Monday, 30 January 2012

TRANSCRIPTION: Getting Started and First 'Hovering' ideas

And yes, Transcription is here and it is rather exciting to work on a 10 week project independently. We are challenged to 'transcribe' a text into a different text format. A text can be anything from a poem, a piece of music or a painting and can be made into an animation, character design or environment design.

"Transcription’ describes a process of interpretation from one source to another. For
example, a piece of music being visualised as a music video or a book being imaginedas a film."

But of course the best way to start this Unit is to get hold of a good source which can provide you with a lot of choices and possibilities. This can be the hardest part as it might be struggling trying to find something 'out there' that will satisfy your needs or visions.

"This unit requires the transcription of a narrative or body of investigation and knowledgeinto a complex project that exploits the aesthetic possibilities of digital environments. Itrequires the selection of an appropriate source of inspiration and to critically define its,narrative structure (including diegesic and non-diegesic elements) aesthetic qualities,environment, characters, and soundscape."into a complex project that exploits the aesthetic possibilities of digital environments. Itrequires the selection of an appropriate source of inspiration and to critically define its,narrative structure (including diegesic and non-diegesic elements) aesthetic qualities,environment, characters, and soundscape."

The challenge is looking big but I am positive that it is going to be a rewarding one.


What do I want my outcome to be?

I haven't got anything solid yet in my mind but have been thinking of some first ideas that I've grasped since the beginning. Phil advised me to firstly decide what I want my outcome to be, whether it's going to result into an animation, a character or an environment. I think what I wan to make the most of in this unit in Animation, and specifically character performance. I love creating characters but bringing them to life with animation is the biggest stepping stone. So what am I going to focus on? --->  CHARACTER PERFORMANCE

What Content?

My first ever idea derived from an Artist Alan suggested us during our Narrative Unit. He is called Craig Davidson and he makes paintings of childern with their shadows representing what they are pretending to be. I thought it would be a great idea to play around with children's imaginations and show them off in their shadows.

A Fistful of Spangles

Plains Jane

 Whats That Skippy, Someone Trapped In the Well

Are You With Me Men!, Aye Robin!!
By The Gods!
After the talk I had with Phil on this idea he gave me a whole new perspective to it which is similar to the original one but somehow more interesting. How would it be like if I could transcribe a real life monologue of a child and bring it to life with a character alon with lip-syncing, of course. It would be interesting to record an actual child talking about its dreams and visions and trancribing them into a simple animation.

I am aiming to look deep into children's imagination  and try and read through their crazy minds.

Well, this is my first idea. Not sure if I will stick to this but at least it is a starting point.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Evaluation of Unit 1: Narrative (Retrofest)

Not necessarily related to my own experience but I thought  it was funny. :P
Another Semester is gone (the hardest one according to everyone) and it was the most painful one, but at the same time the most rewarding one.
I discovered a lot about myself and what it's like to work in a group. I personally found it very exciting combining our skills to create the trailer and feeling capable of sharing my strengths within the team. I even got to experience what it's like to work with people from a distance as I did with Dom and Aidan while we were all in different parts of the world during the holidays. So, yeah, I think out of this project I discovered that I actually enjoy working with other people.

There were a few ups and downs during those last 15 weeks that caused a few arguments within the team, but this is what made us complete the project. Although, both of my team mates were stubborn with their own ideas, I think that the fact that each of us was 'fighting' to work  made us even stronger workers. I am happy we were all willing to work hard on this, even though we nearly turned up on crit day in blood and with broken bones.

My skills in Maya and project management have improved a lot thanks to the project. I chose to challenge myself by taking over the character modelling and rigging, which was something that I wanted to do for a very long time now. I made a lot of mistakes that made my workflow slower, but learnt so much from it, which I am going to take on to my next project.
Unfortunately, I did not have the time to complete all Maya tutorials but I am willing to do it in my own spare time. Even though, I've been working constantly (even during the holidays) I still couldn't physically finish them.
But at the end of the day, what counts is what YOU learn and you do not have to prove anyone that you've completed something on time. I am looking forward to learn eve more and broaden my knowledge into the animation industry.

I am going to have a proper 'break' now and clear my mind, ready for the next exciting project. See you all there! :D

Monday, 23 January 2012

Maya: Car Modelling Part 6 and 7- Filling in and Bumpers

I did whatever I could to finish this car but only got to part 7. I wish I could do more but I ran out of time. I am hoping to complete this tutorial one day because it seems really helpful for future modelling.

Narrative: My Contribution to the Unit

This is a quick post summarising my contribution to the group Project, which was a rewarding but at the same time stressful experience.

So starting off with some Pre-production I worked on:

To kick-start our story I did some influence maps and thumbnails for the environment which eventually made Dom and Aidan move on to concepts, and develop our script.


I did some storyboarding tests:

And a part in which me and Dom worked together on (me directing him and him drawing)

Some quick creature designs:

Tried to do some character Designs but they turned out too cartoony for the trailer's style:

I also suggested on doing the Animatic Monday event and also made my own Pre-Viz version:

Research on 1970's films and Influences:

Worked on our first script:

The Script Version 1

I made our studio Logo:

Put together our Pitch Presentation:

Black Lagoon Presentation

Quick environment concepts:

Modelled the House:

Worked with Dom on some textures during the holidays, when he wasn't able to work on Maya so I put the textures in for him.

Did some Editing:


Did the CD, DVD and Buisiness Card Design:

I did all the writing for "The Art Of Document" which Aidan put together:

And of course modelled, fully rigged two characters which was the hardest task I ever had to go through but they are done now and I've learnt a lot from them. I am hoping to get even better at this now:

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Narrative: The Art of (Writing Part)

Not sure if I was supposed to include this into my contribution but this is all the writing I've done for the Art of Document:

Who we are

We are a group of 3 CG Arts and Animation students, all with different skills and personalities and we have been working together as  a team for this first Group Project of our Degree. Our studio name is  Black Lagoon Studios taken from our first source of inspiration which was the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon. We have our own individual blogs  but have also created our group one:

Andriana Laskari:
Domantas Lukosius:
Aidan Codd:

Group Blog:

The Project

 We were challenged to produce a full animation trailer inspired by 1950s-70s film trailers, using our given title as a starting point for our story. The title our group was given was “Killers from The Swamp” which directly linked us to Horror. For this project, everything had to be done from scratch which meant building our own characters, our own set  and creating  our own story . These had to be original and unique .

The Story

We went through a lot of discussion and changes before deciding on our final story.  Initially, out trailer was going to be a B-Movie, almost like comedy but eventually turned into a horror movie. The story involves two characters, a Mother and her 10 year old daughter who go on a weekend trip to their holiday house near a swamp. What they are not aware of is that the water is contaminated by factory waste which results in the mutation of the creatures that live in it. When the child goes missing  the mother runs panic stricken  into the woods  to find her. She realises she is being chased by some “unseen” creatures in the woods .She senses their movement and sees their shadows  between the trees .Will she manage to survive this or not?  The story is set during the 1970’s so there are a few features on that define it as a 70’s film like the movie style, the car, the clothing and the colour palette.

The Storyboard  and The Editing

Storyboading and editing  was kept simple.  The whole animation opens with a calm driving scene when everything seems nice and tranquil. With the growing tension the scenes get shorter and more upbeat. The movements of  the characters and of the camera get more frequent and the tension builds up to the point when the mother finds herself surrounded by those mysterious creatures. The trailer never shows what happens to the mother which entices the viewer and leaves him with a huge question mark: what are those creatures?

Pre Viz

We got to the pre-visualisation stage quite soon as we needed  to visualise our work as regards editing and creating our first storyboards. We realised that each of us had a completely different view on how the trailer would work with the editing so we set ourselves a task which we named Animatic Monday. Each one of us made a quick separate pre-viz over a weekend to see what worked best. It turned out that our first idea was a complete no no, so we ditched that idea and made some huge changes in the editing. Thanks to the decision to pre-visualise our editing very soon in Maya our final story runs a lot smoother and is more pleasant to the viewer.

Concept Art –Environment

Our whole trailer is based on a rural environment, a forest next to a swamp. All the vegetation, the ground and the matte paintings have the same colour palette based on autumn shades like dark green, brown and grey. In the trailer there will be a sudden change in colour when the mood switches from calm to panic. It starts off with warm colours like red, orange and brown and swiftly changes to cold ones like blue and green. We kept the matte paintings very painterly and matched them to the rest of the environment.

