Monday, 28 March 2011

Re-boarding the Crows

So I'm re-boarding the Crows for what I think is the 8th time in its exceedingly long history.  I think I'm nearing final... only 28 more boards to work on today then this revision will be ready for comment again.  Huge thanks to Julz, Marie and Kimmo who have been untiring in their suggestions and criticisms so far.  Character model sheets are also almost complete.

I also found a great review of David O'Reilly's External World here which I thought I should share.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Wing Rigging Revisited

Half a crow with a folding wing.  The animation is a quick pop from shape to shape but it does show that there are hardly any ugly intersections at long last!

I started off with Jared Reisweber's Excellent Wing Rigging Tutorial then subdivided each individual feather's bone into a chain to help animate follow through and flex in the wing.  I added some flex controls for each group (primaries, secondaries and tertiaries) and wrangled the rig into a folded up position, and a couple of tweak controls to manually adjust the angle bisection used to fold all the feathers up.  I baked the animation from open to folded out to 3 shapes (a half folded, three-quarter folded and fully folded) then spend a few hours vertex pushing to make sure there were no severe feather intersections.  I used the blend from shape tool to smooth out irregularities between shapes caused by my vertex pushing.  I've still got quite a lot of reshaping to do on the rest of the body. and head then finally some decisions to make about the rest of the rig.  When I get the whole rig completed I'll post it up on blendswap.

In other news Chris Perry's 'The Incident at Tower 37' has finally been released online. I had the pleasure of being an intern at BitFilms out in Western Massachusetts for three months last summer. I realised after watching 'Tower' on vimeo that in my three months at BitFilms I never found the time to sit down and watch the whole film end to end (I was busy working on Bassam Kurdali's production, 'Tube'). While the visual style isn't entirely to my own tastes, 'Tower' is certainly a very powerful and intelligent piece and it's great to see the play counts soaring - Chris' film deserves every bit of exposure it's getting. Evan's fantastic score really completes it so make sure you've got your speakers turned up!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Task Project

The task project has been the forgotten orphan for the last few months while I've sneakily been preparing my storyboards for my graduation film way ahead of college schedule.  Safe to say my graduation film will be a lot stronger as a result of this diversion, but on the other hand the last three days have been a whirlwind of hectic animation as I've caught up with the 8 weeks work in a vastly condensed timescale!  Anyway here's my task project, 'Rejection', a largely unrealised idea.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Demo Video

Here's the (almost) completed addon, and here's a demo video showing a real test case.  Note how I'm working in the 3D view the whole time and in the background the script is adjusting all the F-curves while I work.  Obviously you don't need to have the graph editor open, but its nice to remember what animating used to be like!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Quaternion Beziers in the 3D View

Quaternions might have great benefits for key-framing rotation (no gimbal lock and so on) , but I have to admit that when it comes to the 2D graph editor I don't stand a change of working out what effect of grabbing the handle of a key on a Quat's W channel will have on my animation.  Generally I'll adjust the key in the 3D view and leave the bezier handles well alone set to auto (or vector if I want a snap) because independently changing any of the W, X, Y, or Z channels is unlikely to yield any great improvements for my animation!

Today I expanded my add-on to draw the handles for Quaternion and Euler rotations, and to show the path of the tail of the bone (which is probably what we want to track when we're adjusting rotations).  The timeslide tool still works but I need to do a little more coding (and get my head around what a normalized quat is) before grabbing the bezier handles in the 3D view is possible.

EDIT: - now with quaternion and euler editing!  Editing preview shown below.  At 1500 lines it outweighs the mushroomer, the crowd sim and the autowalker as my new biggest project... not bad for 3 days coding!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

F-curves in the 3D View continued...

Today's progress... 3D Bezier F-curves are now editable in the viewport for unconstrained child bones with inherited rotation and asynchronous/independent curves!  I learnt a lot from studying Crouch's script which has a larger but different feature set and currently works with objects not bones (mine currently works with bones and not objects).  Hopefully my script shown below, will help push the discussion along and go some way towards bringing this feature to blender in a finished state before it hits maya!

The script is available here but be warned its in heavy beta, so back up your animation first!  Feel free to bug report in the comments below.  I've coded an on screen help (which will start when you enter the 3D f-curve edit mode) as the shortcuts had to be unusual to save messing with the keymaps.


There's extensive discussion of the autodesk technology preview which sparked all of this here (though its not really a new technology at all as apparently DigitalFish Reflex had it a few years back).

In other news an animator whose work I've been following recently is Dustin Grella.  If your mind is buzzing as much as mine with all that discussion on 3D fcurves you'll probably find it refreshingly low tech... here's Bag for a Banana Peel.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Editing F-curves in the 3D View

So after feeling really proud of myself for getting asynchronous f-curves represented in the 3D view in blender with live updating, I read of Crouch's concurrent efforts to bring the same functionality to blender and realised I'd been beaten to it!  Crouch's script only works with objects and has a very cool visualisation system for speed and acceleration as well as the 'time beads' functionality that maya's technology preview provides.  It doesn't represent asynchronous curves in the same way I've done below, but then maybe I'm going over the top.

Tonight I managed to get the script working with child bones - it has to cache the parent space in advance.  The great thing about open source is that I can borrow and learn from crouch's code.  My work in progress code is linked here but be warned its still quite messy and for interest's sake only!  UPDATE: