Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Personal Work: Tate Modern Giacometti Sketches

A few days ago I visited Tate Modern to visit the Giacometti exhibition. I was very excited to see this exhibition because Alberto Giacometti is my favourite artist. It's been quite a while since I drew, so I took the opportunity to sketch some of his work I got to see. I enjoyed being able to be really rough and loose with the sketches (partially due to the lack of seating and because I had family with me so I didn't want to take too long) and I'm happy how a few of them came out. It was nice to get back into drawing since I feel a bit rusty with it.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Dysmorphia: Adjustments #2

I tried messing around with the Motion Blur in After Effects some more again. I think these results are better than my previous two, but I'm still somewhat unsure if it's making any difference and if it does - is it better than my original film without the blurring. I feel I can still see some jerkiness to it but I can't tell if that's just from me looking at it for too long. Either way, if I update my film with some blurring or not I'm happy with the results but I figured I'd post the adjustments I've been experimenting with.

CG Toolkit Submission: Film Reviews, Maya Tutorials, Acting & Sculpting (2016/2017 -Term 2/3)

World Animation

Lighting & Rendering

Pipeline 1: UV Layout & Maps

Pipeline 1: Spine & Skinning

Pipeline 1: Body Rigging

Pipeline 1: Facial Rigging (Pt. 1)

Pipeline 1: Facial Rigging (Pt. 2)

Pipeline 1: Facial Rigging (Pt. 3)

Pipeline 1: Texturing

Pipeline 1: Turnarounds

Dope Sheets:

Maya Pipeline 1: Creating a Turnaround

This is the final tutorial for the Jetpack Jones character. I enjoyed working on him and I think I learned a lot, especially from errors that I made throughout the tutorials. It's nice to see the character put together in this turnaround, I'm pretty happy with how he came out overall despite some of the mistakes I made along the way. Even though I did not follow a similar pipeline during my Adaptation project, I think this character was good practice so I'm not too behind in future projects. I hope it shows I have the capability to do 3D modelling, rigging/skinning, texturing, and so on.

Maya Pipeline 1: Texturing - Finishing Up The Scene (Part 8)

This tutorial is the final one in the texturing set. I first had to clean up any extra objects and layers that were used to create the textures in Mudbox. Then, the rim highlights were edited so the ramps were connected to the texture map files rather than just being grey highlights. Since this created strange visuals in the viewport, a control was created to turn off the rim highlights when they weren't needed. An additional light was added to give the character some extra shine on his eyes as well, which was then connected to the same control as the rim highlight. I can now progress onto the turnaround tutorial.

Maya Pipeline 1: Texturing - Body Texturing (Part 7)

In this tutorial, texturing continued by using Ambient Occlusion to add some initial details. After this, the torso was brought into Mudbox for cleaning up and adding some more details such as shadows behind the buttons and the badge on the shoulders. After this, a red stripe was also added to the head strap. I ran into a few issues during this tutorial...I was unable to use the xNormal software because I have a Mac, so I tried a few other techniques to get my Ambient Occlusion maps. I tried baking them out like how the normal maps were baked out, but I got some really strange results sometimes and I wasn't really able to preview them without waiting for them to load out (although I did a few tests that were 2k maps or smaller just for preview purposes). 

I also tried using a combination of Crazybump and Photoshop to get similar results as seen in the tutorial. Even though this option required a lot of painting and layering different versions of the Ambient Occlusion Maps to get them to work right, I found this gave me better results. I also was unable to create an 8k paint layer in Mudbox, so I settled for the 4k one. I tried my best to smooth out the edges of the badge the best I could in Photoshop afterwards by selecting the layer, feathering it by 1 or 2 pixels, then copying and pasting it to a new layer. While it isn't as ideal as being able to use the 8k map in Mudbox, I think it looks decent enough.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Maya Lighting & Rendering 2: Mental Ray Part 3 - Linear Work Flow

This tutorial goes over Gamma Response Curves, RGB Profiles, and how they impact they way images appear within Maya and when they are rendered. This tutorial worked differently for me because I had Maya 2016, but I wanted to ensure I got the tutorial done so I had an understanding of the topics discussed in it. For the most part I was able to follow, the settings were just in different places and certain things didn't make a difference, such as changing the colour profile on the normal maps. Despite this, I thing I better understand what was discussed in the tutorial which was somewhat confusing until seeing it used within Maya itself. This was the last Lighting & Rendering 2 tutorial I needed to complete.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Dysmorphia - Adjustments #1

After the feedback I got in the crit, I returned to my animation to see what I could do to smooth the footage out a little more. Before the crit, I thought I saw a bit of a jitter but I was unsure. I've tried two methods so far, the first one I tried is one that I haven't used before which is selecting the 'frame blending' option in Media Encoder instead of 'frame sampling' in the Time Interpolation setting. I wanted to see what it would do and I actually think it gives reasonable results without drastically increasing the render time.

