Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Scene 14 Nearing the End :)

I have been focusing on making the Marmot’s landing believable by making sure he is aligned with the Mongol’s arm when he pauses and also that there is sufficient squash and stretch when he lands and takes off. I also realised that the Mongol’s arm was static when the Marmot landed on it, which I rectified to make it drop slightly with the weight.

I have also been adding another pass such as hand grabs and facial expressions. I much prefer using the blend shape sliders and taking expressions into the graph editor rather than utilising the facial expression controller. This is because they are not limited to zero to one and also in the Blend Shape Window they can be split into different sections such as controlling the brows or mouth rather than a long list of controllable attributes in the Attribute Editor, which can be confusing. Separating them gives me a clearer idea of what is keyed where, rather than the one controller having multiple keys.

I am hoping this is nearly the end of this scene now... i have improved some of the arm movement, added the hand overlaps/grabs, expressions, eye movements, weight of the marmot landing on the arm, head movements, and obv the camera... im sure there are some other bits too

I am going to concentrate on the other scenes too any changes to this can be made afterwards

Starting the Folders...

These are my notes from Dan Dalli's lesson about what we need to submit. I have therefore started putting my artistic images together to make them look more professional and like an art book. I am starting to realise I need to go back into my old files and start using the wireframes or block outs to show the progress of each shot from start to completion, all of which I will put on here when the shots are finished.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Shot 7 Improvements

  • More weight in the head, it dips slightly as it turns
  • Shorter shot, no pause at the beginning
  • Expressions have been pushed further - less number means that they are not rushed or all over the place so his mouth is opening throughout the shot rather than too quickly at the end.
I hope this will be alright for the shot as it is very short and I need to convey the shock quickly, rather than the slow-mo gasps of CWACOM.
I'm hoping this will come across as a shocked expression. I have had some trouble with the eyebrows as for some when you use the Blend Shapes it moves the whole head, which I am guessing is due to not freeze transforming the blend shape heads before pairing them with the root head. Despite this I think they are looking better now I have not used the blend shape controller and just used the shapes. Another reason for this helping me to push the mouth open more is because you can set the values higher than 1 and lower than 0, meaning you are not limited to these values.

The only down side to the Mongolian rig, which I would like to look into, is changing the size of the eyes, as I think he would look better having his eyes also look larger, or one larger than the others like in the Pixar films.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

I was looking for inspiration to help me with the facial expression as our director wants him to look more shocked than angry, which is what was relayed in the animatic.

I remembered a scene from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs where the food starts falling from the sky and all of the characters look around and open their mouth in shock and awe. I thought this would be perfect for my character of the Mongol. Part of the scene can be seen about half way through this trailer. I will not be making the movement of the head turn as dramatic as I am on a limited time scale and also it is a choke shot of the Mongolian so I will not be animating his body for it.

Scene 8 Run Cycle Updates

This shot took me a lot longer than I wanted it to as when I translated the Marmot to match the geometry of the landscape Maya suddenly decided at random moments that it would change it for the whole sequence. This means if I moved him up on the Y axis towards the end of the scene, at the beginning he would also be higher on the Y axis even though I had previously perfectly positioned him.

I also changed the camera angle slightly to show more of the mountains:

I also used the graph editor to smooth down his movements, even though I did need to add in a couple of keys again at the end when he is coming back up the hill due to the shape of the changing geometry.

I have moved the camera and made the movement at the beginning slower (he does not move as far in this time) hopefully this shot is finised now!!

Scene 7 Updates

Is this movement for the head better? Also added blink. Can make shapes less dramatic if you want, I've been having some trouble with the blend shapes as some were not added and some clash with each other, but I can look into this more if people are having trouble aswell.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Scene 14 Freefall Change

I have completely changed the freefall to make it simpler and closer to the animatic. I need to work out the beginning fall a but more make the legs move a bit more and the marmot not turn so fast but I am far more pleased with it and hope you are too... let me know what you think so I can refine it on Monday and smooth out the graph editor more :)

Freefall Planning Update

For Scene Sixteen, I have been looking to improve the movement of the Marmot as he lands on the head of the Mongolian and grabs the chicken. For this I have used the jump and bouncing ball classic animation research to give him more squash and stretch and make sure the poses are more exaggerated. These sketches show my thinking for the scene and the positions of this sequence in particular.

My aim for tomorrow is to concentrate on this scene so that all the movements are blocked out fully and I can start adding the next passes and more detail, such as the overlapping action of the hands or secondary actions like the legs moving or head bobbing.


