Thursday, December 22, 2011

3D Concept of Evil Wolf

the same routine follows again: I bring  3d render of evil wolf and a maquet environment to photoshop and play with things there to make some nice visual representation. Hopefully the "infinite" space is clearly drawn where  his "steam" goes.

 The Progress :

 I have developed the environment  in relatively good detail, but then had to take it back to bring up some theatrical lighting. Possibly these concepts can serve for our animation lighting ideas.

And that would be it from my side :] Time for some proper Christmas holidays :] Family finaly comes at my totaly empty student halls :D
Wish you merry Christmas! :]

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3D Concept of Good Wolf

I have read a while ago about this new approach artists are using for creating beautiful .. 3D Concepts. It involves making anything from making a quick 3D maquet to resolved 3d models and bringing them later to photoshop to push the visual idea there. This is my first attempt, the 3D concept of Good wolf.

I was trying to blend the the character in the scene seamlessly. I also used a more dynamic angle, so it made the task more interesting. Perhaps there is some conflict between the very defined 3D model of the wolf and very stylistic and relatively loose environment.

I’m hoping to do something similar for the Evil Wolf as well and then finally my family will arrive and it will be time for Christmas :]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Character Presentation Video

Here is compiled character presentation. I chose to show characters in contrast to each other: how obviously different they are in modeling , texturing approaches, and how the time-lapsed animations also embody that difference. To solve some funny perception issues (they looked like about to sniff each other) I have posed the characters slightly differently and increased the distance between them, Hopefully that does it. As for soundtrack, I Used Dave Keefe's earlier soundscape tests.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Previs 2 + Soundtrack Guidelines

Latest Previs

This should be intended timing and pacing of each shot, so time the soundtrack to the lastest previs above

Soundtrack points and general guidelines
There is a three act structure for the soundtrack, these are the points that should be evident in the soundtrack.

The Beginning – Setting the tone/atmosphere
Pretty much there, no real changes necessary.

The Race – Buildup of tension
Anticipation of race
Start/‘gunshot’ of race
Build-up of the race
Drop of sound when transitioning to the climax act

The Climax – Final epic stand-off
Tension builds up on each cut of the wolves,
Drumbeat accompanies each cut e.g. close up of evil wolf, to a close up of the good wolf

Overlap of light atmosphere sounds over the Title and Credits is nice, as already present in the current soundtrack

Overall, we feel there should be no strings, but could have a lot more drums to build the tension.

If you can separate the acts into separate files that be great, or even the sound document itself if its possible.

Can we have the sound file as either an Mp3 320kbps or Lossless .wav/.flac? Technical mumbo jumbo I know but it be great to have optimal formats.

Thanks again!

Wolves Sliding Jump Animation

Sliding jump animations for both of the wolves have reached a decent stage. With these animations I was trying to emphasize the gracefulness and lightness of the good wolf. He jumps high in the air and lands dynamically. For the evil wolf I was emphasizing his heavy mass and an ice-like materiality. Therefore, as he lands down, there is a notable sliding and anticipatory crouching.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wolves Character Turnaround Development

While working on project's animation, character turnaround development is taking place. I have an idea to present each wolf seperately covering its topology, scultpural form and texturing. I have not decided yet if each character should be presented posed only or animated ( for example if animated, they would be on a slow motion run cycle).

At the end of character presentation I'd have both of them in full colour posed together to show the contrast between the two designs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Key Shot Dynamics

Update on the progress with dynamics over the key sequences of the animation, created using Maya dynamics and post compositing in After Effects. Each dynamic element has to be rendered out separately for optimal control in post compositing, where the environment itself may still look at little rough as they were not rendered at this stage. Some further tweaking and refinements is still necessary as their not quite there yet.

Evil Wolf Dynamics Test

The dynamics are mainly following their influence from the initial concept here. Movements of the dynamics need to be sharper to better reflect the nature of the evil wolf.

Good Wolf Dynamics Test

Following the concepts from here. The markings are being generated randomly with instancing objects, although I'm considering to animate the markings manually for better control (or perhaps a combination of the two). Tweaking to the density of the purple lights may also be in order.

Shrine Dynamics Test

There will need to be two sets of dynamics for when the shrine; one where it is relatively dormant during the opening, to another with a rushing of activity as it beckons the wolves to the soul. The above example is admittedly not quite one or the other as of yet, serving as an experimentation of ideas with ethereal like flames to swirling trails of energy.

