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digital art

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CTN was a blast

CTN was fantastic!  I was expecting something more like GDC, but I was overwhelmed by how friendly absolutely everyone was.

Biggest thing I learned there is that I love game animation, without a doubt.  I am strongly considering trying out iAnimate games workshop, rather than more Animation Mentor.  Just seeing the reel for their Games Workshop; I mean sure, I look at AM reels and say, that's really nice work; but I stared at the iAnimate reel and said, that, THAT is what I want to do.  There is something really visceral and reactive about games animation that I can't help but love.  But enough gushing about animation.

Speaking of gushing about animation, it was weird to see Eric Goldberg randomly start signing autographs, and be so kind to every single person.  I would have joined them, but I was already on my way to getting a copy of Blacksad signed by Juanjo Guarnido.  I even got a smiling picture with him with my own I-don't-know-what-I-am-doing awkward smile.  I'll chalk that up to being star struck, why not.  (He was a cool dude.)

That's a starstruck face.

Also, I got a Stitch.  I don't impulse buy anything, but Stitch was calling to me.  CALLING, I SAY.  No regrets, he totally kept me company while I was in the air on the way home.

That's the face of love.

I can't wait till next year, and I'll see you all then!

Those are the tired faces of a CTN well done.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

CTN is coming!

Ah, once again, I haven't had the chance to update my blog. But I am excited, because CTN is coming up very soon! I'll be heading off to the Creative Talent Network conference in mid-November, down in Burbank, California. A week following that, I'll be at ITSEC in Orlando, Florida, doing some artist presentation for my work.

Once again stay tuned, I have a number of back-posts to post, and I'll get to that after my conferencing dies down. I've been super busy, if not evidenced by the fact I haven't made posts in several months. Sorry if I'm late in receiving comments or updating. Between work, contracts, and taking classes with Animation Mentor, I'm going to be pretty swamped for a while.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

AM3 and AM4 wrapup

I really enjoyed class 3, though I didn't as much care much for class 4.  I liked working on the pantomime shots in class 4, and I think it's highly important to understand.  But I've found I'm really drawn to the action of video game animation.  It's interesting, because the first film I worked on, Flower Story, was all about the emotion.  I know I could do that now, hundreds of times better, yet I still look back on it with an approving nod.  But that's also not where I want to be anymore.

Knowing the difference between strict body mechanics, and the more subtle pantomtime, has helped me realize what I want to do in animation.  Of course, they are of equal importance it comes to animation fundementals, but I can see myself focusing towards one over the other.  I can really appreciate watching animation that is focused on acting and pantomime, but it's those over the top weighty animations that really get me excited.

Onto the next adventure, I suppose!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Animation Mentor Class 4 - Lipsync with a flustered office worker

Ugh, I did not like working on lipsync.  The sound clip just gets lodged in my head, and eventually, it just went flat.  Moreso than other animations, more I hear it and see it, the harder it is for me to view my work critically.

I think that picking out the sound clip was also very difficult for me.  It's easy for my mind to go with pure fantasy and just imagine a really cool fighting combo, or a cute interaction, or a broad motion.  But when the sound came first, and without context, it was really difficult to put a scene to it, let alone with a camera, environment, and subjects.  If it already went through visualization, I bet it would have been much easier for me to make the animation itself.  But layout and storyboarding a dialogue piece was far more difficult than any other piece I've done.

I don't think I'd call this demo-reel material.  It was fantastic practice, and it was really helpful at telling me what I enjoy working on (or don't.)  It just seems to lack the interesting bits that are in many of my older animations.

Progress reel:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Animation Mentor Class 4 - Pantomime with a dear childhood toy

I had a few ideas for this one.  The concept I settled on was some sort of longing.  My first idea was a guy chucking something into a lake.  Maybe a ring, a locket, or an heirloom; something valuable, but something that held too many painful memories.  The point right before he throws away the object would be a really interesting emotional shift.