I said at the start of this term that we would have the animation finished half way through May ready for compositing. Unfortunately for me this is far from the case. At the end of April, just when the character rigs had been finalised, I fell down the stairs and ended up in Intensive Care. This meant I was ill for quite a bit of the term so far, and has also lead to me cutting down on some scenes. As I have said before it is quality not quantity and discussing this with my tutor has given me faith to only create the shots listed above rather than taking on too much and doing all of the run sequences aswell. These have now been given to Rob to complete.

I have not been into the University building much but have kept in contact with my team via texts and email, and posted regularly on the group blog.

This has pushed my work back by a couple of weeks, and I aim to have my shots finished by the first week of June at the latest so that Sam has time to render and composite the footage together.



Heres feedback for your animations, hopefully its constructive

Marmot_Running over hills.....

The camera for that shot needs to come back, showing more of the hills (Check anamatic), and the marmot needs to run right from the left corner for longer than when hes running in the distance. Make him slower in the first second, with him on screen more/closer up to show him running.

Run cycle has improved, Can we see him from the side and back, just post it up.....

Shot 7 - Close_UP face: Head seems to Ropey, needs some weight, he wants to look around quickly, so pause at beginning with shocked expression, and then goes into angry face after the head has turned. (I would show you Davids idea, when he does it its sooo funny! :-))

Shot 6 - You don't need to animate him getting up, we wanna see the mongol with the chicken, then the marmot take it away from him. (This would mean using two pieces of chicken and matching them up and animating the visibility of them to see one from the other, if you need help with this, i will go through it with you.) So the Mongol holds the chicken with the marmot holding the chicken standing in front of him both looking at each other (First pose), then the marmot whips it away from him and gets into a running pose. The the marmot runs off really fast, (Probably be having a motion blur in this point) much the same like the road runner sequence.

Shots 22,23 - liking the holding chicken side to side dancing, we need to take out the spinning, coz otherwise we think that the marmot will see the mongol, so rock him side to side again and then hold up the chicken like a trophy. The mongol should come up, take a couple stomp steps and then snatch the chicken, then when the marmot turns around he should be in right position for next shot.

I cant tell what you have done to your rig from your post, i suggest you re-import a new rig of yours again and then copy your animation frames to new one.....

Falling sequence - First pose is them together holding each other should follow from davids, the shot starts with just the side of the cliff, they both come into the shot and they should both leave the shot realizing the are gonna hit the ground.... the chicken can be falling separate at beginning and then the marmot jumps on mongol to get to the chicken, the jumps need to be slightly faster, but we realize you have only blocked them out.....

We are all getting feedback from dan for our animation, so you may wanna do the same.
we cant keep giving you feed back by email, cos it takes so much longer than if you were here with us.

From Tara and David and Gang

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Scene 14: Jump Research

Scene 14 Freefalling Update

I have been working today on the freefall scene, using the Woody arm flaps as inspiration for the ending so the Mongolian does not look like he is just floating. I have left the movement until the end to emphasise the realisation that the ground is getting closer and panic has set in. I like the movement I think it suits the scene well.

I do realise this is no where near finished especially with the movement of the Marmot. I again concentrated on the end so where he does the jumps over the Mongolian's head and now there are 3 chickens in the scene - one parented to each character and one for the air spin. The transition between the three is pretty good and hopefully you cannot tell.

Improvements for tomorrow:
  • Middle section - where marmot jumps on his arms I am going to try and get him to flap his arms and feet to gain height to jump on the man. This could be a reason the man tries to copy him aswell
  • Beginning Marmot- he moves down quicker than the man and he needs to be grabbing the chicken on the way down
  • Facial Expressions - realisation of man and happiness of marmot for getting it back, as well as struggle when they are fighting

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Toy Story Free Falling

The main scene I have been struggling with (and somewhat leaving until last to concentrate on the other scenes) is the Freefall sequence. I have had trouble due to the director changing his mind on what he wants and also deciding how complex to make the sequence.

Finally we decided to just have the characters falling straight, and I would like to keep the pulling section at the beginning so they are fighting over the chicken, but the ending was undecided.

I have used these two Toy Story references as it shows the two paths I could take. The first is very controlled and is more like a planned free fall with the arms out and kind of 'floating' down to the ground. The second is much more panicky and shows the desperation by the arms keep flapping in the air.

I particularly like the second one and feel this would be perfect to use for the Mongolian as he would be panicked as he falls to the ground. I am not sure what to use for the Marmot however, I may make him calmer as it would suit his cheeky character better and also he will seemingly be in control as he ends with the chicken in his possession at the end of the scene. Furthermore, too much movement in the scene may make it look unappealing to the audience and I do not want to confuse them. I am going to test this tonight and see if it suits the characters.

After Effects Flame Test

As I have been testing the flames in Maya I thought I would also try in After Effects to see which the group prefers. I have been playing with Trapcode Particular and think this looked the best, but I can sit with Dave and try for something better if you prefer

Using the same flame on a still in Sam's scene:

Reminder of the cartoon flame I made in Maya (which can be textured however you want) :

Let me know which you prefer and I will keep testing them this week until they are perfect :)

Scene 8: Run cycle

I have quickened the Marmot's run cycle as he seemed too slow to be properly running away from the Mongolian:

Although from the camera shot and scale of the scene it probably will not make much distance. I have done it in the cartoony fast run like in the Animatic as there is no way he could cover this much distance in the timeframe. Again we will probably get away with the feet being in different positions for example when landing and taking off again as he is so small compared to the environment and there are no close ups of the feet.

I know Sam is doing all the posh rendering with Ambient Occlusions etc, but I wanted to test a bit of rendering myself so I used my cartoon ramp shader again to see how it would look on one of our characters. I do actually think it looks pretty cool.

I then took the footage into After Effects and used the Luma Key to block out the black background, although he did lose some of his nose in the process I think it still suits the style

Scene 21 Arm Problems

I don't know what I have done to the arm... the hand will not follow the arm... please help or tell me how to fix him, thank you! xx

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Scene 21 and 22 Update

This is the first pass of scenes twenty one and twenty two. The two are probably going to be combined into one shot as it is a continual movement of him sneaking up behind the Marmot and grabbing the chicken.

Before this I just had the Marmot dancing on the spot with the chicken, so it is vastly improved in that the Mongolian is there and it is within the environment. I needed the environment to be here early in the production of the scene as the geometry of the mountain top changes. I need to plant the feet of the Mongolian and the Marmot on the floor at different angles for the walk cycles as it is not a flat trajectory. Unfortunately, another team member refused to give me the file for a while, so after a little nagging I finally got hold of it.

When I began the scene I was unsure how to have the Mongolian take the chicken back, as obviously he will not be seen by the Marmot until the final moment or after it has been taken. I spoke to my director regarding this and he wants the Mongolian to push the Marmot out of the way when he is about to eat the chicken. I like my movement of the Mongolian at this point, it reminds me of a computer game fighting pose - for example a Tekken move. The scene now just needs refining.

Shots 6 and 7 Update

For Shot 6 where the Marmot steals the chicken, I was struggling to think how to begin it, as the shot is a couple of seconds long and only about half of this time is the Marmot running away, chicken in hand.

I did not want to just have him grab the chicken as this is quite boring and I do not think it would be conveyed quite well with the camera angle and closeness of the two characters. So I looked in my classical books for inspiration...

I found this image of Donald Duck in The Illusion of Life, which is shown in the section for Anticipation. I think this is perfect using the classic animation principles for my work, so I used it to build the tension before the Marmot steals the chicken from the Mongolian.

I realise the Marmot is slightly different in posing, yet this is because he would probably turn the other way round to Donald. However, the pose will be made so much better when I have added the facial expressions as I would like his eyebrows to move or him have a cheeky wink whilst held in this manner, similar to Crash Bandicoot as seen at the beginning of the video below:

I know shot 6 needs some more work especially when the Marmot grabs the chicken and for the Mongolian I want it to seem like it has more weight when he puts his arms on the ground as if to push off from them to get up, which it does not have at the moment.

Scene 7 is pretty much complete, but the way the facial shapes have been added to controller limited them somewhat, so I may just use the blend shape controllers to not raise the eyebrows as much because I think he would have a more lower angrier shape. However, they moved on their own when trying to create the mouth shapes, which means I will probably take them back a step and redo them myself (as another team member added them to the geometry).

Marmot run cycle

I have made the marmot more running than skipping, the legs have gone a little wierd im going to try smoothing them out tomorrow night after work, is he ok holding the chicken this way? H x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Scene 5 Starting Pose

I posted these shots to see how the group wanted the Mongolian to be posed for Scene Six. This is the animatic shot and below are the different possibilties:

Sat upright like Tara's pose earlier in the group blog:
Partly leaning down with legs to the side:

Leaning completely down:
The last one probably matches the animatic the most, but after discussing it with my Director, we decided that the second would be best as he is not too relaxed or looks like he is lying down as you would not do this to eat.

Skips and Freefalling Updates/Reflection

I downloaded Rob's Mongol run cycle and added in my Marmot skip and here is the result.

I may quicken the skip slightly as the Mongolian runs faster than him, but I think the skip suits his cheeky personality and the dancing at the end better than my previous run cycles.

Now I have about finished this we can add to the running scenes and I can also do the stealing the chicken as he runs away from the Mongolian.

Getting there with the man now, Marmot only blocked out so will work on his movement tomorrow

Is this any better for the Man's movement?

But I did quicken it up and he now has the chicken in his hand, but we have decided since that I will continue with more of a proper run cycle rather than the skip. I only did this to try and inject some more life into the Marmot as at the moment he seems quite stale in terms of character. However it has been decided that the run looks better and I will pursue this from now on, and it has taught me not to try anything new without the approval of the director.

Tshirts and Quick Poster

Animation Update

Animation Thus Far

Schedule Till End of Term

Schedule Till End of Term




SAM – Chicken carcass on spit modelled

HAYLEY – Dancing Marmot sequence

TARA – Pointing Marmot

DEAN – Climbing out of holes shot



(Decision needed for end shots….)

DAVID – Textures For Mountains, Sliding in and out of log shot.

SAM – Mongol cooking/Preparing food/ Rendering

HAYLEY – Free Fall Fight sequence

TARA –Rig Chicken carcass, Sliding down hill Shot

DEAN – Climbing out of holes shot - Finalise

ROB – Run Cycle - MARMOT


DAVID - Sliding in and out of log shot.

SAM – Marmot turning on spit, Mongol Pleased. / Rendering

HAYLEY – food gets snatched from marmot, Mongol happy, Mongol Looks round at bird. Food gets snatched.

TARA – Sliding down hill shot

DEAN – Marmot sneaks up behind man shot

ROB – Mongol looks round and comes face to face with Marmot shot


DAVID– Bird flying in

SAM – Lighting/ Rendering/ Compositing

HAYLEY – Chase, Trip on rock and go flying/ Clean up animation/ Applying run cycles to shot sequences

TARA – Applying run cycles to shot sequences

DEAN – Man sneaking up behind man shot finalise

ROB – Clean up on any of your animation that’s needed.


DAVID – Rendering/ Compositing

SAM – Lighting/ Rendering/Compositing

HAYLEY - Clean up animation / Applying run cycles to shot sequences

TARA - Applying run cycles to shot sequences

DEAN – Title sequences


DAVID– Rendering/ Compositing

SAM– Rendering/ Compositing

HAYLEY- Clean up animation/ Applying run cycles to shot sequences

TARA - Rendering/ Compositing

DEAN – Title Sequences





I have mainly been working on the Marmot dancing today, it is still a work in progress and I have not touched the arms yet, he is going to be holding the chicken and it will move in his hands.

I will hopefully have it up to scratch tomorrow.

This was the freefall I started but looking at it now it is too spinny so I am going to start it afresh tomorrow. I am going to focus on these two scenes this week as they are my hardest and I want to get them looking good. I also started a Marmot run today which I will try and finish tomorrow.

I was just having a play in Maya and made this explosion... it could be used at the end of the freefalling scene if you want it in 3D and not just in After Effects, although that could add to it

Scheduling Number Two: Shots Defined

Here are the shots and who they have been given to:

Animation Shots - SNATCHED

1. Camera Zoom in eagle view, Mongolian walking to fire.

2. Marmot sniffing the smell

3. Marmot poke head up behind rock. Mongol is cooking by fire.

4. Marmot sneaks up behind man

5. Mongol looks around, Mongol and Marmot come face to face

6. Marmot steals the Chicken and runs away

7. Reaction Shot of Mongolian upset and Angry about food being taken.

8. Marmot runs away over hills in distance

9. Mongol runs towards camera

10. Mongol runs over hills after marmot.

11. Mongol chase marmot up a hill. Marmot Jumps on rock and goes to start sliding down the hill. Mongol Trips on rock and fly’s forward (in Slow motion)

