Animation.

I have been animating for a while. The wings aren’t dynamic in this playblast, and I’m testing how different camera movements work together with the live action footage right now. The animation will need tweaking as the skinning and dynamics become more refined, and as soon as we have working blendshapes I can start taking it those final inches. I’m pretty satisfied with this. I could tweak it for weeks, obviously, but I think this is as far as I can go given the time I have.

More rigging!

I am almost done with the rigging phase now, the only things I have left now are the blendshapes and the displacementmaps that are going to be driven by them. I’ll only be the few we need for this project,  about 5 to 6 blendshapes and probably a couple more displacementmaps. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be done with all rigging.

The first thing I started to rigg was the wings, wasn’t that much of a hassle as I first thought it would be, fortunately our animation didn’t call for any folding or excissive fanning. Right now all the the feathers are driven by curves and IK splines which in turn are driven by one hair system, this has the advantage that you only have to tweak one node and it will affect all the feathers. The wings themselves are simple IKs and then the feathers are parented to the closest bone. We will propably add some wind to feathers to make them abit more alive. Here is a little video of the dynamics in action and the controls:

The rest of the rigg is pretty straight forward, arms are ik, I added a extra joint in the forearm to simulate the radius bone. I made some driven keys for the fingers for faster animation, so if one finger curls it affects the others to some extent, I also added controls and finger curls for each individual finger for more control. I also started with the nCloth, right now I’m testing out different settings with a lowpoly mesh, when I’m done with that I’ll save it out as a preset, add it to a mesh with abit more resolution and then we will simulate with that. And lastly I’ll constrain a high poly mesh to the midpoly one, hopefully this will cut back on the time we need to simulate and produce some cool results. Here is a video of some of the controlls and the lowpoly nCloth in action:

Color maps.

I’ve spent today and most of yesterday painting textures. These diffuse maps are made in Mari, a ridiculously capable acquaintance (free 15 day trial from the Foundry: http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/mari/). It’s been fun to get to know some of the quirks of that application, and I am currently very much in love with it. The channels/masks/shaders way of doing things is very different from Photoshop, but not necessarily in a bad way. I find that the more I learn, the more I can emulate what I would do in Photoshop. Working in Mari feels efficient and satisfying, because I can see right away what I’m doing to the model I’m working on.

Rigging

Started to with the rigging yesterday, I decided to start with the lantern, the chain in the lantern is driven by a hair system and a IK spline. I put the joints in the at the pivot where each link would rotate and then skinned one link to its own joint. Here is a picture to illustrate.

And a little clip to show you the staff in action:

I plan on incorporating alot of dynamic secondary movement in the rigg to give it more life, and hopefully speed ut the process of making an animation that looks and feels “real”. I will include controls to animate everything by hand if need be though.
I’ll starting on the wings today, they will be driven the same way that the link chain is, one hairsystem for all the feathers, the tip will be dynamic and the rest will be joint driven. I’ll probably throw in some driven keys for fanning and such and be done hopefully by the end of today.
Yesterday I started to retopologize the last pieces and the body was first, I also plan on doing more sculpting after I’m done with the rig. I embeded a picture of the topology and where it’s at the moment, I tried to have an edge flow that could maintain the volume of the bones and larger muscle groups, hopefully that will give some good deformations.

And a small progress picture of the current model, I’ve sculpted the smaller folds and hopefully nCloth will do the rest, the folds are in seperate layers so if it looks strange with the dynamics I can always dial the folds down:

 

 

Milestone 2.

This is the updated film that we showed at our Milestone 2 presentation yesterday. For this render we added an image-based lighting setup, mostly to make the contents of the scene easier to see. This will be tweaked significantly in the final sequence. All the major modeling parts are basically done, and we’re moving on to rigging (in Björn’s case) and shading/texturing/optimizing (for me and Anneli). I’ll jump on the animation train in a few days.

Character update

So here is an small update on the character, I’ve been modeling alot these weeks. Gave the character a brand new pair of wings and designed some of the accessories on him. The only items left to do is the actual skin on the character and the cloth. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be done and start rigging.
I plan on adding smaller details later to really push the realism, such as smaller feathers on the wings and some wrapping on his body, alot will come later when i start to rigg and texture the character, there will be alot of bouncing back and forth between the two. I’ve been regularly inserting the character into the scene to see where I need to add more detail and where it might not be as necessary.

Here is a picture of the current model:

 

Early lighting.

Since we’ve got most of the models up and running and looking presentable on their own, I took some time today to try and assemble everything and get some initial lighting in the scene, just to get a better idea of how the environment fits together. This is what I came up with after messing around a couple of hours. This is at the earliest possible stage, but I like some things about it, mostly the way the light from the lantern and the yellowish light from above work together with the character. I mainly focused on the character and the foreground, but there’s something about the general distribution of light and dark areas which kind of appeals to me, although of course there shouldn’t be nearly as much absolute black as there is at the moment. Also, light directions and colors need to be a lot more “explained” and more recognizable as sunlight or reflected light or whatever they happen to be. As a sketch, though, I think it looks pretty cool.

Lighting sketch.

Environment update

Anneli here, with an update on the asset we named “archs”. These pillars are part of the archs that will be seen behind the ferryman. I tried some different approaches on how to make the details, such as the leaves and swirlie patterns on the capitals. In the end what proved to be most efficient was to model one leaf in Maya, use Zbrush for details on the surface and minor tweaks to the shape, and then just make copies and place them around a cylinder using duplicate special. Since two pillars will be visible I’ve modeled one, duplicated it, and just rotated it so they wont look exactly the same. Still have some work left on the capitals and one of the pillars will be more deteriorated than the other.

Pillars and props.

We’re starting to finish up the modeling of the first parts of the environment. Here’s a column base I made. We’re decimating our meshes in Zbrush (densely enough that the silhouette differences between highpoly and lowpoly  aren’t noticeable), and making high-resolution normal maps for the surface detail. So far, this workflow has been really smooth and straightforward.

Character started

After alot of discussion between us concerning the design of the character we finally arrived at a decision and I could start with my basemesh. This was yesterday so I’ve put about a half day of sculpting into it also. I still have a couple of more days of sculpting and modeling before I move on to rigging.

I’ve decided to model and retopologize first and then rigg the character instead of rigging our basemesh, this incase something goes wrong or we decide to change some proportions, which would have meant that I wasted alot of time rigging and Ludvig would have animated for no reason. Now we will know that the rigg works and hopefully not waste any time!

After our research and preproduction phase we got together and made a more complete schedule which we will be following starting today.

Finally here is a screengrab of the character in its current state, alot of work to be done!