Concept Art- Characters

Initially we started with 6 characters and 3 creature designs which seemed a bit too much considering the time we cut it down to only 2 characters and a creature which is shown only as a silhouette. Our two final characters are The Mother and her 10 year old daughter called Tracy. Their design is not too realistic, nor too cartoony, but somewhere in between. The Mother design was based on strong motherly figures from 1970’s films whereas the daughter is more of a cute tomboy with dungarees and pony tails.

Modelling and Texturing –Environment and Props

The biggest challenge in the environment part was to make everything look as organic as possible. The trees were modelled from scratch along with the rocks and some vegetation. The layout of the scene is simple but everything is placed in a way that made the environment look believable. The texturing is pretty soft with some interesting detail and low bump mapping to keep it less harsh. To avoid unnecessary modelling, planes were used in many parts like the leaves on the trees and the sky view of the tree tops. There were a few props that had to be modelled and played an important part in the animation like the car which is a Fiat 127 from the 70’s and the house which is a basic wooden cabin- what you would normally find in the isolated countryside.

Modelling and Texturing- Characters

Modelling and rigging the characters was a long process but a rewarding one. Their anatomy is based on real life humans but their faces are a bit more stylised with oversized eyes and small mouths to make them look cuter and more vulnerable. We kept the style of the clothing simple, inspired by 1970’s fashion and put some patterns on them from the same decade. The 1970’s was all about earthly colours with extravagant patterns, so we tried to give the characters’ textures these sorts of elements.

Narrative: Final Trailer- Killers From The Swamp

After all the blood, sweat and tears it is finally done. It's been a great experience and I am aiming to take it with me for the rest of my life. I can't wait to see everyone else's work tomorrow. Good luck everyone! Everyone's been working really hard :D

Narrative: DVD, CD and Buisiness Card

Simple and clear Designs, done! :)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Narrative: Animation and Editing Tests of the Forest Scene

These are a few scenes I've been working on today (and tonight) and have animated myself. When it came to the editing of the mother running into the forest we did not know where to start from so I took over to do some editing and animation tests. I must say I really had fun doing this and can't wait to do more. This is what I've got so far:

The Mother Panicking when she's surrounded by the unseen monsters and accepts her fate:

The Mother turning her head to a sudden sound she hears in the Woods:

A few camera angles of her running in the forest:

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Narrative: The Mother's Expressions (Blendshapes)

 I think I have enough blendshapes here to make the mother look terrified when she loses her child. Now with Dom's proper texturing, we can start animating them. Exciting :)

Narrative: Tracy's Facial Expressions (Blendshapes)

I am amazed by the wonderful world of blendshapes. At last Tracy has facial expressions! They are not perfect but they certainly give this spark of life to her. I did as many blendshapes as are needed for the animation so I thankfully did not have to work on all the phonemes and visemes. Some of them didn't turn out the way I hoped but at least I got the basics down. All that is left now is the Mother's blendshapes and we can finally start animating them. This work is finally  paying off.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Narrative: Mother Progress (Legs, Feet, Spine, Head, Final Grouping and Controls)

It's been a long journey, but she is getting there. I had to go back to the tutorials over and over again and even put new joints in her legs which were not working correctly. There are still a few problems that need to be fixed like the skinning on the legs, the eyes that are not parented to the head properly and her thumbs (which do not work in the connection editor just like Tracy's). But I can say that I can finally move on to her face.
I am going to try and complete her before moving on to Tracy (fingers crossed) >_<

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Narrative: Tracy's Rigging Process(Legs, Feet, Spine and Arms)

It's been a while since I updated my work on the Narrative characters as I've been trying to work on the Cartoon Character and then apply what I've learnt from him to them. I must confess, rigging is a lot more quicker and understandable the second time, and it should be even quicker the third time for the Mother. Of course, I've had a few problems on the way which took a while to correct but to be honest, they are inevitable. 
So this is what I've got of Tracy up till now. A few points to ask Alan about:
1) The file is very slow when the geometry is visible, how can I correct this? 
2) Can some skinning be corrected after the rigging is applied?
3) How can I make the eyelashes work on the facial rig (it is a separate geometry from the face)
4) The thumbs make a weird twist when I connect the joints to the rotates in the connection editor.