Influences from Iconic Animation

Blur Studios founded in 1995 was founded on the principle of, high quality, creativity leading to profitability(Miller. Tim, Seymour. Mike. 2012). Founding partner Tim Miller’s vision of creating a studio where he could control the “creative destiny”(Miller. Tim, Seymour. Mike. 2012) of the studio has come to fruition. Blur Studios work had been featured on multiple highly respected CG sites such as FX guide and CGSociety(Miller. Tim, Seymour. Mike. 2012,March 3)(Hellard. Paul, Taylor. Paul 2005)(Teo, Leonard. 2005).

Their body of work is highly varied, projects ranging from In game cinematics, to film, to advertising. Their style morphs and adapts from gritty dark worlds of Arkham Asylum II or Bio Shock to the sweet innocent worlds of Goldfish Crackers or the Nick Kids Choice Awards. No matter the client or style Blur produced high quality results. After 20 years blur studio is still creating beautiful films and game cinematics. Last year they released the cinematic; League of Legends, A New Dawn (Blur Studio. 2014). Through this blog I plan to analyze both this cinematic and Blurs 2004 short film “In the Rough” (Blur Studio 2004)taking influence from their shot composition, timing and animation to improve my own work.

There are several reasons I have chosen these two pieces of work to inform my orc vs witch doctor animation. Both animations are centered on conflict, focusing on the differences in size and weight between the characters. In the Rough is more centered on slapstick humour, where the weight differences allow smaller characters to dodge out of the way leaving the heavier characters momentum to carry them into hilarity. The lol cinematic uses the same idea to show the different strengths of the characters, and their fighting styles. Powerful heavy hitters smash through obstacles where high agility characters dodge around.

I want to apply these principles to my Orc character. His character design is oafish and heavy. One particular scene I want to take influence from is at  0.35. In the cinematic, the animation of the lighter characters, compared to the heavier character, smashing through the log is accented by the camera move and shot framing. I want to have dynamic camera moves, however there is the risk of going too extreme and looking amateurish, something I want to avoid.

In the Rough’s shot at 3:15 is also influential. The heavy bears momentum carries him past his target even though he is planting his feet in an attempt to slow down. In this shot camera moves are static, cutting to each shot framing the character in appealing ways. I want to replicate the slow motion camera shot at 3:18 however in my shot the agile Witchdoctor will be intentionally flipping over the Orc, teasing him on the way past.

Over the next few days I will be referencing these animating taking influence to improve my animations. I plan to follow a post to post workflow, planning my shot, and animating to the camera.

 

References

Blur Studio (2004) In the Rough [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-mw7TrxdxQ&list=PLXtrPHfvJ5X93QUUPy_i2laoYiU5me3hu&index=4

Blur Studio. (2014) Leigue of Legends Cinematic Trailer,  A New Dawn [Video File] Retrieved from http://www.blur.com/work/project/league-of-legends-a-new-dawn/

Blur Studio (n.d) About Blur. Retrieved from http://www.blur.com/about/

Blur Studio (n.d) Blur work. Retrieved from http://www.blur.com/work/

Hellard. Paul, Taylor. Paul (2005) Interview with Paul Taylor

‘In the Rough’. Retrieved from http://www.cgsociety.org/index.php/CGSFeatures/CGSFeatureSpecial/blur_studio_-_in_the_rough

Miller. Tim, Seymour. Mike. ( 2012,March 3) How they make video game cinematics [Video File] Retrieved from  http://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/a-look-at-blurs-game-cinematics/

Miller. Tim, Seymour. Mike. (2012). Studio profile Blur Studio [Video File]/ Retrieved from  https://www.fxphd.com/blog/studio-profile-blur-studio/

Teo, Leonard. (2005). Meet the Studio, CgTalk. Retrieved from   http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?t=243015

Ork Skinning:Ork Skinning

Over the last week I got my Orc Rigged and skinned. I used Super Runes, Super Simple Rig for this. I encountered a few issues that I had to dig about in the rig and fix; the extra bone chains for the ears and tongue needed to be parented to the head bone, and the eye bones needed realigning to fix their pivot. After that the skinning was my next challenge.

