Reflection on New Narratives

Since the second semester started I have learnt a lot considering both Maya and film studies. The lectures were always very informative giving us a great opportunity to have a better understanding on film and the assignments we got helped in gaining knowledge on how Maya worked.

On film analysis I have learnt  way more than I have ever imagined I could. Not just during the lectures, but while reading some additional books as well such as The Filmmaker’s Eye, or The Cinema As Art. I’ve never thought before how much just the angle of the camera could mean to the narrative of a story. I have tried to apply this knowledge to the final project we got this year, the 30 second animation.

Our first assignment, the schematic and the artefact gave me a much deeper view into how a good film is built up. For the schematic we had to thing through Citizen Kane scene by scene, analysing every character and every action to find the connection between them. To come up with a good artefact we needed to understand the main meaning under the surface.

The next assignment, the animation, was really hard work considering the fact that there was only two of us working on it properly. Although looking back now I wouldn’t change teammembers, because I most definitely wouldn’t have learnt this much in Maya if I had the chance to let others do parts of the animation. We got a lot of help from members of other teams, but I had to figure out almost everything by myself.

I still have a lot to learn, but I feel like during this academic year I have improved a great amount.

References:

  • Citizen Kane (1941) Directed by Orson Welles.
  • Mercado, G. (2010). The Filmmaker’s Eye. 
  • Stephenson, R. and Phelps, G. (1989). The Cinema As Art.

Lights

I finally found the time to get back to the animation. We could only solve the lighting situation with one wall missing in our room. This gave a big limitation on the animation itself, so I wanted to figure out what went wrong the first time. I watched a few tutorial videos back then, but none of them could help, so I decided to just play around, and do a bit deeper research.

I started with an area light to try and lit the whole room. No matter what I tried it still remained too dark so I moved on to the desktop lamp. Here I used a spotlight. I played around with the intensity, the dropoff and the angle of the cone before trying out how it would look like in the renderview.

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The spotligh itself is not too bad, I just increased the exposure on the renderview to get the whole scene a bit more lighter.

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With this the only problem is that the spotlight area becomes way too bright while the room itself looks alright. So I just have to figure out the ‘light the whole room’ problem.

Using a spotlight for the ceiling light didn’t work either… I moved back to the area light to give it a try again.

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Somewhat better. The only thing I don’t like is that the nice shadow’s that the spotlight created almost disappeared because of the light coming from the ceiling. And the scene is a bit still too dark for me, on top of it the plane almost disappeares, so next to the area light I’m gonna use a spotlight as well to light the plane.

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The next step I changed the area light to a point light.

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I liked this one way better than the area light. Mostly because the pointlight seemed to take away the harshness of the colors of the objects in the scene which is not a bad thing at all.

It seems this time I found the right sources to use. I had a lot of help from the Solid Angle website, and also a book I got from the final year’s Bake ‘n’ Book Sale, 3D Animation Essentials.

References:

Tribute to Chase Your Dreams

There’s not much to say here… I was hoping Caitlin will do the facial expressions, but I didn’t see anything of that yet, and without it there’s no point in cutting the whole thing together again, and unfortunately I don’t have the time to do it myself. I still plan on playing around with the maya files, figuring out the lights, but we are running out of time. I sure won’t have time for rendering, and noone else will do it, so our Chase Your Dreams project seems to remain unfinished.

Here’s a short tribute to what it could have looked like if Caitlin had done the expressions.

(Pictures made by Caitlin 10 minutes before the final presentation are shown below.)

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Could have been awesome! I’m really sad about this… if I’ll find the time I might go over it during the summer break.

Final Presentation

We had our final presentation on the animation. Despite the fact that we were the only group that hasn’t finished I feel like it went well. I was a bit worried, because as I see, the animation doesn’t read well at all without the facial expressions, but Clare and me did what we could.

I want to fix and change a few things… I couldn’t spend enough time on the individual aspects like lighting or rigging or even texturing because I always had to move on to the next level to be able to show something during the presentation, but all in all I’m quite proud of it. I have learnt a lot of things about Maya since the start of the project which I’m sure will be very useful later on.

Animation and Rendering

Caitlin promised that she will put on 2D eyes and elements after we are finished with the whole animation and rendering, so we didn’t have to deal with facial expressions so far. Our animation is really simple, so it wasn’t too bad to animate. We have 8 scenes, so me and Dearbhail had 3-3 and Clare had two to make. Clare done the last and the sixth scene, I helped her a bit to fix parts when the plane was going into the mesh of the floor, and helped figure out how to animate a camera properly. Originally I had the first three scene to animate, but unfortunatelly Dearbhail didn’t send the ones she had done, just very noisy renders of two scenes, so I had to redo them as well.

I had the most fun with the jumping scene. I know it’s a car and it could roll as well, but we imagined it as a plush figure, made of one piece, and I wanted to do a bit of squash and stretch, practise anticipation… I feel a bit bad that I didn’t have more time to spend on each individual scene, but time was running out, and it is well known that rendering takes a long time.

About the rendering… I had no clue how to make it work, but I had loads of help from classmates. They showed me how to do it, and what to keep an eye on. After I started it, it was only a matter of patience to see how the end will look like.

Képkivágás

(Special thanks to Eszter, my niece, who probably doesn’t even know that her drawing is on an imaginary kid’s virtual table…)

Képkivágás2

After rendering the only thing left for me was to figure out how to use Adobe After Effects. Again, I had help – thanks Lydia if you are reading this… – which made it so much more easier. I only had to save the individual scenes into video files so Clare could use them. I helped her cut it together, and she and Dearbhail done the sounds as well.

Finished Room

For the new animation we managed to finish modeling the room. I modeled the cork board, the picture on the wall and the pencil holder on the table as well. I also used Caitlin’s cube and metal jack, and Dearbhail’s pencil to decorate, and make it more roomy. I really liked the idea to add Vampie, Clare’s doll that she modeled earlier on.

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Unfortunately I had to model a new curtain as well. Dearbhail’s animation of the wind looked great, but we had many problems with it, so I took it out to make it easier.

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I tried to figure out how to light the scene, but soon I had to move on to the animation part. Unfortunatelly just when we started to animate we came across an issue… There was something up with the textures. Alec helped us fix it, but I had to retexture the whole room which took me a long time.

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This is the final textured room. I kept the number of textures as low as I could, I didn’t want to run into another problem.

Work in Maya

While Clare was working on the characters I started to model the room. These are the models I’ve done:

Dearbhail made a curtain for the window, and Clare has finished the plane and a shelf so far. I’m gonna start texturing soon, and come back to the details in the room later if we will have time for it. It would be nice to make it more homey, to show with the furniture and everything in the room that it’s a child’s bedroom.