Data Visualisation: Dynamics

Alec Parkin began a lecture on dynamics and simulation techniques, dynamics are an extremely powerful feature in any 3D application. Without them there would be no particle effects like smoke, fire, realistic fluid effects to explosions, or complex cloth simulations.

Fantasia did a lot of experimental hand draw dynamics. Oskar Wilhelm Fischinger had a massive part in this as he was an abstract animator, bringing a lot of shapes and lines in to the animation which Disney liked but wanted to make it more realistic, so a shape would be an actual object. When experimenting with particles they used paint bottles upside down in water to create a bubbling lava effect in Fantasia.

James Cameron’s The Abyss had the first ever fluid effect in their feature film. You can see in this video how they do this and how they add a 3D scanned face within the particle effects.

Prince of Egypt created large scale effects with a 2D created background while the effects are computer generated. The also had 2D characters as well as computer generated characters and they took pride in how people couldn’t tell what one was computer generated and what was one 2D. Our lecturer Conánn Fitzpatrick who worked on Prince of Egypt told us how he animated water splashes, clouds, as well as the burning bush, using both 2D and digital animation to create it. He also talked about how he created Spritical software that was then further used in many successful animated films, such as the Lion King.

This MPC film effects reel, which is a modern VFX studio, showing really high quality and realistic particle effects, including effects used in the Avengers movies.

Lorenzo Lavatelli is also a great Dynamic effects artist working with Fluid effects. He has working on the likes of Harry Potter. Here is his showreel;


Pixar had cloth, hair and other dynamics breakthrough in the likes of Monsters Ink and in Brave. This test video is a great example of this;

When simulating anything dynamic in Autodesk Maya set your playback speed to ‘play every frame’ This will force each frame to be calculated without skipping a frame to match playback speed.

Dynamic systems available in maya consist of; nparticles, ncloth, nhair, maya fluids, soft and rigid bodies, bullet, bitfrost, fur/Xgen.

Nparticles can be used for effects such as dust, smoke, fire, water and wind effects. It’s a pretty face and versatile took for a bread ranger of dynamic effects and can interact with other nsystems.


Head Model: Head Journey

I looked up many head model tutorials and found this one by James Taylor that i found worked for me best, I liked how he kept the head topology fairly low and it was easy for me to follow.

As I followed his tutorial it was going well until i got to the nose and that where it got confusing for me. There as a lot of extruding and deleting of faces to get rid of any ngons or triangles, without the tutorial I don’t think I would have done this successfully. When it came to doing the cheek I didn’t mind this part because I used my research to get the correct placing of my cheek bone and surrounding fat in my cheek area and as well as staring at my face in the mirror I had while modeling my face.

getting there

I eventually figured out how to so the nose properly, using the bridge and extrude tools then combining them to the side of the eye mesh. I then extruded the eye inward to create the eyeball and eyelid, then added creases to the mouth and eye area to define them when you hit the smooth view. I prefer to work in the non smoothed view as it is easier for me to see what is going on with the mesh, plus our tutors always told us not to rely on the smooth tool.

nose and crease

I then moved on to creating the back of the head so i got a square, put up the decisions so that it would become round and I started adding and removing sub divisions so that it matched to my own forehead divisions so that I would get that even flow. The side of the head was a lot harder to match up as I had to tweak how the topology would flow in this area and sadly the tutorial didn’t go into much detail here so I tried my best to get the right look for it. It then came to the time to add the dreaded ear which i was not excited for at all. The tutorial also did not go into detail for the ear and because it was low poly I didn’t know what to do for it but I gave it my best shot. I extruded the faces and tried to get the right placement, it didnt help that my images didn’t line up here but luckily I had my trust mirror and done my research as I knew that the top of the ears line up with the eye and the bottom of the ear line up with the bottom of the nose. I followed the basic shape of my ear and extruded in and then in again to create the outline of my ear.

After getting the right ear shape I tried different ways on getting the inner ear done but it just wasn’t working, it looked weird and lumpy with very messy topology so I decided to leave it as it was and move on to do the rest and then hopefully come back to it with fresh eyes and a new idea.foreheadear

from here I mirrored it over but it did not look like me at all, It needed a lot of work especially the chin area, so I went back to the drawing board and got back up to speed to where was originally at.


