Cross Discipline Post Mortem

gghtyThere’s not much to talk about in this blog, the group work was very trouble free. Gone crab was a project brought forward by Jack
McClenaghan to our Studio. I am happy with how the game turned out, even some of my worst textures somehow seemed to work well in Unity.

Despite communication amongst the group remaining diligent there was a mild break down where two people textured the same shell but it wasn’t to much of a hassle as it gave Jack more variation to add to his environment. It was a funny little run in and no damage done.

For my contribution for textures I used Quixel, although I feel like some of my textures didn’t live up to standards I had made I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them turn out in engine. Jack seems to have a knack for making things look nice regardless of their actual quality, my hat goes off to him.

One of the things that stood out to the most which I have probably harped on about a lot in recent blogs is the importance of a good character rig. During the implementation stage of gone crab myself and one other animator spent a large amount of time fixing issues with the crabs rig.

Overall working with other disciplines was an enjoyable experience and I am disappointed I didn’t pick up more cross disciplines like this. Our games guy was pleasantly surprised upon seeing the crabs texture which was a major moral boost.

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Specialization Research Blog

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Intro

Animation has ironically been the hardest part of an animation degree for me hence why I strive to improve in this project. As abbreviated from John F Kennedy, we go to the moon, not because it is easy but because it is hard.  This blog entails all of the research undergone in order to meet my specialization. In this project, I hope to accomplish a smoothed out animation. Furthermore I hope to implement these into a working game engine where the player can move around in a sandbox. Specifically I am focusing on Unreal Engine which will  be discussed throughout a large portion of this blog.

Project Idea

Video-Game-Animation-Reel-by-Jonathan-Cooper-3.jpgThe original idea for this project can be seen in the slides below however upon investigating how many animations and blueprinting goes into a project I started to realize that this is out of scope. I substituted this for a project based around trying various basic controls. There is already a 3rd person game in unreal that can be used as a template however for a better understanding on blueprinting I will attempt to rebuild this with more controls and states.

The slides below show the project before I had a better idea of the projects scope and what I can accomplish in that amount of time. What started with an Idea of alternating weapons and attacks ended up becoming a sandbox to trial and error blueprint and movement designs.

State machines are something that will be discussed more in depth later. For now we will talk about how I intend to lay them out. Seen below is the modified version of this and how I intend to work my project.

Reference Material

Walk Cycle

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The reference is a personal favorite, The exaggeration is something this reference seems to excel at with it’s little jolly trot. I Hope to give this walk cycle some justice and give it some life in 3D.

Run Cycle

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This run cycle is another one that I have enjoyed to working with for a long time. However during cleanup and enough time given I would liked to implement the below reference into my final cleanup.

Rolling

Dive roll was something that I really wanted to give love and attention however some of the animation was lost as well as issues I had putting it into the character blueprints. I used two References for this, the first is the reference given above. The second is from the “Body Mechanics exercise” Provided by SAE Qantm Brisbane. The rough version of this animation can also be found in “Quick Test” Section of this blog.

Crouch animation

This was surprisingly hard to find a good reference for, I ended up stumbling across this list of walk cycles. Among the various different actions in this tutorial I found probably the most helpful crouch animation.

Jumping

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This resource was followed very loosely, some of the poses I changed a bit because they didn’t seem to intemperate as nicely as I liked. Specifically I changed the jump contact and the recovery arm poses to read a little better in 3D. Unfortunately the arms and legs are a little more shaky on the falling loop then I would like. Additionally I was planning on doing a run and jump which used another resource as listed below.

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Pipeline

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Typically for a movie animation you would follow a pipeline much like the one above. However game animation is exceedingly different. Unlike movie animation that allows you to focus on improving animation where the viewer can see, game animation, especially for third person needs to be polished and refined in every direction. Additionally game animation needs to be tested and reiterated multiple times. The diagram below is more accurate to Unreals vast and non linear Pipeline.

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The most relevant part of this pipeline graph seems to be the “Animation to test to polish” cycle. Additionally planning the animation is another thing that needs to be taken into account. To accommodate for this, at the end of the blog will be a customized pipeline to better show the work that I intend to incorporate.

Quick Tests

In this section I will show quick tests of some of the working animation, one of which example didn’t quite make it into the characters controls. Additionally I will show different blueprints that I have managed to figure out and implement into the games design.

This is the rough version of the roll, unfortunately I never managed to figure out the controls for it so it remains in the library.

 

This video shows the jump animation before the pre anticipation mechanics were added in.