As I'm apt to do, the first idea was very long winded.  A pause, a reluctant throw, a failed throw followed by a casual toss, a wistful glance back, a struggle to recover it.  All of those ideas were cliche, but at the same time they held a clarity I didn't want to lose.  From my last several storyboards, I settled on a guy throwing away a beloved stuffed animal.

I thought of it as the Toy Story 3 moment, where Andy grows up and has to give away his toys.  I'm not ashamed to admit I still have a couple stuffed animals, so this idea spoke to me.  The lake was simplified into a trashcan (with a push-button lid for interest), and the wistful glances and reluctance were kept in.  I thought this was an idea that would hit home for most people -- the concept of giving up your childhood, or losing something that was once important to you.

Also, writing "Old Stuff" on the box did wonders for subtle readability.

In the end, I quite like this one.  The story is clear, the emotions are clear, and the environment is simple, but reads nicely.

Have some progress shots!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Animation Mentor Class 3 Dungeon Crawl - The Thief on the Ledges

Last one of the semester, and I'm ending strong!  This has been a great semester so far, and I feel that I've learned quite a bit.  Shoutout to my mentor, Drew Adams, for his support and guidance.

I combined two ideas to make this one.  I really wanted to do a leap to a ledge; but that idea wasn't interesting on it's own.  I also had an idea of a thief going through a bunch of springing traps: wall arrows, spikes, tripwires, etc.  I thought that latter idea, though potentially hilarious, would be much less suited in this series.  So I kept the pressure plates and wall darts, and merged it with that broken rope bridge.

The dagger spin is really neat.  That gets some attitude down, not to mention, tosses and catches just look straight up cool.  I had to make sure the pressure plates read.  That intro was a bit heavy handed to reveal how they work, but I think it is worth the readability to the shot.

In the progression shots below, you can see that he originally climbed onto the ledge.  I ended up cutting it out because it just didn't match the leap the character did.  If I were to come back to this (which I may still do), I would give him a spring leap up -- maybe something a bit more cartoony.  But as is, with that lumbering heavy pull, it just didn't add to the animation, which was really about the run and the jump.  I AM getting better cutting stuff, and being okay with losing time, if it strengthens the shot.  Progress!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Grimoire First Person Animations

I just finished up the first pass on the first person perspective animations for the wizards.  Ch-ch-check it out!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Animation Mentor Class 3 Dungeon Crawl - Scary Rooms, Cute Wizards

(Note: I added in the beast at the bottom at a later date. Subtle, right?)

I loved the last one?  No, I love this one.  I could make animations like this for the rest of my life.  I need to do more cute characters.

This one came together really well, just as the last one did.  I'm getting a bit better at my reference; something really clicked once I started my Animation Mentor classes.  I think it's the experience that comes with time, too.

I thing the story in this one is nice and simple.  The animation just came easily with this guy.  I don't know if it's because he is blobby and all about shapes, or if the idea was jut that well visualized.  I got to the point where I was polishing to the camera a lot quicker than I have in the past.  And every part of it, I enjoy watching back.

I decided to play with the lighting a bit, because I wanted that staff glow to play a part when he 'takes a closer look' in the room.  That gave me the opportunity to get that nice lean-in pose, and the really exaggerated waggle before he runs out.  Natural looking lighting is still difficult for me, but I think I pulled it off here.

You can see from my reference below, that he was originally supposed to recover the staff, in an even cuter pawing at the ground from around the door.  But for the staff to land in an orientation that the door could open and close, and he could grab it and pull it out, AND for his stubby arms to be able to reach it; it was just unrealistic.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Animation Mentor Class 3 Dungeon Crawl - Collapsed Tunnel Escape

The three body mechanics assignments in class 3 don't have to be related, but it seems as if most people like to put them in the same theme, myself included. I chose the theme "Dungeon Crawl", though I'm not making them sequential shots, because I want to try out the other rigs available to me. I'm haven't decided on the other two yet, but I have plenty of ideas on paper.