After fixing some areas I also felt that there needs to be more definition in places to I added some edge looped where my cheek bone and bridge of my not is so that I could define it better and have more of my facial features. Referencing my post on my defining facial features that I had made. I then pulled at the vertex’s to define them more and to also add my button nose and the bumps that I have at the side of them.


When I smoothed it it let me see if my jaw needed more tweaking and it did, I felt that it wasn’t rounded enough and dipped in to much in the middle as you can see below. I also added a neck, looking back on the post I had made on drawing heads as it talked about neck fat, as well as facial anatomy and my Pinterest board to help me through this. This too a while to get right, I noticed that when I added the neck my chin didnt line up the curve to the neck and the fatty tissue in the neck brought it down too much and I needed to tweak it and bring the chin up a bit more, this also helping it to look like my chin more as I felt it looked too pointy.

I then continued the neck and brought it round to the back to create the back of the neck, making sure that it stayed fluid and matched it up with the ears okay. I then the neck so it would have the smooth curve down to where my shoulders would begin and made the mesh straighter for this as well.progress

I wanted to add more of a curvature to my lips to make it look more like me but that resulted in me created triangles, which is a big no no especially if its on the mouth which is a main source of expression in a human face, but I could not figure out a good way to fix these triangles without adding more loops or creating messy ngons, and making my topology messy. I definitely need to work on this more and figure out ways of fixing triangles in this area.hmmtriangles

When I mirrored it over and tweaked it to line up with my other side of my face, because my left eye was slightly higher, the left side of my nose was slightly bigger and the left side of my jaw was more square, but I also noticed that my face looked too slim compared to my pictures as well as compared to what I was seeing in the mirror, I also noticed that my cheeks needed to be pulled forward in the side view because my cheeks are a lot chubbier, so I definitely had more tweaking do to make it look more like me.

When I added the crease around the lips I found that it made it look weird and overlap in the corners, I tried different ways of creasing it so that the corners would not over lap and spaced out the side of my mouth topology to make it look better.toothin

After tweaking it and making it have more of my defined facial features I found that it looks more like me in the non smoothed version rather than the smooth version.  I added creases to some edges and vertex’s around the eyes, nose and mouth to make it look more like me in the smoothed version. You can see the edges and vertex’s that i have added creasing to in the unsmoothed head model below, they are the thicker lines. I also added a cupids bow by extruding inwards and adding a crease to the lower part of the cupids bow. I tried to make the nose look more like mine, as I have bumps at the side of my nose I tried to replicate this but its not that easy when its low poly but I think I did a good job with it head model

Here is my family of heads;thefam

Final head model spin;

Overall I am fairly happy with how it turned out, for my first head model I’m proud of myself that I could even remotely make it look like me, even if it looks like a manly version of me. I’m excited to learn more in this area though, I do love modelling and I definitely want to improve on this more. It would be fun to create a more realistic one of myself in the future and then compare to how I began and what I know in the future, and maybe add hair, or possibly even animate it.

Animated Short: Falling for You Final

Here is our animation for the presentation day;

Here is our final Presentation

In our final presentation feedback our tutors said that we did a brilliant job and that we ticked all the boxes which i’m soo over the moon about. Michael Bass had started with “I have only one critique”, which really put a smile on our faces, the only problem he could see was the pause before the girl bird comes into shot. Conann Fitzpatrick also gave us positive feedback and only a few changes were needed. Yuanyuan Chen also seemed  to be happy with our animation and advised us on some small changes with lighting and timing. So I will list the different critiques  below and what we discussed as a team on how we would tackle them.

