Category Archives: Studio 1

Showreel 2.0

Second version of my showreel, ready for tomorrow’s exhibition:

Asteria Title

For the final project, our graphic designer gave us titles for both Asteria and Hyperion. The original Asteria title is below:


From the APT on Wednesday we decided that the titles need more personality and should reflect the theme of the game more. Therefore, I have added some textures, colouring and circuits to the title so that it suits Asteria better and matches the awesome texture that Toby has given her. The result is below:


Task 12: Tabletop Composition

I have composited the tabletop animation into the footage I took a couple of days ago. To do this I tried several different methods of motion tracking and compositing. I looked at ways to import 3D objects into After Effects but could not find a way without buying plugins or expensive programs. Eventually I just changed the viewport in 3DsMax to a PNG sequence of my video file and adjusted my model to suit. Then I rendered and composited the footage together. Below is a breakdown of the composition:

Below is the final composit:

Even though I have tried extremely hard to fix this, the books still seem to slide.

Task 9: Finished Obstacle Course

Below is the final version of my section of the obstacle course animation:

There is still much I could have done to fix this up, such as giving more weight to the landings and adding facial expressions. However due to time constraints I am unable to fix these at the moment. I would like to go back and polish this more – possible over the holidays.

Task 9: All Progress

Below is a video showing all of the iterations and progress made on the obstacle course:

Task 12: Compositing Footage

Below is a comparison of the original and edited footage. In After Effects I added three modifiers:

  • Levels – to fix the lighting and contrast
  • Colour Balance – to warm up the footage
  • Warp Stabilizer VFX – to stabilize the shaky footage

I am not sure how effective the stabilization was… it seems to have blurred the frames a bit. I might try to find a better method or modifier.

Task 9: First Pass of Inbetweens

In the video below is the unedited curves and then the first pass of the edited curves. Between these stages I had to fix the right arm (the one closest to the camera) because it was using FK targets. The FK targets did not inbetween well (you can see this when he is climbing) so I had to change this to IK and redo all of the keys. This stage stage has taken me longer than expected as a result of this.

I will be working on this further. In particular I will focus on the moments of impact (jumping and landing) as they need more weight.

Task 11: Summary of Camera Critique

Today I will be presenting a camera critique which I have summarized below:


Slide2Yesterday, I filmed a shot that I will be using for the table top animation. For that task I will be compositing our obstacle course animations into real footage of a table top. For this I needed to film the table that Toby modeled – the table at my parents house.

Slide3Due to work, I had a limited time in which to film. This meant that I filmed indoors at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Neither the location nor lighting were ideal. This meant the location would be dark, cold and would require artificial light. As you can see there are several ways that these factors could have impacted my final footage.

Slide4In order to limit these effects I tried using the appropriate ISO and f-stop to make the best use of the light available. However, I couldn’t fix all of these, especially the temperature of the lighting and the grain of the footage but I should be able to fix these in post. If I could do this shot again I would not film at this time.

Slide5The camera I used was the uni’s Canon D600 camera. As I was shooting a close up of a table, I chose to us the smaller of the two lenses.

Slide6Before filming I did a series of tests to check settings, lighting and angles.

Slide7This was the first shot I took. As you can see it is blue, dark and soft. This was due to the lack of light and the high aperture. Even though I used a high ISO the aperture was severely limiting the amount of light let into the lens.

Slide8This time I turned on the lights and increased the ISO. The exposure is much better in this one but the image is still very soft and grainy.
Slide9Finally, I dropped the ISO back down so the image would be more sharp and also used a lower f-stop so as increase the light and make up for the lowered ISO. These settings seemed good and I was ready to shoot the footage.

Slide10These were the setting I used in the final footage. The ISO is high so it lightens the shot but not so high that the footage becomes extremely grainy. The low f-stop lets more light in thus allowing for the lowered ISO and the shallow depth of field draws attention to the action and softens the background. I believe that the settings I choose were adequate for the location and light conditions.

Slide11So here is the original unedited footage. Please note I will be fixing this up for the final composit but did not have time to last night. Also, I obviously did not have a tripod.

Slide12When composing this shot I kept our planned animations in mind. I also considered the rule of thirds and tried to apply this while filming.

Slide13As you can see, the position of the table leg and the top of the table lies along a third. This was done so as to create a visually appealing shot.

Slide14As you have just seen, my footage is less than adequate. The camera is shaky due to a lack of tripod and the footage is grainy, washed out and cold due to the lighting conditions. There are several ways that these could and can be fixed.

Slide15A tripod would have fixed the shakiness and proper lighting would have fixed the grainy footage. I should have filmed at a better time of day or set up proper studio lights. Unfortunately these are things that I can not change now. However I can fix the washed out and cold footage by simply correcting the levels and colour balancing.

In summary, while I tried to make the best of the light and the situation the final footage is not great and I could have done several things at the time of shooting to improve the quality of the shot.

Task 9: Second Pass of Stepped Keys

I have further refined the stepped keys. In particular I have focused on the hands and feet and the timing of the overall piece. There were many issues with my original stepped keys especially with hands and feet “floating” above surfaces. The first and second passes can be seen and compared below:

Tonight I will be adding the smooth curves and finishing the animation. I will be also filming the shot into which the animation will be composited.

Task 9: Obstacle Course Stepped Keys

Below is the first pass of the stepped keys for the obstacle course animation. Please note that this is just a work in progress and I shall be finishing this up over the next couple of days.

