3D animating the inanimate (In Autodesk Maya)
Duration of the is suppose to be 20 seconds (500 frames, 25 frames p/s).
Synopsis of this project is to give character so an inanimate object through movement. Chosen object were scissors to possibly represent a human by the way it is made. Multiple type of movements were thought , each of them gave a different style and characteristics to the object.
The character used for this project is simple scissors.
Visual Elements wise it is simple with soft blue lit room with a low poly table ,camera unmoved as it captures most of the movement from a side shot.
Challenged myself with a more complex object to mesh which required rigging, during the creation process it was easiest to portray some kind of character through the movement , without adding any possible facial features to the object.
In order to achieve the final product I had the ‘fun’ opportunity to learn how to create rigging bones and skin them and use the movement graph ,messing around with the dope sheet just to make the animation itself somewhat better timed and smoother. I began with basic knowledge of Autodesk Maya and a few other softwares that I tried to use to achieve the wanted mesh (but the attempts were not successful)
Research wise we were tested during classes by our tutor but also during the process of creating the mesh object multiple tutorials were taken into account and looked over in order to help me to get a better grasp on how to possibly rig (In the end it was hours of experimentation that helped as tutorials only provided examples of humanoid rigging)
Equipment during the creation process was sketchbook,pencil and so on just to get the initial idea on the pages and add extra notes for a later date. While filming the possible movement a mobile phone and a pair of scissors were used to produce some kind of experimental movements (mainly looked from the movements that were drawn out in the sketchbook) to see how the object might have to move,its speed to achieve a certain effect of character.
Problems that were faced were my own procrastination but also the feeling of trying to overachieve by trying to produce a semi-high quality mesh model. The inability to create desired objects at a low poly count.
Possible budget issues were not a problem as only my own time was used in the process, no materialistic things were required to buy during the project.
For the whole project we were given approximately a month and a half. During Christmas vacation I spend multiple hours experimenting in other softwares when I started making the mesh, gave up on the project and came back to it
First 2 weeks or so started off with picking our objects and drawing out possible storyboards and motions that our objects would do would it be dancing, jumping around ,rolling everywhere, marching, skating, jumping and so on.
(Original Artist :http://japhers.tumblr.com , taken inspiration from this artists picture of the scissors that were then personified by the artist but for this project I took that idea and applied to my own scissors making them worn out , taped as it would be an older pair(Which during the process of making the actual mesh seemed impossible to do so the mesh had to be simplified)
(Office desk/Table that was also used as reference in making the table where the scissors were on)
For the storyboards I had a couple of ideas of how the scissors could move showing different possible characteristics like a person would have for example:
- Ballet dancing scissors would be grateful in there jumps, steps smooth and flowing.
- Marching– controlled and uniform movement with the steps constantly being repeated and the scissors would march across the table.
- Shy walking – the scissors would make awkward and careful movements , looking around to the sides, possibly having a few quick steps while trying to be unnoticed and look around again before sprinting to their objective.
- Sluggish movement– the scissors pretty much dragging itself as it opens up the blades , slides down the table as if doing a split and slowly moving across.
- “Normal” walking cycle– the scissors waddling like a penguin with the blades lightly to the sides and moving around.Target audience may vary depending on where it would be implemented would it be a short animation (which could be seen by children) or possibly an advertisement that would be seen by a wider audience on the internet/TV.
Certain pitfalls before this project that were not want to face is the long process of figuring out how polygons work and how hard it is to fix vertex points and faces that the mesh would not look weird or out of shape/ certain points of the mesh overlapping. Also the long process of animation was a given as I have seen and heard from people how animation takes a lot time to clean up each individual frame (Mo-cap animations for example) and dreaded the time of when I myself had to have a shot at animating, with Maya though it was easier as the in-between frames were added and I only had to add the main points of movement and several rotations along the way.
Following week was spent recording our selves indoors or outdoors depending how much space we needed to try and imitate our objects and use movements from the storyboards or just create additional movements that could be added into the final product of the animation.
After the process of how more or less the mesh will move and will have to look had to move on on actually making a mini scene and make the object of our choosing using Autodesk Maya.(Which happened during the two weeks of winter vacation)
Starting process in making the mesh was tedious as a couple of other programs like Zbrush and Mudbox were used to try and give a go at making the object (sadly did not record the attempts as the files were quickly discarded and started from scratch eventually in Maya) .
Before I could do any animation I come across a problem that was not easily beaten.As the center of the torus is not available to be moved to around the place of where the blades intersected it also meant that there was no no possible way to animate the scissors without adding joints to them. The process or learning how to create and place joints ,skin them to a mesh was excruciating as most tutorials on the internet referred to character joins instead of simple joints that were necessary for me.Tutorials proven to be somewhat useless as in the videos pre-made skeletons for the characters shown.
Rigging was literal pain without prior knowledge or help of how to rig, I managed to do it after countless tries to make it work , made 2×2 joints and proceeded to position them near the crossing of the blades and at the end of them, skinned the 2 joints to the separate toruses (that were sculpted and then made to look like scissors).
Throughout the process of making this animation hurdles appeared like giving move movement for the object to maybe have the possibility to be like an ice skater on ice and using the tables platform fully. As the mesh did not have any kind of spine joint to hold the other 2 joints together I was somewhat limited and had to go with a linear movement. In the end those movements were improvisation and using some elements from the storyboards that were drawn out weeks prior. Overall I believe this project turned alright as it was my first time making something and animating myself and the animation being longer than a couple of seconds no matter how flawed it turned out.
The main concept for this project started off with the wish to have something as close to a human as possible , to show the emotions that a person could so I chose the scissors pretty early on and stuck with that idea through out the given time.
During the time of drawing concept and actually making the model I intended to so somewhat of a detailed model of a old ,worn ,taped up scissors. As the time came to make the model I sadly had dumb it down , lose the details and only try to achieve some sort of mesh model that would look like scissors due to the fact as I could not achieve what I had drawn out and also that the main aspect of the project was to make an animation instead of creating detailed scenes or efficient models.
Overall I wish I could’ve been able to make a model closer to what I drawn in Zbrush but still happy about how it came out in the end . If I would have to make adjustments I would look into more rigging (or ask teachers) that the blades of the scissors for example would not clip together and in the end would move and a one grouped object instead of get messed up because of the way the bones were rigged.
Chosen color scheme was simplistic to only illuminate the mesh objects. In terms of possible alterations I would’ve done something like a new-retro color palette that involved a lot of purples/pinks/blues and other commonly used colors for that style.
In terms of time consumption what ate most of the time was the actual modeling of the scene and scissors as I started off with a Torus and sculpted out and then edited the vertices and faces for a long long time after that. I think I used my time well as I managed to present the project in time but I did procrastinate a lot too during the process if I would’ve worked a few hours per day for example I could’ve had a more detailed animation in terms of textures, maybe a better model.