Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Personal Work: Genghis turnaround

Genghis Model Turnaround from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

A turnaround of Genghis based on the turnaround tutorials from the CAA Toolkit site. This includes the beauty/clay/wireframe and silhouette passes.

Originally, I tried to create this turnaround in Nuke Studio but I encountered difficulties doing this, and for several reasons. I thought that Nuke would have similar functionality to After Effects given that they are both compositing software packages but Nuke focuses on nodes rather than After Effects's layer style which makes it ideal for 3D VFX but bad for trying to create motion graphic videos and soft effects (like transitions and text). A few bugs also surfaced and I encountered problems trying to export out the final video (given that Nuke Studio non-commercial doesn't allow exporting videos in MPEG-4 format).

This learning experience has made me appreciate the importance of learning about new software before using it.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Personal Work: Genghis run cycle Mk1

Run_Cycle_Mk1 from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

More work in Nuke Studio, this time making a run cycle for Genghis. I can see a few things that need tweeking but this looks like a good effort for a Mk1.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Personal Work: Nuke Studio

A bit more personal work, this time exploring compositing a bit more. Since my After Effects license has expired I sought a new compositing program, after learning about Nuke Studio from the Foundry I decided to download the non-commercial version and have a go at it to expand my skill base and learn some new software to improve animations.

Nuke Studio wasn't too hard to learn, thanks to the quick and simple tutorials on the Foundry's website and some similarity between it and Adobe After Effects. Still it's early days with Nuke and there is still a lot to learn.

I used Nuke Studio to composite the Tiff files for a walk cycle for Genghis and then used Adobe Media Encoder to turn the finished movie into an MPEG-4 file.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Personal Work : Black Hole

Got Black Holes on the brain recently, in this picture the remenants of some kind of space station are devoured at the event horizon. Quite happy with this though I'd still like to work on my lighting and shading techniques.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Pincer prop

Pincer from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

The pincer prop which, like the bulldozer prop, has only a minimal design and construction consisting of a few joints and basic texturing given that its screen time will be little. A little but of stylisation but nothing fancy, this pincer arm will pick up the chew toy and put it nearby the bulldozer arm to put it into the trash.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Bulldozer prop 2#

The bulldozer prop is now fully functional with textures including diffuse and bump maps plus a little bit of specular lighting. Ambient occlusion nodes are present but I did not add rim lights as they don't seem to react well on flat surfaces. I added some manufacturing logos and danger signs to make the prop a bit more than just a "thing".

Mechanical_Arm from Max Ashby on Vimeo.
The prop is also rigged with a simple set of joints and IK handle to mimic robotic movement, it was a bit tricky getting it to work right but given that its only a small prop, complex functionality isn't really necessary. The next task will be to create a small mechanical pincer to pick up rubbish items.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Bulldozer prop

A rather optimistic title for a prop, the bulldozer blade will sweep up the rubbish and chew toy into the rubbish compartment. This prop has only a minor construction because it will have minimal time in front of the screen.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Storyboard

A storyboard for a new potential scene at the beginning of the animation, this should hopefully explain a bit more how the chew toy ends up inside the rubbish compartment while also giving a soft explanation for the search for dark matter.

Essentially as a "purge" of rubbish goes on inside the space station a mechanical arm collects up refuse that accidentally includes Genghis's chew toy which ends up in the rubbish chute, the first scene of Genghis sniffing around then begins.

Creating these scenes won't be difficult and will only require the creation of a few props like a scroop and mechanical arm.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Space Station lighting

Trying out some new lighting in the space station, to try and make the shadows a little less black. At the same time I tried out different lighting colours, the results are: the shadows look nicer, less bleak but the station looks saturated. This will need refining.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Personal-Work : Coding Python

After looking around at animation jobs a few of them like their applicants to have a handle on coding, I don't know much about coding so I decided to give it a try. This is my first attempt at using Python, but I also want to get to know C++ at another stage.

Coding is greek to me so I started off using tutorials from a magazine "Coding made easy" and went from there. So far I have touched upon various types of functions and arguments, the experimentation continues.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Asteroid Prop 2#

 A new texture for the asteroid to make it look a bit more "rocky", not sure if it fits well but the experimentation continues.

Space Pug : New Designers : Planet prop 2#

A new planet prop courtesy of advice from Alan. Finally got the halo to work more vividly and nicely with a "glowing" rim. The texture was created using a 3D texture node as opposed to a 2D texture in photoshop.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Space Pug : New Designers : Planet prop

After taking in the feedback for Space Pug, I have begun my first improvements to Space Pug. Today, I spent my time trying to update the planet prop with mixed results. I've added rim lights and bump maps to the planet and even added a smaller "moon" to the big planet. I'm still working on creating a ring around the planet and getting the "glowing" effect right.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Third Year - Reflective Statement

When I first began this project I wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete it. I had faith in my idea but was unsure about my technical skills, particularly to take on a project of this capacity. I was motivated to create my own animated short, to create something that was mine alone.   

