Thursday, 28 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Post Production Stills

I decided to save some stills from my animation after adding some colour correction, tints, film grain and a vignette on the scenes. The colours are meant to be very unsaturated, just enough to notice. Looking at it rendered out, I think I will probably need to go back into After Effects and lighten up the scenes a little bit.

Fantastic Voyage: Previs with Sound

As I work more on post production, I decided to multi-task and make the sound for my animation. There are bits I need to tidy up in terms of timing and volume, but I think it's getting there. I'm debating about taking out the growls from the three little bacteria (1:59-2:08) because I'm unsure that they match the animation and I think they might overpower the narration a little bit but I'm not sure yet. It might be my imagination since I've been listening to this all day and it's the last thing I put in. Any opinions or thoughts are appreciated.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Scavenge Playblast

This is the playblast for the 'scavenging DNA' scene, I'm quite happy with how it turned out. There are two area lights to make the bacteria that's alive stand out more because I felt that the colour looked too similar to the dead ones if I used the single spotlight. In the final render the area lights won't show on the ground (as seen in the image below that is rendered out properly), it just highlights the swimming one a little bit more. I also made separate glow render layers for the DNA and the bacteria's lights since the DNA slowly appear. Also, I realized after rewatching the video he slides a little bit too much during the turn, I already went back and tried to make it slide less.

Fantastic Voyage: DNA Playblast

I tried touching up and tweaking this animation. Since my bacteria are kind of stocky and they were swimming in a pretty tight circle I figured they wouldn't be wiggling around too much which is what was making them look odd. I also changed the camera angle and I think that helps too. I also realized that things aren't centered, after I saw this playblast I fixed it.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Sharing DNA Playblasts

This scene took me quite a long time to figure out or do, I wasn't sure what way I wanted to do it. The first one took me longer because I had them animated on a curve so they'd go in a circle, the second one I put together just in case I wasn't happy with the result of the first. I think I prefer the first one and might be better if I slow it down or change the camera angle slightly to see their wiggle movement better, either way I know I need to move on to other scenes for now because I spent too long on these. Opinions appreciated.


Fantastic Voyage: Tests for Post Production

Last night I was unable to use Maya because I had a few things rendering, so I decided to test out some effects on After Effects. Hopefully this'll speed up the process at least a little bit when I get all of my scenes. I tested out the font that Jordan suggested but I still preferred my original one. I need to tone down the particles that float up, but it's a little hard to see how opaque they are until after it's been rendered out.


Friday, 22 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Bacteria #2 and #3 Swim Cycles

Fantastic Voyage: Leviathan Swim Cycle

This is a short bit at the end of my previous playblast to show how it now looks with a swim cycle added in. I think it looks a lot better and less like he's just a floating head. I tried to slow down the movement compared to the other bacteria since he is meant to be bigger.

Fantastic Voyage: Bacteria #1 Swim Cycle

Thanks to Simon I was able to sort out a much better swim cycle for my bacteria. I also added a slight open/close movement on the jaws to try to make it look more alive.

Fantastic Voyage: Leviathan Playblast

Since I want to render a few things at uni over the weekend, I decided to set up one of my most important scenes. I still need to sort out the Leviathan's swim cycle even though it's going to barely be seen. There are a few little touch ups I need to do but for the most part I'm happy with how he looks and I did my best to make sure the timing fit with my animatic. There's a bit section of just darkness because of the narrator's dialogue so it won't be such a strange gap once there's sound.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Swim Cycle Attempt

It looks pretty funny, it's not the best but I wanted to give it another try. I think it's at least starting to kind of look like swimming, for some reason I'm having a bit of a hard time figuring out the movement.

@Simon @Alan - Swim Cycle Help

I've been trying to figure out some sort of swim cycle for my bacteria but I can't seem to get it right. I can get it to flap back and forth but I'm not quite sure how to give it a flowing movement. I tried following this tutorial but I think because of how I rigged it, I can't seem to offset it and make it look more organic. If there is anything I can try please let me know but there are also other things I can do until tomorrow's lesson if that is easier/better.

Fantastic Voyage: New Texture Maps/Glow Maps

I decided to delete the spheres I modeled for the lights and texture them on instead as they weren't co-operating with the rivets very well and I didn't want to waste too much time trying to perfect them. Alan told me about glow maps, so I tried to read a bit about it and I'm not sure if I did it right. I made a black and white texture with the lights white and the rest of the body black then plugged it into the Incandescence slot. I tried adding it to the glow slot too as I saw in some tutorials online but I didn't like the effect so I made a glow render layer instead since I'm not sure how else I could make a subtle glow that doesn't spread too much and doesn't drastically increase my render time.