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This is one of the messiest parts of the blueprint. It is the main area for controlling the characters movements speed. The is also where I first learnt about flip flops and there various uses.

This video shows how the previously mentioned flip flops have been implemented to make the character have a crouch toggle

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Mouse Input.PNG

This area is is where I learnt about camera rotation and movement/moment rotation.

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This is the character blueprints. All of this is what drives the animations to switch among each other. Inbetween each state is another set of rulings that checks to see if the change is true or not that transitions them freely.

 

 

Practices and Techniques

unreal-engine-4-logo-transparent-wallpaper-2.jpg3DS and Unreal

This production will be completed entirely via Unreal and 3Ds Max. A lot of this knowledge has been curated from various sources such as the Unreal Engine 4 3rd Person tutorial series, Unreal Document section and various forums that helped with trouble shooting issues that had came up. Through this I have learnt a few practices and techniques that have broadened my previous non existent knowledge of unreal.

FBX Importing

When you import into unreal with an FBX you can just drop and drag the scene that you are working on into the unreal. One thing to consider with FBX importing is how you want your normals. You can decide whether or not you want to import your normals or let them automatically compute hard edges. If you let Unreal compute some of your normals however it may generate some hard edges and spoil the smoothing groups.

Skeleton Mesh’s

One key note when importing is that Skeletons are what is used to share animations across characters. There is, however, an exception to this, if a skeleton has extra joints that disrupt their hierarchy then they will have to be done on a separate mesh. Some extensions on the skeletal mesh, however, is still allowed. You can edit a lot of the hierarchy in the persona editor that will be discussed in the next header.

Persona

pa_DoubleClickOpen.jpgPersona allows you to edit animations in unreal. Access persona you double click inside the content browser in any form that is classed is classed as animation. Persona has tabs that are available in the top right that allow you to swap between animation, mesh and skeleton mesh.

Among many things, you can add an animation blueprint to be set off at a certain point in the animation. An example of this may be a dust particle system going off when the characters foot touches the ground.  This is what is known as a notifier.

Input Setup

Input settings is the basis where controls are setup. This can be found in unreal under the edit tab then head to project settings. This brings up a long list of options. You can find input under the “Engine” header. This gives you access to a set list of controls. Axis mapping centres around define what key inputs accomplish what. When setting up moving forward and back tools you can use the same input. This is because they use the same axis for movement all you have to do is set one negative to the other. The rest of the controls are for mapping for mobile and console gaming, however we wont touch these because our game assets will center around computer controls.

Blend Spaces

22197-blendspace.pngBlend Spaces is the blending of multiple animation that smoothly transition to each other. A shining example of this can be found in the “Idle_Walk_Run” Blend space. This animation slowly transitions depending on what speed the player character is running.

Animation Blueprints

Blueprints are essentially simplified coding for UE4. The Animation blueprint is from what I’ve gathered the code that checks variables and plays an animation. This also greatly ties into state machines which is within these blueprints.

State machines

State machines are a system inside animation blueprints. As the name suggests this plays on the state that the player is in. Based on my research the most universal state machine I have come across is the jump states. Typically as the diagram below shows this is divided into four main states. In order this transitions through “idol_walk_run” to “jump_up” to “jump_falling” to “jump_land” back to “idol_walk_run”. Different rules determine what makes these transition between one another.imagen_041.jpg

Character Blueprints

Character blueprints control how the character moves and furthermore determines what inputs do what. This however does not change the overall animation that is exclusive to Animation blueprints which was discussed earlier.

Root Motion

Root motion is the act of the player capsule following the animation, this needs to be considered whenever you are rigging as you need a separate controller for it.

Flip flops

Flip flop is a blueprint piece that acts as a toggle. An example I have used in this is with the crouch control. When the key is pressed the character is set to crouch, however when the button is pressed again the toggle is set to off and the player resumes a normal. stance.

Casting

Casting is something I’ve found very useful, it is the ability of carrying over a variable from one blueprint to another. An example I have managed to set up in my project is casting from the “Character blueprint” to the “Animation Blueprint”. What this then allows me to do is set a character to play a certain animation whenever a controller input is set to “true”. In this example whenever the Jump button is held down the player will crouch.

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One of the misconceptions that I came across when researching this is that a lot of people have “Cast to Mycharacter”. The reason that my example is different to this is because I used a different set of naming conventions. Ergo, your casting should read “Cast to “.

The principles of animation

As always it never hurts to look over the fundamentals of animations and how we can incorporate it into our game animations. Most of this research will be based on the “Animator’s Survival Kit” As written by Richard Williams. I hope to make a game that runs smooth and effectively using the 12 principles of animation.

