Sunday, October 31, 2010

Massive Cycles

Now that I've officially switched the crowd from the shadow monsters to townspeople I had a whole new set of animations to get ready for Massive. This is a playblast of the carver rig going through the following cycles: standing still to run, run, run to walk, walk, walk to stop, 5 or 6 idles, and standing still to walk. Additionally I have turns for both walking and running, and a walk to run. This completes the basic motions for the towns people crowd. I will add more as needed.

For the remainder of the week, I'll be working on getting smoke sims set up and getting my completed animations into massive.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shadow Monster R&D and Test Renders

In Massive class last Wednesday, Chris mentioned that exporting deforming geometry in fbxs was going to be a problem. I needed it because I was going to be rendering the shadow monster crowd sim in Houdini after doing the volume simulation on it. As a fix he recommended breaking apart every limb and section on the shadow monsters and then parenting each individual to the rig. After doing this, animating a stand up sequence, and then running a volume sim on it I decided that the smoke covers up most of the noticeable seams on the joints and this will be a workable solution. I went ahead and animated a run and a walk with the broken limb rig.

The animation isn't perfect on the characters but it should be sufficient for the shots that I need. There are a total of four shots with shadow monsters in it. The first is the shot where they materialize out of the smoke columns, the second is where they assemble, cheer and then begin their run, the next is the birds eye view of the monsters causing mayhem in the town and the final shot is where one shadow monster chases a townsperson across the scene. Only two of the shots are crowd sims. I decided that it would be easier to hand animate the shadow monsters materializing from the columns. Since the frames will have to be reversed, trying to fit Massive into the effect will be far more trouble than it is worth. I'll be able to place the massive agents to match up with the hand animated characters using Chris's Houdini script. I've got points in Houdini with the normals facing in the right direction in preparation for placing them in Massive.

I am getting pretty happy with the smoke effects. The shader needs to be tweaked a bit. Right now there is a tiny bit too much fine noise. Maybe animating the offset of it will help to make it look a little more believable.

Higher quality versions of those are here and here.

I've modeled three more skull variations bring me to a total of 10 and probably the number of shadow monsters in my crowd. The two curved horned human variation will be the Hero shadow monster.

Dirtied up Fisher's vest a little.

Rendered a sequence from the first camera to test the water's wave speed. The water looks like it is moving a bit slow with the amplitude as high as it is. I'll need to refine this a bit more. Additionally there is some flickering in the water on the right side of the clip that I'll have to look into.

A note about the farm. I rendered this sequence on the farm and I was getting 1 to 3 minute renders. However, when one of the render machines got to a certain point (frame 40 or so) it just gave up. It didn't stop rendering but my render times shot up to 10 to 20 minutes and eventually 4 to 5 hours for no reason at all. The those frames are no different than any of the other ones. I suspect if I was to kill the job and then restart it the remaining 2 frames would take two minutes to render instead of six hours.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Smoke Trail Test

Houdini viewport render of the smoke trail effect for when the shadow monsters come out of the box. In terms of shape and look this is getting fairly close to what I am looking for. I'm thinking I'll need to enlarge the end of the smoke column as it reaches the ground to accommodate the shadow monsters rising from the ground. Depending on the renders it may need to be denser as well. I still need to Up Res it and shade it properly.

Cork Bobber

Procedural cork in slim with an image map for the red line. Thanks to Dan for helping me to implement the clamp function for the displacement.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Skull Variation

The crowd shots will have at least 6 different heads. I made one base skull and then modeled interchangeable horn/antlers that fits into the skull. Perhaps not always anatomically correct according to the skull but it should do for a crowd.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fisher Texture Update

Thought I'd update this real quick... thinking about dirtying his vest a little.

Texture Tests

Two quick renders of the environment with some textures and basic lighting. The render settings are pretty low for them and the textures are only at about 60 - 70% complete. I will use matte paintings for the more distant backgrounds in the compositing stage at the end of the project. I'd like to get some haze and some particles floating about the air to give the scene some atmosphere and of course volume rays if I have time.