I must start by saying, I love this shot. The reference (which you can see below) went really smoothly, and gave me a great idea of how this would look. I have axes flying in from some unknown pursuers, and the warrior girl cleverly causes a cave in with the loose doorway strut. It translated really well into real life, including the shield prop, and it translated back into an animation quite well.

I love the slide in, and I love the stumble on the run out. There is something really flowing and visceral about the weight when she stumbles. It's easy for me, as a viewer, to empathize with the speed or panic in which she's moving and stumbling about.

The one spot that I need to take another look at is the second swing. The first swing has nice power to it, but the second swing is just kind of weak. I think I need to cut out that whole section and reanimate it from scratch. I spent an extra week trying to strenghten that section, but I was a bit limited by what I already had, and I don't have the time right now to make that broad change.

I also want to come back and clean up the modeling. The walls are fine, but I need to make the wooden struts look actually weak, and actually like wood. Of course, the cave in should use proper rocks; I think I can do that with a simulation. Also, her shield and mace need some love to up the badass factor. Last, I think she could probably use a helmet or something that says "warrior" at first glace. Maybe I can do something to the texture.

I'm pretty darn happy with the way this came out, and that only makes me more excited for the next two! But first, here is my video refence, and a few progress shots along the way:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sneak Peek at Animated Facial Textures Script Update

Centering on texture and pupil secondary-offset control.
Tile offset, U and V tweaking, working all in one!

I am currently working on a Version 2.0 of my Animated Texture Offset script.  The biggest things I am adding are the option to choose the attribute to read in (position, rotate, scale, X, Y, Z) and support for pupils as mentioned in this post.

Choosing the attribute-in was something I had thought about when I was writing the first version, but it adds a significant amount of complexity to the process, though mostly on the Maya end.  That's actually why I'm writing the Unity C# script first.  I might have to do some weird fanagling with some local variables Maya's Expression Editor.  It could be on the simple side, of setting some variables and copying a script in, or it could be much more than that.

The second bit, the pupil animation, is actually easy to do in Maya.  I was originally going to write a second script to focus on a single pupil texture and offsets with that, but I realized I could merge it with the tiling texture script, allowing for multiple pupil types, as well as keeping it all in one package.  It makes the math significantly more complex, and the script a little harder to read, but it functions just fine.  The one reason it will be more difficult in Unity is because Unity's default shaders take RGB and A all in one channel, so I can't separate out the Place2DTexture of the diffuse and opacity.  I think the solution to that is to include with the script a custom shader that separates out those two maps.  At least that will be easy to write.

On top of those two things, I also refactored the code to just make it a little cleaner and a bit more robust.  The Inspector public variables are much nicer (for example, it takes a GameObject now, rather than a string name), and I have some good error checking in there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Grimoire Third Person Animations

I've been working on some animations for Omniconnection on their game, Grimoire!  These are the blocked third-person view animations for the wizards.

The model was done by Karen McCarthy, and the rig was done by Robert Campbell.  These animations were done on an earlier rig, so excuse the penetration issues, those have since then been fixed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Global Game Jam 2014 and Unity Cookie Lights

Just finished the Global Game Jam 2014 today!  You can check our our game, Follow, here.  In short, its our idea of a blind person trying to find his seeing-eye-dog, who had run off.  He can only 'see' by sound, so this was our representation of the world as he might view it.

I got to play a lot in Unity, including some experimentation with HLSL/CG coding.  I ended up doing a lot of work with Unity's lighting, and animated it in-engine with the built in animation tools.  Thank goodness I did the characters from before.  I did some art direction, as well as some set dressing, and simple modeling.

We decided early on, whenever something made a sound, it gave off ripples and briefly lit the area, maybe a mix of echolocation and his mind's perception of what the area already looked like.  The problem was, we couldn't figure out how to do that in Unity.  Our solution was to just represent it with lights, and I went to work on trying to get a ramp shader so we could have some nice blown-out lights with harder edges than the quadradic point lights want to give us.  Think something like Closure's hard lighting.

