Thursday, 7 August 2014

Week 43 - Starting Monday 4th August

Monday 4th August
Set up Shot 5 and 15 with the correct camera and clean scenes, also adjusted the bin bag model in Shot 5 before handing over to Kirti to render:
Simple bin bag prop I modeled for the animatic.

This was the new bin bag prop I imported into the final shot, however it wasn't quite looking right: needed to be more weighted and sitting on the ground. The handles also needed some adjusting to look more natural.

Made some adjustments and this is the final bin bag model for this shot.

Animated the biscuit in Shot 2, set up the camera, cleaned up the shot and handed over for rendering. For the biscuit, I imported the prop twice, one is parented to the human's hand and the other is flying through the air. I keyed the visibility to switch between the two as the biscuit leaves her hand:

Class meeting with Phil today to discuss the assessment, degree show and London trip. We all had a look at the degree show space and allocated spaces.

Finished the animation for Shot 9, which included the dog running and the biscuit flying through the air. Used my dog's slow mo run for reference:

Used for reference for the anticipation beginning the run, and the poses for the run:

Dog run poses - thumbnail sketches.

For the begging/wide eyed face, looked at references from films:
The first example I thought of was 'Puss In Boots' (2011):

The second example was Flynn Rider from 'Tangled' (2010):

Thumbnail sketches working out the dog animation for Shot 9.

Also problem may have been sorted about the render error to do with v-ray/renderman - delete these nodes from the Outliner:

Tuesday 5th August
Set up Shot 9 and handed over to Kirti to render. Asked for Shot 1 first so that I can add it to the animatic to sort out the final timing.
Shot 1 - I helped to re-render as the sky was turning very dark at the end of the shot:
As the leaves fall down the sky is light in colour.

However the sky was suddenly turning dark at the end.

Fixed this by adding a hue/saturation effect to turn the Master brightness up for that sky layer, as turning the opacity down just made the sky darker and duller.

Then worked with Rebecca to figure out how to transition from shot 20 into the credit sequence. The leaves stopping midway across the screen are not helping. May need some more animation on the end of Shot 20 to help it fade nicely to the next part...
The very last frame of shot 20 has some leaves that are still midway across the screen... when it fades to the title, the cut and frozen frame doesn't look/flow quite right. May need to render out the leaves continuing to fall right out of the frame, or mask over the leaves into the title...

Masking the title to the credits.

Handed over the final timed animatic to Tom to work on the soundtrack.

Wednesday 6th August
Still problems with rendering Shot 15 so I re-imported the characters into a new scene and set up a new camera. Also deleted some unnecessary things from the Outliner, including the V-ray and Renderman settings nodes.

Shot 15 was rendered out, however I then noticed that the dog's eyes go squint when he bends his head to the side. I quickly corrected this in the file Kirti set up for render so that should could just re-render frames 1-32 without having to set up all the render settings again.

Adjusted the eyes from frames 1 - 32 to move and tilt with the dog's head.

Kirti has also let me know that the biscuit texture is not rendering in Shot 2 and 9, have suggested to try and render just the biscuit with an alpha to place on top of the composition, instead of re-rendering the whole shot.

All remaining shots have been rendered and comped and handed to me where I've been adding them to the Master film edit. Also added on the soundtrack and worked with Sheng to adjust the sound effects we needed to add to it.

Thursday 7th August
Finished the version of the film for assessment today. Used some of the sounds that Sheng had found and I also sourced some other sounds from . I then worked in After Effects to add the last of the rendered shots into the Animatic file I have kept up-to-date all Semester. Edited the sounds into it, added Tom's soundtrack and fixed the transition from the last shot to the credit sequence.

Also been working on my presentation and gathering work for assessment this week.
Assessment is at the end of the week.
Next up... Degree Show preparation!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Week 42 - Starting Monday 28th July

Monday 28th July
Finished animating the dog, bird and biscuit in shot 12:
Used the same animation from Shot 11 of the dog and bird, however I took off the post infinity curves in the graph editor so that I could stop the tug-of-war cycle and animate the bird fly away and the dog react to the bird letting go of the biscuit. I made sure to have the bird look around at the human before flying out of shot - as this is the reason for the bird letting go of the tug as the human is racing over to shoo it away. I kept the dog's face as a growl up to the end of the tug, brought his head back further at that point to emphasize the force between the dog and bird, and the sudden letting go. This shows in the dog's expression also, slight shock, his eyes go larger and his eyebrows and ears go up.