As I detailed in my previous post I needed to adjust some pivot points part way through my skin weighting. This required me to build a new rig and import the weights I had already done on to the new one. The below max help doc explains the process I used.

http://docs.autodesk.com/3DSMAX/15/ENU/3ds-Max-Help/index.html?url=files/GUID-CDA1A8A6-2C22-42FD-A966-D2EEFE4C4E3F.htm,topicNumber=d30e267936

Thanks to some advice from Steve I was also able to improve the deformations around the belt area, because his legs are so squat it was challenging to weight the waist and hips. Next time I will probably build the belt as a sub element so it can move over the waist instead of it being pulled about as much as it is now.

Currently I am satisfied with my results, enough to move on to the next phase of production. If I have time before submitting my assessment I would like to improve the deformations of the fingers, however getting close to the due date means I need to move forward, if I am going explore everything I planned for.

Rigging Reflections

Over the last 2 weeks I have been working on Abigail’s rig, and subsequent skin. Rigging a character with a dress was not something I had done before, and took a bit of consideration to come up with a solution that would be friendly to animate with. I believe I have now achieved that goal. I have tested the model with a few poses that Abigail will need for her combat, and have found the deformations to be suitable. The true test will come in the next few weeks as I begin to block out the animation passes.

The process of deciding on rigging solutions took a few weeks. It was something I was considering thought the concepting and modeling phases. I was somewhat apprehensive about building the dress, a more complex feature, in to our character, however I believe when in game it will give our character a point of difference. Something that should, if done well, attract our industry professional target market.

I have done some rigging in the past, mostly standard rigs, with FK arms and IK legs. Nothing too out there, or too subpar, for someone of my experience. However when it comes to animating I want more than just a standard rig. Features I desire such as FK/IK arm switching or saving out poses were out of scope, were I to be building the rig myself.

To save time, and get the features, I wanted I looked to use an automated rigging solution. Rigging can be a time consuming task that is often automated in smaller, or tight turnaround, projects(Autodesk 2013). There are a few standard rigging tools to choose between. Initially I narrowed my options to CAT(Autodesk 2014), Mixamo (n.d) and Super Simple Rig (Super Rune, n.d). I wanted to explore these options, as I had used CAT in the past, and wanted to research some of the competing tools. Fairly quickly I rejected Mixamo due to its integrated skinning, and lack of extra features, I wanted control over the skin weights as I knew that would be integral to the successful deformations of Abigail’s Dress and puffy shoulders.

I then explored Super Simple rig, created by Super Rune (n.d). I was interested in this rigging solution as it was recommended by Steve, our animation lecturer, because of its animator friendly interface. I am also using this rig in my studio 3 project, and had found it easy to work with for short film animation. It has the features I wanted in the rig, FK / IK switching, options for extra custom bone chains, and also the option for twist deformation bones (although that is not really needed for this project because abigail is too low poly to take advantage of them). It looked promising, however getting the rig to work in Unity was a time sink I could not afford. Super Rune explains in a CG society forum post (2013) that his rig was designed with film animation in mind and is not intended for exportation to game engines. I spent a weekend testing it and would use it in the future for film, however for games I believe CAT is the best option.

I had used CAT before in my studio 2 games project. I know CAT is compatible with game engines, and again it has all the features I was looking for in a rig. It’s UI is a little more cumbersome than others, however since I have used it in the past It should not slow me down. The other advantage is that since CAT is used more widely there is more support if I run into problems.

Thanks to Ben, who recommended Rick Vicens (n.d) tutorial on advanced cat rigging, I learnt a few extra tricks in setting up my rig, such as using zeroed attributes. Creating the rig for the most part was simple, the biggest challenge again was the dress. When building the rig I could have made some extra bones, parented to follow the leg, however that would mean double keying at animation time, because the dress fell below the knee I would need to adjust those poses manually. I decided to weight the dress to the leg bones and to use morph targets to create variation in the way the dress sways. I know using morph targets is more resource expensive than pure bone animation. After discussing this with Lukas and Soren we should still be within acceptable resource use, since there is only one Abigail on screen.

