Category Archives: Task 06

Task 6c: VTOL

This task, the vertical lift off, asked us to demonstrate weight, force and gravity. The flight and trajectory of the flying vehicle will be simultaneously affected be its own weight and the pull of gravity; this will be most obvious at the point the vehicle loses contact with the ground and as it turns during flight.

I chose to animate a helicopter as it is a realistic vehicle and has an interesting weight distribution (with most of the weight in the front the helicopter – this is most evident when it turns in mid-flight). So I began modelling my helicopter and used the following as a reference:


<click for source>

To import this reference into the scene, I simply used it as a material on a plane. This allowed me to easily refer and model the primitives directly next to the image.


I decided to make the body of the helicopter one object and the blades separate. Once my model was complete I quickly linked the parts together into a basic hierarchy. For example, the blades are linked to a simple torus which will rotate causing the blades to spin as a helicopter’s would. My helicopter is ready!


I watched some reference videos to get a better understanding of how helicopters move. From this I drew my thumbnails:


After finishing the animation and fixing up the scene, I looked into using motion blur. I know that other people in our class have had issues with their helicopter blades “slowing down” as the speed increased (due to a lack of motion blur). 3DsMax allows motion blur for objects but only using certain renders. I thought I would try this for my helicopter. Firstly you turn on motion blur for the objects that need blurring:

motion blur2

Then, in the render settings, you turn on motion blur. I used the NVDIA Mental Ray renderer with the default motion blur settings. I would like to play around with this more as the blur could have been exaggerated more:

motion blur

Below is the final animation for my vertical takeoff:

The finished video is okay. Even though I rendered at a high quality the final video looks grainy, especially on the sky. I am not sure whether this was the render settings (as I do not normally use mental ray) or YouTube compression or a combination of both. Also, the motion blur could have been exaggerated more.

Task 6b: Canon Fire

The task of the canon fire was to demonstrate the basic laws of physics (equal and opposite reaction), weight and force. The rig was provided to us so all we had to do was animate. See my thumbnails below:


I used these as a reference when I started animating. Initially, my animation was quite extreme. The canon was jerking upwards far too much.


From a reference video I found that the canon barely moves due to its weight. Unfortunately, this looked very bland when animated so I settled for a midpoint – not realistic but not too extreme. After keying in the movements, adding a canon ball and fixing up the timing I finished the scene by adding a camera, a skylight and a basic sky-dome. However, when I went to render I found that the rope was not visible:

CANON_0053I checked it visibility, the rendering settings, its own rendering properties and nothing made a difference. In the end I could not get it to render, so my final video is missing the rope. Did anyone else run into this issue?

EDIT: You can actually make the rope visible by applying a Normal modifying and flipping the normals. However, it doesn’t look good: parts of it disappear – especially where it wraps around the back of the canon. So I chose to keep it hidden.

I am fairly happy with this animation. However, if I had more time, I would like to animate the canon going through a wall (or similar) as it would be interesting learning to use the physics engine.

Task 6a: Bouncing Ball

Our first task this Trimester was to demonstrate our understanding of squash and stretch, basic physics and different weights by animating a set of bouncing balls. To do this we used objects in the classroom to get a basic understanding of timing. Using a small rubber ball rolling off a book as a reference I drew the following thumbnails.


From these thumbnails I developed key-frames, then breakdowns and moved them to the appropriate position. After fiddling around a bit with timing, I added squash and stretch. Unfortunately, I did this before adding rotation so I had to delete and redo all of the squash and stretch anyway. It was good practice anyway. In order to demonstrate the different weights I decided to animate a small rubber ball, a soft ball and a bowling ball. The trajectories of these balls are shown below:


Through this exercise I developed my understanding and application of physics; learnt how to the show the trajectory of an object; learnt how to scale frames; and also learnt that it is probably better to do rotation before squash and stretch.

Before rendering I added a camera, a basic skydome and a skylight. I am relatively happy with my final animation: the only issue is that the small rubber ball does not seem completely round at any point. I am not sure what happened but I assume I stretched it without realising (my autokeys were working off and on). If I had the time I would redo it but the other tasks are more of a priority at the moment. Below is my final animation and video: