Back in July ¡MAYDAY! released a new album called Believers. After having worked with Wrek on Tom Hanks several months prior, he and ¡MAYDAY!'s manager Andrea gave me the chance to work on some animation for the track On That Jack. The track is an anthem singing the praises of Jack Daniels. I bounced around with a few ideas, the first one I tried, was I wanted to lay pointillism animation over live action footage. Inspired by Michael Halbert's Jack Daniels portriat.
I realized after several iterations this was not going to be a viable option, it was just taking too long, so I went back to the original Jack portrait that is on all the bottles.
I wasn't feeling the painted effect though, so I elected to go with solid colors, keeping the style a little more cartoony, and more of a nod to the old portrait.
Once all the portraits were done, I rigged them up in After Effects, and started animating. I put in some live action at the beginning and end, so we could actually see the Jack bottle.
After finishing the first version, I sent it off, and Wrek said they wanted to add some live action, and would it be possible to lay some of the animation I'd done over live action. About this time I began to realize the pacing was really lacking. I went and watched other music videos from a lot of artists, and for a track like this I realized it needed to feel faster. So I rendered the whole thing from 4 different camera angles, and then put together a version that cut between the angles, to pick up the pace. After Wrek sent a rough cut of the live action footage, I put what I had on top and moved it around to fit in the live action shots. Now the whole thing was starting to come together more. One of the last changes I made was to change the lines "We on that Jack, we on that Jack again." I had originally had it slowly forming an M over the course of the video, but Wrek said they weren't feeling that.
He asked if it could be changed to a karaoke type look, with a bouncing skull over the lyrics.
This turned out looking awesome (The dude knows what he's talking about.) After that he and Bernz decided they wanted to add some more live action footage. Which they shot while on the Something Else Tour. When I saw the final product I was blown away. They had taken some somewhat cohesive elements, and combined them all together seamlessly. The pacing works great, and the animation doesn't distract, it serves to support the song.
I learned an intense amount about editing music videos, also working and iterating based on specific feedback. I love the final product and I can't wait to do more in the future!
I went to Double Fine's PAX meetup a few weeks back and met up with Klamp. While there he reminded me that I still have not watched any of the Broken Age Documentary. So I went home and proceeded to do so. Then in Episode 4 (Part 2) there is a moment where Ray Crook is showing some of his early animations of Nathan "Bagel" Stapley's drawings. THAT was immediately what I wanted to do. I have done some puppet work in After Effects, but have had trying it in Maya on the list of "Stuff I want to do" for a while now. I busted out my sketchbook and found a drawing I liked. This one (I think I drew this during a music theory class.)
I then began to change him around a bit and make him more appealing and better for a puppet.
I settled on this one.
I began to work him out in Photoshop, while thinking about the world he lived in and what he could get up to in a short time period, that would test various lighting scenarios and angles, while still telling some kind of story. From that story I made a rough animatic, less for timing, and more so I could get an idea of all the set pieces I would need to make.
Once I had that I began working on the environments and finished up the snail. I packed him in a UV space, and left some headroom for anything I might want to add later (Incidentally I did change the way his shell was cut, so I was able to use some of that space.)
From there it all went to Maya, where I sat and looked at it for too long. Finally I started rigging him. For the sake of time and simplicity, I just animated his bones, while putting the angle controls, parka on/off switch, and blink controls on a master controller.
I rendered it all out in various layers, then looked at it in After Effects, then I wrote down everything that needed fixing.
Then it was on to good ol' After Effects fun, lights, saturation sliders, and a buncha masks. I rendered them all out and went to premiere where I made the final edits and added in the sound.
I've uploaded to Vimeo, because Youtube wasn't really doing the audio any favors.
Post-Mortem: First off, story, this one leaves a lot up to the imagination, which is lucky, because if people didn't fill in the blanks, it would just be shit. I hope to do this again, and next time I will plan out a proper story. I also think it might be of benefit for me to use the animatic for timing too, as much as I love just adding buffer time and trying things in post, I need to have a better idea of timing before hand. Lastly, I think I would spend a bit more time rigging next time, this dude isn't really friendly to pick up and use, I have to keep in my head the idea that someone else has to be able to understand and use the rig too (Which sadly means controllers a lot of the time).
I do have other plans for the snail, but whether it's with him or not, I do plan on doing this again. It was a great fusion of 2D and 3D work and loads of fun to animate!
There's a tile on the floor of my bathroom that looks like this.
I was originally inclined to think it was some sort of long stork necked creature, but after seeing every time I walked into the bathroom, I quickly realized it was in fact a headless thing. Shortly after this realization I decided to draw the image, and add a bit more of a story to it.
Here's the progress
And this is the final image,
I may do more of these, there is a nosferatu-esque face that stares at the bathtub all day, maybe he'll be next.
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!
I did this drawing a couple of months ago, after an attempt to ink and color it in Flash that I wasn't happy with, I brought it into Photoshop and found I liked the results much more. Blending Modes are some of my best friends.
I'm hoping it isn't to dark, to see, but still dark enough to be the tone I want. I suppose that's the benefit of having several monitors, I can switch back and forth to make sure the levels don't change to drastically!
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.
Here is the animation progress from start to "Finish" on the face animation.
Initially I blocked the the main keyframes, then tackled the breakdowns of the "Miracle", "Sham", "Switch", and "Fool" lines separately breaking down each one in succession. Then after getting some critique, I made some tweaks and broke down the holds and added the major jaw movements.
Next I splined it, cleaned up the graph editor for the neck and head joints. Then after getting some critique, I toned down the accents on "Miracle", "Sham", and "Switch". Finally I added the sync for the lips.
Lastly I did some more polish, toning down the accents even more, and cleaning up the eyebrow motions a bit.
That's it, for this one, the final part will breakdown the lighting and show the final animation. I've had fun with this one, learned a lot about rigging and a TON about the way I perceive motion, I'm comfortable steering away from "Realism" a bit, but I do want to keep working on subtlety, it's been a pain, but I need to keep improving on it.
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.