Soundtrack Test

Here is the video to show how the soundtrack was changed. We asked our composer Dave Keefe to add more beat for the build up till the very end of the soundtrack. He came back with 3 minutes long of soundtrack, and this was edited and combined with the original version.
Feedback very Welcome, as I am to pass a word to him if this is what we needed or if there should be some other changes.
Mind, that I’m using relatively old animatic without updated scenes from pre-viz.

Landing and Sliding Jump animation

Lately I’m working on Good wolfs landing and sliding jump animations. These are examples of first pass animation, which later will be further defined and adjusted to the scenes.

There were no longer any reference images from Muybridge, therefore I have looked for some videos on youtube and print-screened some key frames to inform my animating.

I am aware that the sliding jump animation seems to rely on translate keyframing, meaning the body seems stiff. I'll revisit this one after some time off, as I found it is worth animating back again with a fresh eye.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jumping and trotting

Here is another video of refined evil wolf run cycle. I've referenced oxes this time too so to add the heavyness in the run cycle. Also, for the good wolf I'm working on jump and flying animation

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wolves Run Cycle Animation

The animated sequence presents both wolves trotting. I’ve laid out the base animation which will be pulled for scenes. The second pass of animation will be done once they are put within the environment and the particular situation. The key achievement in these sequences are the proper use of the animation handles so there is no twitching anymore. Also and again, Muybridge’s photo sequence of dog run cycles were invaluable reference source.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wolwes Within Title Opening Test

To change the routine of learning quadruped animation I've worked on the title opening sequence. Quite simply , using after effects, I tried to make a nice introduction of the title. Having in mind the animation is talking about intricacies of our mind/soul I tried to build relatively surreal and dreamy feel to the sequence. I suppose,and again, having the title quit early on will be usefull for other videos such as character turnarounds ect.

and the revisited title:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Shrine Opening Test #2

Revisions to the shrine opening, with increased speed and acceleration. Still toying with the idea of the fade to black during the narrator's dialogue as you can see in the 4th variation.

Some minor tweaks to the positioning of the rock formations is needed to stop the slight 'popping' towards the end of the pull back.

Good Wolf's Walkcycle Test 1

This is today's first attempt in animating the basic quadruped walk cycle. It is not stylized to suit the character type, I focused on basics first.. .which actually were/are quite hard to get . I have followed Williams' Animator's Survival Kit.

7 hours of animating and I have a pain filled walkcycle. At the moment it looks like the wolf is walking rather in pain. :D But it really helps as a starting point to spot the problems and areas of focus. All in all, this 1 minute long animation is a luxury to focus on quality instead of the quantity, which was the case in 4 minute long Ivan the Bird animation. I find that after this exercise I’m in a much better position for the future attempts. For example, there is way too much action in the upper spine (neck area). Also, there are some problems, which I guess are coming from the rig: legs twitch at times.

Also, as I was animating other problems became evident and I attempted to fix them, such as skinning problems, or shape deformations in legs particularly ( I now have created an overall blend shape sitting on top of all the other ones, so that geometry could be easily altered from scene to scene if needed )

So… 6 seconds of arguably crappy animation, but it doesn’t feel like a loss today. And hopefully during this week's time there will be those better animations.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shrine Opening Test

One of the trickiest environments to tackle is the transition shot from the shrine where the camera pulls back through the environment. Here is a playblast of the scene focusing on the camera movements, with two minor variations in the editing. Elements such as lighting is not final.

We are yet to determine the idea of cutting to one or two shots of the wolves with the slow panning of the soul and narration, for a sense of tension/buildup before the race. Feedback is most welcome.

Wolf Video Reference

Just adding to the wolf reference material with the BBC's Frozen Planet - a great documentary about the polar regions of our world.

Researching Quadruped Animation

The project is stepping into other stages of animating. A challenge of animating quadrupeds asks for some better research into approaches and techniques. To start with I have looked at real life references. BBC Motion gallery  and Frame Pool websites offer a great deal of sources.

For instance there is a variety of videos of wolves and dogs in differing  situations. Time lapsed videos and those X rayed ones were the most informative. 

At 11 second club , a website for animators, the topics of how to animate quadrupeds directed quickly to Edward Muybridge’s Books. The animators have discussed the images are as useful as giving 70 percent of the entire animation. Therefore this will too be the key source for animating the wolves.

