Rigging Revised : Chimera Fusion

Constructing the Chimera, both as a model and rig was obviously simple, it merely requires dismantling the other characters and rigs, restitching and then repainting the weights together.

Painting the Weights took the longest, and the addition of whole new sets of required joints meant that rebuilding the rig hierarchy was fairly tedious.

The main purpose of the character and rig was to be able to strike dynamic and clear poses, with a well defined silhouette – therefore the tail and wings had to be enlarged dramatically.

The Rig itself still features fairly simple components – with a basic quadrupedal IK system for the legs that was established in the rabbits. Though, like the wolf, it’s locomotion is different due to leg shape.

Rigging Revised : Wolf Corrections

This will be the shortest of these Rigging Revised Posts, as the Wolf didn’t require much revision beyond the addition of more controls, and improved paintweights, as can be seen in the film.

Like the Rabbit, the Wolf suffered some stretching issues that were fixed with an additional two ‘anchor’ joints, which were driven by controls in the legs to help fix unsavory deformation.

 

 

 

Rigging Revised : Snek’s and Ladders

As you can see this early snake rig was fairly basic, lacking alot of features and smoothness it needed. It was generally difficult to animate with and had many skin weighting issues.

To clean this up, I produced a couple different set ups, some that automated coiling for one scene, another that allowed each piece to be moved independently, and eventually combining these into a single Rig.

This was the Rig we’d eventually use, with all features combined – which you can see in action both in the final film and in this clip below.

The Rig had some issues, it’s bending wasn’t as smooth as I’d like, and it didn’t have as tight a coil as I’d have hoped for, but it functioned well in the situation.

The Rig suffered some weighting problems due to the thorns, which threw off the initial weight spread and had to be manually painted to the rig.

This didn’t prove to be an enormous issue – though I would like to have redesigned the rig to not include the thorns, though at this point, the blendshapes had been made and for the amount of impact it would have had – redoing them was not worth the effort.

This tutorial form the basis for the above Rig, although  the exact interpretation of this lead to some issues, namely that it couldn’t form the shapes we needed it  to – hence the more complex adaptation in  the film.

This Rig was the replicated version of the one above – I had simplified the body which meant it needed reskinning – however during testing, it didn’t move quite the way it would need to, so we decided to simply fix minor issues and adjust the original instead.

 

 Sketchfab Render of Bramblesnake

Rigging Revised : The Rabbit

Having completed the project, I can now reflect on the Rabbits Rig, what I learned, achieved and would improve if I were to create it again today.

Initially the Rig had alot of problems, and some of them still persist at completion.

Primarily the Rabbit can’t stand up on it’s hind legs without some major deformation issues – however research showed that the only solution to this was to have two seperate rabbit models and rigs, one built for bipedal motion and another for quadrupedal.

Seeing as the rabbit had only two scenes where he needed to stand up, this felt like an excessive diversion at the time.

Paint Weights and IK issues also appeared prevalent, and fortunately Alec was able to help correct many of those, which I could then apply to the Fat Rabbit in turn.

intherain

One of the interesting parts and adjustments made to the rabbits Rig was the functionality for chest and joint swell, which was useful for shots like the one above, where his head had to crane back and lift, which would normally cause excessive deformation and texture drag.

This was fixed with a combination of a driven joint and a blendshape that would pull in parts of the lower belly and push out the neck and chest to make it look like his body was correctly shaped from odd angles.

Constructing the Fat Rabbit rig mostly involved the transferring of attributes between the Main Character Rabbit and the Additional Rabbits.

This was fairly simply done after uncovering a couple helpful tutorials.

Transferring UV’s made painting the skin weights much easier, and meant that we could also transfer the skin weights on the Rabbit itself to it’s chubby sibling, making cleanup more effiecent.

This video was less useful but clued me on to the actual transfer of the rig to a new model and came in useful when I would add a feature to one rabbit that I wanted to replicate on the other, saving a lot of set up time and leaving only the bug fixing to do.

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2018/ENU/Maya-CharacterAnimation/files/GUID-B8755F24-7C24-4066-B6F8-2DE6954DC2BF-htm.html

Autodesks own tutorial on Corrective Blendshapes was more than sufficient for the small amount we needed to do. Mostly consisting of wrist and belly inflation to compensate for the stretch and allowing the rabbit to move with a bit more weight.

 

Finishing the Film: Reflection & Blog Plan

First Shot Rendered (720p Version)

Having finally rendered the last shot, and prepped the last bit of compositing to be done, I’m able to now fully reflect on the events of the past year.

Whilst I had started the year with the plan to keep on-top of blogging and blog as I go, I quickly fell behind on that and ended up getting caught up in the breadth of work I had to do, running out of time to blog day to day.

Now however, I’m able to clearly layout and plan what I want to say. And whilst some parts may be brief or seem self-explanatory, I hope that the blog going forward will offer a clear view of the efforts applied to this project.


I made a rough plan of what I was going to blog about and how they fit each category.

