Wednesday, 28 November 2007

My Chair: Maya

After creating the chair last week I was quick to start sketching ideas for a new more characterized chair. I started by practicing drawing front, profile and orthographic projections of the original chair we were all going to be creating using the Maya program. Doing this helped me see what some of my initial ideas would look like as a 3D model. In all my initial ideas i have designed a chair for a specific type of character ranging from an evil horror character to a fairy godmother style character. I also realized that some of my designs could be used to represent two different types of character and that the colour of the chair and lighting would determine what type of mood and personality was portrayed.

I began developing ideas for a chair to suit a mystical, magical character but the drawings were too complicated and the chair began to look unrealistic. I changed my designs to suit a villain or megalomaniac character. A tall, modern looking arm chair with sharper corners and a flatter cushion. I shared some of my designs with James and he gave me advise on how to make the chair appear more like that of my characters. After researching further i realized that i would have to bring the side arches of the chair in because most villains in chairs would tend to try and hide their face.

Lighting in Live Action Films

I have explored lighting before. I remember in the original 1960 Psycho film by Alfred Hitchcock the infamous shower scene where the mother figure is just a silhouette adds to the mystery of the murderer and fear factor of the film. The scene at the end when the girl turns the old women round to reveal a skeleton. The light bulb is hit and the light around the room moves quickly and randomly over the contours of the skeleton in the eye sockets and cracks. It indicates panic and horror and is a perfect climax to the suspense at the beginning of the scene.

The 1949 film The third man,a british example of film noir directed by carol reed is a black and white film. The lighting plays a essential role. In the underground canal scenes the lighting is very dark with shadows and silhouettes which makes the audience feel nervous and excited because they can't see exactly what is going on. The romantic scenes in most film noir films will always have a soft light directly on the female actors face to emphasize her beauty and facial expressions so that the audience are drawn in and captured in the moment.

Complete darkness also draws an audience in as they are likely to look closer into the screen. this technique is often used when trying to startle or surprise the audience.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Maya: Introduction

Maya is a new software to me, I have never used it before. I knew that it would be complicated at first and that would never have the patients to learn software like this without a tutorial. At the beginning of the tutorial I knew nothing but after repeating some of the same tasks i found that it became easier and could see how maya is essential to modern day 3D design and animation. Maya reminded me of a piece of design software call pro desktop. Both the programs digitally build three dimensional shapes. I noticed some similarities between the two, however pro desktop is more to do with product design. I wasn't familiar with any of the terminology in the maya program but i gained confidence throughout the session and was comfortable experimenting with the shapes of the pillow and chair. I found the lighting part of the exercise one of the most significant it made such a difference to the rendered image. It gave the chair character. I will have to think about the lighting and shape of my own chair so that a strong character and personality can be seen. 3D animation is definitely i field i would like to go into so i look forward to learning more about maya.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Digital Anmation Practice: Throwing the ball.

I found this exercise by far the most challenging. As an animated i needed to consider the shape and movements of both a large character and a small character as well as there body language, personalities and emotions. I also needed to consider the way the ball moves and how it looks through the air and hitting the large character.

I spent the majority of the day drawing the small characters interaction with the ball. I think the previous work i have done in digital animation practice made it easier to know how many frames a certain movement takes. i waned my character to pick up he ball and dribble it like a basketball. I had to work out how many frames this took and also the direction and bounce of the basketball as well as the characters arm and body movements. I ended up drawing around three seconds worth of frames, nearly forty small drawings. I used the squash and stretch technique i had learnt for the bounce of the ball. By doing a line test i was able to see how the animation came to life, i did the piece section by section adding and removing frames if necessary. Finally the small characters movements were in time and looked realistic. The ball drops in front of the character, he then picks it up, dribbles it twice and shoots for the larger character.

Animating the large characters reaction will probably be just as hard.....

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Digital Anmation Practice: Body movemant and language.

Body movement or body language is just as important as facial expressions in characterizing an animation. The movement of the character can express the personality of a character and the emotions the character is feeling. After watching Seans brief piece of acting this morning I began to understand that different emotions alter the position of the arms, head and body as well as the movement. The speed of a walk also changes depending on the mood of a person. A good example of this is when a character appears angry then the arms will be out and firm, the walk is fast, head down, large steps and hunched shoulders. A character who is happy would have more movement in the body and arms with a high head and jumpy steps. The body language can also reveal the gender of a character and the age. An old lady would typically have a hunched back and take small steps where as a child character would be more active doing quicker movements.

When i did the animation of the character walking into a room and putting a box on a table i needed to take into consideration the age of the character, size of the character, weight of the box and the emotions the character was feeling. I decided that the character would be pleased to have the box therefore the character needs to interact with the box to show their excitement. the characters body language when walking and carrying the box would also need to express the emotion. However the box is heavy so my animation concentrates more on how the characters body moves due to the weight of the box. the body is hunched over to add to the weight of the box. The arms are mostly straight and when the character lifts the box there is a large amount of effort and anticipation. The character shuffles when it walks suggesting the box is heavy. i struggled with the door opening and closing but from what i had learnt last week with timing i eventually animated a realistic door movement.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Digital Animation Practice: JUMP

To get any character to jump from one spot to another and make it look realistic the animator must take into consideration the amount of time a jump takes. The animator is then able to understand how many frames are needed to complete one whole jump including frames for the movement of the character before they leave the ground and when they land. In most cases the number of frames for the beginning of the jump and the landing are more than the frames needed in the actual jump.

Where the animator positions these frames is also crucial for the jump to look real. When working on the heavy character jump today I found that keeping the frames the same distance apart through out the whole jump didn't reflect a true jump, instead it looked like the character was floating back down to the ground. I was surprised to find that fewer frames were actually needed for the descent part of the jump. By distancing frames twice the distance of the previous frame it gives the illusion of acceleration and matches the true physics of a jump. The technique should be used when the character is ascending into the air and descending to the ground because this is where acceleration takes place. More frames are needed as the character approaches the highest point of the jump so that the movement through the air flows. By using the animation techniques of stretching and squashing the movement of the character jumping is linked and realistic.

Stretching and Squashing is a technique used to add weight and movement to the animated character. When I was animating the heavy character today I used these techniques to emphasize the effort it took for the character to jump from the platform, to create the illusion of movement the the character was mid air and descending and finally a squash for the landing. I understand the importance of maintaining the characters size and volume. However an increase in volume can give the impression that the character is jumping towards you.

My heavy character animation didn't follow the correct path of a jump. Instead the character appeared to jump forwards then drop straight down which added to the illusion of weight and could be used in a children's cartoon similar to the stuff we see on Warner Brothers animation 'Road Runner'. The animation didn't reflect a true jump though so I followed the correct path when animating my light character.