Once the rig was created, skinning was the next challenge. Again the dress posed difficulties, in my attempt to create an efficient low poly character I had not built enough topology in to the dress, to smoothly stretch over the legs without clipping. This issue was not unforeseen as I was unsure of how low poly I could get away with. To resolve this I needed to add a few more loops around the body. This meant I could adjust some of the UV’s to sit a little flatter. Building the rig and skinning before texturing allowed us to test the model before we had spent too much time on the texture, a pipeline I feel I will employ in the future.

I was also able to restore my skin data that I had already applied. I had begun with the legs, since this was the area I was most concerned about, so losing this would not have set me back too far. Using tips from PEN’s(2009) forum post the process was able to save a few hours, a result that I was very happy with.

References

Autodesk (2013, July 10) [Video file] Meet the Experts: Learn how Zynga used 3ds Max in its Farmville 2 character and animation pipeline. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esm3B4ab-r4

Autodesk (2014, December 17). CAT Character Animation Toolkit. Retrieved from http://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/3ds-max/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2015/ENU/3DSMax/files/GUID-EA1D6D09-A2CD-4204-8093-A7AE5EC5E333-htm.html

Mixamo (n.d). Mixamo Auto rigging solution.  Retrieved from https://www.mixamo.com/auto-rigger

PEN. (2009, February 24). RE: “Copy Skin Weights” for Max [online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.cgsociety.org/archive/index.php/t-734093.html

Super Rune. (2013, February 27).  Super Simple Rig [Online Forum]. Retrieved from http://forums.cgsociety.org/archive/index.php/t-1095891.html

Super Rune. (n.d.). Super Simple Rig FAQ. Retrieved from http://www.superrune.com/tools/supersimplerig.php

Vicens, Rick. (n.d).  Rigging and Animation Workflows Using CAT in 3ds Max [Video file]. Retrieved from. http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/575-Rigging-and-Animation-Workflows-Using-CAT-in-3ds-Max

Player pieces, for augmented reality board game.

I wanted to research and develop my skills in a number of areas this tri. One of the areas I looked to explore, as part of my independent study, was how to create art assets for 2d games. Seeking out games students for collaboration, I agreed to make some player pieces for Jacobs game. His brief was to create some player pieces for an augmented reality board game. The pieces were to be picked up and placed down on the board, they also needed and idle and death animations.

I knew I had a limited time frame with which to complete this project, because I have assigned myself other projects this trimester, and Jacob needs these a few weeks before the end of trimester, so he can integrate them into his game. Knowing this and working within Jacobs brief I pitched a simplistic, stylised art style, that I was relatively comfortable working with, and that would lend itself to stylised puppet like animations, constrained to limited perspectives. Originally we had discussed working in both face on and side perspectives, but due to both, the time constraints, of both parties, and the technical limitations, of integration into the game engine, we decided to limit the perspective to front only.

As discussed in previous posts I looked in to several software applications, with several methods of exporting the animations. I was interested in using something like Spine or Toon boom which has the ability to import the complete rigged 2d skeleton in to unity, to use for ragdoll or dynamics. Although this option was appealing I decided to use sprite sheets to export my completed animations. These would import to unity without needing any extra plugins, and using power 2 resolutions, with the spirites laid out on a grid should ensure import compatibility.

To prepare the characters for Spriter I needed to cut out an import individual body pieces, to parent to an armature. This could be done applications like Photoshop or Illustrator. In this circumstance I used Flash, I had already prepared one of the characters for bone tool animation in flash, before I realised that the bone tool was dropped in the change from cs 6 to cc. Not wanting to discard the work I had already done, and knowing Flash’s brush tool gives the line work a distinctive look, I created the other character in Flash and exported all the body symbols as png files.

After building and parenting all the body pieces you get a basic rig that you can key, similar to most bone based animation apps. Once I built and animated one character I could replace the body pieces with the other. This modular workflow allowed me to create both a male and female character for Jacobs game. Reflecting on my experiences, next time using this method, I will need to consider each character and what extra bones they would need prior to building the rig. For example the girl character needed extra bones for her hair, so I built them in to the rig. She didn’t need both upper leg bones since she had the dress, when importing in the male character I needed to adjust the rig, something that could have saved me more time if I had thought more deeply.

I used the free version of Spriter and was constrained to FK limbs for my animations. Overall Spriter was fairly useful, there were some negatives; there was difficulty in selecting and manipulating the smaller bones, difficulties with the layer order rearranging itself when keyed (possibly a bug), and a too simplistic curve interpolation for my needs. It did however get the job done. If it were to include are more detailed curve editor I would look in to using it for future projects, however with Toon boom now having a subscription option available I may use that instead.

After animating I exported out png sequences. Spriter does have a sprite sheet layout function in the full version, however I used sprite sheet packer.

https://spritesheetpacker.codeplex.com/

A free app that allowed me to select my padding amount, and whether I needed the sheet to be power 2 and / or square. It also exports out a .txt with the frame image locations, if your game engine accepts that. From reading up on sprite sheet packing I know they could be packed in a more compact and efficient way, however I believe that this would make it more difficult for Jacob to import them into his game.

At this point I have handed off my animations to Jacob. I do not yet know if any revisions are needed. I did quite a bit of research to avoid any problems importing them into game, however this is my first project that has required sprite sheets and I have allocated some time to troubleshooting if it is needed.

Creating and leveraging Art Bibles

Over the course of my study I have found myself drawn to collaborative projects. I always want to create something that is bigger and better than the sum of its parts, which leads to seeking out others with skills that complement my own. This leads to the need to communicate many aspects of the project across the entire team, such as but not limited to; art styles, character concepts, themes, and colour palettes.

As animators we usually find it easiest to communicate visually, through experience over the last few projects, I have found that a strong, comprehensive, art bible greatly improves the cohesion of a projects art direction. Creating, and working from, art bibles were exceedingly useful throughout this trimester. I have been a part of several different collaborative projects; the efficient animation, Zorra’s Wanted, the independent projects, Orc Vs Witch Doctor, and Jacobs AR game, and the final project Lather Rinse Repeat. These projects are of various different sizes, requiring communication between different disciplines for different tasks. Over the course of this blog post I will detail my contributions to, and use of, the art bibles used in these projects.

For the Wanted project I worked on the storyboard, with Maddi, and the animatic. When we created the storyboard it was early in the project, we did not have concrete character designs, and we were still putting together the mood board. The storyboard and animatic contributed to the art style and art bible by describing scenes, rough character possesses, and ideas for shot compositions. Having the storyboard early was valuable as it allowed us to see what sets we needed to create, and what angles those sets would be viewed from. As the animatic artist I had a lot of control over the beats and timing of the scenes, and how they flowed into each other (Beiman, Nancy 2012).

I had already read Azam’s short story, listened to his album (Idris, 2015), and was familiar with the media he drew inspiration from. This helped me create my own vision of the world, these were the beginnings of our art bible. From there we added mood boards, character concepts, and of course the storyboard, and animatic. I leveraged these during production, having a strong concept allowed me to work imaginatively when composing my scenes, with the confidence that they would work within the completed project. This vision was especially valuable when it came to lighting my scenes. The neon lights, magenta and cyan colour palettes, and the dark yet vivid concepts inspired my lighting and shot composition, especially in the foot splash shots. In addition to this taking WIP screen shots, posting them on the slack board, and responding to feedback, was also an important process that helped keep our art style cohesive.

https://vimeo.com/121130688

http://gfycat.com/MeanFarflungFeline

http://gfycat.com/FantasticAptHydra

Orc Vs Witch Doctor has come in to being through myself, Karen’ and Mayu’s own separate ideas combined to create a larger project. This task did not have strong as strong pre production as the Wanted project. We had a smaller group with less to communicate. This project was more about combining the assets we were intending to build for our portfolios as individuals. We didn’t create a large art bible for this instead we referenced cartoons like tom and jerry, or the Blur studios League of legends trailer to communicate our ideas. We did individually create concept art, and Karen put together an animatic however we were not as strongly constrained by a particular art styles I as am with my other projects. This has come through visually as Karens and my characters are very different, mine is much more stylised. If this were a final project the differences would be something to address however as it is a smaller project, more a proof of concept the differences are acceptable.

