Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"First Date" Blocking Plus

I decided to finally post my "blocking plus" from my short. This posting is not the final animation and it's not the final posting at AM. This is what I submitted to AM for blocking plus at during week 6, but this was before I addressed Ethan Hurd's notes. Just click on the image above and it will take you a quicktime of the short on my site. You may want to adjust your speakers to prep for the music (Miles Davis "Freddie Freeloader").
Side note: My friend Kelvin pointed out that he couldn't leave comments because he wasn't a Blogger or Google member so I changed some settings so that anyone can post comments (so please do!)
Thanks for stopping by.

"First Date" is almost done

I just wrapped up my last class at and I'm almost finished animating my short film "First Date". The short needs about another week to two weeks for the completion of animation. I also need to do some skinning adjustments as well as facial blendshape adjustments. Then it will be onto lighting.

I am considering using point caching in Maya then exporting in the .fbx format to Max. This is so my buddy Vance Miller and I can have an easier time getting great stuff out of Vray. I'm just not a huge fan of the complicated process involved with Mental Ray. Don't get me wrong, I have seen amazing renders from Mental Ray...but it's not an easy task to get great results. I personally find that Vray gives me the exact results I'm looking for with a lot less work and confusion. To add to that, Caius Wong has done some really nice hair setups for Simon in Max. The hair is ready to go and I won't have to figure out how to achieve that in Maya. I'm also a much better texture artist in Max. Basically I can play generalist at a higher level in Max, but I haven't transferred all my knowledge over to Maya's interface yet. I usually only do modeling and animation in Maya. To add to this all, time is an issue. I have to wrap up production soon and get back to working and I need to get the best results in a short amount time. Learning how to get awesome renders in Maya in a like 2 weeks, just isn't going to happen. Vance has offered to help and that alone is a major incentive to go to Max.

Overall, I have learned a lot working on this short. One major thing that I learned is the importance of a solid facial animation setup. I took a HUGE risk by using my own character and while it paid it off in most ways, it was also a negative at times. The positive is that it helps to identify my short among the others and it's a great feeling to have complete control over the look and feel of my short film. The negative is that it's a lot of work to create your own character. If I am serious about continuing this journey of directing, then I need to get used to creating an entire world from my perspective. Luckily, my friend Caius modeled the base model and the clothed version as well. I had to tackle rigging, skinning and building the facial targets all in a 2 week time frame. Due to that short turnaround, the facial targets suffered and it affected the facial animation. I just don't have the amazing facial rig that is present on the AM characters. Again, it's a give and take where I am happy with my choice of using my own character, but I miss some of the advanced facial setup of the AM rig. As a result of this (now that weekly deadlines are over), I have to go back and fix some of the facial setup and reanimate some of it. I also need to do some touch ups to skinning as well as skin the clothing onto the rig. Right now Simon is still sporting his underwear throughout the whole short, which Andrew Weidenhammer pointed out is probably more true to life ;) .

Thats all for now, but stay tuned for a posting of my blocking's for real this time! Hopefully in the next few hours.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Clean desk = Clean mind

There is a lesson in this long post. I promise!

Let me set the backdrop. This is the last week to animate on my short for I was doing great (at least I think it was going great), I had 3 out of 7 shots polished and only 4 left (ha! "only 4" who am I kidding?). I've been in tough situations ALL the time working in commercials. For example, clients that have been looking at a commercial in progress for weeks, suddenly feel that they are not happy with 2 or 3 shots two days before delivery . Now instead of the two weeks you had to do those shots, they are now being demanded in 2 days. It happens on EVERY job I have done. You do what you have to and get it done. That being said, I knew that "crunch-time" was coming as of this past Saturday. A last week of every minute of animation being crucial. Just when I was ready to take on this beast of work...BAM! The man upstairs throws you a screwball! I got sick on Saturday night! Three months of working strong with only one week left and I get sick.

These moments only make you stronger, so I plowed through Sunday morning to post my work for Ethan. Unfortunately, that night after posting, it all got worse. For the next couple of days, I couldn't concentrate on frames, poses or even stare at the monitor for more than an hour or two. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday fly by as I try to recover. Wednesday strolls around and my "brother from another mother" Alfredo Gomez comes over to pick up something. We talk a lot about illustration/drawing (as usual) and I tell him to excuse me for the chaos that erupted on my desk. He responds something like "I like to keep my work area clean. I feel like it represents my mind state in some way." Alfredo drops some well needed advice! He leaves and my situation of finishing the shots on time isn't any better. I look at my desk and start cleaning at like 12:00AM Thursday. I sit down and start working on a shot...and what was unclear is now crystal clear! I'm big on the power of the subconscious mind and how we can put things in motion without realizing it. Could my cluttered desk been a sign of what was going on in my mind? Was my lack of confidence regarding how to finish these shots being represented in my surroundings? Or, was my desk simply a result of working so much the last week? Some food for thought.

Either way, I feel great after cleaning up and I am back in the game. My sickness is fading away and I will make the most of the remaining time. If things aren't flowing for you, try to change up your may be surprised with the results. Thanks Alfredo!