On the last day, around 8 hours to the end, we found a way to pull it off: cookie lighting.  Weird name, I know.  It uses a map to put a sort of cut-out in front of the light, kind of like light shining through a grate.  I ended up using a point light with a spherical map, and I animated the light's motion.  There ended up being some weird issues with certain angles, and certain intensities, where it just acted like a point light.  I kind of wished I had used a spot light, but I didn't realize the origin of the point-light issue until we were too low on time.

I played a bit in a art directory sort of role.  I pushed the idea of the the fountain and statues in the park to be exaggerated, and had the people represented as bodies with giant lips and teeth; the idea being, a blind person can only see what they are, as he is, and he can't really feel a stranger to determine what they actually look like.  I would have liked to go even more surreal with it, but we had limited time as it was.

And finally, I have to give a shout-out to the whole team.  Our Unity Programmer god was Elio Feliciano, who saved us all when we were almost programmer-less.  Bryce Pelletier also filled in our programming team, mostly working on our AI while having never worked in Unity previously.  Rob Walker was our Lead and he filled in the all-important sounds in our game.  Angel Luis did our UI design and art, as well as writing.  Logan Blosser did a lot of design work, dialogue, and filled in all of the gaps; unfortunately, a bunch of his work never made it in-game, due to time constraints; but he was still indispensable.

And kudos to the artists for making a pretty awesome environment.  These were 4 artists who had to work together and autonomously at the same time, and I'm blown away at how well we worked.  We all played a part in modeling, and all played a part in set dressing.  Ivan Banche took the lead in building the city in Maya, as well as building most of the buildings.  Karen McCarthy sculpted most of the surreal stuff in the game.  Sean Buck modeled most of the set dressing (dumpsters, trash cans, signs, etc) as well as the cathedral and the construction site pieces.  I did a number of scattered objects (gravestones, trees, benches) and did a lot of scattered work in both the Maya file and in Unity.

Check out this beautiful little city made in just 48 hours.  Ironic that it's mostly in the dark, huh?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

RR Character Animations in Unity 2D

This project is on hiatus for now, so I want to post the animations I had worked on in December.

Rifle Enemy attack/idle

Rifle Enemy kill (in progress)

Flamethrower Enemy attack/idle

Flamethrower Enemy kill

Commando Enemy idle

Commando Enemy kill (barely any progress)

Demolition Enemy attack/idle

Demolition Enemy kill

Hero attack

Hero death (in progress)

Hero run/idle
I still need to finish up the Hero death, Enemy001 kill, and the Enemy003 kill.  As you can see, the formers are partially blocked, but needs some cleanup, the latter is barely started.  I'll either update this post or make a new one if/when I finish those two up.

Nassa the Gnome, Painted Textures

Finally getting around to finishing her up (again).  You may think that Nassa has become my excuse to try new programs and workflows; and you'd be spot on.  I'm now working on her in 3DS Max to get used to Max's Slate Material Editor.  I'm also thinkin' about using 3DS Max's rigging and animation tool, but there is a good chance I'll go back to Maya for that, and do a new character in Max later on.

I added and changed a few things here, especially her two obsidian-like daggers and oversized pirate hat (stolen from a pirate.)  If you were playing the D&D campaign with me it would make more sense.  This is also the point at which I should link to our campaign log, but I'm so far behind on it, that it wouldn't explain it either.

Funny thing, I have been digging Paint Tool Sai recently, for how their blending brushes behave.

The good news is that I can deal with layered Photoshop files in SAI.  The bad news is I can't export tiff files, nor does Mudbox play nice with SAI's psd exported files.  I like using SAI more than I like texturing in Mudbox; though I am still using both programs back and forth.  Mudbox's Export to PSD features is great for getting all of the zones and shapes down, and then I can work with the flat textures for most of the detail, then take it back into Mudbox for cleaning seams.

The downside to working on this while playing the character is that she develops (and changes) on a regular basis.
I'm not modeling the panther cloak.