Little Guardian LO6

In this blog I will go over my roles and responsibilities over the course of the completed project and reflect on my key performance indicators.

As I had the position of team lead this trimester, my responsibilities were higher than in the last projects. My role of team lead included planning the project and distributing the workload among my team members, as well as making sure that all tasks were completed on time. Looking back at the project now, I can say that there is room for improvement in following up with my team and pushing them more to submit the work on time. I believe that what hindered me in this aspect was my own nature and tendency to  empathize with the people around me so I will be working on increasing my sense of authority over my team mates whenever I happen to be in that position.

In addition to my team lead responsibilities, as an animator my role was to plan out and complete the major animations of our project which I have achieved. During that process, I got as much feedback as possible from my lecturers in order to produce the best result. Apart from animating, I have also modeled, rigged and skinned both of the characters.

Below is my evaluation of my KPIs which I have written in the beginning of the trimester. I will focus on reflecting on the 3 points which had room for improvement(Time Management Abilities, Acting as a Team Player and Flexibility/Adabtability.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 2.06.02 PM.png

Time Management Abilities

As an example of my time management abilities this trimester I will use the rendering stage as an example reflecting on my improvement. During the last weeks of our project it became clear that using the provided render farms would not let us render out our scenes on time so I had to find a way to manage the scenes in a way to have the renders completed. Below is a screenshot of all the assigned animations which helped my team navigate easier and make sure that all animations were ready for rendering. Below is also an email in which I propose to use an external render farm in order to render our project on time.Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 2.07.44 PM.png

Acting as a Team Player

This trimester I believe I have considerably improved my skill in acting as a team player as I kept up to date with my lecturers and team mates and pushed them to keep me up to date as well(even though there were initial issues with that). Below are screenshots of a part of the emails I send as well as an email outlining the tasks for a particular week.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 2.07.53 PM.png

Flexibility/Adabtability

My adaptability to changes in workflow this trimester can be  demonstrated by the use of an external render farm. I go into more detail of the whole experience in a previous blog (image below) and below is a screenshot of the renders produced on the farm.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 2.07.58 PM.png

Advertisements

Little Guardian Showcase

This week we held our showcase for our project Little Guardian at our university. We got good feedback from out project and I genuinely felt that the audience enjoyed watching our animation. We collected a whole bunch of feedback notes from many people which is very useful for integrating in our future practice and projects. The feedback ranged from positive reviews, to structured criticism but overall we had positive reactions. Even the lecturers seemed impressed by our work which was a big plus.

I think that my overall experienced during this project has been tenfold more stressful as I had the position of team lead and ensuring that the project is completed on time. I believe I have worked hard this trimester and fulfilled my responsibility. Although there were many challenges, I am happy that I have gone through this journey. I have learned a lot in terms of group management, team work and adaptability, adaptability, adaptability…

20180429_141930.jpg

Little Guardian Rendering

In this blog I will share my experience with rendering using the provided render farm, as well as overcoming the obstacle of not having enough render time with the available resources.

I have actually not had much previous experience with rendering, and everything which I have learned during the past trimesters has escaped my memory; so this trimester, as I was the team leader, I had to make myself responsible for ensuring that all the renders were done properly. Initially, the plan was to complete all renders on the institute provide render farm, however the large number of projects quickly filled in the render queue and we found ourselves faced with the reality that this render farm was not enough. The next step after that realization was to invest in an online render farm. Having heard about FOX Renders from our lecturers, it was that company which I turned to. I’ll be honest that there were many obstacles when using the render farm, and I kept in constant contact with the support team over Skype, and even made a support inquiry phone call to, what I soon realized, was Hong Kong.

We divided the scenes to render among myself and one of my teammates and alas! Succeeded to render all the scenes on time. My feeling of relief was discernible. There were, however, as I have mentioned certain issues with the renders. These were mainly cause by connection problems because apparently the connection with the render farm from our location is much lower than from somewhere like Hong Kong or the US, and the internet bandwidth is also significantly lower. But all problems aside, the renders were successfully completed thanks to the support and help of the Fox Renders support team.

Little Guardian Research Implementation

For my animation process, I implemented researching the quadruped run cycle as it was the most challenging animation for me to complete. The best reference which I could find besides real footage of sprinting cats, was a run cycle animation of a panther  which was also a tutorial (YouTube, 2018). Watching thus tutorial made it a lot simpler for me to understand the keyframes of the run cycle animation and allowed me to complete the run cycle much faster. I also learned to do the motion of the tail correctly. The challenging part was getting the cycle to flow smoothly, especially placing the pelvis bone correctly.

Apart from the tutorial video, part of my research was watching real footage of cats running, which I slowed down to better observe the keyframes. I noticed that the tail of the house cat behaves differently compared to the panther and so I implemented the observed movement into my animation. After quite a few tries, lecturer feedbacks and corrections I managed to create a run cycle which I was happy with.

Reference

 YouTube. (2018). How To Animate Quadruped Run Cycle (New Maya Tutorial). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5FuxAGBjNc [Accessed 29 Apr. 2018].

 

 

 

Little Guardian Self Directed Learning

For my self directed learning, I learned how to use Vray fur and implemented it on one of the assets of our environment. Initially, I planned to add it to the main cat character, however it did not compliment the design so instead I created a pillow for the character using Vray Fur.

Using Vray Fur gives you a simple way to create realistic looking fur, grass, and carpets among other things (Viscorbel.com, 2018). To generate Vray Fur, the first step is to choose the object to which it will be applied then go to Create>Vray>Vray Fur. Once that is done, there are many parameters which can be adjusted such as the length, curl, and distribution of the hairs (how dense they are on a particular face or area) (Cgdigest.com, 2018). In addition to being able to manipulate these parameters, Vray Fur also has the option to create custom maps to have full control over the bend direction, Initial direction, length, thickness, gravity, bend and density(Arch Viz Camp, 2018).

Below is a test render of the pillow using Vray Fur. In this render, the lengths of the hairs were more varied and the density was set for a higher number. I didn’t feel the need to use a fur map as the object is quite uniform.

pillow 3 var.jpg

References

Arch Viz Camp. (2018). Create Grass with Vray Fur Modifier – Arch Viz Camp. [online] Available at: https://archvizcamp.com/grass-vray-fur-modifier/ [Accessed 30 Apr. 2018].

Cgdigest.com. (2018). How to create a furry carpet in 3ds max with VrayFur. [online] Available at: http://www.cgdigest.com/how-to-create-a-furry-carpet-in-3ds-max-with-vrayfur/ [Accessed 30 Apr. 2018].

 Viscorbel.com. (2018). Rugs and Carpets – 3Ds Max and VRay Tutorial / VISCORBEL. [online] Available at: http://viscorbel.com/rugs-and-carpets-3ds-max-vray-tutorial/ [Accessed 30 Apr. 2018].

 

Little Guardian Animation

As the animator of our team, I was responsible for animating the major scenes including the run cycle for the cat and chameleon. Although we started our animation stage later than planned, I made sure to distribute the scenes and plan the animations in a way to maximize production. Below is the animation tracklist with everyone’s assigned animations. The scenes in pink represent the cat character animations, while the blue scenes are the chameleon animations.Screenshot (72).png

As I am majoring in animations, I have to make sure that my animations are refined and presentable. In order to achieve this, I will be submitting it for reviews to my lecturers and finalizing the animations only when they have been approved by one of the lecturers. This gives me the chance to notice my mistakes and improve on the animation.

For the characters I am using a CAT rig setup as it is the faster and more adaptable method, and I have previous experience with it. The rigging process for CAT bones is also faster that traditional bone rigging method and time is a currently a priority. The skinning produced a lot of errors because the topology was interfering with the skinning. In my past trimesters I have had lots of experience with animating characters, and even CAT rigging a quadruped which is similar to our current project. That is also why I chose to use the CAT rig. Below is a screenshot of the rigging process.

Screenshot (73).png

Little Guardian Visual Effects Workshop

During our VFX classes with our guest lecturers, we delved into the visual effects techniques which can be achieved in Adobe After Effects. I have had some prior experience with the software, but only scraped the surface and with a program such as AE, there is always so much more to learn.

One of the things which we learned was how to create a matte painting for animations, and this can be very useful for animations involving heavy background scenes- such as, say, a futuristic city skyline. With the help of matte paintings one can achieve a very impressive look which will not be easily distinguishable as a flat painting. The technique to do this involves painting the environment in Photoshop, then bringing it into max using mapping.  Although it is not  a technique which we would use in our current project, as it is an indoor scene, it is definitely a very useful skill to learn.

Some other things we have learned in the VFX classes are to create masks, dust particles and light rays.