Meet the Team Project: Animation Research

In the first week of this trimester at SAE, in my Studio 2 class, we were told that our main assignment was to be a Meet the Team video that was to introduce new characters into am existing franchise. We were split into teams based on whether we had chosen to do 2D or 3D animation, and then we decided on a franchise to create these original characters for. My team elected the cartoon “Samurai Jack” as our franchise.

This blog post has been made to discuss how I am to be going about animating the shots I’ve been assigned, however to do that, I should first show and explain my character.

Samurai Jack MTT character model sheet FIXED

This is my character, she is an ice mage. Of our characters, she actually has the shortest screen time. In the video she will be the apparent villain. And though I have designed four different views, she will only ever be seen from front on.

One of the requirements of the brief is that we rig our characters so the group had to then research 2D rigging, or puppet animation. That required to break my character a bit, so that she could be rigged. Here is her sprite model sheet.

Samurai Jack MTT ice mage sprite sheet

Now she can be rigged. Currently, she is rigged in accordance to Robin Fuller’s video on puppet rigging, using the second technique mentioned; parenting.

It works for me, and is easy enough to use, and makes the most sense. The set up is easy to. At least, in my opinion, it is so. It does everything I need it to do for this animation. It most likely wouldn’t be the technique I would use if I had more scenes to do with my character, or if I needed to animate some more complex movements, however, and there are more efficient ways of setting up a 2D character rig. Like the Duik tool add on for Adobe After Effects, which contains many advanced tools to make for easy animating.

However, for this project, I shall just stick with my parent rigging, where I have attached all the pieces of my ice mage, in a hierachy, starting from the torso, working outwards to her hands.

Here we have some of my reference images of my own hand in the position that I was drawing my casting hand in. Twenty photos and two videos got me the movement and poses that I needed, to have the ice mage casing magic. I can’t embed my own video’s to my blog post however, so I can’t show you the video reference.

Another piece of reference I used, was Khadgar, from Warcraft, in the Warcraft movie, when the main characters have their first altercation with the Orcs.

khadgar-as-seen-in-the-warcraft-movie

Now that’s magic. It is a good example of the hand movements in casting, although with magic, it’s hard to come up with an exact casting stance, since it would rely on the character’s personality and the situation that which they are in.

And now that all of that has been adressed, I’d like to leave off here by sharing some of my thumbnails for a few of my shots that I will be animating. The order is up down, left to right.

MTT Thumbs

I didn’t feel like drawing the mage again, so I took her model sheet and reconstructed her in each frame. With the arrows, I think I’m going to have to discover a better way of representing the movement through the air.

Well that’s all I have to say on this. Thanks for reading! And I’ll see you all in my next post!

~Icetail~

Reference
Blackburn R. FrostieHeart on DeviantArt. DeviantArt. 2015. Available at: http://frostieheart.deviantart.com/
Duik – Rainbox. Rainboxprodcoop. Available at: https://rainboxprod.coop/en/tools/duik/
Fuller R. After Effects puppet rigging tutorial. YouTube. 2013. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsuOXXEo9qI 
Jones D. Warcraft. Universal Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment; 2016

ANI211 – Cross-Discipline Project Post-Mortem

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByPaqkr58dyTOU9zUldKMHB2S3M

In that link above, is a video with royalty free sound effects and the Papyrus battle theme called “Bonetrousle” (belongs to Toby Fox), added to my obstacle course animation. The sound effects were meant to be placeholder sounds, that would be replaced when the audio students whom I had talked to got back to me with the sound effects that I had requested.

Unfortunately, one of the audio students was unable to help me, thankfully he emailed me, telling me that he couldn’t. The other audio student emailed me, telling me that she would have the sounds completed in a week. For reasons that I do not know however, I did not get the sounds. When I sent another email, I received the reply that their week had been pretty full and that the would see what they could do over the weekend.

I did not end up receiving the audio I requested, and find myself at a loss at how to proceed in this blog post, however, I think I should just go with what I stated in my presentation in class yesterday.

From this experience, I learnt a few things.

First, I need to negotiate clear due dates for what I need, and when asked to make assets in future I should ask for clear due dates as well.

Secondly, I need to get onto cross discipline work earlier, so that if something falls through, I still have time to find more cross discipline work to do.

And lastly, I need to come up with a better way of communicating with the students I am working with, for this time round, emails did not seem to work.

I wish I could add more to this blog post, but I’m afraid that since I failed to receive assets then I don’t have anything more to say. This is unfortunate, and I hope that I can do better next trimester.