Helped Georgios with the animation of throwing the biscuit in shot 9, there weren't enough frames for anticipation, so i scaled down some frames before to make some room.

All the character textures had disappeared from Shot 12 for the bird and dog, so I reapplied them. I imported the same characters from a different shot to bring the textured shaders back into the scene, then deleted the duplicated characters after. However the bird has a lot of wing feathers which are made up of 6 different textures. So to find out which one applied to each, I used the textured bird I had imported as reference. I also drew out a diagram for reference. This might also be handy in case the textures disappear from the bird character in any other shots:

Tuesday 29th July
Checked Rebecca's animation for 16 and 17, which is now finalized, so I set up the cameras and handed to Kirti to render.
Checked Georgios's animation of the leaves in shot 9.
Looked over Shengs shot 18, re-import the new bird house and Sheng will adjust the bird animation so that it lands on the new bird house.
Re-imported the human character into shot 12 (with my final animation of the dog and bird) so Georgios can animate the human character.

I've started animation for the dog in shot 8. Have turned the dog around to face the other way as his middle doesn't bend very well for him to turn his head (like it does in the animatic):
Tried to bend the dog around but felt it wasn't looking right, plus he felt distant from the action in the shot by facing outwards.
Turned the dog around and will build the mound of dirt around in front of him, to help obscure the bird from him. Feel like he is more part of the shot now.

Need a mound of dirt:
Started with a geometry plane and moved vertices to create the mound of dirt that the dog has dug up.
Finished mound of dirt, made it high enough that it would cover the dog's view when his head is bent down.

Discussed with Kirti and Rebecca credit sequence ideas - ended up with stills of film but in a watercolour style - I suggested adding the sky texture on top of the stills to overlay a watercolour texture look over them.

Wednesday 30th July
Finished animating shot 10:
The dog runs in and stutters to a stop, I accentuated this by having his body low and standing back up again when he stops, to help show that he has just run over. His eyes are trained on the biscuit, until he looks up and spots the bird. I kept him still as the camera pan backs to reveal the bird - showing his shock and focus. After they both look at the biscuit at the same time, I raised the dog's body higher and moved his ears inwards as he starts to growl, to show that he wants superiority and is challenging the bird.

While animating this shot I tried out the technique of having a mirror next to me as reference for expression, as the dog's expression turn suddenly from joy to anger in this shot. Using a mirror is a technique used by 2D and 3D animators:
Animator Chuck Jones
I've also found this myself when I have been animating or creating blendshapes that I subconsciously am making the expressions on my own face. I also found in this video clip that animator Glen Keane does this when he is drawing:

Therefore having a mirror handy to allow me to see these expressions you make when animating is a good reference:

Typed up the credits list for Rebecca and helped organize with Kirti some images to be rendered for use in the credits.
I had an idea for the very end of the credits with the DJCAD logo, could have the biscuit thrown past the logo and land beside it. Since the film revolves around a biscuit, thought it would be the right thing to end on. So I animated the biscuit for the end credits:

Helped Sheng with the dog's ears in Shot 18. Just rotated them inwards to help give the dog a happier expression.

Worked with Kirti to sort out texturing the soil in Shot 8 as it was too green, tried tiling the texture but then could see the seam on the model in the shot.
I then solved the problem by turning off the tiling texture and scaling up the uv's for the border soil that is seen and position over a more brown bit of the texture.
Also uv-mapped the 'mound' quickly so the texture sat better on it, again scaled up the uv-map and positioned over a brown section of the texture:
Had the texture of the soil opened so that I could see where the more brown parts were as the texture wasn't showing up on the actual models in the scene.
The texture file for the soil. 

Also been helping and overseeing the dog animation in shot 20 that Sheng is working on. Shot 20 is the last shot in the film, where everything ends well and happy. Explained the dog's emotional state here so that the animation reflects this in the shot. Suggested to turn the dog's head towards the camera right at the end so the audience can see the dog's happy expression more.

Thursday 31st July
Worked with Sheng to finish Shot 20.
The dog needed to look more happy at the end.
Opened the dog's mouth more at the end and stuck tongue out a bit more.
Changed confused brows blendshape for surprise/happy brows.
Added a dip to his head as it turns.
Tail bends towards his head at end.
More smile as well... done!