My Pipeline

With the knowledge gained from this research I will plan to implement a pipeline of my own design. SAE Qantm has a rig to accommodate for projects such as this meaning most of the production pipeline is out of the way. This results in me being able to focus on parts of the unreal closer related to my specialization.

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Although this is a lot simpler in design to most production pipelines it allows for lots of flexibility especially during the production stage. Pre production is represented by the planning stage. This is where all of the planning for what animations will be made. Below is what I used for this project, however as more testing came into play, the end result drifted far from its origins.

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References

Unreal Engine. (2017, February 14). Blueprint 3rd Person Game | v4.8 | Unreal Engine. Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZlv_N0_O1ga0IoRrpI4xkX4qmCrhGu56

Unreal Engine. (n.d.). Casting in Blueprints. Retrieved from https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Blueprints/UserGuide/CastNodes/

Viggerz. (2014, October 7). Thread: Jump Anticipation Blueprint. Retrieved from https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?48730-Jump-Anticipation-Blueprint

DanZaidan. (2014, May 21). How can I capture gameplay footage? Retrieved from https://answers.unrealengine.com/questions/46288/capturing-gameplay-video.html

PLURALSIGHT. (2014, April 14). How Animation for Games is Different from Animation for Movies. Retrieved from https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/film-games/how-animation-for-games-is-different-from-animation-for-movies

E. (2015, November 07). Game Character Production Pipeline (Part 2). Retrieved from https://111426studio.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/game-character-production-pipeline-part-2/

25 Best Walk Cycle Animation Videos and keyframe illustrations. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://webneel.com/walk-cycle-animation

M. (2014, April 24). Jump Animation Reference. Retrieved from https://martinsammut.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/jump-animation-reference/

Wallpaper retrieved from

REE ANIMATION. (2016, February 28). The Legend of Zelda – Animation Project – Combo Attack A – Character Animation. Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RmSMmKlGI4

Meet the team – Postmortem

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This has been a year for ironing out rookie mistakes and as this blog shows my clothes are definitely creased. Warhammer 40k was a title I’ve wanted to work on since the beginning of animation so I held this project dear to me. However as I have swiftly learnt, sometimes you need to keep some distance.  Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic, or perhaps there were measures that could have been met to better the overall result, or perhaps it is both. As we journey through this blog I hope to shed light on issues and how we may have or better yet can prevent them.

The idea of the project was to have every member of the group create an original character from a chosen universe and create a video sequence where they are to “meet the team”. Our decision was to create characters for the Warhammer 40k Universe. The character I worked on in this sequence was “Gniitro” who I based off of “Games workshops” other title “Warhammer”. The idea was to bridge a race that haven’t yet been adapted to its counter part, in this case the Rat inspired race known as the “Skaven”.

Anytime during this blog  you can access the projects deliverables via the provided Google Drive link. Additionally you can can find the embedded copy of our groups final deliverable

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-X9opuHMEQPdzJhd09fdmRvR2s

Behavioral Reflection

Communication

What went wrong?

communication-group-1940x900_35361.jpgAmongst the biggest issues of the group was our communication, or lack there of. Some of the group just stopped existing outside of uni and others including myself didn’t communicate specifics. We all kind of just chaotically did things which ended up  with a result that was less then what I was happy with. I don’t have a what went right segment for this because there wasn’t any. This trimester has taught me the most about team communication and cooperation. If I’m ever assigned to group lead again I will be harsh but fair when it comes down to group work.

Image taken from 10 Ways to Build a Strong Team

Burning Out

What went wrong?

A lot of the time during this trimester I overly valued the work and made myself stressed over things that didn’t matter. This greatly effected the way I work with the team and how the work I developed was presented. This has taught me that personal issues are kind of like a butterfly effect in the sense that something that influences you can influence everyone in the team. In future projects I will take better measures in preventing this by distancing myself from my work.

What went right?

I discovered that downtime is a treasure that should be used in proper increments. During this time I was able to reconcile and make amends with members from prior projects and sort out any differences. In future projects I hope to assign this downtime into a more organized structure. Looking back  some of my best work was done after bringing my moral back up.

Organization

What went wrong?

As a whole the group work as well as my work in the team was very chaotic. Even folder structure and naming conventions diminished after some time. Additionally not every group member was on the same page until the very last week of development. As team lead I should have organised more group meetings and discussed as a team how we can become a better and more structurally sound team. This is also evident in the way that the work was or rather wasn’t assigned. It seemed to fall under the individual group members to step up and take the work rather then it be discussed and distributed evenly. Additionally I will take further measures to do “house cleaning” where I take timeout to ensure that files have proper naming conventions and everything is allocated to the correct folders.

