, it’s not lit correctly yet so you’ll have to wait for a render until there is something to see.

So with that i sign off!

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