Another hugely useful thing to do was to read about the general breakdown of
dog’s move. Apparently, there are mainly 5 types of movement
dogs/wolves do:
Diagonal walking – diagonal legs move simultaneously at the same direction

Pacing  - legs on the same side of the body  move at the same time and direction, there is more roling in the body than in trotting

Trotting - (inbetween walk and sprinting) legs move in diagonal pairs, leghtening the distance of coverage , but not  in simultaneous order , so that one of the  feet is  on the ground

Sprinting – ordinary run

Galloping – moving in a series of leaps , front legs then back legs hit the ground , barely touching the ground. (looks like flying).

The animation will be aiming to build a believable yet stylized animation, so I also looked at some existing animations of quadrupeds. Most interesting seemd to be   Andreas Deja, animator of The Lion King’s  Mufasa character take.

 In his opinion building animation of animals one has to suggest real animal qualities but in humanized shape (with expressions and body language, behaviour). Also, there are no hands which help to express a great deal of ideas, therefore the concentration goes onto the overall pose attitude, angles of head, face. 

Some other references are films which showcase some wolves animation, such as The Secret of Kells (2009), Princess Mononoke (1997), The Lion King (1994).

So far this was the initial research before going to animating the characters.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interim Presentation

Today, we had to present a short interim presentation to our tutors and peers - which serves as a great way to recap on the project thus far.

The Wolves Within - Interim Presentation

Good Wolf Textured

The good wolf’s texturing was challenging in so, that all of his beauty comes from the painted surface texture ( whereas the evil wolf was already quite “textured” with loads of varying shapes) It took a fair while to solve it. Soft painterly shading gradually reaches a defined patterns around the front area.

Again, for his texture resolution I used the standard colour pass and added ambient occlusion bake and bump passes. A note for bump: I tried to reach a snow qualities of his fur. A simple noise worked rather nicely. I believe now the texture doesn’t look like pottery painting.

Also, last time I haven't showcased the evil wolf's texture layout:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Environment Update

Update on progress with environments - these are framed closely to the camera angles found in the animatic/previs.

Above Shot & 'Take Lead' shot
We first see the wolves from above, before leading to a side by side shot of the two wolves running where the evil wolf edges in front.

Evil Wolf Paw Shot

Shot of the evil wolf demonstrating his power as he crushes the ground beneath him to gain the lead. Again, the green light is a placeholder at the moment until some more development tests.

This leads on to the main Evil Wolf shot which has undergone some further tweaks.

Side Race Shot

Side race shot where the good wolf catches up by taking alternate route.

Jumping Shot

Jumping shot as the good wolf begins to take the lead. This leads into the 'Air shot' of the good wolf. Elements of the affects of the good wolf should begin to present here (will be added).

Landing Shot

Landing shot showing that the good wolf has taken the lead. Bit tricky to capture the composition in this one as the good wolf needs posing to fit into the shot correctly. Remnants of the effects of the good wolf such as the purple/pink light and markings will be added.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Evil Wolf Textured

Much like for the doll's texturing I've used mental ray shaders, colour pass and ambient occlusion bake-in. The Bump map was applied only for the face (Nose and around the eyes) oppositely to the initial idea to make it scratchy and worn. I've figured that a deity type of character perhaps wouldn't be physically "damaged" as it is more of a spiritual embodiment.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week's development: Rigging and Texturing

This week main focus was to finish rigs for both of the characters. The soft modification in the good wolf required some fixing, because some parts were collapsing as he is doing general moves. This was solved creating pose deformers.A very useful technique as I found it and am glad we were taught how to use it in our maya classes .

 For the evil wolf , his shield-like structure was asking for a disparate type of movement for his parts. I have created a pre-set animation for all 4 of his legs, so as they move an illusion of the separate muscles moving is suggested.

 The other part of the focus now is the texturing. Here is the doll’s colour pass finished.

I also used ambient occlusion bake-in and settings to quickly shape the outlooks. This technique, used for the first time, seems thoroughly useful now.

 I have started some developments on the evil wolf’s texture. The tweaked mental ray shader already it has 60 percent of the desired looks, so I’m quite excited what can be done further when all the passes will be solved separately

Friday, November 25, 2011

R&D: Shrine Dynamics #1

With the wolves affecting the environment in fantastical ways, dynamics are an important element for our animation. This can be achieved with a combination of Maya dynamics and post effects, or just post composition effects alone.

