zondag 22 juni 2008


More to come. The some shots still need a bit of gamma-correction before I call this thing done.

vrijdag 13 juni 2008

poster design

Just to get it done with...I`d rather just leave it entirely black, except for the letters. But that seemed too minimalistic. Now it looks more like a bad ad I`ve seen somewhere before...don`t know what product tho. Probably some hi-fi or MP3-player ad. In case I miraculously find myself with some leftover time I will change it...I`ll leave it for now.

donderdag 29 mei 2008


Finally, a montage version I am satisfied with. The timing needs just a little bit more work before I lock it.
The robot rig just keeps acting up. It still has some flipping, I`ll need to fix that aswell...

woensdag 28 mei 2008


In the meanwhile, my maya files have turned in complete mayhem. As it turned out, my robot rig wasn`t foolproof...at a point it kept flipping over. So, the only solution was to add a Forward Kinematic function including a FK/IK switch...
Some technicalities:
- A regular FK system wasnt possible, due to the fact that the root of the chains was at the base, whereas I needed them to be at the tips...so I improvised a Backward Kinematic system routing IK-handles back to the base.
- Then every bend in the arms needed controllers, so I can animate them (those are all the blue circles in the pic below). I accidentally created them to big, but I`m affraid to go back and fix that...since everything is routed in a way now that it seems to work.
- I dont know how I parented everything, but I`ve got stray joints visible. This causes some more clutter in the screen.
- Working with 7 separate camera (the green things, hovering around the character) for my montage in 1 maya file...but good old traditional paper helps keep track of what frames I eventually need to render out from what camera.
- Number of file-versions: rocketing

Ah, well montage is coming along, hopefully online later today or tomorrow. Then I can focus on making things pretty.

zondag 11 mei 2008

Reel may 2008

Something I had still laying around...

dinsdag 29 april 2008


machine: check.
Still needs quite some work, but it`s ready for animation.

maandag 14 april 2008

Finding the moves

Down below are you can see a rough setup for the animation. Sofar I`m trying to figure out only the moves. Camera will be adjusted once I finish the choreography. Also, I made a union-skin like picture of the fall. Because it would be too small to see if I had put it in the vid like that, I actually do prefer the camera position from the side.

vrijdag 11 april 2008


I felt it was time for another update, so here`s a small one. Some time ago, I finished the final rig for animating and started to block in the final thing. Along the way I came to realise this project isn`t exactly as straight-forward as I thought when starting it. Main focus is the movements of the characters. In their movements their motives should become clear. Though they are pretty straight forward, the turning point has proven quite difficult so far. It is a full reversal of motives between the two characters. The other day I had someone check out my project who had absolutely no previous knowledge of it. She suggested to let the dancer just take a long deep dive and having the robot still catch her. As I thought about it, this event would obviously show the dancer and the audience that she`ll be safe, no matter what. So here`s a picture of the deep dive, from my rough (cut up) model. I`ll stick with this solution for now, though at first I had in mind it would be more interesting to have the dancer devieate more and more from what the robot intends untils she has fully taken the lead.

dinsdag 25 maart 2008


Since the previous method of animating obviously didn`t work for me, I`ve resorted to a more conventional method where I place the keyframes first (without letting maya interpolate the motion). This gives a much clearer idea of where the accents are and makes it way easier to time...tho I`ve done a pretty rotten job at it sofar. I`d rather not continue on it now, since it works so well I am affraid I`m gonna have to redo the whole thing when my final rig is done...
So, planning for now is first finish the final model and rig, then block in the whole animation. Time. Refine, refine refine...
The beauty of computer animation is, that I can refine the parts I`m happy with, leaving room for drastically altering the rest. I can even refine the model when I`m halfway done with animating. So yeah, tho I was a bit reluctant toward a `non-material` and over technical way of working, I am beginning to see the obvious benefit of being able to experiment throughout the entire production. I have yet to see if I`m going to be able to take full advantage of it, but I am being optimistic about it now.

woensdag 19 maart 2008

Another animation test

This is the second animation test I did. Used simple block with a heel-piece for the robot for now. Quite frustrating, the robot was really hard and I`m still far from satisfied with the result. Why is this so frustrating? The robot as a character moved very confident/straight. With as few keyframes as neccesary and without follow-through. Yet, because I have only some blocks to work with for now it is really hard to imagine them as being part of a machine...so, some arms to come.
As for the dancer...I changed the arm controlls to FK wich works better, except that I need to correct the shoulder so that it doesn`t move the entire arm anymore (this isn`t something you can see in the animation, but something I noticed while animating). The animation now, is a lot of swaying back and forth. And it seems more like she is pulling her foot out of a jam than that she is pushing off from the platform. For a lot of movements that originated from the hips I corrected the spine so she would be in balance. Now, that is pretty much `on key` with the hip motion. It`ll probably be better when that is off some frames to create follow-through.
But, by far the most frustrating thing of all is that I haven`t been able to put any character in it. Yes, it moves and perhaps convincing too...but no character; I`ll need to work on that. But I guess that I haven`t exactly made it easy for me...after all, how do you portray a clear character that is all alone in a very empty space?

dinsdag 18 maart 2008


Got new paper. Not fancy paper or anything, just plain white for now...to practise. It is way stronger than the coarse paper I had, so that`s an improvement. The downside is I can only get sizes up to 30cm square...
Tried and obviously didn`t succeed completely. I could blame the paper, but I wont. It wasn`t precisely square (off by a mm or so) wich has HUGE consequences for the final result. The toes didn`t turn out as pointy as they needed to be (mainly because there are some really small folds in there) and also the back of the head needs to be pointier. But the worst thing and I dont really know how that happened, one leg is longer than the other... Ah well, this was my third attempt at a Kamiya design, so I guess I could have done worse. It`s very fun to do tho, trying to figure out how to read the instructions. Going from form to form where only at the end you see how everything comes together.

maandag 17 maart 2008

Cloth test

A short cloth test. For the dress of the dancer. This is just a single render-pass, the background is composited. I`m still not entirely satisfied with the final look. The dynamics is fine, but additional post-processing will probably improve the look. At least now I know the nCloth module of maya works at a acceptable speed. And setting up the cloth is reasonably intuitive.

donderdag 6 maart 2008


I meant to do some animating today, but got distracted in the designs again. What started as a quick model for a plateau (I needed for an animation test) ended in a short research for a style to fit with my machine. This is what resulted from that; a plateau with chainlink top, a cogwheel and a piston:

Although I like it, it somehow seems to Burtonesque and perhaps to fragile to fit with the character. Also, the warped shapes will most likely keep the cogs from interlinking properly. The chainlinks will find their way to the final design, I`m sure of that. The previous design evolved as well last week, but I forgot to post it. A shot of the base and of the first two joints:

maandag 3 maart 2008

First moving stuff

At last I got around to actually animating some stuff for the project. This is still a test-run of the rig and getting myself familiar again with the maya way of animating. No intense movement here. Main thing I noticed, is that I am gonna need A LOT of practice. Maya animation is sortof the other way around as, well perhaps most comparable, puppet animation. In stead of manipulating the puppet from the torso outward (to the fingertips for example) you manipulate the extremeties...which means a lot of tweaking so that it seams she is moving on her own rather than that the hands seem to have a will of their own. Perhaps maya animation is better compared to actual puppetry with the strings and stuff. These are just some thoughts I keep in mind and perhaps can use or exagerate in the next tests.
The design is heavily inspired by the gorgeous film `Pas de Deux` from Norman Mclaren.

vrijdag 29 februari 2008

In other news: Paper owns!

Some time ago, I got this totally wicked origami-book "Works of Satoshi Kamiya 1995-2003". Kamiya is like, a total origami master and he makes the most beautiful stuff. Be sure to google him. And while you`re at it, check Eric Joisel as well.
So I was looking through my bookcase and decided I was finally going to attempt to fold one of his designs myself. Safe to say this a whole different ballgame from the stuff I used to fold like boats, paper planes and the occasional crane. But finally I managed to finish the Eagle Ray design (yay)...at almost 2 times the recommended paper size...
Ayway, here it is (top and bottom view):

As I was folding this, I noticed that the paper I used wasn`t quite suitable for this. I used ordinary sketching paper...the recyled kind (the only paper I had lying around on that size; 25cm square). Which is so coarse it felt like it was breaking on the first folds. Next week I gonna check at the printshop wether they have some finer paper for this.

woensdag 27 februari 2008

Machine sketch

Here`s some construction plans for the machine...Still pretty sketchy (...) but I`ll make up the rest of the details as I continue modelling. Oh yeah, the things at the base of the arm are supposed to be cogwheels and NOT flowers...

Change of approach

I was kindoff getting lost in the complexities of meaning I wanted to get into the animation. I had nearly every part of it defined already, leaving so little room for things to just form naturally. This demotivated me, so now its back to the basics. All that I leave standing now, is the machine, the girl and their interactions.
More focus on movement now. For that purpose I made a simple biped-rig. FK and IK controlls both appear in this picture, but an expression hides one or the other set if it doesn`t influence the rig anymore.

...which looks waaaay more complicated in maya`s DAG :]

woensdag 30 januari 2008

character developments

She is the human character, and perhaps a bit shy. She finds herself in a situation that is completely unknown and somewhat ominous to her. She is a captive, her prison two small platforms that support her feet. As the machine moves, she moves. There`s no other choice.
From pure necessity (if she doesn`t move, she will fall), tracing the steps of the machine becomes somewhat of a game. As she steps beside a platform, she is sure that is her end. To her surprise, she is still standing. The robot continues and she is forced to follow. Defiantly she strays from the laid out path of the robot, noticing that it wil correct to catch her. What starts as small deviations at first, becomes her path entirely. She takes the lead and even stops noticing that she is only supported by the two small platforms.
In short, the dancer gets more confindent and takes greater liberty in her movements.

It is the controle, the power. It is a massive construction, imposing. At first it takes very little notice of the dancer. Predefined movements are executed, nothing more. As the dancer improves, a sort of game evolves between the two. She steps beside the platform. Without thinking the robot corrects to catch her. This is also a reflective moment for the robot. It finds, that it has more freedom than just executing the predefined movements. It`s role is now more supportive than leading.
In short, de robot breaks its routinely movements, taking more freedom.

woensdag 16 januari 2008

So I started to model...

The first models for my project. First to had to be impressions of atmosphere; the pit below...and I failed completely in my attempt. At least i know now that the background needs to be way more subtle than this. As it is now, it starts to tell stories on its own and will greatly distract from the story I am trying to tell and the characters.

Faces for the main character...also failed sofar. The obvious thing to say is her eyes stand too far apart on most models. This was deliberate. I started from more conventional proportions and tried little tweaks...It needs some abstraction in my opinion, while at the same time some anatomical details are preserved...defeniately needs a lot more work.

Some machine parts. Not so sure about this either. Yes, in a way it serves its purpose, because i want the animation to become quite realistic. But again, it needs some sort of abstraction or character. Perhaps I shouldn`t try to find that in the individual parts and see as it evolves through the completed structure...will continue from this for the time being. Oh yeah, this part is supposed to be the base for one of the arms. Sofar it has two axes of freedom, which will be three eventually.