For Jacobs AR project I was given the brief of creating player characters for an augmented reality board game. This game was to be played by new SAE Qantm students to familiarise them to campus.  From the outset, due to time constraints, we knew our animations needed to be simplistic. I searched for games, or cartoons, with simple character designs that would lend themselves to the simple shapes, images from games like Rayman and Don’t Starve, and art by or inspired by Tim Burton.  Using screenshots found from image searching I created a mood board that we used to communicate ideas. For this project we only wanted characters so that is what the mood board centered on. In addition to this I worked on a few pages of thumbnails and roughs, taking feedback and adjusting the characters to create the final versions.

https://www.pinterest.com/Meggeldens/2d-ar-game-mood-board/

Although final project is not part of the studio units I have leveraged the principles learnt over previous trimesters and applied them to this project. We have a large team of 6, executing this project successfully has relied on strong pre production. Our group consists of 2 artists, 1 game designer and 3 programmers. Different disciplines with different ways of communicating. We are using an art bible with consisting of a mood board, concept art, and references of inspiration to facilitate this communication. We also decided early on to use an asst pack from the unity store for the environments, this was our first constraint in art direction something we worked from to concept characters that fit within that world.

I created a mood board, on pinterest, adding some images myself, but opening the board to any team member to contribute images. We created the mood board while on a Skype group call allowing each team member to talk about the images they included, and what aspects of it they were taking influence from. In addition to this myself and Ben worked on concept art to help communicate our characters and world to both our teammates and our audience. I created an image of 2 of the small enemy characters. I chose a pose that demonstrated their bratty nature, these creatures are child like dust monsters, filled with more mischief than malice. Using this art direction me and Ben have gone on to build the basic models for our game. Again using these resources, and sharing WIP shots early has allowed us to take and give direction to create characters that fit together.

https://www.pinterest.com/Meggeldens/abigails-charge-mood-board/

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/f3/cb/c0/f3cbc032a2c9af061f4cb141be02a83e.jpg

Using an art bible, even just a mood board can greatly improve the cohesion of the project. Its an especially important resource when you have a large group or are following a specific artistic direction.

 

References

Beiman, Nancy (2012). Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animation Features and Shorts. Abingdon, UK: Taylor and Francis.Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/saesg/reader.action?docID=10628915&ppg=6

Blur Studio (2013). League of legends a new dawn [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.blur.com/work/project/league-of-legends-a-new-dawn/

Idris, Azam (2015, January 26) Wanted, [Performed by Vault 16] on Egris [mp3]. Brisbane, Australia. Retieved from http://vault16.bandcamp.com/album/egress

Distribution and social media platforms for student game project

Distributing our game is something I have not covered properly yet. Considering that creating a quality portfolio is one of the most important portfolio goals I really need to sort out my plan for this. If no one sees my work it’s not going to be as useful as it could be.  As with most people I plan to share my game on my social media pages. I have a Tumblr, linked in, facebook, twitter, wordpress and behance.

I am more active on some these platforms that others, however I am not particularly huge on any. I have been striving to repost my content from my blog on other platforms to reach a wider audience however I don’t have the time to craft a custom message for each platform as recommended by Rousvoal (2014), as not all social content is appropriate, or well received, on different platforms. What we need to do is target the platforms where our, industry professional, target market frequents.

It may be worth creating a facebook, twitter and youtube for our game, the main risk here is the time sink, and distraction. We don’t have an official marketing person, since we are students, and taking someone away from crafting the game could be detrimental to both their marks and their previously agreed upon deliverables. This is something I will need to discuss with the group. Having followers watching our process throughout the development process would be ideal, achieving that is something professionals still struggle with.

We want our game to be accessible with little difficulty, we don’t want to create a pay barrier between our audience and the content. Because of this we are planning to host our game on a website. The task of building the site has not yet been allocated, but we hope to have something basic for the end of next trimester. Just a page for the game and a short bio of each team member with links to their profiles. After talking to Callan I now know that the unity game can be played in a browser, or installed by downloading the exe in a zip. It can also be embedded in many websites, those that don’t support it, like facebook, can be linked to the website

I would also like to research some free to play distribution platforms, places like steam, desura or itch, Reinhardt in her 2012 article details several options, however since the article is a few years old, I will need to see if these options are still viable. I am unsure of the application and approval process or the legality of the software we are using in this respect so some team discussions and research is required. Since I have not been down this path before, I would be greatful from any advice from the online community on this matter.

