I've been working on rigging and animating a character Jonas Georgakakis posted on Polycount.
The rigging was fun, full biped with an IK FK switch, space switching on his face and head controls, and a minimal facial rig. I'm liking the Walk and Run, but the Idle isn't there yet, once it's done I'll post all of them on the main news page!
Here's the first pass of a dialog animation I'm working on. I wanted to do full body on this one, cause the last one was just a head.
I had to make his eyes big so I could see them in the preview screen, but I'm hoping to make them smaller in the final version. I'll have to figure out how small I can make them, while keeping them visible. Going to build him a simple set which will just be a small jail cell.
While applying to jobs, I was asked to produce 6 effects pieces, to show how familiar I was with particles and effects work. For all the pieces I used my old buddy Johnny the Box (I hid his face for simplicity though), all the images were created in Photoshop, put together, and playblasted out of Maya.
An attack with an "Ice Blast". I animated a small sphere (Just to have something solid in with all the tiny bits), then parented a few emitters to it. One directional, emitting streaks with a color and an opacity ramp, one omni emitting sprites with 5 images. The sprites have expressions on them which give them a random range for starting scale, rotation, and opacity, which then decreases over time. The sprites are being pulled upwards by a gravity field into a very light turbulence field just to keep them from repeating motions. The impact is a 1024X1024 sprite sheet, applied as a texture with an animated U and V offset, to a plane in front of the box. This was the first sprite sheet I did, and I made it 5 sprites by 5 sprites, which may have been the worst idea I've had in a long time. Finding the exact measurements was a real pain, and it ended up just being faster animating the U and V by entering number estimates, scrubbing through time and then adjusting the numbers make sure it transitions well. Lesson learned, make my sprite sheets easily divided. There is also a surface emitter that creates "Steam" sprites with the same scale, rotation, and opacity expressions on them.
Johnny teleporting across the screen. The blur on this one was a 1024X1024 sprite sheet (4X4 this time), animated, then applied to a cylinder. The smoke is made of 3 sprite images, which have a random range for starting scale, rotation, and opacity, which then decreases over time.
A sphere being transformed into a cube. There are 4 emitters grouped, then parented to the sphere. The group is then rotated over time. They are emitting sprites of 3 images, that have the same Scale/Rotation/Opacity expressions as the sprites in the other animations. There is a second sphere around the floating sphere, with a 1024X1024 sprite sheet to make it glow (I was off on by a pixel on a few of the sprites, but in motion it isn't noticeable ) The puff is an volume emitter using the same sprites as the other emitters, but with a color ramp to make them darker and more saturated.
Johnny going super powered. There are two spheres spinning around him in opposite directions. The outer sphere is acting as a surface emitter, emitting multistreaks that have color and opacity ramps on them. They are also being influenced by a vortex field. The dust on the bottom is a 15 frame sequence applied to the sprites. there are two of these sequences, one pointing right and one pointing left. The sprites are being emitted by 2 surface emitters. One on either side, to send the sprites in the correct direction. In the future I'm going to try to figure out how to flip the image for certain sprites, so I only have to have one sequence. I think I can collect the direction they're facing from their acceleration, and go from there.
Johnny flying across the screen. There is a surface emitter on the bottom of Johnny that is emitting sprites with 3 images. These ones only have the Scale and Opacity on them, I tried it with rotation, but they didn't look quite right (Possibly because if the rotated in the wrong direction they didn't seem like they were being rotated by the force of Johnny's flight?) Then there is an omni emitter attached to the bottom of Johnny, but slightly offset, it's emitting points, that have color and opacity ramps on them. They are being influenced by gravity and a turbulence field that is slightly below and parented to the omni emitter. This just disrupts them a little bit before they fade out.
Johnny floating along in a bunch of orbs and smoke. The sprites are coming from a surface emitter, they have expressions that assign them a scale and rotation from a random range. They also are assigned a color from a random range for red and green, and 256 for blue. The rotation, red, and green all increase over time. They are being influenced by a light turbulence field. The orbs are coming from a surface emitter, just above the smoke emitter, they are being influenced by a light turbulence field as well as a newton field to keep them from going too far screen right. There are 5 orbs, each one has 3 layers of geometry, along with a surface shader for each of the 3 layers. The outer 2 surface shaders have tile-able textures with the UV offset animated in opposite directions. They are being instanced to the particles. The particles have a random range for particle ID, and scale, which chooses which of the 5 orbs to instance, and how big to make it. Both the smoke and the orbs are being contained by a cube with which they collide, but have low resilience.
I like how they turned out. In the future I would definitely plan more. Even just a simple sketch in Flash to make sure I had a more solid idea going into Maya. This way I could maintain a more cohesive look to all of the pieces. I would, as I said make sure that my sprite sheets where much more easily divided. In the future, I would take the time to write my own Sprite Wizard. Maya's gets the job done, but it's always been a bit hard to work around, it locks out the lifespan, which can be fixed by commenting out 3 lines of code, but if I'm going to make changes to their code, I might as well right my own. Last thing I know I would do is I think it would be beneficial for me to work a little more on custom expressions. It might also help to learn about incorporating soft/rigid bodies, but that's just a whim, not something I know I would use almost every time.
Here is a breakdown of the lighting passes for the final animation
Initial Key light, with the stripes on it to make the window-ey blinds effect. (The only light casting shadows)
A Fill light so that you can still see somewhat in the dark stripes.
A Fill light to the side, to keep him from looking like he's coming out of the darkness.
A Back Fill light to create a partial Rim Light and to fake bounce that might come from his surroundings.
Cooled off the left side of his face in After Effects.
Added another Rim light in After Effects.
All the lights broken down in a video
The final product
As I said before this was a lot of fun to do, I learned a tremendous amount about rigging and subtle animation and I'm looking forward to applying those newfound learnings into my next projects.
I don't like admitting it, but my reel is sorely missing some "Realism" (I use quotes, cause it's still gonna be somewhat stylized, despite what it's called.) Since I also need some new dialog, I decided to do a "realistic" face. I found a great model on TurboSquid and I set out to learn more about rigging in the process. What started as a simple idea got bigger and bigger. Eventually I got to the point of unwrapping & texturing the head while learning about SSS sharers. Finally I think I'm ready to start animating, but here are some screen caps of the work I've done on it.
My original bone structure for the head (I started with the misguided notion I would be able to drive the entire mouth with a spline.)
I also decided to try using more "Intuitive" controllers by putting them on the face, instead of using sliders.
After discovering the wire deformer wasn't going to cut it and I needed to use bones, I wrote out all the weights I wanted for each vertex.
Nearing completion of the base head joint weights he begins to look like a Juggalo (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
"Completed" face rig, although as I write this I realize I forgot to add a controller for his Adam's apple and his three tongue controllers.
First pass at the texture, went way overboard on the scattering.
After getting advice from friends I toned back the scattering (Ended up painting maps for each level) and cooled down his face a bit.
So, that's where I'm at, I throw those last controllers on there and then start animating this weekend, if all goes well I'll have some blocking to post next week.