What went right?

As discussed in the what went wrong panel, the group often went out of there way to complete work even when it wasn’t assigned to them. I think this shows tremendous character and selflessness. Some of the attitude shown is something that I would like to strive towards as an animator. However as discussed before, hopefully this will be done structurally and in an organised fashion. To ensure both of these happen for next trimester, if I am in the role of team lead I will assign work properly however if I’m just a group member I will step up during group meetings and take on as much work as sensibly possible.

Final Work Reflection

Animatic

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Image form the Iron Man 3 Animatic

What went wrong?

One of the earliest problems had to do with the animatic. A lot of the issues involved the readability of the animatic. It became very apparent that this needed some love put into it. This issue will also be referred back to a lot through the duration of the blog as it is a large issue that effected multiple areas of production. This served as an excellent lesson for me teaching the importance of pre-production. To take measures to prevent this from happening again I plan to research professional ways to create animatics and create more readable 2D pieces of Art. Overall the lesson learnt from this project is that an animatic is a holly grail in which all shots and timings are decided and should be treated as such.

What Went right?

Despite the failures of the animatic there were some shots that still appeared as though they would translate nicely towards the 3D stages. One shot that was constantly referred back to was the shot for the “Eldar Harlequin”. The shot showed a dynamic bike crash into the swarm of enemies followed by a turn around and pistol fire causing the bike to explode. I hope to create more works as dynamic as this with a little more readability for future projects and maybe incorporate a cross between 2D to 3D as environmental drawings are far from my strong suit.

Previs

What went wrong?

PAC_MRX_ITW_16.jpgThe previs was not at all close to the shots that we created in the animatic, this could be due to the animatic or lack of teams communication. Reasons aside, the changes made in the previs made it confusing what to follow closely and from there the team including myself seemed to rebuild the timing every time a new deliverable was asked for. For future events perhaps the animatic could be a little more readability allowing for the previs worker to have a better source to go off of. Simultaneously I could has specified more so that the team mate could have followed the animatic closer.

What Went right?

Despite its move away from the animatic the previs clarified and cleared up a lot of questions that were raised as to what was happening in our sequence. In this sense it was a massive step up on the animatic, and it additionally introduced a “tracking shot”.

 Image from Pacific Rim’s Previs

Concepts

What went wrong?

During the concepting stage I didn’t try to aim for a specific character look and I feel like my over all character model could have turned out substantially better if I made morecyborg_rat_knight_by_thelivingshadow-dahgroa.jpg specific iterations. One example that stands out is the robotic hand. I feel as though this required some more iterations in order to make it look cleaner and more relative to the shape of a rats hand. If I was to redo this assignment I’d make more silhouettes as well as refined concepts.

Art by TheLivingShadow

What went right?

There isn’t much I can say for this compartment, I’ve never been the best concepter however I think that I did encapsulate the “Skaven” aesthetic. After the second iteration of the character model sheet things in 3Ds max started to work out niceley.

Scaling

What went wrong?

D03.pnguring the production we were almost animation ready however it was then hinted at us that we should make sure our characters were correctly scaled. They were all consistent with each other except for one in which the whole world was built around. This resulted in having to remake the bones and then reskin them. That was a large slip for the schedule. Unfortunately you cant just scale up a rig as the joints don’t work the way they are suppose to afterwards. For future projects size should be trialled before the rigging phase to avoid such setbacks.

What went right?

I really can’t say much about this aside from the fact that most of the characters were coincidentally the same height which was nice before we had to scale them down.

Crossing the beams

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What went wrong?

My biggest regret looking back on this tri was when everything got to the wire and last minute changes were being made. These changes affected my work flow essentially meaning I had to start again and I ended up getting desperate and parented my rig to the others. Since they were bone and Cat rigs parenting them together was pretty much the biggest no but I was desperate. There was a save where they weren’t on top but on the last week of project we had to make major changes to the character I was riding and desperation overtook my logic. I have definitely learnt  my lesson.

What went right?

This is also one of those issues that doesn’t have much upside. It didn’t look to horrible in 3Ds max however it’s practicality is very sinful.

Importing into Unreal

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There was so many issues with FBX, a lot of the characters had to be imported through Alembic which is not ideal as baking movement across all the vertexes means that you make very large files. However for the most part it did the trick. There was another issue that was addressed where one of the team members characters pivots where altered and our Unreal worker couldn’t work out how to arrange them in order. After this project finished my knowledge of Unreal has improved exponentially. My only regret is that I didn’t learn it sooner so that I may assist my teams needs. My stand alone model wouldn’t import as an FBX and I have a feeling this has something to do with the bone hierarchy. To avoid this I will be upping the anti with my knowledge of rigs to ensure my model goes into engine without a fuss.

