The Animation was done in Maya. Since animation wasn’t part of my specialization we didn’t want to make it to complicated and time consuming, so we opted for the standard skin bind with corrective blendshapes instead of a muscle rig.
The animation process was straight forward. I started by blocking in keyframes, in this stage I could change and try out different movements without having to redo a lot of work.
once I settled in to a animation I liked I started to tweak with the animation curves inside maya to get the right interpolation between keyframes. Some stuff had to be tweaked when I saw the interpolated animation but it was still true to the initial block in.
Here’s a video of the animation progress:
Kinda as a spontaneous last minute thing I decided to make his “fat sack”/chin a simulated ncloth so that we got some interesting dynamic wrinkles. There was no problem with the simulation itself, I got it looking as i wanted right away. However merging the simulation with the skin bound animation was a little bit tricky, but after some trial and error I got it to work.
I’ve been working on adding sound to our sequence. Since we didn’t get any sound-recording from our filmed footage I had to create all sounds from scratch. Here is a sneak peek of what we’ve got so far. It is still work in progress
This is how far I’ve come on the lighting. I’ve just wrapped the matching of the whiteball. My lighting setup consists of a simplified geometry of our real scenography with HDR textures mapped on it. The final gather will use this instead of a standard IBL-ball. I got the HDR textures onto my geometry by projecting our HDR panorama onto the geo. To boost my lights I use portal lights, which are designed for just that purpose.
By using real geometry instead of a IBL-ball gives me difference in cast shadows and occlusion at different places in the scene, and the scene geometry will receives shadows and reflections. It also increases/decreases exposure of different lights and reflections dependent on a more accurate distance. It takes a little longer to set up but I think it will pay off.
The tracking went unusually well. I threw out about 40 trackers in matchmover and got a great solve without any effort. After that, I had to matchmove the bench. We will use the 3D-bench geometry to receive shadows and reflections. The other creature-shot cameras are either static or fully animated, so they won’t need any tracking.
We got an artifact from the RED camera with a black or discolored line down the middle of almost all our shots. I struggled quite a bit, trying out different methods to remove the lines. I tried a few edgebleed tricks (none giving me pleasing results), I tried nukes furnace rig removal (it had problems with highlights), I tried cloning (too time consuming), I tried moving the right side of the image 4 pixels, to cover the lines (it created a noticeable edge between left and right side. The thing that finally gave me a result I was happy with (and was extremely easy to set up) was after effects “simple wire removal”. I’m quite surprised that a function named “simple” beat the optical-flow based furnace rig removal.
I also suppressed the colors on a blue patch on our actors back that we thought was irritating. Here is the before and after:
On Tuesday this week we filmed our footage. We got a hired cameraman, Mattias Sjöstedt with a rented RED camera which gave us some great footage with great quality. Also thanks to our actors, Mikael Eriksson (the man in behind the mask) and Jonas Malm (a dead professor).
We won’t show you any of our footage yet, but at Milestone 2 (11/2) we will post the whole sequence with a proxy-animated creature for the creature-shots.
Today we finished up the set. Kim managed to build a awesome cage that will add to the look and story of the sequence. We’ve also fixed all the clothing for our actors and we feel ready to shoot the footage tomorrow.
For the past few days I’ve been working on the rig, trying to figure out the best solutions for our rig setup. We are aiming for a simple rig, without complete freedom because it would not make sense to build to advanced for only three shots. We want the rig to be built for the performance the shots require, and skip the rest.
Here is my favorite part of the rig. Its a dynamically driven ik spline which can switch and blend between simulation and keyframe animation. It’s an easy setup but very effective. These splines will be used to animate the tentacles-things on the head of our creature. In this video, the spline is set to 100% dynamic and only the top control is animated.
Meanwhile, Robin has been working on the anatomy of the sculpture. There will probably be a post of his progress tomorrow, with a turntable.