Fixed camera in shot 18 and 20 and cleared the scenes, so they are ready for render.

Animated the dog in Shot 1, he is moving towards the owner as she is raking leaves, his tail wagging as his emotions are happy and playful at the start of the film:

Here is a closer up view of the dog's animation, gave him a bouncy run and stop up to the Owner to give him a playful nature at this point in the story, his tail also starts wagging when he looks up at his Owner, he knows she's got biscuits:

Sound effects - made a list for Sheng who will start searching for them:
-rumbly tummy for the bird
-ball deflating
-dog grrr
-dog beg - whine
-background garden noise
-bird tweeting

Been gathering up-dated shots and adding to the animatic.

Checked animation for Shot 13, which is being animated by Gary Welsh:
Not as much movement on the dog's tongue, translate head forwards as she brings arm back to accentuate the dog stretching towards the biscuit more.

Friday 1st August
Had a quick catch-up Supervisor meeting, showed our updated work. Just got to keep cracking on with it all.
Checked over the final animation for Shot 13, and have set up the camera, ready for rendering.

Organised with Kirti to have a biscuit alpha rendered for Rebecca for the credits and also shot 1 being comped with the title in the sky.

Asked Tom about smoothing out the soundtrack, will get up-dated animatic to him at the start of next week to work on.

Gave Georgios advice about the running human in shot 12 (mostly for the feet and legs, keeping the back foot on the ground for a bit longer to push off of, not having the knees come up as high, and adding some follow through to the feet flying through the air. Also bring both feet in when in mid air so they don't travel outwards in their passing positions. There were also some adjustments needed for human in shot 1, as she is holding the rake's handle quite high up, her raking movements seemed a little extreme, so just needed some smaller movements.

Finished animating Shot 3 dog bringing ball back in and searching for the biscuit.
As the dog doesn't bend very well at the middle, I made him take quite a few steps to turn around when he is searching for the biscuit. This quick turn I think added to his confused emotional state, wondering where his biscuit he just left there has disappeared to. This left not very much time for the dog to enter back into the frame with the ball. I used this to my advantage and created a quick, almost prancing, walk cycle back into the shot - which helps him to look over confident and proud at having found and captured this ball. His head moves slightly from side to side in this walk as if he is showing off the ball. I also added some follow through to his body when he comes to a stop, to show his sudden surprise at the biscuit missing. When he starts to turn, I added in looking back once more at the spot where the biscuit was to emphasize his disbelief. Coming out of the turn, he spots the bird before the audience does, so I pointed his head in the direction of the bird, where his confused expression becomes focused, before the camera pans up to the bird.
One of the references and inspirations for this shot was this reference footage here of my dog finishing her biscuit and searching for any remaining crumbs, looking all around the ground:

Been reviewing the rendered shots and have been noticing the eyes have been coming out dull and dark. Investigated one of the files and found the problem. The the inner eye had the same texture pumped into the transparency... so broke that connection and informed Kirti:

Georgios finished shot 12, so I have passed shot 2 and 9 to him to animate the biscuit throw
and animate the dog in shot 2.

Imported and animated the ball in shot 3.
I created the squash and stretch principles to the ball by just keying the translate, rotate and scale manipulator since the ball did not have a rig.

Also imported a second dog, this time the one from shot 10 so that there was some walk I could use as a base to start with, to save time. It also helped to use 2 dogs to separate out the animation for this shot as the dog enters the shot, exits and enters again during a 355 frame shot:
2nd dog waiting out of shot to enter with it's own animation.

Went into uni on Saturday, Georgios has given me Shots 2 and 9 to animate the biscuit, and I checked over the dog animation for Shot 2 which was finished today.

Finished animating Shot 3 by adding in extra details and follow through, sorted the speed of the jump out:
The dog runs up to the biscuit happily before his attention is captured by a ball bouncing into the garden, his eyes are wide and trained on it, and then goes chasing after the ball out of shot, his run bouncy to show his excitement. Also added in a blink to show his current shift in motive, from biscuit to ball.

Onto the dog in shot 9 now...