What went right?

For the most part two of the teams models made it into engine successfully. They were then polished and presented in a way that exceeded my given expectations.

Reflect on the Roles

Although the team was hard to communicate with and sometimes outside of class it was my job as team lead to make communication a viable thing. Additionally I let stubbornness take over, trying to get everything done without help seemed to just make me feel burnt out and overall hard to work with. Even after the project ended I took it upon myself to fix up things that we agreed other people would do such as the art bible. In future I hope to lean on and trust my team mates talents and capabilities which were proven to me countless times during this project. In saying that there are also other things that I should take complete responsibility for. As team lead I was in charge of documentation however there was an incident that rose up with the Gantt chart. The member was adamant that he was capable of completing the Gantt chart however left it unfinished and never updated. I should have taken ownership over the doccumentation and checked it frequently.

Overall I think that I was ill prepared for group lead. None of us including myself wanted this role, this is overall as bad a attitude as it is a look for the team as a whole. If in future groups I am assigned to team lead I will come in more open minded and willing to bond more with the team.

Wrap it up

Over all I think meet the team has taught me valuable lessons that will help in further assignments and potentially industry work. It’s also helped me realise where my weaknesses lay and where my ambitions should follow. I think after a long and refreshing break I will be able to reform more organised and efficient.

Specialisation Postmortem

Intro

For my specialisation I chose character animation because of one distinct reason, which is I’m not good at it and I take that as a challenge that I need to overcome. So for my specialisation assignment I hoped to improve upon this and add it into a working game engine with controls. I feel like this came off pretty well. It wasn’t quite how I envisioned it but it was closer to what I wanted compared to most things I’ve done in the past. As you read through my postmortem you will find the in and outs of my specialisation and I hope you learn from my many failings.

What went wrong

Learning Blueprints was rough.
Learning Blueprints started with the Unreal tutorial for making a third person game. This was an excellent series for creating the game however straying from this was quite difficult. This resulted in forum diving but alas to my  misfortune it only made my understanding of other issues better such as variables, locomotions  and a lot of character blueprints.

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Unfortunately after the run in with my arch enemy “cast to” I suffered from a lot of schedule slippage. This took a very long cut out of the animation stage and brought everything to a grinding halt. Given more time I would have liked to go back and fine polish all of the animations that went into engine. Some had to be cut because they weren’t at a point I deemed game ready. More issues that transpired was one of the legs lagging as well as the walk being a little too fast. In hindsight the walk could have probable been solved through tweaking the blend spaces variables.

What went right

I was overall happy with my problem shooting and how I was able to add extra things that wen’t in the tutorial. An example of this can be seen in my state machine shown in reference 2. The original tutorial only pitched 4 of these states which were limited to “Idle_Walk_Run”, “Jump up”, “Jump falling” and “Jump land”. Dispite only adding 4 more states I had to also go through and create the rulings that allow these states to pass through each other.

Another one.PNG

The most satisfying part of this project came from finding out how to make a jump anticipation. Although this is the least visually appealing it was the hardest problem I faced. Like most things difficult however there was an easy and simple solution that I was overlooking. When using variables from Character blueprint to the Animation blueprint you need to “cast” it. With my limited knowledge I had then I scoured forums to no avail. During this embarrassingly long interval of not understanding why my character wouldn’t crouch I managed to grasp a better understanding of most of the other things going on. Reference one shows the now working Animation blueprints. Where the arrows are located is where all my problems rested. Every Forum I visited had this set to “Cast to Mycharacter” which unfortunately didn’t click to me that the reason it never showed up as an option was because my character blueprint was named something else.
notthis.PNG(Reference 2)
It was hard to pin this as a success because of how much scope slippage this assignment generated, but I feel like it’s better to celebrate our raid boss’.

One of the most relaxing parts of this assignment was creating the sandbox in which to test and demonstrate my animation in engine. This is something that I plan to continue to complete during my downtime to help better the results of projects to come.

Winding Down and reflecting

To summarise, I am overall happy with the way that this project has developed, it may not be the smoothest but I can definitely say that it signifies that problem solving and body of work are headed in the right decision. However there are still some things I would like to work on maybe in upcoming work involving game animation and blueprints. In future projects I hope to try and up my understanding of Character rigs so that I may better import characters and character animation into unreal engine as I feel that this is the way in which I am leaning for my “final project”.

