Skip to content

Welcome to my Blog!

Hey, on this blog I will post a bunch of work from my studies at the Design Centre Enmore in the Bachelor of 3D Art and Animation course. Feel free to take a look at the various pieces of work that will be posted.

Cheers,

Anish Krishan – 3D Art and Animation student

Personality Walk Cycle

The personality walk cycle was a chance to use the knowledge obtained from the previous simple walk cycle to create a walk cycle that would show character and personality. I decided to do a sneak walk cycle for this project because the timing  was quite different from the simple walk cycle. Sneaking is slower then a normal walk cycle and takes at least 25 frames for one step to occur. To make sure I could plan the animation correctly, I did some research to find references of sneaking. However, I could not find anything that proved to be useful. So I decided to act out the sneaking movement and record it on a camera. I acted out various difference types of sneaking to get an idea of what type of sneak I wanted to create. In the end, the traditional and almost cartoon looking sneak was used as reference. Having studied the reference in detail, I began to draw some thumbnails of key poses before I started blocking in Maya. The thumbnails I drew were not as accurate as my video reference and therefore spent most of my time looking at the actual video than the thumbnails. The thumbnails did, however, help me to understand the movement better as I could see which poses I had trouble drawing and therefore studied those poses more clearly in the video reference.

Thumnail key pose drawings

Thumnail key pose drawings

With the thumbnails completed, I was ready to start blocking out the animation in Maya. Using the ‘Malcolm’ rig, I spent some time getting familiar with the rig so that I could determine which controls would be the best to set keys for and which controls would create the poses I wanted. I began the animation process by keying the contact poses first. A contact pose on frames 1, 25, and 50 were made. When making these poses, I paid attention to creating good silhouettes and making sure that there was a clear line of action. The next step was to block in the passing poses, then the extreme down pose, and finally the extreme up pose. In this initial blocking stage, I chose not to block the arms as I wanted to focus on the hips and legs and get that right first. This allowed me to get a fairly good first blocking pass for the actual ‘A’ to ‘B’ movement.

Upon continuing the animation and starting the second pass of blocking, I began to start animating the hips and spine in the Y axis from the front view in Maya. I also touched up some of the key poses created in the first pass of blocking according to teacher feedback.

With blocking completed, I started to change the animation curves in the graph editor to auto tangent. I then began to clean up the frames inbetween the key frames I created which Maya was interpolating for me. The were problems that had to be fixed such as the feet of the character sliding slightly, feet clipping through the ground, random head wobbles, knee popping. The feet sliding were fixed by keying each frame and adjusting them manually. This was also the solution to the feet clipping through the ground. The knee popping issue was caused due to an extreme contact pose and was fixed by making the pose less extreme by bending the character’s leg more. I also added a keyframe before the knee pop frame and that also greatly fixed the issue. The head wobble problem was the most troublesome as I had to go through the numerous controls for the character rig and see which controls were causing the problem as the issue was not due to the key frames on the head or neck controls. It was eventually fixed by tracking down controls which had values on them and zeroing them out.

I continued to clean up the animation and then finally began to animate the arms. This was done in the same process as the legs where I blocked in the poses and then changed the animation curves to auto tangent and fixed up any issues. A problem which I was not able to solve on the arms was where the right arm would swing back and fourth quickly before returning to normal. This made the arm look like it had dislocated. I minimized the problem as best I could and completed the sneak walk cycle.

The sneak walk cycle turned alright despite the arm problem which I couldn’t fix. Having said that, I could still clean up the feet, head, and arms more.

Pipeline and trouble shooting

The final render of the fruit bowl used both FG and GI indirect lighting systems. Most of the rendering issues that I encountered were solved by tweaking both of these systems.

In the final fruit bowl render the following issues were encountered:

  • Lengthy render times
  • Splotch marks in render
  • Grain/noise
  • Over exposed SSS of grapes

The long render times were reduced by using FG with GI so that the GI global illum photons could be reduced. The illum photons were at 300,000 when FG was not enabled. Once FG was turned on, the amount of illum photons needed decreased significantly resulting in a faster render.