12. Sliding down hill.

13. Camera shake towards log – Hands Shaking

14. Marmot and Mongol Sliding through log.

15. Both slide out of log, Marmot get grabbed in mid air

16. Free-Fall Fighting

17. Climb out of ditches both Mongol and marmot.

18. Marmot and Mongol run cycle over the hills

19. Mongol runs up hill, side view no legs showing

20. Marmot Jumps over Rocks

21. Mongol reaches top of hill slowly – out of breath, Marmot dancing

22. Mongol takes chicken from the marmot, Reaction shot from Marmot.

23. Zoom out- Eagle Wing shot and Fly over

24. Marmot points out the eagle behind him, jumping up and down and flapping his arms to try make him protect the food.

25. Mongol looks around at bird – Reaction shot as food gets swiped from his hand.

26. Bird snatches chicken close up.

27. Bird fly’s off with chicken

28. Reaction shot of both of them, Mongol gets his great idea

29. Marmot swinging from Spit

Aims for the week:

SAM – 20.

DEAN – 4. 13. 17

DAVID – 14. 15. 1

HAYLEY – 16. Marmot Run Cycle

TARA – 2. 3. 12. Majority of Final Scene (24 - 28)

ROB- 11. Mongol Run Cycle

I anticipate that we should be ready with the animation within four weeks, pushing hard to get one or two shots done a week so that by the beginning of June at the very lastest we can start rendering and compositing.

Sitting Problems

Ive been trying to get the man to sit but every position I try has difficulties with the skirt bit of this clothing, I think it is because the leg stops just above the skirt level so the weighting isnt quite right and also at some angles you can see where it stops. Can he sit on something like a rock as it reckon he will pose better that way?

Chicken Scale and Shots

I am going to use the chicken piece at this scale, that way it isn't too small for the man and he can hold it by hand and the marmot can by his mouth. It is also not too small that it will be lost on screen :)

Animation Shots

P- Camera Zoom in eagle view. - Sam

P - Marmot sniffing the smell - Daljeet

P - Marmot pokes head up behind rock - Daljeet

P - Marmot sneaks up behind mongol -

- Mongol looks around (CU)

- Mongol and Marmot come face to face

P - Marmot steals the Chicken

P - Marmot runs away -

- Marmot runs off Tex Avery Style

- Mongol runs towards camera

- Mongol chase marmot up a hill and they trip on rock – marmot leaps forward and Mongol is thrown. – Tex Avery style

- Sliding down hill.

- Camera shake towards log

- Marmot and Mongol Sliding through log.

P - Both slide out of log, Marmot get grabbed in mid air

P - Free-Fall Fighting - Hayley

- Cloud of smoke (After effects) - Sam

P - Climb out of ditches both Mongol and marmot.

- Marmot and Mongol run cycle over the hills

- Mongol reaches top of hill slowly – out of breath

- Marmot dancing

P - Mongol takes chicken from behind the marmot

- Bird flying in - David

- Marmot point out the eagle behind him, jumping up and down and flapping his arms.

- Mongol looks around at bird.

P - Bird snatches chicken - David

- Marmot turning on a Spit.

Models to be done:



Environment – Mountains – Cliff, Hill Slide down.


Marmot as Burnt

Environment – Ground holes when they crash to floor.

Next Three Weeks – TO DO:

Sam and David – Environment with cameras Set up. - Tuesday

Tara – Improving Rigs.

Hayley – Animation tests

Marmot Pointing

I was originally given this sceneto work on and wanted to use it to show my expressions working on the Marmot, especially by making him mouth 'Eagle' to show some lip sync as we have none in the film otherwise.

Unfortunately the scene was taken away from me without any real knowledge until Tara had redone it, so I was unable to take the animation further and make the jump nicer rather than quite stiff, and I would have also added more movement with the weight going up and down. However, I am going to leave this behind and move on to the other shots I have been given, possibly coming back to this for showreel work at a later date.

Testing the Mongolian Rig

When I used the body twist attribute the rest of the body moves but the torso that it influences just stays in the same position. It should be able to still move with the body but twist using the smaller controller.

Ok I've sorted it, but if anyone else has the same problem it is the blend parent attribute needs to be set to 1.

Just a few weighting issues I think, mainly on the clothing and the hands

Oh and when I use the attributes for the hand it comes apart like they dont have the same influence... don't know why

Walk Test:

Slower Walk:

ignore the arms, there's a bit of a weighting issue and I need to sort them out better, but this walk is slower and has the twist in the torso :)

quick walk cycle, will try and run and slowing this down tomorrow :)