Monday, February 25, 2008

Silly Rabbit...

Saw this in the store. Who could resist?!

Friday, February 22, 2008

3ds Max - A Journey

So I've started pedaling my way up the learning curve of 3ds Max, the industry standard software for video game companies who create 3d characters, and have a need for character animation. There are a lot of tutorials available online for the general concepts of modeling a face, a person, a plane, etc. What I'm not finding are portability tutorials.

For instance, I'm very well versed in using Softimage XSI. I've been using it since XSI 2.0, up to it's current version. Both of my hands are moving constantly when I use it, hitting hotkeys and clicking mouse buttons. I've spent the last 10 years learning and using the general concepts behind modeling a particular object or character. I can intelligently discuss the benefits and drawbacks of choosing different modeling methods.

What I don't have, and what is making me feel like I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground, is that hotkey/function name knowledge. If I want to create a face, on polygon at a time, I know immediately what to do... in XSI. I hit the 'n' key and I begin 'drawing polygons'. I know to hit the left mouse button to plant a vertex, and I know to hit the right mouse button to end my current polygon. I know that hitting my middle mouse button will end the current polygon and start a new one immediately. I know to press 'u' to select polygons by raycasting, and 'y' to select polygons with a selection marquis.

And then I turn to 3ds Max... and drool. I don't even know what Max CALLS these functions. I'm sure polygon is in there somewhere, but is it polygon creation, drawing, modeling, crafting, editing, or something completely different? Every key I press is wrong. I might as well curl my fingers into a fist and type with my knuckles... or a club...

What I'd like to see is some tutorial for XSI users to learn 3ds Max. I need beginner level instruction, but expert level concepts. I've found the exact opposite. High-speed videos of people modeling in 3ds Max with no explanation of how they're doing what they're doing. I do not need to watch what method you chose to create your airplane or manly face. I need to know what keys you're pressing for each action.

When I learn this program, I'm going to start producing tutorials that actually make sense.

And then I'll tell people to go see my website.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The past few weeks have been extremely packed and hectic. Beyond condensing about 4 days of work into 2, I've been wrestling with my current freelance programming project, and considering taking on another one. Not to mention Valentine's Day duties, which I must say, I handled rather well, with little to no planning. A little expensive, but I did it without flowers.

In the midst of this sea of stress, 10-14 hour days, late nights, and ridiculously early mornings, I managed to attend my first Boston Post Mortem meeting.

I have to say, it was a lot of fun. I'd quite forgotten what having a real social life is like. I met a few very nice people, and got to shake hands with some fantastic people from Harmonix Music. From the talk, it really sounds like they attack all the issues I love to think about: What the audience is interested in, the value of incorporating the 'feel' of gameplay, and what parts of the market they're singularly equipped to leverage. And they do it all with a focus on the quality, style, and consistency of the artwork. Props to Harmonix and Chris Foster for a great talk.

I also met a bunch of great people there, Amanda, Conor, Jordon, Cameron, and of course, my bestest pal, thanks for making me feel like I belonged there, when couldn't have felt more out of place.

I'm excited about becoming a regular there. I had a decent glass of Shiraz, but I had it far too late. Next time the wine happens at the BEGINNING of the night.

So... No comments on my website?

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Character Animation Gallery - Now Open!

It's finished. The 2008 site-redesign is complete, and my character animation site is now open to the public.

Please take some time to explore the site. I'll be adding whatever art I can find on my system over the next few days. And then I'll be looking into activating the forum. Until then, please let me know here what you think of the new site?

But active now are my demo reel, my animations gallery, and my images galleries. Additional ways of contacting me can also be found there.

WompaTips will be tips for character animators, novice level through intermediate, about all aspects of character animation. I'll try to keep them software-independent, so a lot of them will focus on concepts over technical hurdles. And Resources... Well, if anyone has a character animation site, and they'd like to discuss forming some reciprocal links between us, please let me know.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Character Motion and Interim States

I've been looking at some samples of my character animation over the past few days. I've figured this much out about myself. When I see a particular motion in my head, I can make it look good. Really good, with weight distribution and post-action movements. The trouble is the 'empty' time between defined, purposeful movements.

Some of my characters' body parts drift idly from the end of one pose to the beginning of the next, but the reality of the situation is that there never is space between poses. Every pose juts up against another one.

"Purposeful" movement is what I call any motion that the character is thinking about doing: that they have a purpose in mind for executing that motion. I need to redefine my thoughts. When I raise my arm to put a book on the shelf, and then walk away, there's a moment between my hand leaving the shelf and transitioning into the swinging motion of the walk cycle that can speak volumes about the character's state of mind.

From now on, I'll be focusing on these 'inbetween' motions. They should reflect a body's tendency toward a particular emotion or type of pose. If the character is nervous, they should hold in an unsure position. If a character is looking at something, his entire body needs to reflect that attention, not just the eyes and hands, but the neck, shoulders, feet, and stance.

I considered building a character rig that has current emotional states in sliders, and they would control a character's tendency to animate back to a particular pose, but when you start automating, it's difficult to achieve that impressionistic 'now' feeling of the motion.

And so I'll end with the thought that I need to make a new animation that really show this kind of thing, and put them in my reel. I can see it so plainly now, it's time to put my models where my mouth is.

Monday, February 4, 2008

18 & 1

Go Giants.