Thursday, 27 April 2017

False Alarm

Wrong Deadline Date

So it would seem I was wrong with my deadline, giving me an extra whole day to complete some of my animation. Still not finished in regards to rendered but I want to focus on my animation and posing skills as rendering is something I am quite comfortable with.

The story has developed introducing one of the other characters, Blue Icecream is attempting to go to Pink, but gets perhaps a little too cocky.

It has been a long day. Can't seem to get transparency rendering in Maya Hardware 2.0 and I don't currently have the time to do any Arnold rendering, even if I did, I'd also have to spend the time taking the scene lighting, materials and textures into account, none of which are finished, sadly.

Though this has been a terrible turn of events in regards to the productivity across the project being lackluster I am genuinely surprised at the speed I have been able to create this animation, still very rough and definitely wish I had done this sooner to have time for polish.

Welp, hopefully for the next project to come I don't make the same mistakes.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Other Experimentation


Was asked a question about how to go about rigging a BB8, so I thought i'd give it a go and do a little animation.

Legs rigging & double bounce

Legs rig experiment and double bounce walk animation based on animation principles classes.

Bathing in self Disappointment

What happened!?

Its roughly 8 hours before deadline and I still don't have a finished animation or idea that I am happy with. Clearly there's been some time management issues and somewhere down the line a reduction in workload. What made me slow down? I've no idea, but hopefully I can learn from these mistakes.

Making sure to also give myself enough time to document my work, this leaves me with 6, even less, hours to create an animation, the premise, the Ice-cream wants tea, the obstacle? The kitchen.

Kitchen Sketchfab

To get an idea of how and what I wanted to model for the kitchen I went and took various pictures of my own kitchen, I also took a couple different exposures of some scenes to create a HDR image.



Animation Tests & Render Tests

Render / Look Dev

To get a feel for how well the characters would render I did some different tests also trying to convey the different characters that the Ice-creams would convey.

Environment simple render for time test.

Next thing to tackle was how might I apply a face to these characters. Taking Pixlpit texture animation as inspiration. What was difficult is finding a way to generate an alpha channel as arnold doesn't support using PNG alpha. I tried connecting the PNG alpha into the alpha map in the connection editor but this didn't work. I also experimented with different methods in flash such as the mask system, which worked but caused some minor issues with the nested symbols. Finally I had the idea to use a tint on the symbol in flash with 2 instances making it completely white allowing me to generate 2 image sequences, an alpha pass and a colour pass.
I quite liked the effect with the shadow of the face being cast on his body. Also felt there was a lot of freedom for expression for as long as I can imagine and draw.

The usual walking test, really gives a good feel for working with my own rigs. Though this one in particular didn't quite feel that good to work with, especially with some of the limitations in poses and the way the limbs protrude from the body.

Following on from this I wanted to create a walk to get a feel for the other characters, making this one more feminine and elegant.

More Pre-Production!?

Ice Cream Project

Seems to not be going too well, both time management wise and general production. I have no real explanation as to why my work is degrading. With the focus on trying to get a good solid pre-production I got lost, overflowing with scrapped ideas and half finished storyboards.

Heres a few more pre-production sketches to add to the pile.


Prior to the 3D creation, in addition to referencing all the files into the scene I made sure to set up quick selection sets and conveniently colour coded them to each ice-cream.

Pre-vis using the original animatic concept.
In hindsight, I don't see why I didn't follow through on this.

Final Animation

Doing more sketches of the character and scenes my overall design for the narrative and animation have changed slightly and thus I have reflected these changes in the final version. I removed the scarf because I wasn't quite able to find the time to animate it.


Final Playblast

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Traditional Notes and Experiments

Notes and Music Choosing
Links to all music at the bottom

Listening through the different music candidates, doing short visual experiments and taking notes as to the emotion, texture I can feel in the music. Often I work fast as I capture a moment that I like, though I've been learning to limit myself to trying to capture small parts in a composition and not the entire soundtrack, otherwise it becomes a mess and even if done well wouldn't capture the intricacies of how the music develops, which is vital for animation.

Terminology regarding art, mood, emotion feels to be my most limiting factor and thus I've been trying to expand my terminology for this as time progresses. Being able to describe complex feelings, emotion and shapes through fewer words really helps, not only for myself to get a sense of what I am to create but also the application in team environments, or even clients.

Music Colour Reactions

Swapping music with Alfie Bolton and doing reactionary paintings.

