Falling For You

The Final Animation, please watch in HD;

I am extremely happy with our final outcome, it was a great experience working on it and it was even better that I had a fantastic team that worked well together and supported each other. This project was the best by far that I had the pleasure to work on and it was very fulfilling project. I wish to be able to continue to create even more great work in the future and work with this amazing team again.

This was a great end to a first semester, thank you!

team picture

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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)

2-1-3-4

  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)

3-4-1-2

  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;

 

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.

IMG_3121

 

Animated Short: Music and Foley Effects

Music is very important within animation and we were stressed by our tutors that you should always do the music first, this is because if you were to listen to your music on its own and found that it didn’t tell your animation through sound then it would definitely not work for you animation and things would need to be changed for it to work.

Since Falling for You is set in the French Alps it only made sense that the music would be french, this would also contribute to the fact of our short animation being of a  romantic and cute theme, so it would suit it well. Since it needed to be French themed music I remembered I had watched The Little Prince, which is a really great animation with a great story that I highly recommend to anyone. The Little Prince is originally french so they had a very french theme to their music which I found would be perfect for our animation. The music for The Little Prince was worked of the great Hans Zimmer, Richard Harvey and Camille.

I also watched The Dam Keeper which is another amazing short animation that I absolutely love and would recommend to anyone. I loved the music for this animation too and though it had some really lovely rythm. This tribute to the animation made by one of my favourite band Phox made their take on one of the animations theme songs;

Robert also suggested Sixpence None the Richers song Kiss Me due to the accordion in it and the simplicity to the tune.

We also looked into Foley effects, which is a reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to films to enhance the audio and portray the sound that is being made. This video by Filmmaker IQ explains foley and sound effects really well;

For the animation we new we would need ice skating sounds for when the birds skate on the ice so we took scissors and ran them across different materials to get the desired noise that we were looking for. We also sat around making noises through our mouth to see who could do the best noise for the characters and different sound effects, like a whooshing sound, giggles, deep breath, jumping and more. There were many sounds that we recorded that didn’t make it but it was important that we tried them anyway or we wouldn’t have known what would’ve worked best for those particular scene. I caught some pictures of Michelle and Robert doing some of the sounds which was a lot of fun to do;

Robert has a brother that plays guitar so Robert worked together with him to get our desired music that we felt suited our animation best. We ended up with two music pieces that we used for our animation and ending credits which was perfect for our animation Falling for You. Since we had done the music first it really made it easier for us to animate our scenes.

 

Animated Short: Rigging and Blend Shapes

Rigging took me a while to get right, it did hold us from creating the animation and it sucked not meeting the deadline we had set for it but now I feel like I could teach anyone rigging after my journey and definitely better than how tutorials actually explain it, they seem to skip over things.

The great James Taylor, who I’m also using for the head model, was really helpful when it came to learning how to do rig and skin weight the joints.

After finally feeling like I have more of a grasp on rigging and skin weighting it was time to have another go on our newly modelled characters. I mapped out the rig no problem and started on the skin weights where I got the arms and legs perfect, I luckily save it as a separate file so that i could always go back and try again if I screwed it up, which I did and you can clearly see this in the below image;

fuprig.png

I then brought it Michelle to work on it at the same time as me, this allowed me to teach Michelle how to rig and weight the character, she grasped it really well and we both worked on it together to the point where I had trouble last time. I realised then that I was taking away too much of the weights and not balancing it out enough by doing more smoothing of the weights. By doing and having Michelle copying what I was doing, it was killing two birds with one stone and we finally had the rigging done and dusted!

rigg

Here you can see the working rig:IMG_3121

Moving on to blend shapes, we needed a way of puffing out the boys chest to show more acting for when he steps out on to the ice so I asked Alec what the best way to do this was and Alec said to use Blend Shapes and gave me a tutorial on it;

Using this tutorial we were able to make eye shapes but when we tried it with the actual eyes it deformed the textures too much but we fixed this by pulling out the mesh around the eye to create eye lids.

IMG_3123

 

Animated Short: Presentation

We presented it went well and we got very valuable feedback that was definitely needed. Our 3D animatic has several issues with the camera work such as how the camera should be more eye level to the characters and as close as possible to the ice. There was also a lot of unnecessary camera movement, it took away from the animation too much and was very distracting. To help with the camera angles I looked at this book  called Film Directing, Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz which was very useful;

Another major thing that we needed to change was the modeled characters themselves as they had changed a lot from the original character concepts that I had created. Conánn Fitzpatrick commented that we had let the software control how the characters looked, which I have to agree with, they were kind of creepy looking with how they had turned out. Conánn also suggested that we needed to make them act more like bird because that what they are. The fact that he is a bird could mean we could use his wings in the animations, so he could catch himself before he properly falls.

Another issue was the scenery placement and colour scheme should be looked at again, as it was too colourful which took over from the characters so they were not focused on, which I do agree with, I also think it was to do with having no lighting so it was dark and overly vibrant which did not look good. The prop placements also needed changing but we were planning to do this anyway.

I’m happy with the advice that we got as it was needed to make our animation better, so we welcome it with open arms and got back to work in improving it. Our next plan of action was to fix the characters, so I sat down with Michelle so that I could help her make them more so like my designs.

We went from creepy

vd

To cute and back to our original designs

We then added my textures to them using UV mapping for the finishing touches. Next on the agenda was to rig and fix the background.

I then fixed the background by creating one that used purple pastel tones so that we would not take away from the characters;

cloudsu2

Kristina also worked on making our scene look better adding a waterfall as a source for our frozen lake and cleaned up the placement of trees and other props that we had while also adding in more mountains. Kristina also did a great job with the lighting as well but also had changed the sunset and where it would rise to fix bugs like how the shadows were casting and we couldn’t just disable them for the particular areas because then would then defeat the purpose of why they were there in the first place so changing the position of the sunset was a welcomed change.

finished scenery

After everyone had presented Conánn Fitzpatrick then gave us a lecture on lighting techniques in Autodesk Maya.

One way to do good lighting for a dark room animation you can use the hyper shade. In there you can take lambert 27 and mib_amb_occulision3 under mental ray and then textures, which creates ambient occulision. Then take the ambient occlusion output and link it into ambient colour of the lambert. Then after that is done bring up the IPR render to render the scene constantly so it updates as you change things. Then you can take the light and mess with the settings to make the perfect dimness so that the lighting that you are wanting for that scene shows up well.

If you are wanting a desk lamp you can use a spot light and bring that in to the scene and create a really nice way of lighting for the scene, when adding your light to the model of your lamp you can hold V so that it snaps to the geometry, and use T for tracking, this is great for positioning your light. Then go into your light attributes and mess with the light colour, depending on if you want it softer, harder, warmer or colder. You can also add texture to the light to make it have a smokey feel to it, adding atmosphere, this is under 3D textures, in the hypershade,  you can choose from a lot of texture here but brownian is a good all rounder for this.

If you want the light that you have created to go through walls, select the wall and go into object display and turn off cast shadows.

If you want to create a night vision type of scene do the ambient occlusion as mention before and make it so that the bright becomes dark and the dark becomes light in the attributes. Its a bit like a heat map.

If you find that you get too much noise in your renders to get rid of the noise, increase the sample number, which should be the top setting in the attributes.

Also add occlusion to your scenes so that it doesn’t take on too much of the hard shadows that can be created. In environment scene you would use more directional lighting, as well as atmospheric lighting so that its not so flat.

If you wanted to deform your model to make it more organic or squeegeed you can go into Lattic and use the deformer tool to do this.

Use rampshader in hypsershade to create a gradient of colours on your model and you can even texture those colours to make a more organic looking model rather than having it just flat. You can also have layered shades that can give you, well, layered textures, You can be more exact with where you place your textures.

New Narratives: Narrative

Narrative, Narration and Narrator

How do you understand narrative?

The narrative tells a story with a beginning a middle and an end, it also takes many forms including linear narrative form and non-linear. Our engagement of story depends on our understanding of pattern of change, stability, cause and effect, time and space.

If there is a random string of events it is hard to understand narrative, you can try to make sense of it in your head by you will never truly know if that is the true narrative. Its important that the narrative makes sense and actually tells a story that makes sense for the audience.

It can be hard to just tell a story through just the actions, you need the narrative to go with the actions so that it explains the story, otherwise it would be very confusing.

This is a great article where Michael Arndt talks about the things that he learned at pixar to writing a good beginning which was really interesting; http://www.mentorless.com/2015/04/27/michael-arndt-about-the-5-steps-he-learned-at-pixar-to-write-a-good-beginning/

Read your love story again and figure out how you can tell this in different ways

Animated short: Back from Easter

Before we got off for Easter we assigned who was going to be modelling what as we wanted to have all our models done from when we got back from easter so that we could officially set the scene and start our 3D Animatic. I was assigned the Mountains, clouds, fireflies effects, snow effects and the painted backgrounds, as well as some textures and typography. Since we will be doing this over Easter the importance of using Asana was high as we knew if we did not follow it we would end up being off schedule and have created unnecessary stress.

I wanted to get the hardest out of the way first by looking into nParticles for the snow and Fireflies. The snow was the easy part, I just created a plane added the particles, messed with the speeds, wind directions and just testing out all the settings in general so I could become comfortable with using particles in general. (edit: we ended up not using the snow because we felt that it took away the focus from the characters too much but it was a fun learning curve)

snow

After I had created the snow effect I then moved onto the fireflies and found that there was no tutorials on creating this sort of effect. The best tutorial that i could find was this one on controlling a particle swarm;

This wasn’t easy at all, the more I played with it the less it looked like fireflies, so I called in reinforcements and asked Alec if he could help me out and showed me different things that I could play around with, then I brought Kristina in to help me out which she is a wizard at figuring stuff out and was able to create the fireflies in a jar which was awesome!

fireflies

I then worked at modeling the clouds and had created 3 styles. The first one being a low poly cloud that was pretty interesting, i also create two variations of bubble clouds. I messed with the transparency and texture of them to see what I could create.

I also created low poly mountains which was a lot of fun playing with how the vertices so go to create particular shadows that you would find in low poly art. I looked at videos to help me get a basic idea of how to create low poly scenery. I found this one by Jordan Lang pretty useful as I saw how he took a place and moved the verts to create mountains, as well as how he created trees and clouds.

Here is the models I made with the background that I also painted;

background1

I also did some character textures;

I also created typography for the Animation, capturing the cute romantic feel of the animation and taking inspiration from the animations that i had researched before hand.