I have learned new skills and gained experience in compositing, modelling, texturing and other technical skills in Maya and Adobe products through constant use and learning from the internet and from my tutors. It has not been without difficulty and in fact there are many points were I struggled and needed help and even now, looking back, I can still say that I still need help with those problems. But I can say that I have learned so much since I have come here, experience it seems is one of the greatest teachers.

Looking back I wish I had come to my tutors help sooner rather than later, it would’ve saved time and enabled me to progress faster. I am not sure why I did not ask for help originally, prehaps out of some belief that I could overcome the difficulties myself or out of the belief that my problems did not warrant attention.

I am also pleased that I have made it this far, the ranks of our class have thinned since first year and there have been times when I have pondered whether or not I may end up with them. Yet here I am with my finished project.

I am proud of what I have created and although it certainly isn’t perfect I am proud to look back at my third year with the satisfaction that my hard work has payed off. More importantly I am proud to look at what I have created and feel a sense of pride that I have made something worthwhile that I can show off to the world. I do not mean this in an arrogant manner, I can simply say that when people ask about Space Pug I can say that it is my creation.

After finishing this project I can say that I find satisfaction in creating things in 3D, the process isn't easy to do but the results can be amazing and very satisfying.

Space Pug - Final Submission

Genghis_Final_Ultimate_Movie_Version_2_Small from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Space Pug - Lighting Tests 1#

Now that the Pre-Viz is close to render worthy I've started to pay more attention to the lighting of the scene. The first step is making the lighting in the Space Station look a bit better, to that end I played around with different lights and shadows and currently ended up putting a single point light in the scene.

 The top image is the original lighting before I made modifications. Genghis' eyes are so dark they don't even show up.

These scenes have a lot of movement to see how the light would react to Space Pug's movement. It's looking much bett,er the shadows are still a bit grainy but are looking okay. I turned up the ambient colour on Genghis's eyes to make them show up.

 Current render time for the whole scene is between 2-3:30 minutes, not bad but I might try to get it down a bit. The rim lights are also looking good.

These are not final render images as not all of the meshes in the scene have been smoothed yet.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Space Pug - Pre Viz Mk.1

Mk1.2 from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

The first version of the Space Pug Pre-Viz, the next task is to create a final pre-viz ready for rendering. Already however there have been problems; several scenes have been corrupted, even their backup files don't work and so these scenes will appear different in the second version. The second version will also include clean up and fixes to the current scenes.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Space Pug - Pre-Viz progress 4#

TWENTY_EIGHT_OTHER from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

Only a small Pre-Viz update which features a single scene in which Genghis finally catches hold of his chew toy. The original scene (above) seemed a bit boring, so I made a second scene which features a bit more action (below).

TWENTY_EIGHT from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

This scene has Genghis grabbing his chew toy more dynamically, feels a bit more exciting than just simply grabbing it, I also might need to add a few more effects to the scene, in this segment of the animation Genghis is more or less on the event horizon of the Black Hole so some kind of effect instead of just blackness would be useful. Getting close to the end of the Pre-Viz now.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Space Pug - Pre-Viz progress 3#

Genghis_Pre_Viz_21_04_2017 from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

Valiant Space Pug, now with added Pre-Viz. This is the 3rd segment of pre-viz and has Genghis right up to finding his Chew Toy. There are a few things that I would like to modify in the later sections such as the "holographic" text that appears inside his helmet and also the movement of Genghis's body as he drifts through space. The perspective of the Black Hole, particularly close up is an issue, I may have to create another model for it. Everything else looks good and promising.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Space Pug - Genghis walk cycle 2#

Genghis_RUNNING_CYCLE_1_MAIN from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

The first version of Genghis's running cycle, this was more difficult than the walk cycle because there wasn't any tutorial and instead I again relied on dog locomotion footage from Youtube. Not a bad result, the feet need to be flattened so they make better contact with the floor and I need to adjust the body movement some more but beyond that I'm happy with how it's come out.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Space Pug - Genghis walk cycle 1#

Finally got around to creating a walk cycle for Genghis, this was a combination of using Alan's tutorial on walk cycles and also looking up dog locomtion on Youtube. There was some confusion about how the legs on the left side should move in relation to the right but watching Youtube footage on the gait of Pugs helped to rectify this.

I made about 4 walk cycles in total before I got one that I liked. This video is the first effort.

Walk Cycle Test 1 from Max Ashby on Vimeo

The next videos are the walk cycle as it exists in its latest incarnation.

Walk Cycle 3 - Main from Max Ashby on Vimeo.
Walk Cycle 3 - Side on from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

I quite like how they've come out so far, the pace and body seem to be okay, it needs some more tweeking later on but this is a good start. I will also have to look at creating a running or jogging pace.

Space Pug - Shatter Experiments

Creating the Pre-Viz for Space Pug has meant opening up to a few new things in Maya, like a cracked helmet for Genghis when he impacts with the asteroid. To that end I started experimenting with "shatter" effects for the helmet. These pictures are not finalised pieces, rather just meshes that allowed me to experiment with different shatter effects such as the "Solid Shatter" and "Surface Shatter".

This wasn't really difficult to get a hold of, some internet research and looking at the Maya website and it's come out okay. The results are quite nice and should look cooler with the rim lights and shaders attached to it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Space Pug - Pre-Viz progress 2#

Genghis_Pre_Viz_3 from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

Heroic Space Pug, now with added Pre-Viz! Have added more clips onto this one such as the scenes of Genghis leaving the space station and drifting into space.

I also need to create the Tether clipping onto Genghis' side as until recently I haven't been able to create one effectively. This bit of Pre-viz also had me learning a bit more about using the Playblast on Maya, I learned how to turn the video into a TIFF sequence so that I could use it and combine the Playblast with other media in After Effects.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Space Pug - Pre-Viz progress 1#

Genghis_Pre_Viz from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

The first segment of pre-viz for Space Pug, I focused on Genghis's facial expressions for this set.

The next task will be continuing the pre-viz and also coming up with a walk cycle for Genghis.

Space Pug - Outer space

A quick example on the "outer space" environment for my project, the planet was a polygon sphere with a directional light, a texture and a glow achieved via volume primitive. The stars were a simple particle effect achieved by having a large polygon sphere emitting particles from the surface. Quite a easy task really but this is good because it should cut down on rendering time a bit and also add a bit of colour to outer space.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Space Pug - Genghis and the Space Station

Some Pre-Viz work that focused on seeing how the lighting between the Genghis model and the Space Station would interact. I ended up having to change quite a few of Genghis' texture nodes in order to make his body in tune with the lighting of the Space Station. These modifications mostly focused on the ambient occlusion and rim lighting nodes. So far its come out nicely with a few exceptions; the eyes are too dark and the shadows beneath Genghis' body look unnatural.

Colour managed image of Genghis.

Colour managed image of Genghis. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Space Pug - Genghis MEL Box

Spent today creating an MEL box for Genghis while waiting for some feedback from Alan. Turned out nicely and wasn't hard to put together. Should make the Pre-Viz easier to do.

Feels good to have made this :) scripting was quite fun.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Space Pug - Space Station Lighting 3#

Space Station exterior with background made in Photoshop.
More lighting work, this time on the exterior of the Space Station capsule. I haven't spent as much time on the exterior lighting due to the fact that the outside of the Space Station is due to have minimal screen time, this is more of a vanity shot and to showcase how it would look in outer space.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Space Pug - Prop boxes

Prop boxes for the Space Station, the first models of these were lost due to data corruption on my hard drive so these are just some quick replacements. Pretty basic but they add a bit of colour to the scene.

Two atomic boxes and one radioactive box.

Space Station - Lighting 2#

More refining of the lighting inside the Space Station, I toned down the ambient occlusion and even removed it from some surfaces, the result is a darker and brings out the bump maps a bit more. At the same time the render times are also a bit faster. I will probably stick with this kind of lighting for the Space Station.

Green lighting that might need to be toned down more.

Lighting effects on the "ceiling" of the Space Station.

A weird purple light that comes from the trash disposal.

Still a bit dark inside but close to getting it right.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Space Station - Lighting 1#

Today, I tried out some lighting on the interior of the Space Station, fortunately after some input from Alan the render times have diminished to around 3-4 minutes and the lighting is coming along nicely. I also tried out improving the sampling and changing/removing some of the rim lights from objects.

Space Station interior with low key lighting. This is a bit bland, doesn't really feel sci-fi/space like.

Space Station interior with red ambient lighting. I quite like the red, makes it look a bit more industrial and sci-fi like but contrasts quite harshly with the green.

Space Station interior with green ambient lighting. This looks a bit too strong to be used.

Space Station interior with low key lighting. The screens stand out nicely, this was closer to my original idea of having the screens as the only light source but it is too faint to illuminate the whole area completely.

Lighting on the computer screens, these have come out quite nicely. I still wanted to use mia_light_surface but the render times were still far too long.

Space Station interior with softer green lighting. I like this, not too harsh, might need more refining.

