Sunday, October 28, 2007

Still On The Weekly Schedule

Yeah, this is lame, this current posting rate. But that's the way it goes sometimes.

Right now James and I are exchanging styleframes, looking at color & lighting & mood and trying to get a feel for the final art direction. These frames will also help establish which elements will be modeled and which can be done with imageplanes and matte paintings. Once we get to a look that we're at least somewhat agreed on, I'll post some pics.

So, work continues.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

100th Post!!!


I didn't get a great deal of time to work on the animatic but I was able to get started. Here's a still from the first scene, not a rendered shot, just a screengrab of the Maya windows.

(The top shot is a split of the scene and perspective cameras and the bottom is a close-up of the little birdies. They've a long way to go before they reach co-star status.)

As I work on the shots for the animatic, I think I'm going to do a little more lighting than I'd originally planned on. I think it'll help in the sense that it'll give us a better idea of the levels of modeling & shading required on our geometry, plus it'll start to give these shots a little bit of emotion, which is never a bad thing.

That means the animatic will go a tad bit more slowly than it might otherwise, but ideally some of the lighting choices will then transfer over to the final shots, saving time on the backend. Or something like that.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tricksy Camera, version 01

So all the futzing and time wasting and random code typing is done for now. I've got a camera rig that I'm going to live with for a little while, see if my half-baked ideas for what would make a workable set up make any sense at all.

Here's a copy of the Maya scene file (Maya 8) and the script. To try it out, import the camera rig file into any Maya scene, position it roughly, then run the script.

(screenshot of the rig and the GUI)

Now that this is in a workable state, I'm moving onto the animatic for the film, just blocking out shots and figuring out rough timing. I'll probably have stills to show as I go along but not much very exciting as models I'll be using in it are going to be very, very basic.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Maya Tip of the Day #2

This one is a little MEL script that's far from finished but that's gonna make it into my camera GUI in one form or another.
window -title "test Field Slider";

float $currentXLocation = `getAttr pCube1.tx`;
attrFieldSliderGrp -min ( $currentXLocation - 15 ) -max ( $currentXLocation + 15 ) -at pCube1.tx;
This creates a slider that slides the cube on the X-axis +/- 15 units based on wherever the cube is when the script is run. Wow. Now that is...uh...what exactly is that?

The way I see it working is as follows:
The camera and aim are blocked in roughly using the 4-pane orthographic & perspective views. Once the basic shots are set up, I'm going to need to refine them while looking through the camera. It's at that point that I'll call up the GUI and there I'll have sliders and keyframe buttons to dial in the actual shots. Because the transforms are locked on the actual camera in my rig (to avoid gimbal lock and throwing the camera totally out of whack) you can't move the camera using the usual pan & dolly mouse controls.

This rig is taking me about nine years and seventeen days to build but an end is in sight. I think.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Maya Tip Of The Day #1

Adding commands to your shelf the easy way:

Bring up your custom shelf of choice.

Hold down Control + Shift + Alt (the one with the apple on it) and navigate to the command you want to add.

Click it.

Voila! It's on your shelf.

Damn that's nice and easy.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

MEL Script = Headache

Ugh. I just spent the last several hours puzzling over how to do a bunch of different things for my camera rig. I've come the conclusion that a lot of the things that I put in my original rig & UI aren't really necessary any longer, particularly having two Aim Constrained locators and animation sliders for both of their weights.

I liked the idea at first. My plan was to aim the main locator at the main target of the camera and then have the secondary locator pulling it off target, bringing a little life to the camera. But if you think about how many possible animation tracks there would be in the graph editor with that kind of set-up, it gets ugly. Also that way of aiming the camera has no real relationship to the way an actual camera works. Not that a CG camera has to mimic a real world camera but I should probably have a decent reason for making it drastically different. Plus there are plenty of ways to bring life to the camera that would be more direct.

Alright. I'm tired. That's it for me. A copy of the rig will be up here eventually.

Moving Onto The Animatic

Looks like I'm on a weekly update schedule, which I'm not very proud of but it's a schedule at least.

So, the brief is in the hands of an artist I've worked with before. He's giving it a quick pass for clarity and to assess the reasonableness of what I want to get versus what I'm paying. It's not that I have no money to spend on an artist but it's more along the lines of, I'm offering one day's day rate and asking for, probably, more than one day's worth of work. Nevertheless, it's very important to me that I am offering paid work. All of the time in this industry you see "offers" for people to do free work because it'll "look great on their reel/portfolio." Now, I've done free, low-budget and work-in-trade but on this thing, I don't want to go that way. If an artist I already had a relationship with offered to do the concept art in trade I'd probably go for it, but I'm not going to approach someone I don't know hoping that they're in the mood to throw me some charity. This film is, for me, a real project and I intend to treat anyone who works for me on it professionally.

Enough time on the soapbox. One place I am planning on going for some free help is the CG Society forums. Now that the storyboard is considerably tighter (though probably not "done") I feel like it's time to get the animatic cranking. Earlier, before our change of direction, we brushed past the animatic but I think that this time it's important to make one. It'll help us really suss out our shots, it'll suggest which shots are just plane lame and can be cut and it'll give us an idea of whether or not the structure of the scenes makes any sense. In order to work on the animatic, I returned to look at the camera rig I was building a few months ago. That's what I'm going to be asking for some help with. I'm pretty happy with that I've built but it's not working exactly as intended. I'm hoping someone up there can throw some pointers my way.

I'll post screens and the MEL script once it's in a place I'm happy with.