Here is a new showreel of stuff from the Masters year (and some old bits).
I’m really feeling the lack of anything with a narrative. Just focusing on getting a visual style to work was not the greatest idea i’ve ever had. Perhaps I should be making something with a bit more actual animation and story to it. Watch this space – regular updates to occur.
Oh and the squid doesn’t quite have the ‘ooompf’ it needed.
Wait…I’m supposed to be selling myself here!
Yeah, yeah, 12 seconds long. I think i’ll work a little bit more on this short after I finish this MA course (2 weeks). It’s looking quite nice, yes there are a few problems with it, things that if I were to work in this style again I would know and implement from the outset, i.e. hands and feet being a part of the attached limb rather than just follow it. Be more careful with the face! The eyes/mouth/hair don’t move and shift perfectly with the face, but I like them all as separate objects… a compromise perhaps?
Hmm I don’t know, but it’s an interesting mix of 2d and 3d and certainly looks handmade.
With even more talk and hype around Disney’s “Paperman” I thought I’d try recreating this groundbreaking combination of 2d and 3d animation.
I don’t mean to sound so sour about this, but every image I have seen just looks like somebody has added a grainy diffuse filter in post production to a ‘normal’ 3d render. I really hope that the technique they’re using does justify the hype. I think 3d animation would really benefit from the charm of hand made marks, rather than being ‘plasticy’ and sterile as it so often is – that’s why I’ve been trying to do just that.
Like I said, I don’t want to sound bitter, I hope it is brilliant, I hope it validates everything I am working towards! It just seems odd getting so excited about animation when you can only see stills.
Taking of which, here is a still from the animation I am doing…
A link to some cool Paperman stuff: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/cgi/a-little-more-about-disneys-paperman.html
Rather stupidly i didn’t put any fingers in the biped skeleton (I thought they would mess up the strict naming system for optitrack/motion-builder). They can’t be added afterwards either, without messing up in one of a hundred ways.
There aren’t enough outlines around the character, they don’t vary enough as the same few are repeated on both arms and legs. I think it would be worth while having each outline designed specifically for each body part, it should make it appear more as if it has been drawn around – but still just planes linked to the movement of the bones. I think the scribbles in his eyes look a little too big in this too.
Motion capture is alright though isn’t it.
Woo! *Fanfare* CLICK ON THE PICTURE
Finally put into action everything I’ve been talking about. The scribbled lines around the 3d body, animated textures on parts of the body that would show the most life or thought.
The lines around the head are nearly perfect; the way they dance around the edge, breaking it apart from the whiteness of the background and only ever matching up with the ears at one or two specific angles.
The eyes and eyebrows constantly flickering brings him to life, they seem to add that extra bit of ‘thought’, indecision and curiosity to his character. I just need to see this in action in a longer scene, with some interaction with other characters, or objects.
On the first clip I was testing cylinders around the upper arms, which I then changed to planes (like the rest of the body). They just didn’t seem to have the right effect; mapped onto a curved surface rather than being completely flat like the planes.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with this, it’s very close to how I imagined – it just needs to be a bit scratchier and more frantic, only not too much; it has to suit the movement of the character and tone of the narrative.
I also could do with getting some flickering over the lips. Need to figure out how to make the outline change shape with along with them – morph/blendshapes somehow.
I managed to get shadows on the ‘merged’ buildings. All I had to do was eyedrop their texture and give it some self illumination.
The whole thing is a little more cohesive now, rather than 2 obvious layers (one 3d, one 2d) but it is still far too solid for my liking. The post below hints at the direction I really want to be heading in.
I might render out a HD version if I sort out that weird twitch once and for all. Although I do like the low resolution.
Fixed the background so it actually works now. It turns out it was waaaay too big (file size/video dimensions). I wish .gifs worked, that would be so simple.
Scanline renderer worked this time! that was nice as it meant I could go back to my old ways of getting a render done in a super quick time. It also made everything whiter, removing most lighting and shadows and reducing the depth that the 3d render (mental ray) gave; which is nice and all, but not for this scene – there are too many solid objects and things built to a relatively realistic perspective. It also highlighted all of the problems with the textures even more…
The first render had such a distinct contrast between foreground and background. I thought that if I replaced the flat background with some 3d objects (from an older project) then I could get the two to blend together a little better. Admittedly the wrong thing to do, I want everything to be a bit ‘flatter’. Some technical issues have made those buildings look just as flat as the previous one. I just need to sort out the lighting to sort that out.
The contrast between 3d and 2d can certainly produce some interesting results, not just visually but also if used as some sort of narrative tool.
One more render with a bit of shadows around the buildings, maybe a higher resolution one too, just to compare.
Updated album of images - http://imgur.com/a/teAUo#0
Weird! It moves really really fast, I should probably slow it down a little. There aren’t the full 100 frames because 3dsMax crashed at 77 so it doesn’t loop properly. No idea why. Although, I suppose it could be to do with the background avi. This is the same settings as the outlines around the characters yet it behaves differently; flickering on and off every couple of frames.
Here is a Gif of the background moving normally. It doesn’t loop very well and the scale changes a lot, but nevermind.
Overall though I feel the scene is improved while in motion. The way the floating outlines move against the objects helps to diminish their 3d solidity, makes everything blend together and not look as harsh as the still images. Also it being a a really low resolution helps… probably. It might be worth putting outlines around more parts, such as the window frames, roof and possibly even the poles. But I do want to finish this and move onto something a lot more interesting and ‘sketchy’ – and focused on character animation. That is what I need to be doing really.
I was really disappointed with the way this was turning out, most of the objects appear too solid and straight edged. For some reason I have working all wrong, I should have been using the same techniques I was the last two years – lots of planes with drawings pasted on instead of unwrapped 3d objects. This makes everything feel much more like a drawing.
I made a few changes to this scene rather then scrapping it (just because the experiment is still worth it, and problem solving skills blah blah blah). It is looking much better already, not perfect, but better. Hopefully once in motion and with the addition of a floating outline around the characters and chairs it will appear more ‘sketchy’.
There isn’t that much left to do in this piece, I have decided to make the animation much shorter and loop it (just like the squid). This means no bus stopping and starting, just continuous driving. Also much more simple character movement. I just need to get back to achieving the ‘feel’ of my older work, when I was doing it for the first time and basically just dicking around. Just take a cool sketch, get into 3d and move it. Nothing overly complicated, just keep it simple and as organic as possible. No more straight lines!
I am slightly overdue an update on this really.
I have modeled and textured the environment for this project, except for the outlines that will float around the edges of every object. That will be pretty simple to complete, I can even mock up an example if I print a current render and draw over it (similar to the old man character)
Album of renders: http://imgur.com/a/teAUo#0
There are a few bits that I should fix within this scene, but they aren’t completely necessary to achieve what I originally intended. Quite a few of the textures are not brilliant, this is down to some pretty poor unwrapping and most importantly, not drawing them all to scale. The pencil lines are all varying sizes, they’ve been squashed or stretched due to to original size of the image used. UVW maps are 1024 x 1024, others are all different etc. This is something that I need to consider at the start of a project. I could also look into using Mudbox, because it will fix this sort of thing for me automatically – but may also change the whole “hand drawn” aesthetic. Dilemma.