Semiotics Analysis on Zootopia – Spoiler warning

Semiotics Analysis on Zootopia – Spoiler warning

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Zootopeo is a stagnant film that combines a highly intellectual story with the cartoonish aesthetic making it a very fulfilling and wholesome family film. The movie featuring Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) reached an 8.1 Star rating on IMDb. In this blog, I will discuss semiology and how the signs are visible in the Movie Zootopia. These signs will clearly outline how Zootopia mimics our real world issues and subliminally exploits them in a way that betters the younger generation.

Before we delve any further we need to understand what a sign is. A sign can be broken up into two concepts; The signifier and the signified. The signified is the concept or object whereas the signifier is the sound or image. To help us understand better (Wren, 2017) has included a segment which explains signifier and signified through the example of a hot air balloon. The words hot air balloon or a drawing of how an air balloon is a signifier.  However the signified is what the balloon represents ideologically. This can be broken up even further between three groups of signs;

Icon: This sign depicts the signifier representing the signified. For example a picture of a hot air balloon
Index: an index is an inherent relationship between the signifier and the signified. This often varies depending on social backgrounds
Symbol: A symbol is a closed interpretive view of signifier and signified designed to mean something depicted by the creators’ views.

To further this we also have an order of signification the accompanies these signs. They are as followed;

Denotative: This is a primary representation of the sign, for example, the male and female icons

Connotative: The second in the order is the expressive values that the sign emits.

Myth/Ideology: This is the third level that reflects on the cultural perspective, using the same example as before the notion of the sign being male and female is under the assumption that there is two genders

During this blog we will see how Zootopia includes many of their symbols to create their ideological viewpoint through their many signifiers.

Race

The first sign that I’d like to talk about is the racial indifferences that are depicted during the duress of this film. This is probably their most obvious form of symbolism, from the very beginning of this film we were presented with a brief background telling us about their divide between “Preditor” and “Prey”. Realistically the animals would have a complex food chain where predators would also be prey however in this movie they create a social tie. This racial profiling then plays out throughout the duress of the film. This is shown through the actions and words of nearly every major role in the movie. As seen in the clip above they coin modern phrases and put them into a cartoon. Doing this helps to soften down the real world conditions that would normally be too touchy to talk about and uses this to help send messages to its audience. The topic of racial acceptance is still something that needs to be represented,  an example of this can be seen in a video posted by Joey Salads. He uploaded a video that was borderline propaganda making the bold statement “A lot of black people don’t like Trump”. He did what he refers to as a social experiment and parked a car in a “black neighborhood” with Trump support stickers. Several minutes later he shows footage where several men of darker colored skin smashed the car. Since this was uploaded during the Trump and Hilary electoral period tensions across the nation were already high seeing to it that a video like this could easily raise controversy. This picture would have painted a violent image for watches and encourage racial profiling if it weren’t for an onlooker exposing them. It turned out that these men were all together when the shot happened, however, Joey had them hide behind the camera. Because of large hate groups Joey was forced to take down his video however you can still find reuploads across the internet.

In the interview with voice actress for Judy, she explains her character to great extent. What is interesting about this is how she depicts Judy’s ideological views. In particular, she mentions that her character goes into Zootopia with a preconceived notion that she thinks that she sees all animals as equals, however after seeing Nick Wilde the fox her natural instincts tell her that he is not to be trusted. This statement alone challenges the way we think about how we perceive race and challenges our ideology.  Not only is this an issue that relates to racist profiling it also has to do with upbringing which will be investigated further in this blog.

Gender

The story shows of ambition and with the notion that “any mammal can be anything” the factforciu210.PNG that our lead role is a female is huge. Although the rise in females is on its way up it still undermines statistics. In fact, most movies don’t even have women speak for more than 40 percent of the dialogue. Although Nick Wilde assumes a very high role in the film he is still not considered the hero of the story. Judy our rookie ambitious cop is our lead role, guiding us through our ideologically controversial story and rising through her ambitions and dreams. This is important as we are marching into an era of equality, not only is it important from a society standpoint but it is also important for the creative industry.
As a study by the ((New York Film Academy, “Gender Inequality in Film”)) shows the percentages are all disproportionate. Showing it in a children’s film done several things. For one the film’s narration encourages audience members to climb towards their ambitions. Secondly, the film shows of acceptance which seems to be the industries largest issue in regards to many things such as race and gender. Thirdly and finally being a well refined animated film means younger generation may be inspired to pursue creative professionalism.