I also applied the default Pixel Motion Blur effect in After Effects to my scenes, which I actually don't think does as much as the version I created using the setting in Media Encoder. I'm currently rendering out a version of the animation where I adjusted some of the settings in the motion blur, it's just taking a while to render out due to the changes. In the meantime, I figured I'd post these just in case anyone would like to give feedback. Once I find a version I think is smoother and looks better, I'll update the file on my Vimeo page and repost my animation.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Maya Pipeline 1: Facial Rigging Pt. 3 - Cleaning Up the Scene (Part 13)

This is the final tutorial I needed to complete for the Facial Rigging set. There are a few things still in the scene related to the texturing process since I progressed to those tutorials while I was unable to create pose space interpolators. I can now return to finishing up the texturing tutorials.

Maya Pipeline 1: Facial Rigging Pt. 3 - Brow Movement (Part 12)

Now that Adaptation B is done, I've returned to the Maya tutorials. I struggled a little bit with the brow movement, but I think I managed to get reasonable results. Now I just have to clean up the scene and then the facial rigging should be complete.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Adaptation B: Reflective Statement

After the feedback I was given during the crit for my Adaptation B project, I feel more confident in my outcome than I originally was. I'm proud of my final animation, despite it needing a few tweaks with things such as motion blur to fix the slight jitteriness that the footage has. I really enjoyed learning more about Maya, more so than I expected to. At first I was very nervous around the idea of using the software in the way that was suggested to me but I think taking that risk was worth it. 

I think I need to work on my confidence with my own decisions, which is something that I struggle with especially closer to deadlines. I often second guess myself and overwork things due to my anxiety about getting things 'wrong' or things being 'not good enough'. However, I feel like I stressed less in this project than I have on previous projects. Despite my project feeling counter intuitive to me, I think it gave me the freedom I needed to explore the technology in a creative manner without feeling the pressure of getting things 'right'. 

It made me recognize my interest in VFX and Maya overall, which I think was always there but I feel now that I was forcing myself to be mostly interested in drawing when in reality my interests also include VFX and 3D. I'm surprised I was able to use software that didn't use drawing (ex. Photoshop) to create something I feel is more like a fine art piece than traditional CGI animation. I now know that with some work, I can work with software such as Maya or After Effects to be more flexible and creative than I originally thought.

Before showing my animation I was very concerned people wouldn't 'get it', but after showing it in the crit I'm more confident that I portrayed my message in the way that I wanted and that it was received well. It seemed that people understood it more than I thought they would, so I'm proud of myself for being able to trust in the process and go against all of the thoughts in my head screaming that I wasn't doing what I was 'supposed' to be doing. I found it a very freeing and liberating experience, similar to how I felt when I was making artwork to cope with my mental illness a few years ago.

Part of me wishes that I prepared myself more for the making an animation, but at the same time I think it was good for me to just go where the project took me rather than obsessing over the final outcome as much as I normally do. It has taught me that stripping things out is sometimes just as effective as adding more things in, and just because I experiment with things does not mean I need to include it in the final product. It's just part of the process and they are skills that could be used elsewhere on another project. 

Looking back at the beginning of the project, I'm glad I abandoned the more stereotypical 'horror' aesthetic for something different. I enjoyed applying what I was reading for my Dissertation into my project, it made everything feel more relevant, mature, and respectful as mentioned in the crit. I tried to apply the concept of uncanniness throughout my project from my models to my soundscape to get my experiences across, and I'm glad it seemed to be successful.

I was also very self conscious that my Art Of was too long and would be boring, but I feel reassured that it is a good habit to showcase the process as long as I don't go too overboard. I also felt more comfortable in this project to include more writing on both my blog and my Art Of to explain my thought process and my work. I really enjoyed this project and I look forward to seeing might come out of trying to share it more with others and what options I have for my third year.

In the crit it was suggested I reach out and send my animation to the Wellcome Trust or something similar. I would love to iron out the jitters of my animation and send it out to a few places if possible. The topic of mental illness is very important to me and I'm hopeful that my animation leaves enough of an impact that it could be 'educational' or helpful to some people. 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Adaptation B: Opening Scene w/ Light Rays Update

This scene has taken me quite a while to sort out and add light rays because it has all of the models being illuminated. I did not add a light ray for each model because when the rays overlap, it looks very odd so I hope that the ones that are added in now look relatively natural/good. Each ray has several layers and masks for the shadows of the model and to prevent the ray from going beyond the areas that it should on the floor. I think it's coming out alright other than a few spots that needs some timing adjustments, but I'd figure I'd post an update just in case something looks off. I'm next going to work on the closing scene as this also will take me a while since all of the models are in that shot and the lights change intensity as well. I'm hoping most of the other scenes won't take as long because there is no animation on how bright the lights are and some of them may not need any light rays if they are close up.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Adaptation B: Testing out VFX - Light Rays & Depth of Field

After correcting some errors I found in my renders, I continued forward to test out some of the VFX that I experimented with previously including film grain, light rays, and depth of field. While I always add a tiny bit of film grain to my animations, I was unsure if I wanted to add light rays and depth of field to my final renders. I'm trying to not dress up my animation too much because I don't think it needs extra flash, it may actually take away from my animation, and if it's too much then it goes against the ideology that I've been trying to follow for the rest of my project.