Further traditional experimentation.

Music List
01. Nin10doh - Approaching Nirvana
02. Divinire - Ludovico Einaldi
05. Dog of Wisdom - The Living Tombstone
06. Razor Sharp - Pegboard Nerds & Tristram
08. Liquid Stacking - Brusspup
09. Straight to Video - Mindless Self Indulgence
10. Where is my Mind - Pixies
11. These Last Days - Approaching Nirvana

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

MASH Networks

MASH Networks

Further research into MASH networks and how to use them effectively and the capabilities of what they can be used for. Finding a lot of information and still barely scraping the surface of how powerful MASH can be within Maya. Initially I wasn't so sure on whether I wanted to look into using much more of MASH as I hadn't quite gotten into the swing of being able to control the results. Looking into the functionality there is much more control than I could have ever imagined. The nature of the system leads to pretty quickly generating results that can be passed off as quite attractive to look at, but the shear depth provided gives ample amounts of creative freedom, if you're able to problem solve your way through the mass amount of interchangeable nodes that can adversely affect results based on the order they're in. Being a mathematical system, it works both ends of the spectrum, creating either natural shapes and movement through use of Fibonacci or more mechanical similar to the Sierpinski triangle.

Fibonacci Spiral Sierpinski Triangle

I've fulfilled one goal with MASH networks in relation to creating procedural audio animation, something I've always wanted to create, but never found the software or information on where to start. So my next goal, is to create something else I've always wanted too, a distinguishable figure using procedural systems. Always amazed me to see characters made out of unconventional substances especially when that substance also adheres to rules that synchronise with another stimuli.
I want to make a man made out of the music.

So I did.

Low detail render to get a broader glimpse at the movement, however, to get a feel for how it may look rendered 17 second clip part of the way through the sequence. Though the character is only performing a walk cycle, I can pose this character and animate him similarly to any other 3D character. I simply did a walk cycle to keep my tests simple more as a personal proof of concept to understand the nodes in MASH.

MASH definitely requires a LOT more exploration and I know I'll definitely be using this for a whole plethora of different things in Maya from abstract animation, dynamic movement or even creating interesting character rigs. Literally, endless capabilities and I am excited.

Initially I've been finding it difficult to find much information on MASH Networks, the system still seems relatively new. A lot of the information I found lead me to discover Mainframe a UK based Motion Graphics studio that handily have a Vimeo filled with both MASH tutorials and a body of work that is also great for inspiration. Further digging reveals they are the creators of the MASH software for Maya. As a new addition to Maya 2017 explains why I've not stubbled across this previously.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Animation Experiments

Toon Boom
Picking up Toon Boom hasn't been too difficult especially combined with my past years of experience using flash.

Here's some animation experiments done in Toon Boom.

 Mood Thumbnails for Animation.

Animation based on the bottom right thumbnail done in Toon Boom. Though Toon Boom has some built in texture brushes, the system doesn't appear to be as powerful as Photoshop, not to mention the more information in an image means there's more to animate.

Animate CC
(formerly known as Flash)
Decided to transition over to AnimateCC for 2D animation, this is because I know a lot more about this software and I've also got access to Adobe Creative Cloud outside of university. Though AnimateCC itself is not as powerful as Toon Boom the software has undergone a lot of changes since the re-branding of the software and thus Adobe are pushing the animation capabilities of the software. With all the inter connectivity of the Adobe Creative Cloud I can create custom brushes and colour pallets with their mobile app and import them into any one of their desktop software.

First test using the music.

Took some steps back and looked into doing some animation tests without my music in mind. Did a single animation that covers a couple different tastes. I started with sour, though it came out quite sharp, transitioning into sweet followed by some movement and timing tests.

Animate has the ability to nest different symbols inside of each other. I've never managed to utilise this function effectively and previous experiences was trying to create symbol based character rigs which didn't work so well. Abstract animation is not something I had particularly thought of using the system for. So here we go. lets see what I can come up with.

Listening back to this videos hurts my soul

Anyway, here's a few different experiments I did using this system I made.

Added my face as an experiment for changing the core shape to a textured one. also thought this would be hilarious.

Now to try and apply the system in a more practical manner I recreated an animated interpretation of a previous Photoshop piece.

