Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Four: Smithston Wessex Logos

Deciding on the font and logo image there was a slight thought. The central sphere is quite large and quite dominating so to offset the emptiness something was suggested as a 'spot' to draw the eye.
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  While I was provided with a five-point start, I wondered about a four-point star. Which I choose (either 1 or 3), a more straightly-arranged star feels more appropriate. I have also considered shorthand formats featuring the company's initials. 
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Four: Last Few Controls


  So far almost everything has been linked up. The last few elements required are the fins. As I found the IK control system quite handy, I decided that barring other suggestions I use that to make controlling the fins easier, as I had to get rid of a few controls for the old method when rebuilding the neck.


  There was some minor warping when I linked up the blendshapes to the model, but a loophole I found to reduce the severity was to reduce two of the shapes - one for the lips and around the eyes, one for the cheeks, are working at half-strength. While this does mean their controls need to be moved further for a better effect, it seems like a worthwhile compromise. 


The counter-roll for the spine's IK also works effectively. However since copying the rotation for the core joint overshoots the counter-rotation it might have to be controlled on a by-eye basis.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Four: Correction Sculpting Complete


  It's taking its time but the pose space corrections are about finished. The hard part was correcting the changes, now what remains are linking up the blendshapes above and creating splines for the tendrils on the head. Turning the head has proven tricky but I have a solution of tying the twist and/or roll parameters of the spine IKs into attributes on the body, allowing for easier correction when they twist the body out of shape.


  Some of the controls have already been tied in but not all. That is something I am currently working on. I may also need a new system for controlling the fins.now that I have fewer controls along the creature's spine.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Palace In The Mountains


  I find myself working on the same models for the past year now. In an attempt to refresh my mind for further work, I spent a couple of hours this weekend building something that has been on my mind for months now. Just something to change the pace for at least a brief moment.


  It came up during a visit to Rome but palaces, castles, fortresses, cities and the like forever fascinate me. These monuments and achievements in architecture are one of the things that drew me to a potential career in architecture and are perhaps one of the things that drew me to my current course in 3D animation.

  Most likely however this will be put off now until summer, as with the last two months come crunch time and pressure to get everything done. The model itself is satisfying even at this level and anything more (except maybe the bridge) and I might find myself getting lost in tiny details and minute adjustments.


  Still it was a nice exercise in design and architectural planning as I had found myself recently listening to video analyses of how realistic various fictional castles are and it is always nice to put fresh knowledge to good use. And served as a healthy break from pose correction.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Four: Presenting Play and A New Adult


Written into the script, one idea was for Four to knock over the phone as Amelia is talking. This scene should be more interesting than Four simply wandering into David's office and giving the camera puppy-eyes.

Anyone with a pet cat knows they love playing with inanimate objects by giving them pokes, jabs and pushes to see what they do or how they fall over. As a creature of predatory heritage, Four might have similar instincts so this might be entirely in-character for her.


Preparing for the third act I went back to the adult model. While installing the spine to simplify control over Four, a slight problem came out in that when installing a curve to a spine, the joints will contract to fit the CV curve, which would make reattaching the blendshapes problematic. The solution so far (which has given freedom in correcting the skeleton) has been to essentially fix the skeleton then rebind the skin and paint the weights back on. 


As I had done this before a couple of times now I might be able to re-paint the skin weights fairly promptly. That is the plan, as the deadline of mid-May is coming and I have to reserve a week or two for export to a render farm and post-processing.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Four: Pre-Vis Progress

I believe I am making good progress with creating the basic elements of my animation. There isn't much movement yet but my plan is to go over and create more refined movements after all the animation is in place and the recordings have been synchronised and sequenced. There might be a slight delay as I believe I have to rework the pose space corrections on the adult model. Hopefully this shouldn't take too long now that I have more familiarity with the system.

I had a feeling that what might help the scene is while Amelia is talking, the attention is on Four. At this point in the story, David might have shut her out and stopped talking, too enamored by the creature that hatched from the cocoon. She's offering him one last chance to communicate but Four has come to dominate his perception of life.

While Four does look pitch-black in the pre-vis, that's more of a side-effect of the mila shader as it is rendered in the workspace, where it renders a shade-colour version of the the top (quite dark) texture map, which would be the monochrome specularity. It am quite confident that it won't come out like that in polished renders.


To test out posing I created a small quick "tester" animation. Far from perfect but it does give me a few animations to start off with and a proof that the model for the juvenile functions reasonably smoothly.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Four: Animation Buildup


A rework of David's lines are in the works, for now I felt it was worth my time to continue the animation, and then re-synchronise the footage to the new lines once a full reading of the script comes back to me.

There was one benefit - while it looks like the movement of Four has errors, these gave me the opportunity to go back and make some corrections to the model, fixing a few errors (the bending of the neck turned out to be an off-zeroed curve, once the values were all reset the spine worked correctly) and attaching some of the finer controls.

Four's initial movements in the animation, that of just sliding round on the ice, will be the foundation. With the grub complete, I can add that one in to better ground the camera and its focus.