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Week 41 - Starting Monday 21st July

Monday 21st July
Started and finished shot004 today.
I used the technique of filming myself act out the shot for use as reference, in the same way I have researched how animators in the industry might use this process to create reference for a shot. Such as this example from animator Jeff Gabor at Blue Sky studios for the film 'Horton Hears a Who' (2008):

Myself acting out this shot:

I also thought it was interesting to see how the shot had progressed from the storyboarding stage, to 3D pre-vis, reference footage and then final animation:

Shot 4 final animation:
Raised the dog's head and features to show his shock at the bird eating his biscuit, then lowered everything again with his eyebrows to convey his disappointment.

Created some blendshapes for the ball for when it deflates and to fit the football in the dog's mouth better, as if his mouth is squashing part of it:
Football blendshapes.

I also decided to zoom the camera in slightly to make the shot more of a close-up:
Camera - old position from animatic.
Camera zoomed in to make shot a close-up so the expressions on the dog's face are the focus of the shot.

Found out today that AfterEffects doesn't use .exr files, which the film was being rendered out as, so advised Kirti to render the film out in tiff format.

Supervisor meeting today:
Received some feedback for my animation in Shot 6, maybe not have as much bounce in the walk as he seems quite heavy footed, maybe try zooming in the camera to cut out his feet?
For the last shot when the leaves go past the screen, is there a reason to it? If not the leaf could fly past the dog and up and past the bird, to connect the two, as they are now friends at the end of the film.

Tuesday 22nd July
Finish tweaking shot006 after feedback from yesturday.
Couldn't zoom the camera in too much to cut his feet out as it also cut the biscuit out. I did zoom the camera in slightly though to frame the shot a bit better.
Previous version with camera further out.
New version with camera zoomed in.

Took some of the bounce off of the hips to help make the walk lighter. I've also removed some of the rotation and not lifting the paws as high to give him a lighter footfall. The tail is also not moving side to side as extreme before:

Had to redo the football and blends in Shot 4 quickly as the UV-map seam was facing right towards the camera which meant the texture didn't look right, so turned it around.

Gave Sheng feedback for Shot 14:
-Bring the bird's wings slowly down when landed, so they aren't static.
-Add subtle animation at the end to keep life in the character going till the shot cuts
-Could curl his body and features in more, he's very sad and hungry at this point, and to help make the audience feel sorry for him, bringing in his body language can help to make him look small.

There have been problems with the renderfarm, something to do with errors about V-ray and Renderman even though we aren't using these settings... Kirti seeked some advice about it and it's maybe something to do with the cameras, so I am importing and setting up new basic cameras for each shot before they go to rendering.

Helped Georgios set up shot 2 for animation, imported the characters into the shot 2 file which has Kirti's dynamics leaves as the human which Georgios is animating interacts with the leaves in the scene as she is raking.

I've taken shot 11 which includes the final human animation in it, to start animating the bird and dog in their tug-of-war.

Wednesday 23rd July
Been working on the animation for Shot 11 today. Had to work out how to parent the characters together so that they both follow the biscuit.
Ended up parenting the biscuit to the dog's mouth control and the bird's beak joint to the biscuit. This means the bird's head goes where the dog's head goes, but I can still move the bird's body around to give bounce to the flight cycle.
Also drew out some thumbnails in my notebook, trying to work out what pose to put the dog in for the tug-of-war:

I've decided to start the dog and bird's animation in a clean scene, to create a cycle animation for the tug-of-war, which I'll then import into shot 11 and key the global control to translate them across the ground. I used the post and pre-infinity curves in the graph editor to create the cycle animation:

Also today helped Kirti with some rendering problems with the characters eyes not looking quite right, too dull and reflective.
Gave Sheng some feedback for Shots 19 and 20 and replaced the bird house in shot 20 with the final model bird house.

Thursday 24th July
Sorting out the character's eyes which had too much reflection... Recommended to Kirti to render out just the eyes with the head as a black hole so that it can be added on top of the composition that has already been rendered:
Too much reflection...
Less reflection...
Even less reflection... which looks better.
Gave Sheng some feedback for shot 8, more force needed in the bird's takeoff - some anticipation? The bird could also enter the frame with a hop step, to help it travel the distance it needs to in the short time. Showed the blog post where I had some reference footage of bird's hop stepping.

Feedback to Georgios for Shot 2 - the human's body could be rotated slightly to help look like her weight is on her right foot, and rotate the toes slightly as if taking on this shift in weight.

Been working on Shot 11 animation. Added in the bird's wings cycle.

