Monthly Archives: March 2014

2013 Animation Showreel

I set myself the task of creating a showreel for use on my portfolio website, as way to present my past animation work (as detailed in this post). As mentioned in the linked post, the motivation to create a showreel stemmed from the design problem of presenting my animation work, as the clips were typically shorter ones that did not work as intended when taken out of context; they were frequently intended for use in larger projects, and as such it could be argued they might appear disjointed if presented in the same way as my other illustrations and 2D/3D work.

Hence, I decided the requirements for my showreel would be as follows;

  • Present the clips in a fluid manner
  • Reflect the pace of the clips in the overall composition
  • Be a minimum of 30 seconds, but no more than a minute, for brevity
  • Include my name, and contact details

I began by importing all the clips I wanted to use into Premiere, and creating a title slide stating my name, and the intentions of the video. I added clips in an approximate formation along the timeline whilst trimming any irrelevant sections that might’ve been too long for the context, or sometimes due to a lack of action in that range of frames, since the video was meant to be concise, doing this matched the brief.

Once I had an approximate layout for the clips I imported an audio track (Rats are Dancing – Mindwatcher, courtesy of the Creative Commons licence) into Premiere and re-aligned clips in order to synchronise with the music. I keyframed some opacity fades in and out of clips, to black, in order to give the video a fluid feel. Finally I added an ending slide with contact details.

The final showreel can be viewed here

Sources:

Mindwatcher. 2007. Rats are Dancing. Available at: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/100244/rats-are-dancing [Accessed: 13 Mar 2014].

3D Modelling Task – Nokia Phone – Reflection and analysis

Having completed the model to a standard representative of the final iteration, I’ve gained experience heavily in terms of texturing in particular, as well as setting up an environment for photorealistic renders and marginally more advanced methods for making accurate models – particularly with editing and welding individual points and using the symmetry object.

In addition to the improvement of my technical knowledge of CINEMA 4D achieved through working on this project I have gained experience in workflows in the digital environment, and ways to minimise time spent on the logistics of rendering many versions of the same model with minor differences – as well as dealing with keeping track of which minor changes have been made in order to avoid repeating myself or making unnecessary or incorrect modifications. I did this mostly through keeping an accurate worklog throughout the production process which I edited as I worked, often while waiting for images to render. I feel I could integrate this process into other projects that I work on individually, as well as in collaboration with others in order to keep my workflow efficient and easy to understand, as well as helping myself to understand what changes need to be made, why they need to be made, which processes didn’t work and why – which helps me to learn more efficiently and make quick progress.

Future considerations for this specific project, should I continue with it, would be to add minor details to bring it up to a finished standard, as well as add in animations, of the mesh itself and of textures, as well as compositing with the help of After Effects – perhaps integrating the model into a real-world scene or adding a voiceover.

I’ve included a gallery at the bottom of this post containing images of the model in various stages of the production process, Thanks for reading!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3D Modelling Task – Nokia Phone – Interpretation of the production process

I planned out in advance how I was going to complete the model briefly, before getting started as I said before – to ensure I didn’t encounter any game-breaking issues. 

I decided the best way to model the main body of the model would be to use the Loft NURBS generator – the essential reason for this being the degree of control it gives me over smoothly tapering each end of the main body of the phone. I created a spline from the reference materials I had set up in the scene (using the symmetry object to ensure accuracy) and repeated them alongside the reference changing size in order to match the design. I changed the cap types to fillet with appropriate steps and radius values in order to give a bevelled, smooth look (as this was a visualisation model). 

One issue i encountered through doing this was seams appearing once the Loft generator was applied to the splines – i later found this was due to mismatched points and subsequent overlapping splines. I researched the issue and in combination with experimentation by myself I solved the issue by moving the points apart, connecting and deleting the remnants of the two objects, and welding the points together into one. I made another extrusion with Loft NURBS for the indentation where the screen and digitizer would be placed, favouring it over the Extrude generator again due to how I was able to easy manipulate the bottom spline, giving a tapered effect to the indentation.

Image

I produced the glass digitizer using an Extrude generator as I didnt require the same level of control as I did previously. I spent a long time perfecting the glass texture after I added the textured screen underneath in order to give the right effect on top; In addition to bevelling the sides of the screen to mimic its real-life counterpart, I used the refraction index of glass (commonly accepted as about 1.52) to meet my aims of realism for the product, as well as slight reflection to give a glare from the overhead lighting rig, and appropriate specular highlights. I added capacitive buttons in the same way, by making a small plane with the texture applied to it. Measures I took in preparation for this including tracing paths to a reference image for the symbols, since it was a high-definition 3D model I needed to use a vector texture for potential close-up shots, leaving options for different applications open.

Image

The final step for this stage of the production (a model highly representative of the final product) was to look at environment, lighting, and rendering strategies. I turned on channels for Global Illumination, Ambient Occlusion, and Caustics as well as building a rainbow-coloured overhead lighting rig to light the scene. Global Illumination is a key asset to photorealistic rendering as it renders the scene using light emitted from reflections and other objects, rather than just rendering the scene with light from the light source (Christensen, 2010). Caustics was necessary due to my usage of glass texturing for the digitiser; the glass now not only casted shadows where appropriate, but the caustics (light rays caused by light refracting through the glass) were now included, adding to the realism (Lynch, 2001). Ambient Occlusion works in tangent with Global Illumination to make the scene more realistic; each point of illumination is the function of geometry elsewhere in the scene, and it provides darker shadows and areas progressively into un-lit areas (Whitehurst, 2004). I produced a set of renders with these effects in mind, as well as my lighting rig, and gradually adjusted specular highlights, reflections, and the smoothness of the body material with a higher contrast specular highlight in order to represent hard plastic with a clear, sharp highlight.

Image

Image

Sources:

Christensen, H. 2010. Point-Based Global Illumination for Movie Production. [e-book] Pixar Animation Studios. Available through: graphics.pixar.com http://graphics.pixar.com/library/PointBasedGlobalIlluminationForMovieProduction/paper.pdf [Accessed: 27 Mar 2014].

Lynch, D. K. and Livingston, W. C. 2001. Color and light in nature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Whitehurst, A. 2004. Andrew Whitehurst . Net. [online] Available at: http://www.andrew-whitehurst.net/amb_occlude.html [Accessed: 27 Mar 2014].

3D Modelling Task – Nokia Phone – Description of the task

I planned this task in order to provide myself with an original model in which I can practice various object visualization strategies, animation projects, and for general marketing/showcase practice.

The product that I modelled needed to facilitate different avenues down which I might be able to explore different strategies for marketing a product, represented through a 3D model, such as the possibility of adding a voiceover, showing various aspects of the product in a succinct manner, animated functions, screen transitions, changes in colour, and so forth. The model also needs to be reasonably adaptable – the screen texture and body colour on this one will be able to easily be changed. The model must be of high detail in order to be visually appealing in various applications for its use – since it’s being marketed after all. 

Image

I acquired some reference materials in much format as I did for my Audi A3 model, and set them up in a scene ready to begin modelling. I considered before beginning the process how I might model each area based on my current knowledge of the software in order to prevent hitting a plateau, since I was under time pressure to complete a presentable final result. 

3D Modelling Task – Audi A3

I set myself the task of modelling a car over time for the main purpose of familiarising myself with the polygon modelling method often used for these applications, and particularly almost the exclusive method for modelling characters to be animated. I anticipated the task would take longer than any other project I have attempted before due to the complexity and relative irregularity of the mesh compared to projects I have undertaken before – which were built mostly from splines, subdivided primitive objects or generators. An advantage of polygon modelling in comparison to these is the ability to make completely freeform choices in where points, and subsequently, polygons are placed – meaning its a useful tool for organic objects such as car panels in this case, or perhaps characters, and additionally for creating an object from reference – such as the blueprints I used to begin this task:

ImageI set up the blueprints in a way that allowed me to plot points against each plane in different views, then switch to the next view to adjust the points against the blueprint, and the next, and repeated this process for all points plotted along the contours on the image until they have lined up for each part of the car. After having done this I bridged the points in order to create polygons which are linked together in order to create a mesh. I used a symmetry object to ensure both sides were identical, and subdivided the mesh in order to interpolate and thus increase the amount of polygons to create a smoother surface. 

Image

Useful applications for modelling in this way might include advertising and marketing, design, usage in games/animations and movies, as well as technical or scientific applications such as crash testing or automotive engineering due to the possibility of real world physics being involved as well as mechanical rigging of the structure allowing the model to respond in a realistic way to other forces that might be introduced, in order to test scenarios.

Image

I have not yet finished this project, in favour of completing a different, quicker project for presentation on this blog however I plan to continue it as a long term project, allowing me to make revisions as my knowledge of the software (again, CINEMA 4D) increases

 

Kinetic Typography – Final Render

I completed my short typography animation and uploaded the result to Vimeo; which can be seen above. Final considerations I had to make involved making choices for the environment in which the animation would be rendered; I did consider adding complexity to the work however I decided to keep it simple for brevity, and to address the real intention of the work which was providing pace and mood to the lyrics used. I intend to produce another similar animation at some point in which I may consider building up from the main virtues of this one and expanding the scope of it – which is partially reliant on my technical skills in CINEMA 4D and After Effects. I plan to incorporate the use of After Effects into my next piece due to its very native import/export feature with CINEMA 4D, I plan to fine-tune the scene composition in After Effects before the final animation is produced.

Experimental animation in Adobe Flash

A suggested mini-project for the portfolio brief was to create a short animation in Adobe Flash, synchronised to some music, in order to explore the basic concepts of animation as a discipline.

After looking at the history of animation and where it comes from (Animation.filmtv.ucla.edu, 2014), I experimented with frame by frame sequences, manifested through hand-drawn images mounted on a Spinnerscope in order to provide a rudimental understanding of what it means to animate – the results of which can be seen in my earlier post here.

I decided to focus on a music visualisation/abstract style of design to experiment with flash through, since I felt the best way to gain experience with the fundamentals of 2D animation would be to avoid factors such as storyline, plot, art assets and so forth. Additionally, we had researched early animations, and they were largely abstract (Animation.filmtv.ucla.edu, 2014). I wanted to emulate this in a more modern context.

I found an image with which I planned to use in my composition as a background (Weis, 2014) for the areas which I would animate myself, and a song to synchronise the animation to (Chicken Honk, 2013). I wanted to work around the principle of abstract image manipulation; compositing my flash sequence on top of the image. The image I chose lended itself very well to a shape based animation due to the area in the middle which was already made up of several triangles, and so I decided to build upon this and create a radial, transitional style of animation revolving around the main subject of the image I chose.

Before beginning the project Flash refused to import the music track to the library; I researched the situation (the program did not provide a reason) and discovered Flash was unable to deal with files of a certain sample rate (Help.adobe.com, 2014). I loaded the file into Adobe Audition and re-exported it with a lower sample rate, which solved the issue.

Image

I created a black triangle shape using the pen tool, then converted it to a symbol for ease of use, adding it to the project library (alongside the music track and background image). I found the library system made it easy to keep hold of assets and to organise them, improving workflow efficiency in general as well as being beneficial to the specific task of animating, as assets will often be repeated between frames – as I found was the case, and hence was easily able to drop in assets from a central location repeatedly. I felt however based on my usage of Flash that some of the creative tools were lacking in usability – for example the requirement to select the paint bucket to fill a shape drawn using the path/pen tool rather than the option provided in the shape properties, which was unavailable for this tool. Additionally there appeared to be a lack of a hotkey to disable realtime snapping when rotating shapes or moving the pivot point to counter this, however most problems were remedied by further research online into the software.

Image

I inserted keyframes based on where waveforms peaked on the audio track layer I had inserted below my animation layer, and moved them as I progressed with the animation based on previewing the track back to myself and making small adjustments – moving and duplicating shapes based on the part of the music track playing at the time. I included an opacity fade to reflect the feeling of the bass fade at one point in a visual manner, just before the rhythm picks up again.

Image

Should I repeat the project, in order to improve I would spend time researching the software more thoroughly in order to understand how it differentiates from the other products in the Adobe Creative Suite in order to be able to use it more effectively – as well as make considerations for transitions and extra effects in terms of going beyond a simple radial pattern as I have done here.

The finished animation can be viewed here

 

Sources:

Animation.filmtv.ucla.edu. 2014. The History of Animation. [online] Available at: http://animation.filmtv.ucla.edu/NewSite/WebPages/Histories.html [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

Chicken Honk. 2013. Massive Chicken – Chicken Honk. Available at: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1092059/massive-chicken [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

Weis, P. 2014. Reflection of St Michaels Church, Hamburg. [image online] Available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reflection_of_St._Michaelis_Church,_Hamburg,_Deutschland_IMG_4822_edit.jpg [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

Help.adobe.com. 2014. Adobe Flash Professional * Using sounds in Flash. [online] Available at: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/flash/cs/using/WSd60f23110762d6b883b18f10cb1fe1af6-7ce8a.html [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].