Inside The Record Box – 005

I haven’t done this is a while, so I’ve decided to pick a mix which I’ve been listening a lot lately. Enjoy!


A little, big update…

Well It’s been awhile since I posted on my blog, so it was time give some attention and a new look to my blog.

So what’s new?

Well the ‘Headless’ project has been getting some attention from 3D people in the our year, which they’re working modelling some asset. The main character, the head and the body, are nearly finished, with only a couple more tweaks before it’s signed off and handed to myself for rigging.

Apart from overseeing the character models for rigging purpose, I’ve been working with Rhys Harvey (Director of Headless) to understand how will the characters move and how flexible the characters going to be but also understanding the technical constrains. The conclusion of our discussion is to have the ability of the stretchy cartoon character alike for the characters and providing physics animation for the small details like hair, paper, etc. This will insure animators will focus on the characters motions and bring the characters to life. Also the short animation film will have no dialog, so the facial expressions on the rig will have top-notch!

So for the past month since the pitches were over and done with, I’ve spent my time on testing and researching facial rigging, physics and rigging tool set.

Facial Rigging

As I’ve never really actually rig a full character with a full facial rig before, I’ve been learning some tutorials online and researching how to implement this system into the ‘Head’ character. From my research and tests, I’ve managed to rig a head with a lot of expressions being available for the animator…. well I didn’t manage to finish of the controls because of how long it was taking to go through each set driven key (SDK) from the left side of the face to the right side….and there was 58 joints from the left side…

This instance made me think of looking into writing a script to copy SDK’s from one side and mirror them onto the other side by using a clean naming conventions. This is still in development but I’ve managed to copy the controls with has SDK’s to a new driver and driven but not mirror the SDK animation. I found this really useful blog post by Chrisevans3D, which Rigging Dojo share on Twitter, helped me understand what was going on behind the curtain of Maya and O my! What a spaghetti mess Maya makes!  Recommend anyone rigging to give this blog post a read!

I’m going to try and get the MEL script working before I come to rigging the head, as this will save a lot of time. Currently the planned joints for the ‘Head’ character will have around 158 joints (104 facial joints). Here’s a preview screenshot of the head and facial joints placements.



I know physics is a pain in the back side and processing time will take way too long for the production, even tho we have new shining computers in the studio now. 🙂 So the other way of doing this is using hair follicle with a nurbs curve, which will be attached to a serials of joints. Even though this works greats for what the characters need, I’m thinking of adding controls for a safe guard on these joints, that will allow to go in and adjust any keys to tidy up the animation.

Tool sets

As I’ve mention above, I’m currently writing a script to copy SDK’s and a mirroring the animation curve node. So far I’ve manage to copy the animationCurve nodes, rename and plug into the new driver and driven. Just need to work out and add to the script to mirror the animation curves. A friendly UI is non-exist at the moment but will the script will be refined to accommodate this.

In other Mel script development, I’ve nearly finish an auto IK/FK setup script for the legs and arms for a biped rig. Yet again UI has not been made, which will be added to the script…..

and that’s it!

Now I’m going to have a drink for writing a massive blog post.


Projects in motions

Phew! The pitches are over and time to crack on but which projects when through?

Here is a list of the projects that are currently in production:

Bottle – 2D Animation (Jordan Allnutt)

Headless – 3D animation (Rhys Harvey & Toby Ellis)

The Illusion of Chaos – Projection Experimental Animation (Lydia Pourmand)

Revenant – 3D animtion/concept for a game (Lokki Rayne)

Rabbit Lyfe – 2D animation (Zoe Wakefield)

The Reel – 3D animation (Ben Wardle, Oliver Bromley & Matteo Veglia)

Claws for Concern -2D animation (Harry Bayfield)

Distance – Stop Motion (Sammy-Jo Tawn)

The Bird – 2D animation (Vicky Keaveney & Hannah Geach)

Long Way Down – 2D animation (Carl Longhurst)

Leap and Cottongrass – Stop Motion (Paris Washington)

Unfortunately not all the projects went through and were drop, apart from ‘With the Cloud’ by Jack Madeley, which he withdrew and now working with Harry on ‘Claws for Concern’ project.

For myself, I wanted to focus and specialise rigging, animation and MEL scripting in Maya. So I’m currently lead rigger and animator for ‘Headless’ and will be rigging a character for a scene on ‘The Reel’.

I’ll be updating my progress, share thoughts and process during my time on the projects.


Friday Pitches

Its the first week back at university and it’s already been busy! Currently everyone is getting there pitches ready for this friday, as they will be pitching in front of a panel of judges, which includes the following;

Linda McCarthy

A director and owner of a stop motion company called Tiny Elephants.


Jason Robbins

One of the directors at Engine House base in Falmouth, Cornwall, who specialise in VFX and CGI animation in advertising


Naomi Jones

A producer who has worked with BBC on many animation productions, including The Miracle Maker, Otherworld and Friends and Heroes.


James Henry

A comedy script writer, who has worked on popular shows like Smack the Pony and Green Wing. He also has a new sitcom called The Delivery Man, co writing with Rob Harley, who also worked on Green Wing.


As for the rest of the people, like myself, who aren’t pitching a idea, we will be pitching our skills in front of the rest of the 3rd year students to demonstrate our knowledge within our specialised field. This will give a idea who would be best on suited on array of projects, where our knowledge and skills can be apply. My main focus will be Rigging, MEL scripting and Animation skills, as this my specialise role.


We will see what happens this Friday.

Thoughts of going into my final year

Only a couple weeks to go before I enter my 3rd and last year in education but also to say goodbye to home once again. This will be an important year for all of us students, not just in our course but everyone going into there 3rd year at Falmouth University, as over the years we finally put all of ours skills and practice theory together to create some of the best work that we can produce. Which is very exciting because we have all this freedom of creative that we can go any direction we want to go with. However, with any project you work on there will always be moments of frustration and stress that incurs at times of delays and errors that arise at unexpected times. Experience is important for students, as once they leave university and get a job, you will always be face with obstacles that you will need to overcome but more importantly continuing to have that drive and motivation to progress in there careers.


For myself, as a mature student, I want to take the time to create a strong portfolio of my work and reflect my ability, as I felt my 2nd year portfolio was not up to scratch of where I should be. In addition to this I want to continue my progression and learn more in MEL scripting and create a solid foundation of  knowledge in rigging and other areas relating back to technical animation. In my final year, there will be a range of projects that will be pitch in front of an audience, ranging from 2D, 3D, Stop motion and experiment animation, that only a number of them will go through to go in production. With my objectives, 3D animation is what I’m set on for my set of skill’s and this is where I will be focusing on character rigging and animation, as this is my primary. In terms of any other skill’s, I will be on hand to do some character modeling and composting. By doing this, I hope I would have enough content to be able to pick my strong pieces for my main portfolio.


I’m looking forward to getting to work and making the most out of my final year at university.

After nearly 5 years going back to education, I think I need a holiday. 😛