Friday 25th July
Finished the cycle animation for Shot 11:

Imported this into the scene. Had to group the characters so that I could rotate them without them all rotating on their own axis and coming apart. Also having to be careful with keying the global control to translate them as the ground is uneven. Working on getting the pacing right.

Fixed camera in Shot 1, 8 and 20 for rendering.

Talked over ideas and plans for the credit sequence with Rebecca who will be working on this, figured out what images and files she will need from our team to do this:

Wrote descriptions for Shot 13 and 15, for additional animators for our film, to use as reference:

Shot 13 - Owner bends up into shot, holding the dog in her right arm, and holding the biscuit in her left hand. She gazes off ahead of her (watching the bird fly away to the fence). She is surprised by what she has just seen (a tug of war between the dog, biscuit and bird). The dog is looking in the bird's direction also, eyes focused and mouth glum, he's annoyed at the bird.

Shot 15 - Owner feels sorry for the bird as she now understands he was just hungry as well (Previous shot shows bird looking sad and tummy grumbling). She has a thinking face as she and the dog look at each other, then she looks at the biscuit still thinking. Her head lifts and looks in the bird's direction, she has an idea! Dog looks confused.

Shot 5 - Owner pushes the bin into shot and crouches down to the bin bag at her feet. The camera pans down with her, she is startled to see the dog sitting and staring at her, begging for another biscuit. The dog's eyes are sad and wide and his mouth is sad. Owner reaches into her pocket and throws a biscuit. Dog happily chases after it out of shot.

Extra information I gave out with shot 5:
There probably isn't enough time in the shot for the Owner to turn the bin around, like she does in the animatic, before she crouches down. The bin can just be left facing sideways to the camera when she pushes it into shot.
If it is too difficult to make the dog sit (his back legs are a bit troublesome to put into a sitting position), or go from a sitting to running out of shot, just keep him standing for the shot instead of sitting.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Week 40 - Starting Monday 14th July

Monday 14th July
Interviews and filming in the studio, teaching Georgios the essentials of 3D animating in Maya, and teaching Sheng how to use blendshapes.

I've been going through all the shots which Kirti has combined with the final environment and lighting, and re-setting the timeline to the correct length, and checking the animation settings to be at PAL 25fps, moving the new characters to roughly where the animatic ones were and adjusting the camera if needed, as the ground of the final environment is slightly higher than the animatic environment. Then turning the visibility of layers off before saving to make the heavy file more manageable to open and move around in:
Screenshot of Layout

Tuesday 15th July
Finished setting up all the shots ready for animation:

Created an Animation Shotlist to keep track of who is working on which shot and character:

Sheng discovered a problem with the bird rig, need more control on the arm joints to fold them back. Seeked help from our rigger Georgios.

Should we use bump maps to add more texture to the plants and bushes in the garden? Don't think it looks right for our film. (Not final lighting and effects just added to the center plant):
Bump depth: 1.000 (Too strong)
Bump depth: 0.038 (More subtle)
Bump depth: 0.263 (Still quite strong)

It's the simple things... trying to find out how I can view my animation through the camera whilst still working in perspective view - tear off a copy of the panel!

Wednesday 16th July
Looked over Sheng's animation with her.
Also worked with the team to determine what to do about the look of the plants and bushes in the garden.
Concerns about the render pipeline, renders are taking too long at the moment.

Thursday 17th July
Trying to get the dog to sit is a troublesome thing...
His legs go through the floor and I've been trying every control and joint to move it but it just distorts/looks unnatural. So going to avoid having the dog sitting in shots to avoid this problem unless it looks fine from the camera angle.

Managed to get the sitting pose look more natural but know thinking that for this shot the dog sitting won't be suitable, exported it for use in a different shot:

Checked over the shots Sheng and Georgios are animating. My feedback to Georgios for Shot 11 was to make the human's expression neutral, then smile after she has turned to glance at the dog in tug-of-war, then turn back suddenly with the smile disappeared. Shot 7 has been complete.

Friday 18th July
Been working on shot 6 today. I tried two versions of shot 6, one with the dog sitting and one with the dog standing.

Dog sitting version:

Dog standing version:
However making the dog sitting look natural didn't seem to be working, plus it didn't make sense for the dog to sit down, when he was about to get up again to go and dig a hole by the tree. So went with the standing version.