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


Data Visualisation: Rendering

Today Alec Parking gave a lecture on RenderingRendering is the process of generating an image from a 2D or 3D model (or models in what collectively could be called a scene file) by means of computer programs. Also, the results of such a model can be called a rendering.

Rendering can take a long time if you have a lot of of things going on in the scene and if you have a deadline it is important that you plan out how long it will take so that you do not go over the deadline due to the amount of time it takes to render it. If you want to save time you can use a render farm, which is a group of networked computers devoted to rendering images, you can use this to speed up the process of rendering that you wouldn’t be able to do if you do not have powerful equipment. It does cost money however to get a render farm company to do this. If you do render all at once this is called a batch render and the longest of them.

You can also render it in different sections, like you can render the background separately from the characters to cut down rendering times. As well as cutting the animation into separate scenes and rendering them at the same time but on different machines.

Photo bashing is also another type of rendering, it used mainly for concept art, its also used for gaining a more realistic outcome. Its a good thing to look into for practice as it may come in useful.

There is also digital matte painting which is like a mixture of 2D and 3D, its used mainly in visual effects. A good example is Kobi Moldavski’s showreel, you can see that he usually has a main 3D image and then uses 2D images to put these in the background and making it look realistic to suit the scene.

Something that is really important is correctly setting up a linear workflow in Maya;

Basically a picture is made up of red blue and green pixels, sRGB being the standard. We want to keep the gamma linear so that we have as much information in the lights and the darks rather than it losing information rather than your image beginning noisy and off colour.In sRGB the white is twice as bright while in a linear colour spacing. It is important to know how colours work in different settings and files, EXR keeps the linear workflow while Tiff does not. This also applies to real life as you need to know that if you were to do a oil painting you need to know that oil paints do not dry, it oxidises.



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


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;


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.

Animated Short: Falling for you

After showing the second years our story they told us to avoid water so we needed to re-evaluate how we wanted our story to go. After a lot of decision making we decided on Waddles admires Flutter skating on the ice. Flutter calls for Waddles to join her. Waddles confidently jumps onto the ice, only to slip and almost fall. Flutter joins him and they skate together until after sunset.

We also drew up a rough draft;


and a second draft to work out timing, camera and movement;

After finalising our drafts I decided to quickly draw up our first animatic for Falling for You;

We also worked on claymation for the animation so that we could get a better idea of how the scene will look, how the setting will be and to also take on Conánn Fitzpatrick’s advice when he said that when animators create their character they would model it in real life first. So I helped model the character using Plasticine that Michelle, Kristina and I went out to get and Robert made up a set for it. Then Michelle and Kristina worked on the animation of it.


Floating City: Modeling

So I started with the over view of the floating city so that i could get it done and show exactly what the city looks like to my team and because the garden is at the top of the floating city this means that I can work on that at the same time too, killing two birds with one stone.

So I started with the main central area of Arcadia which contains the many social layers. I took a cylinder and extruded it to get my desired shape that i was looking for that was sketched up in the concepts. I then went it and added Leonardo Da Vinci’s aerial spiral that keeps the middle floating steadily. I did this by take a plane an using the curve tool to crate the spiral. You can see this in the image below;


I then went in and did the housing areas that are sectioned by north, south, east and west of Rome. These are inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s tank designs. The housing contains all of the people of Romes houses as well as a common area in the lower area of the housing tanks. I then added the aerial spirals to these as well and duplicated them into their positions. Our original plan for the housing area was that they would each have their own houses and then outside of their houses would be a massive painting of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa except its only the background of the painting that is used so that it gives the housing area an open feel to it.


Here is a birds eye view of the overview of ArcadiaBIRDSEYEOVERVIEWIP

I then went in and did the garden area and started by creating arches all around the outside of the Garden area. This become a staple for the rest of the team to use as they would then gain the proper size of the layers and therefore we wont have and sizing issues. I then went in and started planning out the area, placing basic shapes at for where the farms would be as well as the forest areas, lakes, bridges and middle statue. I then went on to the finer details and worked on a Rome styles farm building as well as following tutorials to help me making the fence, that i have reference in a post before. I also worked on trees and then the Rome Column to symbolise a new begging for Rome. I then worked on texturing the different things within the garden using different materials, but mainly lambert.