  • Camera pause – During the over shoulder shot the girl bird takes a second before she moves into scene. Michael had advised that she should have already been in the shot once the camera and changed. Also he felt that she should have came in from the left, instead of right. Conann also commented on this point. He suggested that having the boy bird in the scene wasn’t really needed, and perhaps the camera could have been in between them or his point of view.
  • Ice – The ice is a flat plane with coloured blinn texture and reflection. It was suggested that it should have marks or bumps to show that is being skated on. At the moment it looks like it has been smoothed over in a professional ice rink. We will be looking at bump map and texturing to try and making the ice more natural.
  • Character Jump – During the bird slipping on ice and falling, Conann suggested keeping him up on the air a little longer. This would give it more character and a cartoon feel.
  • Sun setting – Yuan suggested making it look like the sun was setting during the animation, so at the end it would be dark (similar to the credit scene). We discussed this as a team and thought it may look a little sped up if the sun set in just 30 seconds, so we decided  to leave the lightings. She also wanted the credits to last longer to allow the characters to skate fully across the screen. The Render of the credits does actually have them going across but unfortunately we had to cut it for time. During the edit if we can spare more time for credits we will.
  • Lights on girl bird – This was not mentioned on our feedback but it was something noticed by us. The light on girl bird cast a shadow on her face and she looked a little dark, so this will be corrected.
  • More Animating – Again this was not in our feedback, but after seeing the other groups and their animations I was worried that we kept ours a little simple. I discussed this with my team and we all agreed. So instead of the girl bird coming in to wave we want her to skate in with a twirl before waving, that way there will be more animation and added character to the girl bird.

The first thing we tackled was the ice, Kristina and I had worked on the ice before our first render and made the ice a cloudy texture but the way that it was smooth made it look like it was professionally flattened at an actual ice rink and we needed it to have more texture. We started to look into bump mapping and using fractal texture. We adjusting the setting and rendered the scene out to pick which one was best which you can see below;

Too realistic for the scene

bump 2

Too watery looking

ice bump map

Not much reflection with this, sort of looks like worms

lines on ice

We all agreed that this ice looked the best for our scenefinal ice.JPG

For the jump I let Kristina and Robert both have a go at animating it since I did the majority of the animation. Robert and Kristina was still having a few difficulties so I came in and fixed up the animations, making sure that the timings were right and making the movements more organic looking in the jump. I then added the wave again and we were to check that off the list again.

twirl 2twirl

I also fixed the jump and prolonged it as best as I could because I didn’t want to go over the time limit which we were all set on keeping, plus out end credits were short enough as it was. I looked at the coyote from Road Runner as there are so many episodes where he ends up falling off a cliff and hovering there looking all scared, you can see this gag here, poor guy;



Animated short: Rendering and Editing

This was our render settings, it was important that we used these on each machine for scene that we needed to render separately, this is so that each scene would look the same when we put it together and so that were are no errors as when we did our first render we found that our textures were going black but that was an easy fix.

We all worked together to put together the animation but Michelle was the main editor here and what an amazing job she did too;

Our concentration and hard work

Trying to get our timing perfected, adding our already remade music and foley effects.

New Narratives: Time and Narrator

Yuan Yuan Chen started the lecture today going over what we had learned last week and moved on to what we are going to learn today, this is about time. We will need to know how to manipulate time within our animation. We worked on a story last week and what we can do to manipulate the order of the events that took place and if this would still make sense in the story.

You can have a simple story in chronological order, but what if you were to changed this order? well by adding flash backs to the beginning on how the story actually started this can make the story make sense.

Scenes 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 changed into 2 – (flash back) 1 – 3 – 4

If not done correctly this can become muddled and your story will no longer make sense, so do use it wisely.

A good example of this is Momento;

Pulp Fiction is also another good movie;

Create a story and change the timing;

1-2-3-4 (Chronological order)

  1. Boy walks to shop (sun shining)
  2. Starts to rain
  3. Reaches shop soaked
  4. Bumps into girl he likes (both soaked)


  1. Starts to rain
  2. Boy walks to shop (sun shining)
  3. Reaches shop soaked
  4. Bumps into girl he likes (both soaked)

3-1-2-4 (Our chosen favourite)

  1. Reaches shop soaked
  2. Starts to rain
  3. Boy walks to shop (sun shining)
  4. Bumps into girl he likes (both soaked)


  1. Boy walks to shop (sun shining)
  2. Bumps into girl he likes (both soaked)
  3. Reaches shop soaked
  4. Starts to rain


We then looked at the temporal duration, which is how long do each of these events take. There are two main types, story duration which is the amount of time that the implied story takes to occur and plot duration which is the time of the events within the story that the film explicitly presents, so basically the elapsed time of the plot.