~Icetail~

CIU211 – Self-Refection of Creative Project

The following is a critical self-reflection of my creative project in the module CIU211 in my Animation Bachelor’s Degree. I am not criticizing the work of my teammates of this project, and should they be mentioned, it is only to add to the reflection of the project and choices I made during it.

poster_ciu_by_frostieheart-db7djm9

The major project in CIU211 was to propose, and then create, a piece of media, that would then be shared online. The topic of this piece of media had to be related to one of the weekly topics in class, and we could chose any form of media to present it.

I proposed a poster, challenging stereotypes and self-image, having read the lecture on mainstream media. My teammates liked the idea, and we began writing out the proposal for this task. When it was first submitted, our lecturer told us that the plan was vague and needed to be fleshed out, with facts, not just ideas. I had trouble finding the information that I was told I needed from scholarly websites and other reliable sources, I simply had no idea what to search for. My lecturer did however send useful texts that helped a lot.

When it came to creating the actual project, I, as the one who originally proposed the idea, became the project lead of sorts, and I delegated jobs. One of my teammates offered to make the poster, and so I gave her that job whilst myself and our other team member would do whatever other research was needed as well as find images to be placed in our poster. On paper, this was a well thought out plan, however this didn’t work in practice.

I, and I’ve been told that my teammates as well, prioritized Studio 1 (ANI210) over CIU. The studio unit was the bigger one, where there was teammates relying on me for assets, lecturers reminding us of our learning outcomes that we needed to have completed, and the emphasis on doing our mini-specialization projects. As a consequence, there wasn’t as much effort being put into the poster, it had been pushed to the side for assessment in another class. Because of lack of effort, the poster was not as good as it most definitely could have been.

In the last lesson of trimester, the class presented all the projects made, and we all marked each others works. Common comments on this poster were about the lines being too thick, the text not being necessary, the subcultures that we were trying to show not being clear enough. And to this, I completely agree, the lines were too thick, we, my group and I, acknowledged this when it was first posted into our slack channel, but my teammate who was making it said that she couldn’t fix it. I also agree that we probably didn’t need the text there, and it covered up a fair chunk of the image that could have been used as more of the image to help in bringing forth the point. And yes, I agree that the subcultures, and subsequently our main idea, were too hard to make out, there should have been more diversity and difference in each image that was placed in the broken mirror.

One idea suggested in that last class was to create a series of images to help convey our message better. This idea intrigued me, and I believe that it is a good idea, and if we had of had the time, we could have created a series of posters, a set promoting the question of “who do you think you are?” instead of just the single image.

In future I shall try not to present forward half-formed ideas and try to have a more solid idea to work from, or help someone else with their idea and leave my half formed ideas for a later date, at which time they would be better developed.

This ends my critical reflection of my creative project this trimester in CIU211. I hope I didn’t bore you all with this.

~Icetail~

http://frostieheart.deviantart.com/art/Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are-677517201
Also here: http://missjiav.deviantart.com/art/Identity-677532164

ANI210 – Aftermath Post-Mortem

For the whole trimester, my teammates and I have been working on our Aftermath project. The brief for this project asked us to create a game environment in Unreal Engine that showed the aftermath of some event. My team chose to create the aftermath of a bar brawl (come on guys! What’s wrong with the aftermath of an office Nerf war?) set in the Wild West.

Plans & Pitches

First; let me show you my concepts.

thumbnails

Wow, it has been so long since I looked at these images, it’s almost jarring to see. These images were born from much research into Wild Western saloons. As you can see, I was quite bad at perspective at certain angles, but I do like to believe that my perspective skills have improved.

The research process felt a little chaotic, as if we were just collecting images without actually knowing if they fit with the style and time period we were going for. But we managed to figure out the style we wanted for our saloon, and our group leader told us the year that we were looking for and we were able to start piecing together our style guide.

We wanted – note; wanted – to create and texture our assets in an Overwatch style so we got a whole lot of images of the Overwatch map ‘Hollywood’. (For those who don’t know; Overwatch is a game made by Blizzard Entertainment.) This map has wild western buildings that we could use as reference, and we grabbed images of other Overwatch maps to get a feel of the style.

With the rest of the images on our style guide/mood board, we collected images of the interior of saloons from the time period and other small props that lay around the saloon, such as bottles, barrels, spitoons, wanted posters etc. From these we could keep concepting and finish pre-production.

We typed up a project plan we continued to draw concepts and/or started modelling. However during our project, we never looked at the project plan, it just sat in our Google Drive, not being touched and we progressed. We should have followed this plan closely, perhaps then we would not have handed the environment in so late. Without the project plan, it is most likely safe to compare our progress during the project to a blocked up funnel. We needed better planning for this project and we needed to stick to it.

Creative Work & Processes Used

From there we went onto modelling. One of the main problems faced was backwards compatibility between 3dsMax 2017 and 3dsMax 2016, for when we were modelling at home and at uni. I, personally, kept forgetting to save my files in a format that could be opened in 2016 version of Max, which really impacted how quickly I could finish assets. I also discovered that an asset you create in 2016 doesn’t stay in the 2016 format once you save a new version of the asset in 2017, that caught me up a few times while I was working.

There’s a few of my assets. It was interesting trying to work out how to make the round tables (I made a small and large one), and chairs. It was also interesting trying to work out how to break the crate. I didn’t have many problems with the modelling part of this project, and my favourite asset that I made was this one:

Saloon_model

For some reason, I just really love this model, it’s so amazing! *hem hem* Enough self praise. From modelling come texturing, and well… you’ve seen a few on my models, so I’ll show you some of my texture maps.

I enjoy texturing a lot, and the floor, dartboard and the texture for the saloon sign were some of my best this time around. The yellow texture in the corner there is for some gold bars that were in the environment. The floor was the hardest out of all my textures to make, the dartboard being the second hardest, as I had to determine the length of the floor plank, however, once I had worked that out it was a simple matter of copy and past to get the rest of the planks there.

When everything was textured we then began to place it all together in Unreal Engine, though in all honesty, we should have started this step sooner, while we were modelling and texturing. I had a problem with my broken crate pointed out to me, in which the inside of the crate was invisible due to the way I rendered out the image. Unfortunately I did not know how to fix this until yesterday, when our lecturer showed me the settings that were incorrect, as such, it was not fixed in the environment.

We discussed what triggered events we would add to the environment, and at the beginning of the project we had a lot of triggers, unfortunately, due to us running out of time, and a lack of assets, the only trigger we ended up adding was a proximity trigger on the piano that would begin playing “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin when the player moved near the piano.

From the screenshots above, you can see that we didn’t end up sticking to our planned style of Overwatch. This is because when we began texturing, some of us tried to stick to the style, whereas others went with a more realistic style, so our textures ended up being mixed matched. However I think our environment turned out alright anyway.

Project Management & Teamwork

Our project was handed in well past its due date. This happened, first, because we overestimated how much work we needed to do to create the environment, and then later, because we all decided to focus more on the next project; our obstacle courses, over finishing our environment.

While working on this, we never realized how close the due date was or how long it would take to put the environment together in Unreal. All the weeks up to the due date were filled with modelling and texturing, and a week to import it into Unreal, then export and upload. Our project was almost too ambitious. We should have noticed the amount of backlog in assets that was happening and cut less important assets from our list.

Another problem was communication and misunderstanding. Using Slack to communicate is both harder and easier than talking face to face. While, yes, it was easier than waiting till we could meet up to discuss the project; over the internet, you lack everything you use to communicate except your words. The group would discuss details in the group chat on Slack, trying to explain their ideas, but since we were unable to gesture to images effectively, these discussions grew more heated. We should have organised to meet up at uni more often to have group meetings so that these details could have been sorted out properly.

Near the time when we were meant to hand in our environment three of us were discussing the possibility of asking out team leader to step down as it was felt that she wasn’t doing her job to the best of her abilities. I had noted that it was far to late to be considering a change in leadership, and while my teammates conceded to my point, it was easy to see that they still wanted to press the point further. Any problems with leadership should have been dealt with in the first weeks of of the project, not talking about it towards the end of it.

But aside from this, I enjoyed working with them, and I am happy with the end result of the project. I hope I have more chance in the future to work with an amazing team.

~Icetail~

Updated: 9th of May, 2017, 11.45am. 1.15pm. 4.12pm

Character Creation: The Design

Vague descriptions be gone with my newest character: Seraphina. She is a dancing elf with many styles of dance in her repertoire. Her design wasn’t easy to nail down but in the end I think I did pretty good.

So meet Seraphina:

Seraphina Ref

This wasn’t just improving my character creation skills, it was also me working on my proportions (what are those?) and hands (I can’t draw hands, I know).

Sera’s design was based around the blood elves of World of Warcraft, the belly dancers of the middle eastern countries, and the Shuvani Romani Kumpania whom I have seen at the Abbey Medieval Festival here in Australia. Her pose is a mix between Celtic river dancing and ballet.

ThumbsWhen I was thumbnailing Sera, I found myself leaning more into the ballet, ballroom and the long flowing skirt style of romani dance. They worked more with what I need for my story. I liked the way the skirts would flare out as well, creating opportunities for great dynamic poses. I played more with skirts than pants in my sketchings as well. Thought in the end I went with the poofy genie style pants. In the sketches you can see below, I also played around with the star design, trying to make it a part of her. I’m not entirely sure if I succeeded in doing so, but I tried hard to make it a part of Sera.