Age

Age is another form of symbolism. It is a clear representation of Bonnie_hopps.jpgknowledge and education. However, in this movie it serves as a betrayal of this ideology of sorts. The introductory scene shows the family has a fear of predatory Animals. It was interesting to find out that one line in particular given to Judy from her mother was almost phrased perfectly in Judy’s speech to the public. The subliminal racial parenting ended up throwing the whole city into a discourse.  This reflects on how our world is developing with new and intuitive ideologies. In a Ted talk involving the computer AI, Maurice Conti explains that our Eras are advancing more rapidly. With this so too does our ideology. As humans, we are needing to become more open with our ideological beliefs. This open minded is something that will need to be taught to future generations.

Props

Although we have talked about some really gray areas the movie delves into some really dark areas. It’s not revealed at first but the movie refers to “Night Howlers” a lot. It turns out that these are plants Doug_Zootopia.jpgthat send animals back to a primitive and violent state. As this is a prop in a movie according to (Rose, Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials, 2016) this counts as a sign. However, it may shock you that this plant is made to symbolize crack cocaine. Both crack and the night howlers revert from its basic form of what appears to be a harmless plant. However, crack needs to go through a chemical procedure in order to turn the plants into the drug sold on streets. You also see that the “Night Howler serum” also needs a complex string of chemical treatment. Not only that but the symptoms of crack are also mimicked in the movies, even taking into the account of how fast the drug takes its effects. As well as this they even depict this in the movie with a breaking bad parody scene. Although a touchy subject the movie mimics the minority group that this drug is targeted to the most. In the movie, predators are at a 10 percent ratio which is strangely similar to the statistic of the African American population in America. All of this hints at the group that was hit hardest by drugs as depicted in (O’Hear, Wisconsin Sentencing in the Tough-On-Crime Era). This subject normally would be too controversial to speak freely about however putting it into this kind of textual delivery makes it very subtle and watered down for its viewers.

 Media empowerment

ZOOTOPIA-Gazelle.jpgMedia empowerment is portrayed in this movie with absolute dominance over social ties. After Judy Hop’s makes a poorly iterated and bold statement the media interprets it in a way the falsifies her understanding of racial indifference. The representation is so close to the way we portray media they even include a token celebrity that talks about matters she barely
knows anything about. As humans, we seem to lean more on celebrities that have fame and fortunes and assume they are also knowledgeable whenever they speak of subjects. More so the movie also shows us how we assume everything in the media is held at an unbiased standpoint. People often forget that some news anchors are even controlled by government officials and can be made to bend the arm of the general public to be persuaded to their side. In the show this is shown through the political corruption the movie displays during the hostile media take over of the character Bellwether uses the media to assume the position as mayor. As a consequence of this, the community is also divided once more between their racial differences.

Conclusion

Zootopia has tackled some very real world problems and portrayed them in a family friendly text. The overall message of social acceptance pushes the younger generation to be more forgiving. It feeds these messages through its signs given via clean signifieds and creates signifiers that help us as a society question and betters our ideological standpoint.

Reference:

O’Hear, M. (n.d.). Wisconsin Sentencing in the Tough-On-Crime Era.
Anderson, H. (2016, April). The Largest Analysis of Film Dialogue by Gender, Ever. Retrieved from https://pudding.cool/2017/03/film-dialogue/index.html
Drugabuse.com. (2016, December 20). The Effects of Crack Use. Retrieved from http://drugabuse.com/library/the-effects-of-crack-use/
IMDb. (n.d.). Zootopia (2016). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2948356/
Kois, D. (2016, March 02). Zootopia Is a Delightful Kids’ Movie That Is Also Totally About Racial Profiling. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/03/02/disney_s_zootopia_has_a_message_for_kids_about_racial_profiling.html
Lang, B. (2015, February 09). Study Finds Fewer Lead Roles for Women in Hollywood. Retrieved from http://variety.com/2015/film/news/women-lead-roles-in-movies-study-hunger-games-gone-girl-1201429016/
New York Film Academy. (n.d.). Gender Inequality in Film. Retrieved from https://www.nyfa.edu/film-school-blog/gender-inequality-in-film/#!prettyPhoto
News, U. (2013, January 13). Census: White majority in U.S. gone by 2043. Retrieved from https://usnews.newsvine.com/_news/2013/06/13/18934111-census-white-majority-in-us-gone-by-2043
Rose, G. (2016). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials (4th ed.).
The conversation. (2015, September 15). Celebrity, youth culture and the question of role models. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/celebrity-youth-culture-and-the-question-of-role-models-46945
A. (2015, October 20). Women in Male-Dominated Industries and Occupations. Retrieved from http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-male-dominated-industries-and-occupations
Wren, T. (2017, February 10). Analysing Media Texts. Lecture presented in SAE, Brisbane.