The relationship between screen duration and plot duration is also very important.

Summary Relationship the screen duration is shorter than the plot duration. A good example of this is A marriage just like an other marriage as they are able to show 7 years of marriage through 6 shots:

Real Time relationship is where the time is directly to plot duration;

Stretch relationship is where the screen duration is longer than plot duration;

Temporal frequency is how often we see or hear an event, most commonly a story even is presented only once in the plot. however a single event may appear twice or even morein the plot, this includes a flashback or multiple narrators.

A great example of this is Amore Perros as the event that happens is showed from different perspectives. This shows how the event has effected each of the characters and to show the truth of the event that has happened from each perspective.

Narration can also be used, this delivers the story information to the audience. So basically it is the way of distributing story information to the audience in order to achieve specific effects. In The Wolf on Wall Street he talks to the camera, he knows that the camera is there and he being very vulgar and setting the story.

The narration involves two factors, the range and the depth of story information that the plot presents. Narration can be omniscient meaning that it is extremely knowledgeable, so basically the audience knows everything about the story. Here is a good example of this;

Restricted narration limits the information it provides the audience to things known only to a single character.This is usually used in mysteries or horror. The Big Sleep is a good example of this;

When it comes to the depth of story information, there are two main areas which is objective or subjective narration. Objection is limited to what the audience only sees in that scene, they don’t know what else is going on with the characters, you are the observer;

Subjective narrative you are able to see what the character sees and hears, the camera is like the eyes of the character;

Mental Subjectivity shows the access to the characters mind, the internal voice reporting the characters thoughts, or the characters inner images, representing memory, fantasy, dreams or hallucinations.

The film maker may also use a narrator, which is someone who tells the story. This can be a voice over or the narrator can also be the actual character;

There are also non-character narrators that are common in documentaries or fictional films, also know as a “Voice of God”. Here is a good example of non character narration;


Head Model: Nemo Filipovic

Nemo Filipovic illustrated a guide on how to draw heads, and goes into detail in a understandable way about form, skeletal features and facial features, as well as fat in the neck.

Filipovic, Nemo. “HEADS UP: Drawing The Head From A Low Angle.”. N.p., 2016. Web.

HEADS UP: Drawing the Head from a low angle. by NemoNova

Head Model: Face Anatomy

When modeling the head it is extremely important to understand face anatomy and the structure of the muscles within the face. Researching facial anatomy was really interesting and I learnt a lot from it, what I found most interesting was how the muscles and bone structure within a face effects how the topology be on an individuals face.

Looking at those were a great insight, even to see the names of the different facial muscles was interesting and where they were in the face. I also looked at Skif 3D’s work and his topology of a skill which is also going to be very helpful. Now to try and apply my research to my head model.


Animated Short: Ice Skating and Animating

Since I was in charge of animating the scenes, except for the final credit scene which Kristina and Robert did, I had to make sure that I was getting the right movements. I found this beautiful figure skating video in the mountains of British Columbia, which really reminded me of our scene and how it is based in the french alps. It also showed us the textures within the ice in the mountains and how it does have a good bit of reflections on the ice.

I also found this amazing video of ice skaters with fire sticks on their ice skates which created beautiful visuals and lighting for the video. Obviously their tricks are too crazy for our little birds but it was good to see the how their bodies moved in slow motion when they jumped or shifted their weight.

Another great ice skating video that I found was of a Canadian national figure skater in the mountains, this ice was more clouded with not that much reflection in it. It was interesting to see as well as seeing her movements for the animation.

Kristina also found this video on a step by step guide on how to do different tricks and jumps on the ice which was also very useful to see;

We also looked at animals slipping on ice which was recommended to us by our tutors which was really beneficial for the animation:

After I did this research I went on to animating the characters which I really enjoyed, surprisingly I can animate really face while also making it look organic with good timing and movement.



Head Model: Pinterest Research Board

Alec Parkin gave a lecture expressing the importance of keeping a folder with good topology so that you are able to keep going back to it in the future when you have to do face modeling and when keeping a good topology in your models in general. I found that creating a pinterest board helped me greatly in researching about facial anatomy and topology for my 3D head model. Below you can see my findings;