Sketches

A major design reference that I used during this stage was Olivia from Fire Emblem Awakening. I was inspired by Olivia’s outfit, and the way it fits the character perfectly, showing her personality and is a good representation of her role in game.

When I was typing Sera’s backstory, I was trying to think of something that was interesting but not cliché. I tried to get it to a point where I could continue in a story with a good reference to personality, who she is, and what she values. I hope that I did a good job.

Name: Seraphina
Nicknames: Sera, Nina
Stage Name: Starlight Seraph
Age: 18
Occupation: Travelling dancer/Master Dancer

Race: Elf/Álfur
Eye Colour: Cyan
Skin Colour: Golden Brown
Hair Colour: Dark Red
Height: 159cm
Weight: 56 kg

Seraphina grew up surrounded by the dancers and musicians of her father’s travelling group of entertainers. There she learnt and mastered many different styles of dance, her favourite style being Ballet. When her father retired, Sera took over as leader of the group, where she continues her family legacy in front of audiences everywhere.

In Seraphina’s group, your stage name is always given to you by your audience. When performing, she earned the name ‘Starlight Seraph’ from a band of pirates who described her as being as elegant as her namesake, the angels. This name became official when Sera was performing and the same band of pirates called her that, causing the other patrons to start calling her ‘Starlight Seraph’ as well.

Sera is bound by a marriage contract with one of the pirates whom are regular audience members. This contract guarantees the protection of Sera’s travelling group. Sera likes her betrothed, but refuses to show it, often giving her suitor cold glares as he tries increasingly extravagant ways of winning her over.

Seraphina’s sister, Rhapsody, chose music over dance, and often accompanies Sera as a master musician.

In this I also tried to iron out several story points that I will use. Such as Seraphina’s relationships, and who she works for/what she works as.

All up this was a fun experience, and I hope to continue improving my work and that I finally manage to finish a story. I shall do it! I will succeed.

Please leave a comment to tell me what you think! See you all next time!

~Icetail~

Research Blog
Seraphina Ref

2D Obstacle Course Assignment – Part 2

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about this assessment, detailing my research into the movement of Papyrus from Undertale and Obelix from Asterix and Obelix. During that month I have sketched, lined, blocked out, and finalized my obstacle course animation. It was not a simple task to complete, and there are parts that I wish were different, as well as the several mistakes that I have come to notice.

In the thumbnailing process I first was just simply sketching the characters on a blank photoshop document, trying to work out who would be the easiest for me to draw, and it became clear, quite quickly, that one character was simply impossible for me to draw.

Papyrus and Obelix sketches 01

As you can see, I was unable to draw Obelix, and as much as I would have loved to animate him, I simply didn’t have the time left in the trimester to work out how to draw him, so I had to abandon that idea. I moved onto trying to make the supplied rig work with Papyrus.

Papyrus and Obelix sketches 02

There’s what I managed to come up with. I am inspired to draw Papyrus now. Before I do that however, I shall finish this post. When I was interpreting Papyrus onto the Normi_ *hemhem* Norman rig, I tried to find the perfect blend between the two. In the end, I just kept the scarf. Had I of had the time, I would have most certainly made the animation solely Papyrus with no sign of the supplied reference.

After the sketches came the thumbnailing of Papyrus across the course. We were supplied with two courses and told to do both. So here they are:

Rebekah B Obstacle course papyrus 1

Rebekah B Obstacle course papyrus 2

This consisted of a lot of copy and paste of the march frames. Ultimately I chose the first one, I felt that I could do more with it, and there were more unique actions in it. From this came the block out of my animation. A few differences from the planned course, but still mostly the same.

MyAnimation2

I particularly like his start/end pose, and his jump animation. They are quite cute. My lecturers told me that Papyrus couldn’t clear obstacles with his bones as elevators because that was almost the same as him clearing the course by jumping over it and bypassing everything. Well Papyrus would hate to be that lazy! So I made him climb the wall instead. My father also suggested that Papyrus slide down the slope on his butt instead of surfer like, and it did make more sense.

Papyrus Line

Next we have the lines. He’s climbing up bones now, isn’t it cool! Anyway, there are a few timing issues in this, mainly the fall down after he hits the wall and then when he’s sliding down the slope. If you can notice the other mistake I made, I will applaud you, as I am told that it isn’t actually that noticeable.