Space Pug - Updated Chew Toy

Nebula Chew Version 2.0 from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

An updated version of the chew toy with newer better particle effects and some more glow.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Space Pug - Chew Toy

Genghis' Chew Toy, floating so close to a Black Hole it has absorbed some of its strange Dark Matter particles. This is a simple model with a rim light and basic bump map. The flying atoms were achieved via a simple NURBS circle with a particle emitter and atom model attached as motion paths. 
Will take it back into After Effects to see if I can make the Chew Toy glow a bit more as it looks a bit boring here.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Space Pug - Asteroid

With Space Pug nearing completion I decided to focus on other aspects of production such as the props which have until now been neglected. Todays work focused on producing an asteroid hidden in the Black Hole's shadow that Genghis bashes head first into.

The asteroid consists of a simple mesh with a displacement map attached, I haven't used or practiced displacement maps before so this took a few attempts to get right and even now it has some unwanted sharp edges.

The asteroid also has a bump ramp and rim light, I originally had the colour grey but chose green because it seemed more in line with the strange and odd colours that are often depicted in outer space

Friday, 3 March 2017

Space Pug - Texturing Progress 5#

 Today was spent adding rim lighting effects to the Space Station with mixed results, on the one hand it produces some nice looks on the pipes and cables but inside the dimly lit Space Station it adds some unecessary light. Such as in the image on the right.

Add captioNot all of the Space Station's objects have rim lights and some may not end up not having any. I also tweaked the bump mapping for the Space Station's hexagonal interior.n

The computer monitors use mia_surface_shaders to produce light, this is a nice effect, but with everything else in the scene its bumping up the render times to easily 10-15 minutes per frame, to much for a smooth render. I'll need to modify these. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Space Pug - Black Hole Experiments 5

Blue Black Hole from Max Ashby on Vimeo.
Purple Black Hole from Max Ashby on Vimeo.

In the void of space lurk enigmatic black holes with different colours according to each black hole's personality. Actually, this is another black hole experiment that has worked out very well. The black hole consists of a simple cone with a fully dark Lambert shader and the large, colourful disks around the hole are particles that have a texture attached to them. This was all possible thanks to this useful tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNjv2ljRNsA
The purple galaxy is just an image from Google, having a centralised white source was important. I also created a copy of this image and using Photoshop created a gradient map version that simulated height and depth in the particles. These particles were emitted from a flat, cylindrical plane and it is important to set out the UVs correctly before attaching particle emitters. The twirling was created using an emitter.

This blue galaxy was made entirerly in photoshop and was meant to mimick the purple galaxy design. 
 Corresponding black and white image.

Rendering out this work required both Mental ray and the Hardware renderers and thus required some learning about render layers. I still need to work out Maya's Extension 2 render layers so I used the legacy settings and this quick tutorial for the render layers with Maya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6bTK50NloA

The "warping" effect behind the black holes was a simple starry background from Google that was placed into After Effects and utilised a "warp" effect nod, pretty cheap and nasty, it needs some refining.The glow from the particles was also done in After Effects, which also needs work.

This is a big improvement over my earlier experiments and I am very pleased with the results, making these did not take longand that's good becuase it still needs some tweaking but overall it looks much more closer to what I had envisioned originally.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Space Pug - Rigging Progress 5#

Thanks to much needed help from Alan, Genghis is back in the running with a well rigged mouth and eyes. Currently he needs texturing and lighting correctly, further work will concentrate on his radio ear piece which still requires rigging and possibly some further work on his eyes.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Space Pug - Texturing Progress 4#

More texturing, this time focusing on the computer screens which feature a mia_material_x shader with a mia_light_surface node using a photoshop texture. The results are quite nice yet I'm not sure how it will react with added lights and at the same time the rendering time on this is easily 6-7 minutes which also may be a problem.

I'd still like to incorporate these lights into the model so I will continue working on them.

Space Pug - Texturing Progress 3#

Space Station, now with added texture! Most of the station is now texture bar the computer screens and the belts for the bone box. Most of the station uses bump maps to bring out the textures, like the hexagonal pattern on the interior and the metallic scarring on the ends of the station.

Also in the mix are some props, simple boxes with simple texture and bump maps.

The next step is creating ambient occlusion nodes and adding a bit of specular colours to some of the objects.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Space Pug - Texturing Progress 2#

Now that Genghis has been re-skinned I've had some time to start texturing him, so far only blocks colours have been done and at the same time I've also tried my hand at texturing the Space Station a bit more by texturng the rubbish chute with both a diffuse texture and bump map.

Genghis' textures conists of a Lambert shader for the body and a Blinn for the shiny metal elements of his space suit and another Blinn for his helmet.

A problem I've encountered while texturing Genghis is the pixellation of small details so I've been looking into UV sets to try and remedy this with some success, still need to learn more about it.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Space Pug - Texturing progress 1#

Genghis is back in the shop for re-skinning, so in the mean time I have begun texturing the Space Station, starting with the larger supply containers and sticky notes. The containers have some basic bump mapping which I believe works quite well, I was looking for that slightly rippled plastic texture.

Currently texturing the door controls and hope to move onto the actual doors and computer screens soon.