A render of the fisherman with a slightly updated texture map from the Carver. I might add more fur in different parts of the body like the arms and chest. Obviously the pipe and hat have yet to be surfaced and I am planning on modeling him some makeshift glasses.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Skull

I modeled this last week but just now remembered to post it here. I'm planning on doing two or three more skulls to add variation to the shadow army. I'll probably get in a deer skull, a bull skull, and maybe a cat skull. I'm making these shadow parts interchangeable to be fed into Massive to vary up the armor.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shadow Monster Rigging

The bones have been placed and I am currently working on skinning him. Maya 2011 has new skin weighting tools so I decided to switch to 2011 for just that part. I've already tested out exporting the weight map and bringing it back into Maya 2010 and I feel comfortable that this is the best way to complete the skinned rig. Luckily the skinning doesn't have to be perfect as the character will be flat shaded and blurry/smokey.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pandora Preproduction: Scene Modeling

The scene is at roughly 85 to 95% complete. This is a rough estimate because the rest of the modeling will be dependent on how the renders look once there are textures and animation in the scene. The rest of the set modeling will be done on an as needed basis when I get to the animation and rendering stages.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pandora Preproduction: Refined Previs

Taking into account many of the critiques I got over the last week I refined the story a bit. The previs is still fairly rough but is sufficient to show the shots in sequence.

I received a lot of good advice over the week but ultimately I decided to keep the actions simple. My weakest part is my character animation so I decided to minimize that aspect without ruining the story. The biggest change was keeping the character on the initial part of the dock after he releases the shadow army instead of returning to the end of the dock and continuing to fish. Instead he watches as another villager runs by in fear from a shadow monster. This is what prompts him to kick the box off the dock. The end closes with the fisherman looking at the "no fishing" sign that was just revealed by the shockwave of a big explosion.

I had received some good feedback about modifying the story so that the fisherman was unaware the whole time of what he unwittingly unleashed upon the world. However, upon reflection on how long I would need to complete the character animation I soon realized that it was not within the scope of this term.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Model Update

A work in progress of the village. Only the front three buildings will be fully modeled. The rest of the village will be matte paintings.

The shadow monster without any of his skulls or armor. The character will be rigged and his props will be randomly applied through massive for the crowd shots.

One of the heads for the shadow monsters. There will be two or three more of these to be assigned to the crowd.

The dock where the animation begins and ends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Advanced CG: Mischevious Sprites

Homework assignment for Advanced CG. It was a short animation exploring visual perception and illusion. Basic idea from Molly Bang's Picture This.


Pandora Preproduction: Story Change

I wasn't very happy with my previous story idea. I didn't like the lead in and didn't know how to resolve it. I would have had to model and rig two different characters and that seemed an impossible task by myself. Therefore I changed my "wrapper" story and kept the Pandora's box core.

The hero is a slightly dull town yokel who is fishing at the start of the animation. He is starting to nod off when he gets something on his line. After a bit of a struggle he gets pulls a small evil looking box out of the water. He opens it and black smoke spills out in tendrils. Everywhere the tendrils land a shadow monster appears. Once assembled, the shadowy figures rally and go about the town, breaking things, setting buildings on fire and generally causing great mayhem. There will be a birds eye view of the town incorporating a massive simulation of the shadow monsters running through the streets and breaking things. Fire will sprout up on the buildings in the far shots. The hero is stunned by what he has caused and subtly kicks the box into the water and returns to his pier to fish wincing every time he hears an explosion or crashing sounds. The final shot is the hero sitting down in the position that he started in except in the background the town is on fire. Once he sits down a piece of debris falls from a "fishing" sign that he had been sitting next to the whole time only to reveal that the sign had said "NO fishing."

Story Boards:


The advantage of the new story, aside from an improved story, is that I will be repurposing the Carver rig and model. I will remove his glasses give him a hat and some other props and modify the texture but the weight painting will remain the same.

I am happy with this story and have no plans to significantly change it.