Papyrus Finished

And here is the final gif. Yes, I forgot to colour parts of Papyrus on some frames. It is hard to fill colour when the colour you are filling is almost the same colour as the workspace behind the character you are animating. In this gif, Papyrus’ fall after he hits the wall is faster and his slide flows more smoothly into the stand-up and crouch for his first jump onto the poles. When I coloured Papyrus, I didn’t want to make him pure white, but I was restricted by the colour swatches of Adobe Fla_ *hemhem* Animate, so he is cream instead. And his scarf, of course, had to be bright red.

Next time I do something like this, I want to make the character likeness more accurate, make it look more like the character I am animating and less like the images of the supplied rig. If I had more time on this project, I probably would have gone and fixed the frames of the march cycle so that he is marching a full cycle instead of a half cycle.

What I learnt about animation during this assignment was a new way of animating a character. Instead of making each moving part a separate layer in the Animate document, I animated Papyrus on one layer as solid line. This was really hard to do, but also easier for me. It was hard because I couldn’t erase lines madly when I made a mistake or when I was getting rid of guides, so this made my progress slower. However less layers meant that I didn’t have to scroll through the list of layers to find the layer I was working on, and I didn’t have to pull my timeline up to see all my layers giving me a larger workspace on my laptop’s screen.

While doing this animation I learnt that copying all required frames is important, lest you make a cycle only half complete, that there are several different ways for different characters to traverse their terrain depending on their abilities and personality, and that there are no bones in bananas.

Okay, that last point was a joke.

I really enjoyed animating Papyrus’ scarf, and working out how it would flow behind Papyrus as he moved. It was certainly easier than animating the folded wings of my walk cycle in my second trimester, but still hard, none the less. This was a fun endevour, and I’m happy with the way this turned out.

See you all in my next blog post.

~Icetail~

Link to Part 1

2D Obstacle Course Assignment – Part 1

As the title states, this is part 1. This is Part 1 of a two part thing, where I am going to be, first; explaining my assignment and then explaining the choices I’m making, and second; showing rough sketches and maybe rough animation, as well as a keyed out image of my assignment.

So without further ado; Part 1.

Hey everyone, I’d like to inform you that we have officially moved onto our next assignment in Studio 1 at SAE (have I even mentioned the name of the class before? I can’t remember haha) and said assignment is to animate a character through an obstacle course, animating the movement to mimic any known character with distinct movement. This can either be in 2D or 3D, and (quite obviously) I have chosen 2D.

So who am I animating (or movement style am I animating)? Answer: I don’t know… yet. You see, I can’t decide between two characters. SOOO! I decided, why not research them both, then hopefully I can decide after that.

Which two characters I hear you ask?

Papyrus from Undertale
Papyrus1

Obelix from Asterix and Obelix
Obelix1

To be noted: No, I will NOT be animating Dogmatix with Obelix.

First off, lets look at Papyrus. He’s a skeleton, that doesn’t effect much, but since his in game sprite is pixel art, I don’t have much to work with from there. But from game dialogue it can be noted that he is a confident perso_ *hem hem* skeleton who is proud of the fact that he is being taught by the Captain of the Royal Guard. Now this I can work with. In fact, others already have. Here are two examples of a Papyrus walk cycle that others have made (please ignore Sans in the first gif (or coo over him if you really want to)):

Sanspap_walking_cycle_2_by_pomnoi-d9irq7dpapyrus_walk__rough_draft__by_simatra-d9pl3im

First gif was from Tumbr. The second image off of DeviantArt.

In both gifs (sans Sans) he is walking with a cheerful, confident march. And for a long, lanky boned skeleton, I would imagine that he runs with his torso flat forward, using his long legs to his advantage. There is also… another gif… that I COULD make use of.

_undertale__angry_papyrus_sprite_animated_by_pumpkinlol-d9s60ch

~~~

Obelix is a Gaul, during the time of the Roman invasion of Gaul (now France). He’s tall, portly, and more often than not, he carries a menhir around. He isn’t the brightest person in his village, mostly just bumbling around. Luckily for me, Asterix and Obelix have been animated in several movies and there is a walk cycle on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFwi-GEBI3A

I don’t know how to display videos on my blog…. so if someone could comment and help, that would be amazing.

In the walk cycle, Obelix has his hands clasped behind his back, it is easy enough to adjust his arms to carry a menhir on his back. Obelix has a kind of slow lazy gait, laid back and unrushed. In the comics he’s also known to use his menhir to pass by obstacles. When Obelix runs, he is leaning backwards, with a hand on his helmet.

asterix-obelix-run

Well, with all of this, I need to decide between two really cool characters. Papyrus or Obelix. Boy do I have a choice to make. Vote, debate, please, I enjoy reading comments.

And thank-you for reading this post~

~Icetail~