My obstacle course project has taught me a lot about animating in Maya, skills in asset management and more knowledge on Maya topology.
As part of the assignment, we created a character in Adobe Fuse that reflects our appearance and personality, this character would then be animated inside Maya completing an obstacle course. The character design in Adobe Fuse went well and I am happy with the character that I created, unfortunately the character file didn’t quite work inside Maya so I had to use a ‘Barry Rig’. This is something that I would like to have done differently in the project as the character design was quite a large part of the process and it is not shown in the final product.
Starting the animation was a tricky process, after a few failed attempts at auto rigging the character I finally got him in the right position with working limbs and joints. Once this was set up I started to animate according to my blocking sheets which showed movements and timestamps. The barry character was a lot bigger than I expected so I had to change a few of the movements that I planned, this was not necessarily a bad thing because it made animating the entire assault course more doable and also many of the movements more realistic.
I like how the animation turned out, although the character is a blank barry he still conveys a lot of character through his movements, I made sure the animation wasn’t boring or generic by making some of the movements quite ridiculous and flamboyant. I wanted the animation to stand out while still sticking to the brief and I believe I have achieved this, therefore, am happy with the outcome. There are a few things I would have done differently given more time/resources such as: Setting up my Fuse character properly in Maya with textures and colour, decorating the environment to complement the character and add some form of a story, finishing the obstacle course (I had to finish it early because the rig started to break after I made certain movements).
Boundin’ is a 2003 Pixar computer-animated short film, which was shown in theatres before the feature-length film The Incredibles. The short is a musically narrated story about a dancing sheep, who loses his confidence after being sheared. The film was written, directed, narrated and featured the musical composition and performance of Pixar animator Bud Luckey.
Pixar Animation process and technique:
Pixar Animation Studios have a long and complex process when it comes to animating movies or short films, the process begins with concept works and storyboards made by the design team. Pixar values its collaborative nature, everyone on the team works together and shares ideas about the design process. This is important in a professional environment so that the workers all have a clear goal rather than going against each other or having different ideas about the production. The equipment that Pixar uses is extremely high spec and up to date, it is a necessity, in order to run their software and render their animations.
There are a large number of job roles in the Animation Industry; this is a pipeline for producing animated short films and other animations. This list displays all of the job roles needed to make a short film, they are ordered from top to bottom showing which roles come first to last in the production process. Many of these will happen at the same time but in most cases, the previous step needs to be completed so that production on the next step can take place.
Script visualization with storyboard
Storyreel – a blueprint of the film
Visual development artist
Show the visual feel of the film
Sculpt 3D versions of artworks
Design how the characters move
Place joints, muscle, and fat
The surface quality of assets, texture, colour etc
Staging and blocking
Prepare shots for animation
Create short animations which are applied to background characters
Deal with what characters interact with
Paint with models
Create and apply soundtracks and sound effects to film
This is a blog post about an animation I made in Maya featuring a bouncing ball, I have done a similar animation in 2d before but this is a step up as part of my research for our obstacle course task.
To start the project I set up a sphere polygon for the ball and 2 rectangles to act as surfaces that the ball would bounce off of.
I then started to animate the ball moving by adjusting the position of the sphere and adding keyframes, I also used the help of the ‘Graph Editor’ to make the motion more natural. Whilst I was repositioning the ball I also changed the scale slightly depending on the position, this adds a stretch/compress effect when the ball is traveling fast or hitting a surface.
For our second Maya task, we were asked to create a column. I began by making the base of the column, I made a cube polygon and set the ‘y’ scale to 0.15. I then moved the pivot to the bottom of the vertex in the middle of the shape, this allowed me to move the shape up to the surface with accuracy by using the ‘snap to grid’ feature.Once the base was created and in the right position I made the pillar itself, for this I needed to use the cylinder shape, I then applied the following settings to the shape in the channel box:
To light the robot we used the ‘Three-Point Lighting Technique’: The three-point lighting technique is a standard method used in visual media such as video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery.
To start lighting you open the ‘Arnold’ tab on the toolbar, once you have this open you can add light to the scene. The robot model and backdrop are already in place so for this activity we needed to move the lights and make sure they are pointing in the right direction.
To start off you need to select File > Project Window, once in the project window click ‘New’. The project window will display all of the default project locations and names, you can clear all of these by selecting Edit > Clear Settings.
Enter the name for your current project in the ‘Current project text box’. Then select a location for your project file by clicking the browse icon to the right of location. Click ‘Accept’ to save your changes and close the project window, project directories and sub-directories will be created if they don’t exist.
Asset Management in Maya:
Asset management is a key skill to use in any industry, it saves time and increases the workflow. If you have proper asset management you will be able to locate all of your assets and understand what they do, when working in a 3D environment this is important because it can get confusing trying to find certain objects or figure out what one of your assets does.
The importance of Topology:
Topology in 3D is the layout of the model, how the vertices and edges form together to create a mesh. Having good topology is important because it can affect the frames per second of your project and also the rendering times, certain problems will arise when rendering if you have poor topology.
Before I started animating I have to set the FPS (Frames per second), to do this I went to Window > Settings > Preferences and then set the frames per second to 24. After this, I made three shapes (a cube, a cone and a sphere) and positioned them on one side of the grid, spaced apart. The goal of the animation is to have all three shapes reach the other side of the grid at different times, the cube after 1 second, the sphere after 2 seconds and the cone after 3.
To start off with I added the keyframes that mark the starting and ending position of each object. To make the starting keyframe you have to click on the timeline at the bottom at frame 0, you then click object you would like to animate and go to the channel box in the top right. Once you see the details for the object simply right click ‘Translate X’ (Because the object will travel on the x-axis) And then click ‘Key Selected.To make the finishing keyframe you select 24 on the timeline (1 Second of animation) and then input a number into the ‘Translate X’, in my case I put -10 because that is where the Cube would end up, and then you simply click ‘Key Selected like you did before.
I then repeated this process for the other two shapes, the starting keyframe would stay the same as the cube as all the shapes start in the same place. However, the ending keyframes are put on frame 48 for the sphere and 72 for the cone, this is done so that each object finishes moving a second after the last.
Today we learned the basics of Maya and used these skills to create a simple spaceship design, my spaceship started off as a simple cube which I manipulated with the ‘Extrude’ tool under the components section of the ‘modeling toolkit’.
To start the design I simply moved the cube into the air and widened it by selecting two opposite sides and extruding outwards. From this I now had multiple faces that I could extrude in any direction, I decided to make the spaceship quite linear so I extruded the front of the cube lengthways and started to add sloping extrusions that give the spaceship a more realistic shape. I then wanted to add depth to the ship so I extruded several faces outwards again and added more details and slopes
I noticed that the bottom of the ship was a bit chunky so I decided to add more depth and detail by creating a new line with the ‘Multi-cut’ tool. This allowed me to extrude halfway through the spaceship. I then used this to create further detail and depth.
The finished design came out quite nicely, I would like to add more detail in the future as I learn more in Maya.