Redo of Asteria Unwrap

For the final project I have redone the Asteria unwrap. The original unwrap was symmetrical however her design is asymmetrical and needs asymmetrical uvs (I did not know this at the time). Below is the new unwrap:

Texture_Asteria_FIXEDIn order to demonstrate the left and right sides of the model I included green and red dots on a separate layer:

Texture_Asteria_FIXED2Now the model can be textured asymmetrically:


Asteria Unwrap & Basic Textures

As with the Hyperion model, I have unwrapped and started the base textures for the Asteria model. My progress is shown below:

unwrap01Again, seams and “peel” has been used. Asteria was much simpler and quicker to unwrap as she has no asymetrical elements in her design.

02The final unwrap with the checkerboard texture. As I unwrapped the model in large pieces it was very easy to pack the UVs.

03Finally I added the basic flat colours to the texture map. These are simply the beginning of the texturing and more detail will be added later.

wordpressSo finally Asteria is clothed and ready for action! Even if she has no face yet… 


Hyperion Base Textures

In my last post I showed how I unwrapped and started the texturing for the Hyperion model. I have fixed up the colours for the gallery walk tomorrow. At this stage these are just the base flat colours; detail will be added later:


Hyperion Unwrap

For our final project I have unwrapped the Hyperion Model and started the basic texturing. As the model had already been skinned I had to be really careful when collapsing the modifiers. My progress is shown below:

01I used seams and “peel” as this is an organic model.
02After the body I unwrapped the accessories. Once these were complete I collapsed the unwrap modifier down to the editable poly on each of the meshes. Then, after selecting all the meshes at once, I added an unwrap modifier and began to pack the UVs.
03When I was finished, I individually collapsed the unwrap to each mesh. All other methods caused the skinning to disappear or break (fortunately I had saved before each try). The final unwrap works with the skin modifier:
04The final unwrap is shown below. I have given the different sections a colour in order to demonstrate how the character was unwrapped.
texturesThe coloured texture applied to the Hyperion model:

Task 5: Skinning the Mage + Animation Test

This week in class we skinned the mage model to the rig that Elle set up. The rig is shown below:

01Elle has chosen to add fins in the bone modifier options. This is really cool as it helps show the positioning and orientation of the joints and muscles.

I quickly discovered that the unit setup is quite important. When I modeled the mage, I did not touch the units – this meant that the mage was very large compared to the rig when I merged the files.


This simply meant that I had to scale the mage and align it to the rig.

03This worked pretty well as I stuck closely to the reference sheets. However, the hands were wrong which meant that I had to move the mesh until it fit the rig. Here is what the fixed model looked like:

04Chris gave us a quick run down on skinning, envelopes, weighting and joint geometry. Then we applied a skin modifier and began the actual skinning process.

This took quite some time, much longer than I planned for, and involved actually adjusting the topography of my original model in some sections (particularly the belt). The final skinning and the animation test is shown below. I have placed the “before and after” renders of the mage side-by-side so as to best show the difference. I hope is this clear enough.

Unfortunately, I had some problems with parts of my model (the head and fingers) disappearing. However, I just re-rendered everything and it seemed to work fine. Did anyone else have this issue?

Hyperion Character Model

Using the model sheets and character design that Jam created, I have modeled the secondary character of our final project: Hyperion. Here are Jam’s model sheets:


As you can see, this character has several asymmetrical pieces. Even so, I began modelling the character from a box and using a symmetry modifier – similar to the mage character.


As we did with the mage model, I made sure that the joints were appropriate for animation. Here is the completed symmetrical character:


I then modeled the asymmetrical accessories separately:

02B The last thing to do was to collapse the symmetry modifier and fix up the left arm (the skeleton arm). The completed model is shown below:



The model will most likely need adjusting so that it fits to the rig and skins properly. As such, we have chosen to not unwrap the model until this is complete.

Thumbnails for Final Project

We needed thumbnails for the final project as the reference video was good but needed corrections and exaggeration.

These were my quick, initial side-view thumbnails for Asteria:


Here are the good front-view thumbnails for Asteria (read left to right):


Here are the side-view thumbnails for Hyperion:


I may have gone a bit overboard with these, but I plan to use them in a showreel.

Task 8c: Jump

The last of the weights and forces task is the jump. I have chosen to animate a standing jump. My thumbnails are below:


Throughout this task I had several issues with the rig. Most annoying were the feet: for unknown reasons they would suddenly be out of line with the controls. I didn’t know why this happened and had no proper way of fixing it apart from individually fixing the frames. I had other issues with the arms not animating properly but I sorted this out eventually.

My finished animation is below:

Task 8b: Stand Up

Continuing the weight and force task, I was to animate a person standing up. Again we were to demonstrate IK and FK targets, basic physics and bipedal movement using the SAE rig. My thumbnails are below:


I found that I had a lot of trouble with the FK and IK targets. Initially I linked them together but this seemed to destroy everything, so in the end I just used the rig as it is.

My final animation is below:

Task 8d: Item Pick Up

Within the the weights and forces task we were asked to demonstrate a character picking up an object. I choose to have the SAE rig pick up a large (and very heavy) box as I thought this would really demonstrate weight. I used the Richard Williams example of a pick up as a reference.

diagram931 4

Below are my thumbnails for the pick up. They are similar but less exaggerated.

PICK_UPI also choose to add some extra facial expressions for fun. Also, I experimented with the render settings so as to give the render a 2D effect. I used the “Tech” render setting with the Quicksilver renderer. My final video is below:

I am quite happy with how this turned out.