New toys!

Well, not exactly new, but new to me, and good fun. I have been learning to rig in maya, and have a growing knowledge of how it works. After having done rigging in 3DS Max its not too big a step  to pick up in Maya. a lot of it is just learning how to re do things in a new program with new shortcuts and the like. some things are much easier, and so far I am liking Maya for rigging so much more.

Normally I post with videos as I am much better at it, but I totally forgot and just wanted to update my progress while I am thinking of it. Been forgetting to do that way to much this trimester!

So, firstly. My first rig has been for a rooster. it has gone OK so far, learning basics such as making the bone system and creating basic IK systems and controls for the legs. Then I proceeded to skin it and test that, which worked well. Once I know some more I want to come back to this rig and put in a jiggle system for the roosters tail and also for its crest.

There are a few things I would like to learn to do with this rig eventually as well. such as see about spline controls so I can have custom attributes to control the curl of the roosters toes. However I am only allowing myself a certain amount of time per rig, and so can not do it this time. But I will be coming back to re make this rig with all I know as my final things this trimester.

The second rig i have made is for a Cat. Simple in many ways, and having many of the same needs as the rooster in the IK for the legs. however I added in some Spline IK for the tail to give better control over how it animates and looks. except it seems to be breaking right now…not actually sure why either. Maybe just to make it harder for me, cant have it working well all at once can we? And that was a simple fix for the issue. parent things the correct way and it may work properly….DOH!

The tail has been controlled using clusters made from the points in the spline system. it looks pretty chunky here, but that is okay as its not meant to be a super refined rig or model. If I was to be going for more refined I would create at least double the bones in the tail and use cluster to control it again.

For the cat I had to do some research on their skeletal system and how they work, as well as make sure that the muscles would look realistic when I skinned them.
I did this by looking at a few anatomy websites, and one picture in particular was of good help with this.

Yes, I am aware that the website says it is for kids, but it helped so stop smirking! Also, going into too much depth is just confusing. so it was really good. some things, such as around the face, did not bother me too much as it has not been modeled in a way that it will need to use facial features too much at all.

The next rig I make will be for a Dog, and I will be trying to get some facial controls working on it, mostly just for twitching noses, but it is always a good thing to know how to do!



Mortem-Pole for the building a world

As with most projects, once they are done the students need to write a post mortem. It is actually something I enjoy, reflecting on how everything went, and what has been done well or not. This particular post mortem is for our world builders project, which was to take a scene from a book and make it in 3D. we also had to make a narrative for the story that. There are so many things I would like to say about this, so I will do my best to make it legible.

For this project each team member (Of which we had 4) had to create their own shot of the created scene which was the Witches house in Hansel and Gretel.
As seems to be normal, I was project lead, but also did a lot of the modelling and scene construction in Unreal. As with many of the projects, its difficult to get anything that actually touches on the specialization I would like to chose, which is actually animating things, creating rigs, and the more technical side of things. I got to do a small amount of this in unreal, but a lot of it was just to place things in the scene.
I feel that we managed to hit the brief fairly well, and would have been capable of delivering the product on time according to the first documented due date.
One of the major things that went wrong during this project was the loss of many weeks work. there where backups made, but the people with those backups did not know where they put them and so many weeks of work was lost, which was rather disheartening. however it was a valuable lesson to us all to make sure that backups are made and kept in safe places with people who will not lose them.

Our team, for the most part worked well together. However some people did not pull their weight. which was disappointing. This forced a lot of work onto others that should not have happened. As lead I had to talk to these people and ask them to do more. some responded well and did start to get a lot of work done, however some did not and had excuses as to why they could not do the work.
However despite this I feel I have done better as a lead this time. I delegated better, as well as spoke to people about doing what they needed to better, and more calmly.
I feel the level I got my documentation too this project was much better as well. Between this project and the final project I have got much more efficient at doing documentation. My timelines are doing better, as well as being able to create asset lists and time tables much more comprehensively. whilst I tend to use the same methodology, I have been getting better at deciding between them, and changing the way the work to make them better for a project. For this project we used an agile methodology, which worked fairly well. However one thing I did learn was that people will not get things done with out solid deadlines. and even then, they have to be made to check the deadlines constantly to ensure they are met. Which is possibly one of the less fun things to have to do. All of the documentation we used can be found here


Ever get stuck for a post name? I am…

Good Afternoon!

I have to do something I Have not had to in a while, which is to analyse the scene or shot I will be taking for the Lollipop guilds Hansel and Gretel house that we are building. And I must do this using semiotics, which, for those of you who do not know, is that study of signs and symbols. Which can literally be anything, so its good fun J

The shot I will be doing is a long shot, just as the witches house is first seen. The feel I am trying to get out of this shot is one of at first, fear, loneliness, being lost for ever, having no end to the walking in sight. But then the joy of seeing a inviting place in the distance, that hope that maybe this panic and fear will be at an end.

Whilst this project is not technically a horror, I have drawn on some horror movies I have seen to get my ideas from for how to make this work better. I have also taken inspiration and ideas from some other films, and will do my best to deconstruct them and explain how or why they were useful to me in the follow post.
Also, whilst the finally image I will use for the darker aspect of my shot is not from a film, it beautifully captures what I am trying to achieve.


The first Shot that has given me inspiration is one out of “The  Forest” as seen above.
There are a few things we need to ignore such as the hanging ropes and the reflections in the water as well as the water itself. My main inspiration here was the feeling that the character is very alone in a large and scary forest. Firstly, the way the trees all bunch up around the outside and background of the picture convey a feeling of being trapped, there is no way out because there is a wall of trees all around. But there is also a large open space, showing the character is not only confined to a small area, but is also completely alone, with no other human help around. It conveys a feeling that there is no hope passed this small and seemingly dead area around where the character stands. It all comes together to create a feeling of isolation and being lost.
This is something I would like to draw on to convey in my scene, that the viewer is walking through a large open area, with only the way forwards, trees all around encroaching on the sides to feel like they are being forced one way.


Shot the second that I have taken inspiration from is from a smaller horror movie called “Entity”.
I like this scene for a few reasons, one being that it has no one in it, another is the colours they use. With it being darker closer to the camera, and going back to a grey-blue colour that seems so cold and dead.
Whilst it does not have the path through it, this shot shows the lighter area in the center, drawing the eyes to it and making the person wonder what is there.

man in a dark forest

This final image is not from a movie as far as I know. I found it on a website with stock images, but it does capture what I am going for so well, the feeling of being lonely, the emptiness of having no hope and nothing around. There is nothing in sight that seems good or worth going for, and this image has captured it so well.
In this image, there are fewer trees, but the fog makes it seem denser. Again the use of the grey-blue colour makes it seem empty, dead and cold. The character in this image is walking down a path that seems to have no end, and will continue to do so as there is nothing else to do. Whilst this image does not convey the fear the first image does, it captures the loneliness I would like to achieve beautifully.the way it frames the path with trees, and has over hanging shadows branches making it seem like it is all closing in is something I hope I can achieve.



The Forest. (2016). [Produced by Lawrence Bender] [DVD]. United States

Entity. (2012) [Produced by Jim Roberts]. [DVD]. United Kingdoms

Man walking in fairytale forest [Image] (n.d.). Retrieved June 24th 2016, from

Studio 3 Today

A: what sort of work do  I want to do in the future (5 years)

My long term goal is to become a Technical director, lead, and studio owner. To this end I am already starting up my own studio slowly, and am always keeping that in mind as I work on projects.
I have a lot to learn to get there, and would like to work for another company for a few years so I can gain experience and learn some processes that others use.

B: What are the quality standards of work expected in the area

The best, while my work does not have to be the best. I have to be able to get others to do their best as well as plan and organise projects. Understanding many different specializations is also important, so I can know what is realistic in the areas, even if I can not do it super well myself. That being said I do want to learn to be good at animation in 3D, and shall be working to further that skill set.

C: Current skill set / level

Whilst I am not terrible in any area, I am also not a master in any of them. To this end I want to aim my learning at animation and the creation of particle effects to enhance those animations. Not VFX itself, but the particles them selves to create the different effects. I am already okay at doing this, and have a basic understanding of animation in 3D.

D: What do I need to learn and improve to get there

More then I care to list, to gain my current short term goals, I need to focus on more to do with particles in 3DS Max 2016 and 2017, as well as animating well in max. I need to focus on my timing and my inbetweens to get to the level I want to be at for this.

E: goals in my craft for this trimester

To animate 2 characters from start to finish in at least 1 dialog sequence. starting with basic blocking out, and ending with a smooth product. working on timing,

VFX Final/post mortem

And thus, the VFX Scene is…erm…done. for scene 1 anyway. what was meant to be a 9 scene project, worth about 30 seconds, has been severely cut back in duration due to time and needing to have some product to show.

There are many things I would do differently next time, knowing what I know now. Such as once I had all the VFX files I needed compiled and tested to make sure they will work okay, I would help out with the roto (only on a small project like this) and see if anyone else needs a hand. Rather then continuing to research or look for better effects. especially as we ended up going with what I had at the start for the majority of effects, and only the muzzle flashes changed, to something even more simple then I was originally going to make.

A couple of things I had to re learn how to do on the spot was basic tracking in After Effects (not hard once I had a quick look at a digital tutors video)
And making sure all the layers where lined up perfectly for things like set extension, lighting passes, and so on.

Something I would really have liked to do was have time to add in even basic sounds for this, but we ran out of time and I could not even put in the sounds I had downloaded earlier that day. I feel it would have given the whole thing a much nicer feel to have noises going on.