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.



Heart Of The Tree – Cont. Pre-visual

Update of the pre-visual work I’ve been doing for this project.

The two vids are from scene 3 and scene 6. Remember this is not the final look and animation, just a rough guide for the director in how the shots work.


Heart of the tree – Pre-visual

Every 2nd year on the animation course gets crew assign to a 3rd year project of their chosen. There are only a few films I actually liked and unfortunately there are only two 3d animation short films; the rest are 2d animation short films. I wanted to work on the heart of the tree because of my skills I can apply to this film. Not only that I really like the style they’re going for. The story is about respect and greed between a hare, hyena and a tree.
My role on this project is to create a pre-visual for scene 3 and scene 6, both scene are internal of the tree.
In scene 3 the hire is allow to explore into the tree secret place and is offer a gift to say thank you. My job was to use a low ploy version of the hire and block out animate quick movements and poses within the scene matching the animatic.  In addition to this, I had to set up the cameras, yet again matching the animatic but I was aloud to have some freedom of setting up different camera angles to allow the director and producer to have an option between the shots. This was the same method for scene 6 with the hyena being greedy and eating the berries that hang from vines.
Once the rough block down animation and camera setup is done, I started to import model asset, which have been finish into the scene. Also I stared to model the vines by using a ep curve tool and extrude a cylinder (low ploy) to fill the environment as close to the concept art work.
Internal concept by Freddie Horton

Currently I’m still modeling extra assets for the environment, which I will post a final version of the pre-visual, in my next post.

11 Second Club – Concept and Design

Every time I want to do some animation for the 11 Second Club, something always gets in the way.

Well, not this time!

Decembers sound clip came out on the 1st and I’ve been listening to the sound clip on repeat for the past couple of days and coming up with some ideas. Now this month’s sound clip doesn’t have any talking, just environment sounds, which makes it interesting; Creatively and perforamnce wise.

My idea is someone running away from their biggest fear and hides in a storage room which is filled up with too much junk. This creature comes into shot, walking heavy footed closer to the door and all of a suddenly the door slams open with the junk falling out of the room with the person daze. As he comes around he looks up and relaiase who it is. The scene fades to black, the end.

So for my animation I wanted to use Maya as I feel confidence and enjoy working in this environment but it’s also a chance to push my animation skills to the next level in Maya. For the rigs I’m going to used Blake and Squirrely. Why am I using a squirrel creature? Well thats the person biggest fear, a friendly, cute, likeable squirrel.

With the rigs picked for my idea, I wanted to do some drawings of facial expression and a couple of poses, before I dive deeper into it.

Next time, I’ll be setting up the rigs, live action video tests and key poses block down. Before I do though, I’ll be having a quick read of Keith Lango’s pose to pose blog post, really good read if you haven’t read it yet.

Funny 15 Second – Part One

In 15 seconds can you make someone laugh?
Go on, give it a go.
Now making someone laugh in a 15 second animation would seem to be a piece of cake. Mmmm… Cake. Actually it turn out to be a bit of a challenge to have an animation that short. No cake for me.
In my funny 15 sec team, which consists of Ben Wardle and Olivia Reaveley, we wanted the visuals to become the gag rather than a dialog to deliver the joke. Taking this approach, we had to create a style and idea to deliver that visual gag. From our brainstorm session we chose a news anchor man reporting pointless news with Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animation style. We pick his style because how caricature and wacky his style is, which would deliver a visual gag. Also we never done a 2D cut out animation before; what perfect time to do one.
So with the style and idea there, we needed to have some dialog. Now remember I said it was a bit of a challenge? You may think, why is making a small script a challenge? Well remember its only 15 second long animation…. Yeah we kept going way over 15 seconds long after making an animatic because we wanted to make pointless breaking news and with the holds, this was not possible to deliver. So we went back to the drawing board to change our approach.
If you look at comedy and break down the elements of what makes a comedy so funny, is that it shows how much negative subject comedy touches on.
For example: We laugh seeing John Cleese character “Basil Fawlty” getting angry and smacking his car with a branch from Fawlty Towers. If you look at this character as a whole, he is a negative person but we laugh because of his actions, which makes it comedy.
So by rethinking our idea for the script, I came up with an idea, which tie nicely to our visual objective. My idea was playing on people perception by telling the audience a subject then switching to a twisted visual version of that subject.
Confused? Let me explain.
If the news said drunk driver causing chaos on the road, you would expect someone drunk driving a car. But you wouldn’t expect a drunken old man driving a scooter going 5mph down the road causing chaos.
This approach was perfect to deliver our objectives.

Group Project Update

For the past couple of weeks, myself and the rest of the team have been really busy in the studio. So now I’ve got a chance to update you on the progress we have done.


The style we’re going for really shrape edges to give that rough look. To everything we model was in polygon, which not only gives us that look we wanted but makes a quick workflow to get the assets done and ready to apply textures to them. Here are some of the models I’ve made on this project.


I wanted to try and animate the characters as best I could even tho there are some quick shots. I used the same techquie for my animation by blocking out the pose first and then do three phares of the animation, with each phares tighting the animating. The shot below was one of my animation I worked on.


For the sea, I used realwave from realflow to produce nice calm motions of the sea. Its been taking a while to simlaute out these shots with the sea but it was worth it. you’ll have to wait for the final rendered shots  😉

Other things I’ve been working on at the moment is ncloth, more animation and making any little adjustments in models.