March 20, 2018

Animation: Fish

I have been using the MASH flight node settings to create schooling effects for the fish in certain scenes, but after having some trouble with it because of the different amount of fish I have it didn't work out how I wanted it to look (see below). Due to early tests being really static and motionless despite the motion path, I added 18 separate rigs into the fish and skinned them so that the tail could wiggle, then keyframes them to loop continuously. The test above included 4 motion path curves and two sets of fish at different heights and sizes to replicate the schooling effect of MASH, but I like this effect more as I have more control of it and can change things easily.
(Schooling test gone wrong)

I have also been refining the timing of my scenes and changed them so that each scene where we visit the jellyfish and crab will be 25-30 seconds. The intro will possibly be shorter and the last scene the longest.

March 15, 2018

Animating: Tentacles and Crab

Testing out effects on After Effects

Here are some shots of figuring out how to animate the tentacles separately. I played about with all of the Nhair settings which I built into the rig, and figured that attracting the tentacle to the base curve at the end would give the best result, as well as increasing the stretch resistance, as otherwise the the tentacle falls away from the curve and goes floppy. I also figured out that I could animate the Hair settings, which is what I have been doing to get different effects in the same scene.

These are some shots of trying to figure out how the crab legs look best, and also how to shell moves in accordance. 

March 14, 2018

Major Project: Update and Tests

Here are shots of some pieces of really roughly blocked out animation that I have been using to animate,  it still needs to be cut down in time and animated properly, these are just rough things put together to help me reference and see where to go next while I have been animating. There are scenes missing and as I compare this pre vis to my current animation and shots, I have made scenes look different as some of these are boring and take a little while, and aren't telling a story too much. A lot of the elements in this pre vis and placeholders, for example the fish and the matte painting in the beginning. I'm not too happy with the look of the things in the playblasts yet, simply because it doesn't translate what the render actually looks like, due to the basic lighting bleaching everything out, but from actual renders I really like how the animation looks, as it brings everything in the viewport to life.

Here are early tests of me trying to figure out how the tentacles would move for just a basic casual floating action. I ended up with one I really liked, and this in small shots would work, along with the tentacles moving separately in other shots.

These are tests which I thought I would include on my blog, even though I am not going to end up using this technique. I tried making more realistic shaped bubbles following a tutorial, but didn't end up liking how they looked. I am going to keep my bubbles simple and round instead, and focus on making them stylised.
At the moment I'm really working hard on animating, and will post more final animations soon.

March 06, 2018


Still Render from a scene, still needs proper lighting and visual effects
At this point in my project I am focusing on animation, and have been blocking out simple animations for each scene so that I can find better camera shots and get more ideas for the cinematography, before I commit to detailed animations which I cannot change as easily. I have three quarters of my animation roughly blocked out, and as they are perfected I will be going into them and adding all the details and movements. I have kept them from my blog a while as they are very rough, not perfect, and not what I want to show, but as I am progressing I am going to upload them as I go, so that my blog stays updated.

(Warning: these shots are very quickly playblasted, no final camera shots or animations, just the rough blocking of movements and motion. Time frame is not accurate as the shots are not cut down or timed properly. Uploaded video just as progress and proof of what I am working on at the moment.)

While I have been animating, I have also been testing out more techniques for the effects in my animation, such as lighting in after effects, caustics lighting in Maya and swarming fish simulations in Maya.
Background fish, swarming simulation render
Following such tutorials as:

Although my scenes are completed and my 200+ set pieces textured, I still have yet to perfect the lighting in my scenes, as I am having trouble with getting the underwater lighting to work and connect up. I will be going into uni every week from now on to try and solve these issues and get more feedback on my work.

(Just a lighting test to test out different types of lighting I can create in After Effects)

I am testing out different techniques in after effects to put on my animation post production, so that it may look more underwater and less Maya- like, and also make the night time scenes look like nighttime without dulling everything. For example particles, light rays, colour overlays and other visual effects. I have also realised that I will not get as much lighting effects from Maya in the scene in which the Jellyfish lights up, so I am figuring a way in which I can make that faceted lighting in after effects. I have also realised while animating that it was easier to animate with two jellyfish models, the one with legs which follow and jiggle around, and also the better rig-able one so that I can swap between and get different effects from each model. I have been animating them at the same time and giving them the exact same keyframes so that I can turn one off and let the other render and merge between. For the jellyfish I have also been testing out different facial expressions and different ways of merging the 2D face onto the character without it being to jarring or different from the 3d background. I have given myself a time limit in which to complete animating so that I may render in time to still animate over the top in 2D.

In terms of story, as I have been animating I have realised shots that need to change in order to get the story across, for example the crab's story. Instead of having many other crabs in the animation that will shame him and make him lonely, I am keeping the single crab and emphasising his loneliness in another way, as the other crabs made it overcomplicated and would have added a lot more time to the animation. I have added shots such as the crab still looking for friend, and finds a silhouette of what he thinks is a crab and finds out he is not in fact a crab, but a pile of stones. 
I have gone back to storyboards and drawn out many different camera angles and scenes to see what would work better and how things will flow into another, as my animatic had a very static approach. I want my animation to be successful in direction, so I had Toms help to find effective shots and transitions that worked.
The only surviving photo of the storyboarding process left, post its are lost!
In terms of sound and music, I posted job opportunities for music composition in December to find a composer, and after searching through loads of applicants, I started working with musician Jeffrey Wang back in early January, and he will be creating an original score for my animation. More to come of this when I have more of my animation refined and put together!

I am having a lot of fun at the moment making this animation, and it has caught interest of others already and has gotten me a job after university, illustrating a children's book.

February 16, 2018


Here are some of the extra set pieces and textures I have been working on alongside animating, I still have some assets to do like the sand floor, this painted rock floor is temporary.