Saturday, 28 March 2009

Knights Project: Character Modelling/ Development of Character design in 3D

One of my main objectives for this term was to improve my Maya knowledge and modelling skills. This is partly why I wanted to involve myself in a 3D production for the Talking Dog project. My responsibilities within the 3D department is to build the models of the knights squires, rig the characters so they are able to move, build any props or extra models for the production, animate a selection of all the models, U.V un-mapping and helping with texturing in the 2D department. A challenging task that if completed well will have taught me more about Maya and the pipeline of a 3D production.
The Exeter Ident project I produced last year taught me to be a lot more organised. Pete took on the role of producer. Instantly the 3D department worked out a computer filing system that could be easily followed so that the team didn’t struggle finding files. Project folders for every model and referencing the animation were things that I hadn’t done before in the previous Ident project but now I realise that a short amount of time organising saves a lot of time in the production. Improving my organization skills was another goal for this term, time management is crucial with dealing with this project and any time that can be saved is vital.
Tony designed the Squire characters in Photoshop and gave me the ‘turn-around’ files to build my models from. The team decided that because of the amount of time we had that all the 3D Squires should look similar with subtle differences to save time, meaning that the personality differences would have to be obvious in the animation. The original drawings were quite difficult to work from because they were to simple resulting in the models looking quite dull and very similar. Changes were made to the body of the squires. Now each individual squire would be wearing a certain type of cylindrical object for example; the red squire is now wearing an old soup tin and a colander on his head, the blue squire is wearing an American style trash-can with a pot on his head and the green squire wears a beer can and a dustbin lid on his head. The original designs were to plain, this way the characters have more comedic value. When I first completed the Squires they didn’t look as I had hoped and actually looked quite evil. I wasn’t sure why though so I imported an image of the face into Photoshop and using the warp tool and paint brush moved the face around and added features that would make the squires look a bit for friendlier. I referred to some online tutorials when modelling difficult elements like the ears and face loops. It was my first time modelling a face and I wanted to do it using planes so that next year I could model quite complicated characters. Overall I was very happy with the finished models.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Talking Dog: Knights Sketch.

The BBC have sent comedy sketch scripts to several animation courses across the country asking students to produce a professional animation to suit the script. Comedy sketches are all about timing, it’s about mixing the mundane with the fantastic. If the animation is too busy or the timing is wrong the comedy could be lost completely.
Out of all the sketches my favorite ones included the Strat-equette sketch, a sketch based around health and safety in a Middle Eastern torture facility. The casual approach to torture and political incorrectness of the sketch is what I liked about it. Another one of the sketches I enjoyed reading was the jordi fly. I imagined a really British humor style sketch that mirrored the ridiculous comedic style of the Mighty Boosh. The sketch I chose was the Three Knights sketch. The reason I chose this was because it included no real dialogue just sounds and grunts. It seemed the best sketch to produce because the comedy would be in the animation not the dialogue. In the sketch the knights fight each other. The prospect of animating a fight sequence that included some degree of comedy is what attracted me to work on this project.
The team I’m working with consists of six members all split into different areas of production. The Pre-production team responsibilities includes deciding on a color palette to work with through out the whole production, character design for all three knights armor, knights bodies and squires, background design, storyboard, animatic, and prop design. The producer and art-director decide on the final designs and hand them over to the production team. The Production is a mixture of 2-D backgrounds and C.G.I animation and characters. The production team is responsible for building all the characters and props in Maya, Rigging the characters and Animating the sketch. The models need to be textured the whole team will have to work together to set the UV in Maya and a 2D designer will work on the textures. Post-production includes comping the two styles of animation together and editing the sequence to have a comedic effect. The Sound will be animated to in production but will need to be carefully edited and synched in post-production. I have assumed the role of C.G.I animator and modeler, my responsibilities are to model, rig and animate the knights squire characters, model props such as amour and swords. I have also taken the role of assistant producer helping to keep all the work files organized and have input during production meetings.
This will probably be the most challenging brief I have worked on complete. The project will force me to learn more and improve my modeling and animation skills in Maya.

Maya MEL (Maya Embedded Language) scripting

Computer scripting interested me but I never thought I would enjoy learning about it or even doing it. Learning the terminologies and "computer language" is extremely useful when working in a studio environment. By understanding more about the software an animator is able to communicate with a computer programmer making the possibilities endless. Computer programmers will create new tools for the animator that will speed up production time, the most important thing in a busy work environment. The sessions have taught me the basics of computer scripting and the first step tutorial was really useful. The Maya help site explains all the sintex code. The box that holds all the previous commends is extremely useful because when when a logic or sintex error occurs the programmer can seek it out in the history. I now know how to create a button in Maya and realised that anything could be scripted so theoretically a whole animation production could be created using MEL in Maya.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Editing Task

I had already been editing for the Animated Exeter ident last term but made the mistake of using After Effects. This time i would be familiarising myself with Premiere. I hadn't used it for editing before just compiling together simple animatics. I had previously used a simple windows movie maker program to edit a short trailer I put together in my high school days but it wasn't as advanced as Premiere. For this editing task we were asks to mash up to film trailers to create a new trailer that would reflect a different vibe to the original film. I decided on mashing together Toy story and the terminator after seeing The Dark Knight/ Toy Story mash-up online.
It also seemed the most relevant seeing as I'm studying animation. I hoped to be able to produce a finished trailer that matches the standard of the one in the link.
toy story mash up dark knight

Scriptwriting Workshop

Over the last two weeks i have been going to scriptwriting workshops to understand more about how to write a decent script. I have had some experience writing scripts before but the session helped to refresh my memory and taught me some new things about the format and layout of the script. I had know knowledge of the three main stages of storytelling: Set up, Confrontation and Resolution. By reading illustrated kids books I strangely was able to understand this. There are seven main plots to any script or story these are: Comedy, Tragedy, The Quest, Overcoming the monster, Rags to riches, Voyage in return and Rebirth. Examples of these include Lord of the rings (quest), Titanic (tragedy), Beowolf (overcoming the monster), Dick Whittington (Rags to riches, Wizard of Oz (voyage in return) and the Snow queen is a good example of a rebirth story. Scriptwriting is one of my favourite parts of pre-production and is really the starting block for films and television shows. I look forward to generating ideas and ultimately creating a full script for my 3rd year projects.