Technical

  • Rigging
    • Rabbit Rig
      • Fat Rabbit Rigging
        • Moving RRRig to  FRRig, scale adjustments, reskinning
        • Research into  transferring attributes
        • Final Turntable of Fat Rabbit Model &  Rig
      • Regular Rabbit Rigging
        • Original Rig
        • Rig Adjustments
        • Correctives
        • Research into Quadruped Rigging
        • Research  into Rabbit Movement
      • Upright vs Quad Rigging
        • Considering two different rigs and models
    • Snake Rig
      • Coiling
      • Simple Rig vs Complex
    • Wolf Rig
      • Adapting  Quadruped Rig
      • Research into Wolf Motion
    • Chimera Fusion
      • Connecting Rig
      • Transferring  attribute parts
      • Rescale  and Restitch
    • Hawk Rig
      • Redoing
      • Original Test  Rig vs Final Rig
  • Lighting
    • Character Specific Lighting
      • Wolf, Snake  & Chimera Mesh Lights
      • Texture Choice
      • Back Follow Lights
    • Environment Lighting
      • Skyspheres
      • Directionals and Areas
      • Ambient Lighting
      • Scene Lights set up
      • Colour Scrape – Yellow to Brown to Purple to Red to Blue to Grey to Green.
  • Rendering
    • Arnold vs MentalRay vs Renderman
    • Zync Render Farm
    • Problems & Settings
  • Modelling Techniques
    • Zbrush Sculpt vs Hard Modelling
    • Retopologising
    • Environment Modelling
      • Trees
      • Layout
      • Brambles
      • Rocks
      • Image > Poly Conversion
  • Effects
    • Grass
      • Hard Poly > PolyScatter
      • nGrass effects
      • Paint Effect Conversion > PolyScatter
        • Additional Environment Pieces
          • Reeds
          • Flowers
    • Water
      • 2D Texture Map
        • Building the Ocean
        • Making the Stream
      • Bifrost
      • Wave Deformers
    • Fire
      • Particle Effects
      • Paint Effects
      • AE Comp

Research

  • Rigging Tutorials
    • Quadraped Rigging
    • Blendshapes
    • Correctives
  • Lighting Tutorials
    • Arnold Lighting
    • Lighting in Environment
  • Rendering Tutorials
  • Water Tutorials
    • Bifrost
    • 2D Water Texture
    • Wave Deformers
  • Modelling/Sculpting Tutorials
  • Effects Tutorials
    • Particle Effects
    • Paint Effects

Artistic

  • Environment Style Choice
    • 2D Environment Pros & Cons
    • 2.5D Modelling and Layout
    • Invocative Meaning
  • Character Aesthetic
    • Soft Characters vs Hard Characters
    • Emotional Responsiveness to Design
      • Intentions
      • Feedback
  • Tonal Choice
    • Colour Palette
  • Comparison
    • Existing Film & Media
    • Between Scenes
    • Contrasting Focus
  • Narrative
    • Meaning behind Character Choice
    • Meaning behind Environmental Factors
    • Non-Verbal Story vs Verbal Story
    • Implied Danger vs Actual Danger
    • Anxiety Implications
    • Non-Violent Overtures

Planning

  • Blog
    • Division
    • Approach
    • List of Content
  • Time Schedule
  • Pre-Production
    • 3D Layout
    • Early Animatics
    • Content Planning
  • Post-Production
    • Render Time
    • Effects
  • Work Division

Creative Futures

  • 1000 Word Essay
  • EOYS
    • Display Plan
    • Business Cards
    • Leaflets
    • Final Film Presentation
    • Showreel
    • Website
  • Talks
    • Thoughts
    • Related Research

 

Research : Video References

Over the past few months I’ve followed alot of tutorials, below is a rather extensive list of the ones I followed.

I used this tutorial primarily to get a stronger understanding of how to skin the joints of the character, and to try and find a solution to the ‘floating eyes’ problem I encountered.

Floating Eyes: The Eye, Teeth and Tongue Geometry of the Snake frequently detached itself from the rig and moved through space parallel to the rig.

When Modelling the Rabbit and Snake, and early attempts at the wolf – I would create their general shape in Maya then port over to Zbrush for fine detailing – I hadn’t touched Zbrush for some time and so I used this tutorial and  the one below to refresh my memory on how to use it.

This Tutorial and the two below are fairly obvious, Mainly trying to find different ways of modelling the eyes to make them look realistic – Anna was fairly strong in her view that the eyes needed to be realistic to make the characters feel alive, and so I wanted a range of options.

This particular tutorial was quite handing for working out how to get eye-reflection, however it didn’t work as well in Arnold as it did in the early test renders on maya software.

The mouth cavity tutorials were mostly to just get an eye for the topology and working out how the blend-shapes would deform.

This particular tutorial was mostly to try and get an idea for how I wanted the mouth to deform with teeth and still appear threatening, though I ended up going for the more realistic approach with the teeth and have them contained within the mouth instead of protruding out.

I love the look of this rig and some of the more interesting components of it, though it was more complex than what we needed for the short.