Several weeks ago I also posted about the possibility of entering in to student competitions. After some research I have only found 2, the Autodesk cg student awards and tie independent games festival.

http://www.cgstudentawards.com/

http://www.igf.com/rules_student.html

After reading through the requirements I believe we should be eligible to enter both. There are no restrictions about having already published your product online like some film competitions have. The biggest issue I can see is the the IGF requires you to attend their convention in the US, if you are shortlisted, a problem we can solve if or when we get to it.

I understand now that there are many complex options for the distribution of this kind of project. Its is easy to get swept up in creating the project and ignore this facet until you have a complete project. This would be potentially damaging, by then it is too late for much of the social media marketing. Understanding your target market will also help you choose your social media and distribution platforms. Knowing what sites they frequent, in many cases, will decide your distribution channels

References

CG student awards (2015) Why should I enter. Retrieved from http://www.cgstudentawards.com/

Desura (n.d) How to get the most from Desura. Retrieved from  http://www.desura.com/groups/desura/howto

Independent Games festival (n,d) The Rules  IGF Student Category. Retrieved from http://www.igf.com/rules_student.html

Itch. (n.d) Create a custom page to instantly distribute or sell your indie games. Retrieved from http://itch.io/developers

Reinhardt, Jana ( 2012, March 30) Indie Distribution Platforms that are not Steam. Retrieved from http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JanaReinhardt/20120320/166531/Indie_Distribution_Platforms_that_are_not_Steam.php

Rousvoal, Yolene. (2014, November 13) Promoting your indie game on social networks. Retrieved from http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/YoleneRousvoal/20141113/230049/Promoting_your_indie_game_on_social_networks.php

Valve (n.d) Steam Green light submissions. Retrieve from http://store.steampowered.com/app/219820/

Abigail Progress Report

(Abigail model)

Over the last few weeks I have been working on the Abigail model. She is now ready to pass on to Ben to work on the texturing. After a few tests, errors and re exports, I now know Abigail will import to Mudbox, or photoshop without any issue, should Ben decide to use either in his pipeline.

(Abigail uv map body)

(Abigail uv map skirt) (separate unwrap for material id’s and double sided material)

Stats wise the completed Abigail Model sits at 2854 Tri’s, well within budget for a player character with no face(Totten, C. 2012, P, 14). I also checked this off with Lukas’ who suggested if time permits that we could have a higher poly count for this character. I am keeping this option open, depending on both time constraints and how the current topology deforms.

I began creating Abigails model by blocking out her form then working to refine the model. After receiving feedback I decided I needed to accentuate her silhouette, since some parts of the design that worked in 2d, like the width of the dress, and the height of the Breasts, didn’t work in 3d. These features, instead of giving her more physically imposing look made her look soft and weak. I had intentionally not given her much muscle definition since I wanted to emphasize her femininity, this turned out to be the wrong way to create her form. I worked through the mesh adjusting her silhouette making her leaner, and increasing the size of her head, so she looked more cartoony. We are going for a somewhat stylised look for the overall game so accentuating her proportions helped her fit in with the enemy character Ben had made.

(older iteration of Abigail)

(Abigail Refined)

(Abigail Refined)

I am now happier with Abigail’s silhouette. When reworking the mesh I wanted to  ensure I didn’t go too far in the other direction, making her too skinny or busty. Something I definitely wanted to avoid was sexualising her. This was important to me because currently we are trying to balance the cultural message of the game. I feel her costume design has affected this in two ways. On one hand she is in a full length, coverall dress, on the other she is dressed in a medieval maid outfit.  We are on a precipice, if Abigail were to be too thin or, busty it would be much more likely that a player would interpret the idea we are trying not to convey.

