Friday, July 30, 2010

new norman variant - "Nohan"

I really like TJ Phan's 'Rohan' rig and had meant to help him out with the facial some time ago, but as my time is limited, I came up with a cheap solution - reshape the face and rig him to Norman. I'm generally a big complainer when it comes to Norman, I think because the forearms and general proportions could be more appealing. But once you pimp him out, he turns out to be a pretty great rig (I'm pretty fussy when it comes to rigs) 

For those that don't know TJ, he's a great concept artist as well as animator, and I really like the proportions of the Rohan rig.

Here's what I did for the beta.
  • Reshaped Norman's face to Rohan's proportions. Still need to work on the mouth and make sure lip changes propogate well with the facial deformations.
  • First pass skinning
  • redid the stock norman pole vectors with zooCST space switching and moved them away from the body a bit (dislike that in local mode they are parented to the hips, causing knee jitter during cycles)
  • added space switching to the cap
  • zeroed out the base rotations of the ik hands (now 0, not -90)

Let me know how he works - bug testers welcome! -...TJ was generous to build and create this great character for the animation community at large - this is just my lazy way of getting a bit of facial on him (TJs rig is a FANTASTIC animation rig, btw...elegant in its simplicity)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

plastic animation


really great 2d app! Download and start planning your shots!

norman modding tutorial..ref from david martinez

For those of you that are animating with Norman rig, here are a few modding tutorials for it.
How to modify Norman
Modding Norman – Part 1

Modding Norman – Part 2

Modding Norman – Part 3
and HERE is a MEL Script for quick skin wrapping:

Pretty'd think I'd have known about this before my first reskin attempt.

I should put an addendum to this, since you can get a faster rig without using wrap deformers..(my trick is to duplicate the geo (arms, torso, etc), move the dup off to the side, use skinAs.mel to dump the weighting onto the copy, unskin the object, tweak it, then skinAs again to reskin it, then delete the duplicate and easy)

I did some fixes to Norman which I'll post soon (fixed the pole vectors so they aren't parented to the hips, zeroed out wrist ik..stuff like that)

Norman Mod...Valve tribute fixed
I was tired of seeing the stock Norman proportions, and, Norman being a really flexible rig to tweak, thought I'd put up a quick Norman mod...(very beta right now and needs a bit of reshaping). Enjoy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

animation layers to simplify keyframing

I've used this trick when I've had to deal with mocap, but find it's really useful for trying out a new take in an animation, especially one that's a bit overworked. Once there's a lot of keys down, it can be hard to be courageous and really make strong decisions regarding posing and timing for fear that you'll lose the work you have. This can be counter to doing good animation, since poses and timing can ALWAYS be strengthened and improved.

I'm not sure how widely known this technique is, since I just stumbled upon it myself, but in case it's of use to someone, I thought I'd post it.

I had this mocap lying around (clips below).
This sea of data is counter to any kind of keyframing, and reducing it manually is very slow, however Maya now has animation layers.

Let's start by grabbing all our control objects (selection sets are good for this sort of thing) and clicking the anim radio button.

Still with me? With your controls selected, click that blue sphere with a cryptic yellow star. This allows you to key these objects on a new layer.

Turn the weight to ZERO, and in the layers drop down, set the layer mode to be OVERRIDE. What this does is overrides all animation in the layer below with the animation you currently are keying. Since we're at zero on the weight, the layer doesn't actually do anything until the weight is on. (1=on, 0=off, that is)

Now I'm going to go through the animation and stamp down the keys I want. In a way, reverse engineering keyframing over our mocap. When we're done, turn the weight back to 1. This kills a lot of detail in the animation, but if recorded in an artful manner, saves the right keys.

That's it in a nutshell. Now if you play the animation, it's more clear, easier to see the main beats, and easier to retime and alter key poses.

This is also useful for revising sections of your animation. Do the above setup, but set a zero key 1 frame before you begin altering the animation, then weight to 1, then grab frames, set a weight to 1 key, then a zero key and you're good to go.

clips to come.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interview with Jan VanBuyten

great interview from the peeps at Mixamo

love this tip

Any last tips for aspiring animators out there?
A: Draw every day. Work from pictures to photos and don’t underestimate quadruped animation. If you continue to draw even if it’s not good, you will learn more about the motion itself with drawing. Drawing forces you to think more about what you do – doesn’t matter if the drawing is good or bad, you’ll learn how to animate better in the long term.

great post on animating secondary characters

from David Martinez, from Animation Mentor

some highlights:

Some directors have completely mastered the use of extras or background characters in their movies. I think of Robert Altman films like Nashville, or Stanley Kubrick's epic masterpiece Barry Lyndon, or Laurence of Arabia. These are examples of films with hundreds of extras performing in a way that enforces the narrative but never dominates or overshadows the principal characters unless otherwise intended (as we saw with Hitchcock).

From an animation standpoint, background characters can often provide the animator with an enormous amount of creative freedom. Most often, background characters won’t be as rigidly directed as the principal characters. This means that the animator can experiment in many different ways. Quite often, early motion tests, either for rig development or as a means to understand the way the character moves and expresses itself, will find their way into the backgrounds of a scene. Because so little direction is often put into background performances, animators may go straight ahead in the creation process, animating as loose and creatively as possible. Background animation opens the animator up to the whole gambit of possible actions that character might perform in the scene. Going back to our crowded stadium example, you could animate a little girl eating a hotdog and the wiener pops out the back of the bun and lands on her dress. Or maybe you'll need to animate 10 different ways characters might clap their hands. Whatever the scene might be, background animation can be super detailed, refined, and creative.