The splotchy marks were also a problem in my renders. Most of these issues were removed once I increased my FG filterning quality 1. However to fix the rest of the splotchy marks, the unified sampling was increased to 1.

I also encountered grain in my renders which were not fixed by turning unified sampling to 1. Instead of brute forcing unified sampling, I increased the FG accuracy to around 250 which seemed to fix the problem.

The sub surface scattering of the grapes had some exposure issues with lights causing the misss fast shader to be over exposed and look white/grey. This issue wasn’t fixed entirely, however the over exposed effect was reduced by lowering the intensity of the backlight behind the grapes. Additionally, the shader colors of the grapes had their values decreased to make them darker.

In order to be consistent with the rendering pipeline, there were various things that had to be set. This included:

  • Checking that the normals were positive
  • Checking and fixing UV maps for objects
  • Following linear workflow by turning on color management and setting lights to quadratic
  • Checking the scene scale
  • Start to light the scene with everything assigned a default mia material with no reflectivity
  • Multiplying light intensities by either 12.6 or 3.15 depending on what light is used to get the correct photon intensity for GI
  • Diagnosing photon maps

 

 

Fruit bowl progression 3

The final render has been completed and I am not too disappointed with the results. With the lighting, all of the lights used were area lights which had intensities ranging from around 12 to 200, excluding the key light which had an intensity of 10,000. The tbench top could have been adjusted more so that the reflection of the texture was not as mirror like. However, I was aiming for a marble/granite type bench top which typically are polished surfaces. The grapes have improved since the last file and some of the textures seem to be working well. Although, I feel the grapes could be improved even more as they look a bit over exposed. The depth of field also gives the scene a slightly more realistic look. The texture for the fruit bowl itself could use some more work as I feel a lot of the detail I painted is lost and the textures themselves could have been painted better. The banana’s may have been textures too over the top with the amount of  damage painted in. The lighting I feel is quite close to the reference image, however, there could be some more light of the left side of the bowl. Some timing issues were encountered when texturing which caused a halt in the rendering pipeline, and in turn didn’t allow me to fix some of the issue in the render below. The fruit bowl could use quite a bit more work to get closer to a photo-realistic result, however the render did not turn out as bad as I though it would.

Final render

Final render

Fruit bowl progression 2

I have moved away from using the sun and sky and instead used area lights all around the fruit bowl. This lighting setup was used to match the reference image I am lighting to. The reference image has very soft shadows which is why I am using area lights. I have also started to procedurally texture the grapes in the scene using the fast skin shader in Mental Ray to get some nice sub surface scattering.

Reference photo

Reference photo

Using area lights around bowl

Using area lights around bowl

Render of light setup

Render of light setup

I am fairly happy with how the lighting looks so far as it quite close the that reference image. The light intensity may need to be increased as the corners of the table look a bit too dark. The fruits behind the grapes (apple and pear) need to have a light linked to them as well as there is a harsh black shadow on them. The top of the fruit bowl handle needs to be lit more as there are black shadows that shouldn’t be so harsh. So far I think the lighting is fairly strong despite the few dark areas. The grape procedural needs some work as I feel that the SSS effect isn’t as strong as it should be. The switch node is working well for the grapes and the color of the grapes isn’t too bad. I’m aiming to fix the lighting as well as the scattering for the grapes. From there I can move on to texturing the rest of the fruits and adjusting lights accordingly.

 

Fruit bowl progression 1

In the initial stages of the fruit bowl rendering assessment, various lighting setups were created so that I had different lighting effects and different ways I could approach lighting the fruit bowl.  I started with the ‘Physical Sun & Sky’ lighting method and using a portal light to bring the light and sky inside the room of the fruit bowl. This lighting solution used natural light as a key source of illumination. I also created an artificial light setup using a cylindrical area light which acted as a fluorescent tubing light and a normal spot light which acted as an overhead kitchen light.

progression 1

Using the Physical Sun and Sky

Using sun and sky

Using sun and sky

area light and spot light

area light and spot light

Using spot light and area light

Using spot light and area light

I like the effect that the artificial setup is giving, however I want to pursue the natural sun method which may give an overall realistic render. Currently, I’m not happy with how the sun lighting looks. The position  of the sun needs to be changed so that the scene is set in a brighter time of day. The shadows are also very dark and the shadow in the middle of the fruit bowl is very distracting.  I am happy with how the sun and sky is able to be seen in the reflection of the tiles as it gives the scene more life. The shadow caused from the window in the scene could also be softer. The camera angle also needs some work if I want the window reflection to be seen well in the tiles.  The spot light in the artificial setup could also have a larger penumbra to soften out the edges of the light. However, as this is an experimental stage in the process, I’m fairly happy with the results so far although a lot more needs to be done.

 

Simple Walk Cycle

The simple walk cycle was animated using the ‘pose-to-pose’ method of animating where key poses are blocked out first. Using the example of a walk cycle in the ‘Animators Survival Kit’ book by Richard Williams, the key poses were blocked in Maya in a 50 frame timeline at 25FPS. However, only 2 steps of the walk cycle had to be animated, that is, only 25 frames. The cycle will be created later using the pre-infinity and post infinity cycle options in the graph editor. The first and last frame has to be the exact same pose in order for a cycle to occur, so with that in mind the first frame was keyed and then copied to the last frame.

animatorsSurvivalKit_walkCycleRef3

Walk cycle reference from The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams

Walk cycle reference from The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams

Walk cycle reference from The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams

Walk cycle reference from The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams

Walk cycle reference from The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams

The first step when making the walk cycle was to block in the ‘contact’ key poses. This is where the heel first hits the ground in the walk cycle. The next step is to block in the ‘passing’ key pose which is where the foot and leg is raised up and is moving past the leg that is firmly on the ground. With the passing pose done, the ‘down’ key pose was blocked in. This occurs after the contact pose where the lead foot is flat on the ground with the knees bent, the hip is moved down, and the foot behind is just leaving the ground. The last key pose was the ‘up’ pose, where the leg behind the leading leg in the walk is extended and straight to around its highest point about to leave the ground. The hips are also raised up to create an up pose. The legs and arms were both blocked out in this initial stage, however certain movements such as with the head and hip side-to-side movements were left until a later stage.

Contact Pose on frame 1

Contact Pose on frame 1

Reverse contact pose of frame 13

Reverse contact pose of frame 13

Contact pose of frame 25, same as frame 1

Contact pose of frame 25, same as frame 1

Passing pose frame

Passing pose frame 7

Reverse passing pose frame 19

Reverse passing pose frame 19

Down pose of frame 4

Down pose of frame 4

Reverse down pose frame 16

Reverse down pose frame 16

Up pose frame 10

Up pose frame 10

Reverse up pose frame 22

Reverse up pose frame 22

Blocking walk cycle for ‘Ultimate Bony’

 

Alternate walk cycle blocking

 

With blocking the walk cycle completed, I moved on to refining the movements in the arms and legs and also added extra movements of the head and hips moving side-to-side. The feet had to have a firm down pose where the lead foot is flat on the ground. To do this, the key frame for this pose was set to ‘linear tangent’. Using the front orthographic view in Maya, the side-to-side movements were added. This included the slight weight shift in the hips during the up pose where the lead leg was extended. In this refining stage of animation, the straight ahead technique of animation began to be used. The overlapping of the arms was also added in. The arms were slightly offset to create more variation in the cycle, making it look less mechanical. The hands had some finger movement animated to give the cycle more life.

Weight shift

Weight shift and head movements added

The final simple walk cycle is shown below:

Side view walk cycle

 

Front view walk cycle

 

Front View walk cycle Final

 

Side view walk cycle Final

I feel that there needs to be more work done on the feet and hands, however as this is my first walk cycle ever created, the result is not too bad.

Advanced Bouncing Ball

When planning for the advanced bouncing ball, the only thing that I had decided was that the animation would be cartoony. Keeping this in mind, I began researching other bouncing ball animations which could inspire me and help me think of an idea. This research helped me decide on animating a ball with a tail, however it didn’t help me with the idea of what the ball would do. My initial concept came about from remembering the old ‘Road Runner’ cartoons where the coyote would chase after the road runner only to end up running off the side of a cliff.

Wile Coyote and Road Runner cartoon

Wile E Coyote and Road Runner cartoon

For the first plan, the idea what that a ball would be bouncing normally but then slide and skid to a stop upon reaching the end point of the cliff. The ball would then squish down providing anticipation for a big jump to cross onto another cliff. The ball doesn’t make it and lands on a tree branch hanging of the side of the cliff, which then launches the ball to the other side.

Animation plan

Animation plan

This plan was then used to help the initial blocking stages of my animation in Maya. The set was modeled roughly and some joints were placed in the tree branch model to allow a fling movement. A ball rig was provided for use which included a tail. The blocking stage was done in ‘stepped tangents’ which allowed me to concentrate more on the timing and spacing of the animation. At this point only the ball and tree branch where blocked in and not the tail. The pose-to-pose technique of animating was used for the blocking stage.

1st blocking pass

After blocking in the first pass of the animation, it was suggested to me by my teacher to make use of composition and staging, that is, utilizing the ‘rule of thirds’. Additionally, that the cliffs should have some variation where the cliff that the ball is aiming to land on is taller than the one it jumps from. It was also suggested that I try out different ending scenarios to my animation.

Taking this feedback into consideration, I created a different ending scenario where instead of the tree making the ball land on the other side of the cliff, the tree actually flings the ball into the cliff resulting in the ball being squished. This ending fit into the cartoony style of animation I was aiming for and also made the animation more comedic. I redrew another plan based on this new ending and also on the advice given to me by my teacher. The next stage of blocking took place with the new ending where I also added squashing and stretching of the ball.

Second revised plan

Second revised plan

2nd blocking pass

After blocking was completed, I began working on the breakdowns and the in-betweens and proceeding to start using spline tangents. However, when putting my curves in the graph editor to ‘auto tangent’, the animation fell apart. This was because I did not have key frames on either side of my key poses. For example:

No key frames on either side locking in pose

No key frames on either side locking in pose

Key frames on either side of the key frame in the middle (key pose)

Key frames on either side of the key frame in the middle (key pose) locking in pose

By putting a key frame on either side of the key pose frame, this will essentially ‘lock’ the pose in place so that when changing the type of curve tangent, the key pose is not lost. Putting a frame on either side also allows editing of the spacing of a curve. Additionally, the curve in the Y axis for the bounce of the ball had a sharp contact key which was set to a ‘Linear tangent’. This was done to get a bounce which looked like it had weight and hit the ground fairly hard.

As I moved forward from blocking, I began to adopt a more ‘straight ahead’ technique of animation. This straight ahead technique was used even more when the ball in the animation had to drop onto the tree branch and follow the branch dropping as if it were sitting on the branch.

Revised Pass

When animating the ball coming to a stop and sliding at the end of the cliff, I found I needed more frames so that the movement wasn’t too fast. I also had to increase the total amount of frames for the animation to accommodate the new ending and again so that certain movements and the animation as a whole didn’t occur too fast.

When most of the animation was completed, the overlapping of the tail for the ball had to be done. This was one of the areas I struggled in. I couldn’t animate the tail in a way that looked as though it was creating a wave movement. However, with assistance from a teacher, the tail overlapping was created. The reason the tail overlapping was not working when I tried to animated the action, was because I was missing a key pose of the tail in an ‘s’ shape. This ‘s’ shape created the transition from the up and down pose of the tail, and thus creating a wave motion.

With the tail overlapping completed, the only thing left was to polish up anything that didn’t look completely right. This also included checking the graph editor curves for any inconsistencies. It was suggested to by a teacher that the animation could be improved by making the ball have a jittery effect when squishing down for the big jump, making it look as though it was charging its jump for a greater anticipation effect. Also, when the ball jumps into the air, the ball could leave the camera frame for comedic effect and exaggeration. Additionally, the ball’s tail could squash and stretch when the tree branch flings the ball into the cliff wall and then stay stiff for a few frames before dropping down to show the death of the ball. I took this advice into consideration and changed the animation accordingly. This required even more frames for the total animation so that these movements could be introduced.

Below is the final animation:

Bouncing ball with tail made in Maya