This tutorial was particular useful for grasping how the leg set up should work, with the full body crouching and hierarchy structure of the controls.

This and the tutorial below, primarily served to get a sense of how the legs of the wolf and chimera should bend – initially the chimera was a completely different creature from the wolf, exhibiting similarities and features, but eventually it became easier to simply adapt the wolf itself for narrative reasons.

Though we had no human characters, these were mostly to help get a sense of IK set-ups and refresh my memory of some of the tools available to me while rigging.

Similarly, this tutorial was to help me quickly grasp joint hierarchy and remind myself of the different settings and options available when setting up skin weights.

Whilst this tutorial was helpful, the features it showed from DM were never used, as I couldn’t actually source a free functional version of it for 2018, though the 2017 version was interesting to play around with, if a bit clumsy looking.

Initially, the facial animation was going to be done with controls, however blendshapes were a stronger and more flexible choice for what we wanted.

This whole section was part of me trying to work out why I couldn’t get my IK’s working the way I wanted them too. It eventually took a tutorial Alec sent me from Lynda.com for me to figure out the solution.

This tutorial was less about the IK and more about the arrangement for getting the wolf leg motion exactly how we wanted.

Quadrupeds are tough and make an interesting challenge.

This first foray into Paint Effects seemed to convoluted for me to want to use, however I would later come back to it when looking at how to craft the grass for our scenes.

I loved working with XGEN and MASH grass, however it proved too scene intensive, eventually preventing my laptop from opening any scenes at all – as such, the environments had to be rebuilt and a less strenuous method found.

This was used to help guide me on how I was going to create the busier stream section, and while this tutorial builds a much more complex environment – we wanted to keep ours simpler to help maintain focus on the characters.

These tutorials were just research into different options for creating grass I had, and hopefully in creating fur on the characters – though that would eventually get scrapped for myriad reasons.

Like I mentioned earlier, I initially looked at attaching fur to the Rabbits and Wolf, however similar to with the grass overloading my environments – this made animating and fixing rigging issues very difficult, and it became more hassle than it was worth to actually graft the fur to the characters.

Most of these videos highlight the things I either got stuck on or needed to refresh myself on how to go about enacting. They were mostly helpful, with a few duds here and there depending on many different factors at the time.

Updated Animatic

Anna-Mation

This is the second draft of our animatic.

Major changes involve:

  • Making the Warren more likable. They appreciate the company of Marshmallow and show concern for him when he doesn’t immediately cross the stream.
  • Timing changes. Some scenes that originally went by far too quickly have been lengthened. The same has been done for scenes that went on for lar too long, they have now been shortened by several frames.

Colour overlays were added to give us more of a guide on how to light/colour the scenes when it comes to that stage of production.

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Skin weight Issues

These Skin Weighting issues would plague both of us for a while, and solid week of our time was spent simply trying to navigate how to fix and find them. Even longer spent actually fixing them.

Anna-Mation

After Callum built the model for our main character and set up the skeleton, I took it upon myself to fix the skin weights on the model.

Unfortunately this was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, and many problems arose:

buttleg problempaintweights_problem_01paintweights_problem_02why

Unfortunately, trying to fix all of these issues resulted in us taking much longer than we had anticipated on the rigging process, and we had fallen behind on our schedule.

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Animation Tests

Anna-Mation

While we were fixing the paint weights on the model for our main character, I went ahead and did a few animation tests.

Ear_rig_GIF I made a very simple rig consisting of a sphere and two ears to practicing conveying emotion with body language. As ears are a very big feature of a rabbit I decided to practice animating them.

rabbit_run_01_gif

rabbit_run_02_gif This run cycle (both are the same animation just shown at different angles) was mage using the most usable version of the rabbit rig. This was mostly to see whether there were any major faults with the rig itself that would affect the geometry. As you can see there is a tiny bit of an issue with the elbows not being able to stretch fully outwards, but apart from that and a minor issue with the hips, everything seemed ok.

doggo_run_gif This dog rig was given to me to practice animating with…

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Referencing & Rendering : Testing

Having modeled and rigged most of what we needed at this point, I moved on to begin doing grass, fur and render tests and adding in the completed models to the camera scenes Anna had set up.

Grass would be created using Xgen, and this early stage was mostly learning how to use the program. I’ll go further into depth on the specifics of what I discovered in a later dedicated post.

Screenshot 2018-01-21 18.54.52Screenshot 2018-01-21 18.55.09

Setting the references up was easy enough, but playing around with the grass took a while to get the right settings, and even then, my laptop physically can’t actually render the entire scene.

However, the grass does look something like this. (I hope, I have no actual way of seeing if this translates well onto a larger scale.)

Rabbit_GrassTest_Xgen_002.png

A couple other grass and fur tests involved playing around with density and noise and the colour of the grass. The dark grass worked well  for a deep saturated grass that would appear when it was raining, but not really for a bright sunny morning.

Rabbit_Dead_Grass

The slightly yellowing dead grass would work well for transitioning into the nightmarish scape of the later scenes.