Here are some initial render tests with Maya dynamics for the Shrine Environment. The soul is suspended in mid-air over the central shrine which reacts strongly to the wolves' presence.

Raw Maya Particles


The post effects gives a much needed boost to the basic dynamics, which will most likely be the best way to approach this process. It's still a little rough at the moment and will probably go through many more tests and variations, as elements such as lighting from the particles will need to affect the environment (current render is a single background plate).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Good/Evil Shot Environment

Making progress with some of the other environments/shots, with modelling, texturing and lighting. Here are the central shots where the Good and Evil wolf get to demonstrate their affects on the environment. Forgive the wolf poses in each shot - as I don't have the rigged versions yet, they are primarily there to achieve the correct scale in the environment.

Evil Wolf Shot

Here the evil wolf takes the lead, mainly bringing destruction to the environment. Ominous green shafts of light seep through the cracks on the ground, where shards of rock and angular rock formations fill the scene. Original concept here.

Good Wolf 'Air' Shot

In this shot, the good wolf is leaping in the air as he regains the lead from the evil wolf. Elements in the environment echo ideas from the original concept, with the Native American markings being awakened by the presence of the good wolf, as well as the shards and fragments of the rocks coming down to form as a whole.


There's still a few placeholder elements until some further testing with dynamics can be carried out, namely the green light from the evil wolf environment and the pinky/purple light from good wolf environment.

It's a little tricky working with each environment, as definitive right or wrong elements is hard to pinpoint until a more refined shot of the environment is done. Only until you you have a more refined scene, can you see the broader picture and identify what is needed next.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Evil and Good Wolves Rigs

For the good wolf to work I've followed a fairly basic quadruped rigging. It looks to be enough for the type of animation in The Wolves Within, but few fixes with pose deformers wouls still be needed. Also still waitting are blend shape models for the facial animation.

For the Evil Wolf I followed the base quadruped rig too. However I am pretty sure to go and set-animate the parts and look into some addition of other rigging solutions for finessing of the working of evil wolf.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shrine Environment #03

A lot of experimenting with textures and Normal Maps this week, while making more progress with the shrine environment. Textures have been applied throughtout the environment along with additional adjustments to the lighting.

Shrine Model with Normal Map

Totem Models

The base models of the totems was taken into Zbrush, polypainted (painted directly onto the model rather than a flat texture map) and scuplted for additional details. From this, normals maps and texture maps from polypaint were exported and applied to the base mesh.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scale Relationship and UVs for Evil Wolf

Before going into rigging I wanted to find the scale relationship between the two characters. Making them the same hight, somehow made the evil wolf seem less capable. However, he was already wider and longer than the good wolf. I believe the glowing aura could visually compensate the lack of good wolf's size. I found this scale least conflicting.

Also, and finally, I have the evil wolf's Uvs done. Took longer that expected. But then, he had ..10 times more of details than the previous one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Evil Wolf Model

I think after some takling, the evil WOlf Model is finished. I spent about two days on the body and a day on the head. If there were lots more time, modeling could go into even finer details. However, I believe Leo's and my ideas for this character will be quite enough. The only question I have at this stage is , does this model need UVs to be layed out? Cause the texture work for metallic ice supposedly will be coming from a more complex maya shader.

Other than that, it's time for rigging.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Modeling Progress: Evil wolf and Doll

 I have started modeling the evil wolf. The approach here is to have two modeling layers: soft , for rigging purposes, and armor. Again, some shapes will alter for better translation.

Details on the doll’s model. Sticking to the feel of concept painting I have added facial detail and some trimming. I also posed it already, as supposedly this character won’t be animated as much (only overall float and some cloth simulations).

 UV’s for both, the good wolf and the doll are also ready. However, I won’t be moving to texturing just yet, as I imagine the priority is to get the characters rigged so both of us, me and Leo, can work with them while texture and detail maps will be readied

I'll finish the bad wolf model and then move to the scary fields or rigging .... 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shrine Environment #02

More progress with the shrine environment experimenting with the lighting in the scene to get a sense of the tone we're trying to capture. Elements such as the background matte painting and blue shaft of light are temporary at the moment and will be further refined.