Now Abigail’s mesh is complete I can see the overall flow of topology. I was concerned that creating the shoulder puff of her dress would damage the edge flow I had created. I am currently happy with the result, but I won’t know that I have mitigated my deformation worries until I reach the skinning stage, scheduled for the end of this week. One of my goals when creating the character was to make sure this character has the best topology possible, to achieve the best looking animations. This was because when I created a game character last trimester I had difficulty animating due to collapsing shoulders. That limited the range of motion I could get out of the character. This project in particular will need good deformations in the shoulder area, being in 3rd person means the player will easily see the shoulder area of my character.

Initially last trimester I blamed the rig I was using for the poor deformations but upon more research I realised that the way I had built the character was probably the cause. In my previous post “shoulder and elbow topology” I go into more detail on how  I believe I can create better deformations.

http://meggeldens.tumblr.com/post/114284489597/shoulder-and-elbow-topology-i-have-been-working

My next task, this week, is to research and finalise a rig, or automatic rigging solution for Abigail. I would prefer to use an automated rigging solution, I  have created custom rigs in the past with mixed results. Rigging is very much out of my comfort zone, and I don’t want to introduce any errors in to our pipeline that could arise due to a badly built custom rig. As I am going to be taking on the task of animating Abigail I want certain features in her rig. Mainly features like Ik Fk switching and position matching, and if we are to use a higher poly version of the mesh, bone twist limbs would be a desirable. Features like these are fairly complex to build into a custom rig, and would take much more time. For example a tutorial to create a custom rig will all the features I would want is timed at 9 hours 48 mins, compared to a stripped down tutorial with simple FK is 5 hours 2 mins.

9 hours 48 mins http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/332-Character-Rigging-for-Production-in-3ds-Max

5 hours 2 mins http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/336-Introduction-to-Character-Rigging-in-3ds-Max

Considering working from a tutorial video takes much more time than the videos length to produce the work, building a rig myself is not going to be viable. Especially since I want to focus my portfolio piece on modeling, and animating. I believe that taking the time requirements, benefits and risks into account using a well thought out automated solution is going to be the best way forward.

Researching automated solutions I have narrowed my decision to two options. Which I plan to decide on this week. Super Simple Rig by Super Rune(2015) and CAT Rig (Autodesk. 2015) are on my short list. I know CAT will work in unity as I have used it successfully in a previous project it has most of the features I want. Super Simple Rig from the look of it has all the features I want, but it is not as widely supported as CAT, and I am unsure of its compatibility with Unity. I will post an update to this in the next few weeks when I have narrowed down my decision.

(Testing Super Simple Rig) (Super Rune, 2015)

Initially I resisted taking on the task of rigging Abigail. Normally, I do enjoy challenges and often volunteer to take on extra tasks however this is not the kind of challenge I usually enjoy, compared to figuring out a different method of building of face topology, or working on a complex animation. Taking time to consider how I acted and felt when tasked with this I realise I was not operating as the best animator and team member I could be. Its apparent that to be an effective group member I need to be able to work on tasks that do not enjoy, for the betterment of the project. It’s important to recognise my weaker areas but I also need to work to overcome them, instead of avoiding the situation.

I feel so far I have estimated the time allocations successfully, as we budgeted having Abigail modeled, textured and rigged before trimester break. Some test animations are desirables in this time, and currently I am on track to achieve this.

References

Athias, Delano. (2010) [Video File] Character Rigging for Production in 3ds Max. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/332-Character-Rigging-for-Production-in-3ds-Max

Athias, Delano. (2010) [Video File] Introduction to Character Rigging in 3ds Max. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/336-Introduction-to-Character-Rigging-in-3ds-Max

Autodesk. (2015) CAT Character Animation Toolkit. Autodesk Help Manual. Retrieved from http://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2015/ENU/?guid=GUID-EA1D6D09-A2CD-4204-8093-A7AE5EC5E333

Totten, C. (2012). Game Character Creation with Blender and Unity. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.saeaustralia.edu.au:2051/lib/saesg/reader.action?docID=10580256

Super Rune (2015, January 5) Super simple Rig. Retrieved from http://www.superrune.com/tools/supersimplerig.php