Fantastic Voyage: Bacteria and Leviathan Skinned

Finally I've finished skinning all of my models. It's been a very frustrating process to say the least, but I did it.  I also did some cleaning up to delete shaders and files that I was not using anymore and went back to attempt to remove seams. I feel these are now ready for animation, hopefully I can sort out a basic swim cycle since most of the scenes they are swimming around in the kelp. The video below looks a little funny but my bacteria probably wont be as flexible as the video below, I just used that animation to help me paint the weights.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Skinning Progress

After talking with Alan today and getting some advice, I think I'm finally making progress skinning my bacteria. I need to use rivets to keep things like the teeth, eyes and spines in place after using a high poly duplicate of my creature as a base that will later be hidden and my original model will be used to animate. So far things are sticking in the right places, I've also merged the spines and the flesh around the spines together so I hopefully only need to rivet a single object instead of two separate ones but we'll see how those work out. It's a repetitive long process and it took me a while to get the hang of it, but I think I get it and it seems to be working so far.

Fantastic Voyage: Pill Sinking/Opening Playblast

Since I needed to wait till today to hopefully get advice about my troublesome skinning process for my bacteria, I decided to spend some time setting up my scenes so I can hopefully just plop in my bacteria and move some things about. I also decided to playblast this sequence and render out a portion of it since the liquid will take a while to render but by the time it hits the ground no bacteria will be in the frame so I can get the rendering for that out of the way. I went to go put the colour filter over it but I think I'm liking my animation more in black and white to give it a more old monster movie look, but I can always change it.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

@Simon - Skinning

I've been trying to skin my bacteria for a few hours and even after combining my mesh I find the objects float off the model when I go and test out the skinning. Not all of the objects do it, the eyes and teeth and spine on the top of the head are fine but I guess that could be because it's 100% on that joint? I've tried painting weights and smoothing the weights but for some reason it's not letting me paint on the spines or the glowing circles despite the fact I combined the mesh. I know I'm probably doing something silly wrong but it's really confusing me.

Fantastic Voyage: Sand Test

I wanted to go for a more realistic look for my sand, however I'm not sure if this would clash too much with the style of the rest of my animation. I chose to combine it with one of my textured models and add on the filters and effects I plan on using in After Effects to see how it looks. I think the sand works okay but any opinions are welcome.

Fantastic Voyage: Bacteria Models and Leviathan Textured

I finally managed to finish texturing these models. It took a very long time to clean up the seams and to figure out where certain details were meant to go but I'm happy with the result. I might tone down the normal maps a bit still but I kind of like how it looks because I think it makes the bacteria look more grimey.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Adobe InDesign

Today we learned the basics of Adobe InDesign. I made a few quick documents to eperiment with the program. It's may not be laid out perfectly and the shape choice may be odd but I wanted to get the hang of the tools.

Fantastic Voyage: More Light Tests + Texturing Start

I chose to work a bit on lighting again yesterday to revisit my options. I tried another method of creating light rays and fog in mental ray, however it still resulted in a very long render time. Right now I think I need to compromise between smoothing my models and trying to use light fog using Maya software, risk a long render time which I really would rather not do because I don't want to cut it close, or just add some rays and fog in post production using After Effects even if the result isn't as great as I'd like. I'm unsure, I'm going to keep exploring my options. Last night I also began to texture my models, once I get one done the others should go faster since they're all almost the same shape so I can copy and morph them around then add some variation.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Fantastic Voyage: Rigs and Deformers

I finally finished building the rigs for my bacteria and Leviathan. The bacteria went alright once I made one because I could just move a few of the joints around. For some reason I really struggled with the Leviathan one, I couldn't get the main control to work properly but I finally got it there (I think at least). They aren't actually attached to my models yet because I want to make my textures and bump maps first...which will hopefully be done by tomorrow if everything goes right.

Fantastic Voyage: Kelp Sway Offset Tests

After getting some feedback I decided to change some of the keyframes on my kelp to see how they looked when they were offset for some variation.


Fantastic Voyage: Rough New Animatic

Since I now have my voiceover, I decided to quickly piece together an animatic so I know the new timing better for when I start animating. It only has the voice and is missing the sound effects but I at least have a better idea of the timing/pacing now. I also changed the sequence 0:26-0:44 so there were less scenes where it's just a black screen (in the animatic I just reused some storyboards of kelp and bacteria silhouettes).

Fantastic Voyage: Kelp Swaying Playblast Test

@Jordan - 'Art Of' Progress

Fantastic Voyage: Reworked Kelp Models - Untextured, Wireframe, Ambient Occlusion

I like how these look more so than my previous model, I think they look a lot more kelp-like while the previous one looked more like a fern. Hopefully they'll look as good once I add the Sine deformer. For the wireframe I had too zoom in because the model is quite thin and I don't have a texture map on because I'm going to be using either a blinn or a lambert I think with some incandescence to give it a slightly 2D look while still having shadows/shading.

Before & After

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Cutting Edge: The Sixth Sense

Often films under the horror genre aim to scare and horrify the audience. However, that was not the main goal of M. Night Shyamalan's paranormal/psychological horror-thriller film 'The Sixth Sense' (1999). While this film does have eerie scenes and a few jump-scares, it is the development of the characters and the dialogue between them that really stand out. The Sixth Sense, like many horror films, has a twist ending that completely blindsides the audience. While this plot twist is more tear jerkingly emotional than scary, it ties off the loose ends of the story perfectly.

Fig 1. The Sixth Sense (1999)
It's very unusual to find a horror film that can combine such heartfelt characters and both psychological and paranormal horror with a ending that is both sad and somewhat comforting, "...this is an entrancing film, which dabbles in profound character revelation and the paranormal - something you don't often see in a movie," (Howe, 1999). However, Shyamalan's ability to build up tension and atmosphere allows for this strange combination. The Sixth Sense does not go for extremes like most horror films do. There isn't an immense amount of gore, excluding a few wounds on the ghosts, and the jump-scares aren't too intense.

Perhaps this lack of extremes is what allows the film to be scary and touching at the same time, "...subtlety is the key throughout, not big ding-dong stingers but evocative trails and hints of the truth...Shyamalan's direction is the model of restraint - disquiet and stillness pervade while he expertly utilizes sound to enhance the discomforting feeling that something indefinable being present (allowing the audience its own 'sixth sense')," (Nathan, 2000). Through subtle cues, the audience can pick up when something is wrong without the face of a rotten corpse popping onto screen or a sudden screeching sound effect deafening the audience.

Fig 2. Misty Breath
Instead, we see the terrified expression of Cole (Haley Joel Osment). When a ghost is present, we see him go rigid, his breath appears misty as the temperature drops, eerie music score creeps in. Even without seeing what he sees, the viewer can relate to Cole's fear which is largely due to Osment's superb acting. Usually child actors are not particularly striking in films, but given a child's lack of experience due to their age it is understandable. Arguably, young children are not lead roles in live-action films because of this lack of experience. However, this is not the case with Osment and his character Cole. "Haley Joel Osment is a very good actor in a film where his character possibly has more lines than anyone else. He's in most of the scenes, and he has to act in them--this isn't a role for a cute kid who can stand there and look solemn in reaction shots. There are fairly involved dialogue passages between Willis and Osment that require good timing, reactions, and the ability to listen...those scenes give the movie its weight," (Ebert, 1999).

Osment's acting gives Cole a maturity that signals to the audience that he's been through things that most people haven't. This adult-ness and ability to communicate with adults in a way that is interesting for the audience encourages us to connect to his character and Malcolm (Bruce Willis). Both actors perform in a way that allows them to have meaningful dialogue without the child sounding ignorant or the adult appearing to be condescending towards the child. Cole and Malcolm (and the actors playing them) are equals throughout the film.

Fig. 3 Cole and Malcolm
This relationship makes both the characters and the story more sincere and heartfelt, reeling in the audience for the big surprise at the end. The Sixth Sense is a strange film in that some scenes confirm it is a horror film, but other parts  of the movie feel very different. There are a few scenes where there is gore or disturbing imagery but those scenes are built up in a way that it doesn't feel as sudden and jumpy as most horror films would have it. It is refreshing to see a film that can be chilling and moving at the same time.

After watching, it is hard to put it under the 'horror' category completely because Cole and Malcolm's relationship and the twist ending shows there is so much more to it. Shyamalan managed to achieve a deep, heartfelt story while integrating subtle horror cues that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Looking back after watching the ending, its easy to see all the hints which leaves the viewer wondering, 'How did I not see that coming? I have to watch it again.'

Ebert, R. (1999) The Sixth Sense At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016
Holden, S. (1999) Film Review; A Boy Who Sees the Dead, and a Psychologist Determined Not to Fail Him At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016
Howe, D. (1999) A Chillingly Intense 'Sense' At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016
Nathan, I. (2000) Empire Essay: The Sixth Sense Review At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016

Illustration List:
Figure 1. The Sixth Sense [Poster] At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016
Figure 2. Misty Breath [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016
Figure 3. Cole and Malcolm [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 12/4/2016

Fantastic Voyage: Reworking the Kelp Orthographs and Pill/DNA Orthographs

Since I wasn't really happy with how my kelp was looking, I chose to backtrack and rework my orthographs for my kelp. I like how these drawings look so I think they'll work better in Maya, I also realized I didn't post my orthographs for my Pill and DNA but I only made the front of those two as the pill would be the same on the side as it would the front and I didn't really know how to draw a DNA shape from other angles but they worked for me anyway. I hope to finish modeling my kelp and organizing them in a few variations for different sets by tonight if nothing weird goes wrong.