Here is the side profile of the final look of Arcadia, fully textured. I also added clouds to it to add to the effect of the floating city. I quite like how it has turned out. I feel like I definitely need to improve on my lighting though, hence the dark shadow on the side of the below image.


I then had to model the bath house, because I researched the pools from Tomorrowland I wanted to incorporate this into them into the rome styled bath houses. I followed the sketches I had in my sketchbook and tried to replicate it from there. I then needed to figure out how to do a spiral stair case in which I looked up a tutorial as I referenced in an earlier post and followed that tutorial to get the desired look to the bath house that I wanted.


I did try to add water to the bath house using BitFrost but this did not go successfully, it was probably because I did it on my laptop rather than my computer but after that it slowed my file way down for some reason but its still working luckily. It was fun to experiment with fluid in Maya and I would like to try and understand it in the future.bathhouseclose



Animated Short: Choices

When we had our team meeting I caught up on everyone’s ideas and discussed any new ones that our team members came up with. Robert has a very interesting idea using different materials to create a bird character flying through the air and creating a love heart in a symbolic way, it would look really pretty and would require a lot of particle work, which would be a pretty risky and adventurous thing to go for.

Michelle also had some great ideas including; A tortoise finds a bird fallen out of the nest. The tortoise helps the bird back into the nest, when doing so an apple will fall from the tree. The implicit meaning would be “A good deed will be rewarded.”

Michelle and Robert also had a good idea of using simplistic shapes with different characteristics to determine each one, like a bean. Michelle came up with a story for them about the baby bean getting lost and the rest of the bean family help rescue the bean baby. The implicit meaning is that “Family sticks together”. Kristina talked about her idea about a rat after cheese and showed us her animation that she had done back in college for one of her projects which was very cute.

I think we were all leaning toward a happy or cute story, one which would lift the viewers spirits. I feel like going for a cute story would allow us to tell a good story within our 30 second time frame and make it read well and loveable.

I then showed my team after getting caught up with everyone ideas and they all seemed to like my idea. The audience could relate to the characters interactions in the story as it could be the start of a love story. It also follows the writers journey you have the start of a normal say, the call to adventure, a moment of panic and wonder as to what will happen next, with a nice happy ending, return with the elixir.

We then all took a vote on what we wanted to story to be and the team decided to go for my story of the ice skating birds. I’m glad we could get the story agreed on sooner rather than later because that means we saved a lot of time for any problems that we may come across, as well as time for other projects as well. This also meant we can stay looking at the story and making changes to it so it can be more desired by the rest of the team

Speaking of time, we all knew that time management was key and that we NEEDED to make sure that we grasped time management from the beginning because we had all been in teams where time management hasn’t been so good and we wanted to make sure that it would not happen with this project. That being said I immediately created an Asana for our team, we all sat together and listed all of the areas that we would need to cover and then decided on appropriate dates for those things that needed to be done. We also knew that this would be perfect for Easter break because then we wouldn’t have to worry that no one is working as everyone would see if everyone was doing their tasks through the use of Asana and if anyone needed an extra hand.

Time management will also be perfect as a less stressed team gets more work done and gets along as we will just see whats next to do and get stuck in. We wanted our Asana to be very realistic with our time management as we gave ourselves room for failure, other projects and time for tweaking when planning out our timetable. Every team needs to do this and stick to it, I learned from the Floating City project that if all your team isn’t taking time to look at Asana or time management tool then this can be a weakness in your team and could end up in everyone not following it because plans were not met. Even if the deadlines that you have set your team changes due to problems you will still have time to get back on track. It’s good have an approximate length of time for each task with your limited budget.


According to what our team had decided on Asana next on our agenda was to get character concepts and scenery concepts down. Time to research! My guilty pleasure is to watch Bob Ross every Monday on Twitch, he really is an amazing painter and I have actually improved in my background art due to watching him so much. So when I was thinking about background and scenery I immediately thought about one of his snowy frozen lake paintings that you can see below;

We also talked about how we wanted the setting to take place at sun set, this meant we would need to look at how that would effect the colours of our scene. We all agreed that this would also give some really nice reflection in our ice as well as a lovely colour scheme to work with, also adding to the romantic setting we wanted to implement.

Robert also mentioned about the northern lights and what if we were to incorporate this as it would create some beautiful lighting for our scene and would also add to the romantic cute feel we wanted to go for. This made me think about where would this place actually be? so I looked up the main places that you can see the northern lights in winter and found this website. One of the areas that we liked was Northern Canada which you can see below;

Robert then suggested that the location should be in the french alps which I completely agree with as it would would well with the romance iconography that we want to go for as France is known to be one of the most romantic countries in the world. This also meant that we would also go for the sun set backdrop instead of having the northern lights, which was probably good as having the northern lights may have taken away from the character focus. This was also a good idea as in one of the lectures we had our tutors stressed that it is important that you know where your animation is taking place.

When looking into what our scene should have and look like a great artist that I looked at was Lisa Keene who did very beautiful concept art for the animation Frozen, as well as different trees that they looked into using, including how they wanted the ice to look which you can see some were stylized while some was semi realistic. She is also really talented at showing how light would effect it as well which I hope to learn from;

We also remembered the snow scene from Bambi and Michelle told us some really interesting information on the backgrounds in Bambi and how it was inspired by the Eastern American woodlands. A Disney studio, Maurice “Jake” Day, spent several weeks in the Vermont and Maine forests, sketching and photographing deer, fawns, and the surrounding wilderness areas. However his first sketches were too “busy” as the eye did not know where to focus. Tyrus Wong, a Chinese animator, showed Day some of his impressionistic paintings of a forest. Day liked the paintings and appointed him art director of the film. Wong’s backgrounds were revolutionary since they had more detail around the center and less around the edges, thus leading a viewer’s eye to the characters.

I felt that this scene related massively to our ice skating scene within our story as it shows Bambi struggling on the ice and Thumper being able to ice skate easily over the ice and tries to help Bambi ice skate. It was create to see the animation and how they made the characters move.

I also looked into Sukhbir Purewals concept art for Angry Birds Go as I absolutely love the style and colour palate that he has used for these. Kristina also said about making our scenery low poly when it came to modelling them and i felt that Sukhbir’s art style was a great representation of this and inspired me greatly.

Taking my research into consideration I did some quick concepts of scenery that we could use;



3D Animation: Principles

Action and pose-to-pose are two different animation techniques that have different results. In the early days of hand-drawn animation pose-to-pose action became the standard animation technique because it breaks down structured motion into a series of clearly defined key poses. In straight-ahead action the character moves spontaneously through the action one step at a time Straight-ahead until the action is finished.

Follow-through action consists of the reactions of the character after an action, and it usually lets audiences know how he or she feels about what has just happened or is about to happen. In overlapping action multiple motions influence, blend, and overlap the position of the character.

Slow in and slow out is when there is slowing down at the beginning and at the end of the action while speeding up in the middle of it. For example a bouncing ball goes faster when it approaches or leaves the ground, but when it goes closer to its final position it goes slower.

Here is our teams Animation Principles presentation


3D Animation: Bilbo Blobbins

So this is my blob, it didn’t always look like this, I had it all set out, saved it and then when I came back to it to finish it the rotate was messed up and the tail locked so I couldn’t move it but fear not Alec Parkin fixed my problem.

I’m going to fix it up and look at blocking and anticipation. This was also used in the golden era of Disney animation, before being sent on to the in-between animators which is really interesting to read about.

For next week we have to look for 12 different animators, these 12 different animators have to apply to each of the 12 principles of animation. This will help with the presentation at the end.

3D Animation: Arm nom nom nom

We looked at overlapping and had to animate a robotic arm on maya autodesk so I started with a wee bit of a swing and then brought it to life! ‘om nom nom’

When animating this I looked at robotic arms just to see how they move and found a robotic arm that catches objects when it is thrown in the robots direction.

“The researchers developed a system where the arm can be moved in real-time by a human who teaches it how to catch a tossed object. The process, called “programming by demonstration”, mimics the same way people learn.

Once it’s figured out how to catch one, the arm uses a camera-based tracking system to refine its movements so it can catch tossed items before they hit the ground. The result: the arm can make adjustments – in as few as five-hundreds of a second – to catch objects thrown at it.”


Robotic Arm (click for source)

3D Animation: Bouncy Ball Course


In our team we decided to keep a similar layout but experiment with it and change things so that each of our ball courses would be unique and different while helping each other at the same time. Gianni is really enthusiastic about Autodesk Maya and got stuck in right away and had multiple ideas with multiple courses which were all very complicated done which made us confused about teamwork and how we were supposed to approach the task but in the end we were able to complete each of our courses.