Experimenting with audio visual in Maya wasn't quite working as it was taking quite some time to create anything that was not even barely interesting or what I wanted. So I put this to one side and intend to continue with 2D.
In doing my general rounds on plural sight, watching videos and just finding more knowledge for myself in software, mainly Maya. Decided to recap on some basic animation tools and see if there's any basic tools that I didn't know about. of course there were some though right at the end of the video modules there was a brief introduction to MASH.

MASH is a procedural generative system in Maya 2017 that essentially allows to application of math and variables to 3D geometry to create interesting effects. This is somewhat similar to the methods I was using to create animation in Animate in the above experiments, though this would be in 3D and likely much more powerful. So I began some experimentation and see what I can come up with. So far my understanding is pretty basic but I think I've got an idea of how I can apply the system in a manner to create interesting compositions. The main downside with using Maya is render times.

Short test using very basic MASH network functionality. Took ages to render.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Research & Inspiration

Animusic is an audio visual animation studio that creates 3D interpretations of audio with the use of MIDI. The MIDI data reduces each aspect of the music to its own individual instrument, a file normally used for creating audio, because of this its possible to isolate the different instruments, pitches and other data that can be used to process the 3D imagery, essentially timing the entire animation leaving more time to focus on creating environments and instrument/characters.
Though due to the nature of creating 3D instruments their body of work is mainly literal interpretations of music but some do take into account colour and shape to emphasis the instruments themselves, especially when it comes to synthesised audio with no inherent instrument tied to them.

Animusic 2 - Resonant Chamber

Animusic have currently 2 DVD's   and there's currently a 3rd in the making, though taking a while. (eagerly anticipating). I've had an interest in Animusic for years and I've yet to find find any information for the kinds of software they use. they've recently developed new software to create these animations but it all appears to be in-house.

What is definitely intriguing is looking back at where the founder of Animusic, Wayne Lytle started out. Though I was aware of this animation, looking back on it with more experience I'm definitely more aware.

More Bells & Whistles by Wayne Lytle

Recently discovered, Beeple creates both machines and abstraction with the use of 3D software. What drew me into Beeples work was ZERO - DAY a synchronised music animation with machines. What makes this interesting is the overlap of news reports regarding computer hacking and virtual wars. Similar topics are addressed in another of Beeples animations, Transparent Machines.

ZERO-DAY from beeple on Vimeo.

Beeples Vimeo is filled with a whole bunch of different 3D abstract proof of concept type animations. Dating back 8 years. Though what drew my attention was IV. 10 an animation 4 years prior to ZERO-DAY but shares similarities. Really getting the feel for where people started.

IV.10 from beeple on Vimeo.

Andrew Bepler
Bepler is pretty interesting in his methods and the type of content he creates. His animations aren't necessarily coincided with sound but there's elements in some of his 2D visual effects that I find satisfying to watch. There's no inherently great examples as they're dotted about a lot of content. He also does flash tutorials, not the most concise but good if you do understand what hes talking about.

Brendan Deboy
This is pretty fun, Brendan does animations based on different recordings of his children. Pretty cute, I like this one as it has some elements of audio and music.

Gnoms - Episode 1: Red by Brendan Deboy

Music combined with Animation, or any other kind of visuals is intriguing, the different moods and styles to be explored is limitless. Though audio can drastically change the mood of an animation its also worth noting that visuals can also drastically change the perception of audio. There has been a number of song that I wouldn't otherwise like, just because I've enjoyed watching a music video that I liked, almost settling the song into a mood / scenario that I'd not have thought of otherwise. Though the project is abstract interpretation of music, this is merely a starting point for creating other types of musical animation. The mastery of mood through abstraction gives the ability to apply abstract concepts to that of literal ones. One can build characters with shapes, being able to chose the best shapes, gives the best characters. Lets not get too deep into shape language here though.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Stood Up Concepts and Pre-Vis


Taking into account the design of the character I have been considering a festive theme to my animation with the initial idea being that she would be stood up by Santa. This came across as perhaps a little too dark. Considering other themes lead to an idea with a snowman, had some interesting thoughts. I wanted to focus less on dynamic cinematography so I could focus more on the performance animation and using my rig to its potential.

I always dislike this stage, the animation never looks good and it always feels like I've just half arsed the project. but its definitely a helpful phase to get a perspective of the full animation and all the movements involved. Keeping my first pass VERY rough so that I at least have something to show.