I'm trying to have it be a pure representation so I'm unsure if these effects would actually retract from the point of it or not. So far I'm pretty sure I don't want the light rays (excluding possibly in some still images for myself when its just a single model) because it feels too flashy and doesn't match the mood of the soundscape. I'm 50/50 about the depth of field, part of me doesn't want it because I spent so much time working with these models then rendering them so I don't want to blur them out but that may make me biased. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Adaptation B: Correcting Light Errors & End Information Font Adjustments

As I was sorting out all of my footage, I noticed a few minor errors in a couple of my scenes. One of my scenes has to be rendered over again, which is my mistake. A few other problems I was able to fix in After Effects. In my opening scene, one of my models was linked up to the lights of a different model as well, causing it to illuminate too early. I corrected this by adding a black solid, creating a mask, and animating the shape and opacity so it didn't illuminate until the correct moment. I've also been trying to decide what font I want at the end, personally I find it easier to read longer pieces of text when they're not in all capitals but that could just be my poor eyesight. I have stills of the different options - the font I used in my playblast, the font that I used for all the other titles/credits in my animation, and that same font slanted.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Adaptation B: Dysmorphia Soundscape Progress #1

Today I worked on the soundscape for my animation. I used a combination of audio that I recorded myself and sounds that I found online. The majority of clips that I used were originally sounds that relate to my Anxiety or Anorexia/Body Dysmorphia such as loud crowds of people, chewing, the National Weather Service alarm, car alarms, and screaming children (some of these clips I've used to morph my models in Maya). This is just the first 'pass' of my soundscape, there are certain parts I need to fine tune in terms of timing and volume. I may add in a few more clips of audio but I'm trying to be wary and not overwork it since that's a bad habit I have. So far I'm happy with it and I look forward to seeing it with my fully rendered scenes.

Adaptatiaon B: Dysmorphia Previs Refined (No Sound)

I went back to my previs and made some adjustments to the title and I added some end credits. I wanted to add a quote about Anorexia at the end of the animation since my project is about that, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Anxiety. I also made a few little tweaks to the timing of things. As I've been making these changes, I've compiled a folder full of sounds that I've recorded myself or found online, so I now feel ready to go into Audition and build my soundscape.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Adaptation B: Dysmorphia Previs Versions 1, 2, & 3 (Feedback Appreciated)

In order to help me create a soundscape, I put together a quick previs using the playblasts I had made previously. I rearranged the order of my scenes a few times until I found an order I liked. I wanted to create a few versions of my previs using different transitions and orders to see my options. Version 1 and 2 have the same order of scenes, but Version 3 is slightly different. Version 1 has minimal cross dissolves/dip to black...the majority is just cutting from one scene to another. Version 2 has a combination of cuts, dissolves, and dip to blacks. 

Version 3 has a dip to black between each model until the final model, where I begin to use a few cross dissolves as there are three scenes of just this model. I feel the soundscape will be very different depending on which version I choose...personally I like the feel of Version 3 the most because it feels slightly more 'floaty' but in a way that I like...I feel it perhaps enhances the mystery and goes along with the 'stillness' I was aiming for. I also quite like Version 1 because it feels more 'raw' and less processed, but any feedback would be appreciated.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Adaptation B: Closing Scene Playblast

I've now made the closing scene for my animation where the lights turn off. I decided to reuse the opening scene and just reverse the camera movement and change it slightly. I also reused the keys on the lights, only I also reversed them and changed the order since I wanted the lights in the back to dim out first then the middle ones then the front ones. After seeing the playblast I think I'm going to have the middle model stay lit for a little bit longer than it is but otherwise I'm happy with it. I think now I'm going to chop up my playblasts and make a rough edit while my scenes are rendering to be sure I have everything that I want. I then can begin making the soundscape and my Art Of.

Adaptation B: Scenes 8, 9 & 10 Playblasts + Stills

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Adaptation B: Scenes 6 & 7 Playblasts + Stills

I've now made a few playblasts using the morphed model (my playblasts are numbered based on when I make them, not necessarily when they're going to appear/be used in the animation). I plan on having one more of this model that is closer up to the heads where the lights begin to dim out. From there I plan on showing one or two other models as the lights go out then a distance shot of the rest of the lights turning off. I've now sent a few scenes to be rendered at GarageFarm and I have a few rendering at the university...hopefully by combining those two with my computers at home rendering when they can I'll be able to get as many fully rendered scenes as possible despite the long render times.

Adaptation B: Scenes 4 & 5 Playblasts + Stills

I've set up two more scenes and I've gone back to all of my scenes to ensure that the models that are closest to the camera were good enough quality for final renders. This process seems to be very fiddly, but I'm slowly getting there. So far Scene Four has been the most difficult to sort out because there is very little room for compromise. Since the camera goes through the fingers, the quality has to be high enough that it is not grainy but this leads to high render times. I've done the best that I can and I hope to render Scene Four at the university so I can spread it along a few different computers overnight. I've also included some stills from scenes 2, 3, 4, and 5 so people can see what they should look like fully rendered.

Scene 2 Still

Scene 3 Still

Scene 4 Still

Scene 5 Still

Scene 5 Still