Got a friend to give me his opinion on the current state of the animation, with the main mention being a need for some more camera angles. Which after re-watching I definitely agree with, even though my intention was to cut down on camera to focus on performance, I am able to keep the same performance and just view from different angles.

Narrative Old Concepts

Scrapped Concepts

First concept was a character living a monotonous boring job, who enjoys spending time with his kids each evening under tight circumstances such as living expenses and low income. He takes up a job to ear more money but in result, becomes unhappy due to longer hours. Creating a detachment with his children as they age, even though what hes doing gives them a better life.


Love Tradgedy
This was a development on the story using a similar character. He comes across a girl in the park he eats his lunch. Every day is a usual routine that he takes, with the girl always opposite. He finally musters the courage to go over and talk to her, going out of his way to also get flowers. Turns out, shes dead.

This idea got a little out of hand, building a whole plethora of different characters, an organisation and society and how they're all interconnected and that there's illegal planetary exploration going on with the use of people who have almost no connections in society. The main character is someone who again, has a monotonous job and is then later sold out to the planetary exploration company as a disposable person who wont be missed as he has no connections besides his dead wife. Launched to another planet, left alone to survive as an experiment to see if life could exist on the planet. He comes across his dead wife, turns out she'd been taken to the other planet, hence why she was never found. They build a rebellion against the company and strive to tell the world the truth about how they're able to find inhabitable planets.
Yeah, a little bit too complicated for a short film perhaps. though I did create some short storyboards that I accidentally broke the 180 degree rule in.



Doing storyboards in flash to get a feel for the progression of the story. Finding this step particularly difficult as there's so many options in regards to cinematography and progression.

Having to do some revisions to the concept as the part with the ice cream being scooped out of the tub may be difficult to do,

As much as I have been neglecting or disliking the story-boarding process, mostly due to being aware that there are almost infinite possibilities for each decision made, making it difficult to choose something to stick with. Always aware that for each decision made rules out all other possibilities. Except this is not the case as there is always room to go back and refine scenes, my first decisions don't need to be the best ones.

Upon jumping in and starting to create a 3D pre-vis I soon came to realise how much easier the process is using my storyboard as a reference for what scenes to do. There is much more sense for direction and progression and a clear understanding of how much work needs to be done. With this in mind I've felt more inspired to go back and refine and improve my storyboard.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Concept Development

Ghost Concept

Taking the idea of a ghost character further I began to create some storyboards and develop a story. This wasn't quite going as well as I had hoped and thus began to push through with some other ideas and sketches to see where they lead.

Girl, Robots & Icecream

Really just throwing together different concept sketches as starting points, some being environments, characters or even some particular compositions and the meaning they may convey or the story that could be used to represent.


Once had a number of different ideas to look back on I started going through and questioning what I could do with each of the concepts and looking further into some of them considering how I would go about creating them.

The musical legs concept resonates with my musical side tying into my inspirations from Animusic, however, I'm unaware of how I would integrate the systems into Maya and thus seemed like something I'd rather approach with further understanding of particles or perhaps other software such as Houdini.

The robot concept wasn't quite inspiring me to create any interesting stories. Which is a shame as I was looking forward to trying some different rigging processes to create robotic functions of joints.

Of course one note I had made was the thought of doing an Escher styled animation. Being a known artist I took a look into how other people have been inspired by Escher for their animation and their methods of execution. Most notable is Monument Valley an Escher inspired game that uses an Orthographic Isometric camera to create perspective illusion.

Relativity by M.C. Escher

Finally I settled on the concept with the Ice Cream as it was inspiring a lot of different ideas and concepts that could potentially be used. Furthering some of my sketches of Ice Creams to create a character that had some dynamic expression and movement. Which in hindsight I've almost developed the character in a manner that applies more to 2D animation over 3D. Not necessarily a huge problem, just worth noting to take more consideration to the context in which the character will be created and perceived.


Goals that were clear in designs. Simple limbs, almost like stick figures in 3D, agile for freedom of movement but enough limitation to find creative ways of animating. The initial concepts were quite deep, developing a society in which the characters lived in, this had too many characters and seemed quite ambitious, thus starting to look at simple story concepts to instead focus more on animation production. Looking at adding some action to create room for different styles of animation and camera.


Mood Board

Looking at "low poly" designs as they're visually interesting but also provide a challenge with minimal shapes. The style also lends itself well to bright colours and simple shapes, almost like toys. Which works well for keeping the characters fun.