Meet the team research blog

Our Project

The meet the team project was assigned to a few different groups with ours included. Each team was to pitch an existing universe in which we were to create an original character for. These characters would then be simulated into whatever animation format the team working on them decided to use. Most of the group was indecisive in the selection of what universe to pick however the remainder had their hearts set on Warhammer. Specifically, the team wanted the gritty, darkened sci-fi version “Warhammer 40k”. With a galaxy soaked in races, war and ruins the possibilities are endless.

Meet the character

FHayden_Round2.pngor this project, I chose to create a character called Gniitro. He is a part of an already existing species from the Warhammer series known as the Skaven. They already hinted at the Skaven being in the universe however they have yet to make a proper bridge to the 40k universe. In my iteration of Skaven, it depicts them as renegades, constantly on the run from their prior captives the Adaptus Mechenicas or more prominently recognized as the tech priests. Results of brutal mutilation and hideous experimentation the Skaven make their way through the galaxy scavenging what little they can from major factions they struggle to revive from the brink of extinction.

Early designs of Gniitro depicted him as riding a Gatling turret (Or Rattling Gun) however
later during pre-production another member joined and designed a beast creature. It was soon after we decided to convert Gniitro into a beast rider and forge the two concepts. This sparked a  lot of questions as to what weapons and armor he would use. The most fitting weapon seemed to be the already existing lightning claws and a free hand to allow him to pivot freely on his mount. This gave Gniitro two mechanical possibilities both as fittingly brutal as each other. The first is that he can inflict deep lacerations onto his enemies. The second is that he can use the claws to grip into his ride.

Techniques

Low poly and high poly.

When working in 3D you will either use tris or quads to form a network of connections. This is what is known as a Mesh. These make up everything you see in a 3D environment. A low poly mesh is a really jagged and basic model whereas a high poly mesh often is smoother and has more detailed variants. But you are probably wondering why would anyone bother with a low poly model when there isn’t as much detail. Well the simple answer is the higher poly sometimes is the harder to render mesh which in turn can slow down games which are rendered in real time.

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Normal Mapping

Normal mapping is a type of texture that gives off the illusion of the details found on a high poly meshed but bakes them onto a low poly version. This means you can achieve the look of something more detailed while it also runs a lot smoother.normal_map.jpg

Rigging

In 3Ds Max there are two basic skeletal systems you can skin your mesh too. The first being the Cat Rigs and the second being the bones. There is a lot of different ways you can determine a clean rig it’s just a matter of deciding where you want your RK and IK controls to sit.

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example of bone rig (Left) and cat rig (Right)

UV Mapping

UV mapping is an act of unfolding a 3D mesh onto a 2D plane. This 2D plane is essentially where the texture is applied to. This is a ver important part of the process. If two faces of the model overlap then the texture is applied to both of those areas. Overlapping is sometimes good, especially if you want the textures to be symmetrical however this still needs to be tended to with great caution. When using PBR textures such as in quixel it is also importing to pay attention what direction the UV’s are facing.

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The pipeline

I plan to use the pipeline that was entailed in the project brief provided to the group. The first step is to make a rough base using 3Ds Max. Later using Zbrush core a lot of the extra details such as fur will be sculpted on. Since the Zbrush core is more restrictive then higher valued purchases this will have to be exported into 3Ds Max where the low poly mesh will be re-topologised. After normal mapping and texturing the character will then be rigged using IK and FK bones. Additionally, a plugin will be used during the rigging process that will allow the tunic to flow freely like a cloth rather than a stiff plane.

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ZBrush-Logo-White.jpg

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Photoshop

Prior to investigation a lot of this sculpted detail would have been covered in fur using a plugin in the unreal engine. Upon initially budgeting for the investment it was assumed that the service was a one off transaction however it was later found that a new copy would need to be purchased every time you started a new project. Additionally, the service is going through a transitional period. In regards to future projects however it is definitely a service I’m hoping to learn and implement into my works.

One of the most notable things I’ve picked up on is the fact that the Skaven doesn’t run in a straight line. Another notable feature is they are constantly moving even when they are in their idle animation. Additionally, the rats breathing is highly exaggerated through the timing and motion of its body.

Another recourse I plan to implement is League of Legends Warwick. He moves akin to the rat ogre found in the Vermintide and although technically not a rat he still moves like a bipedal. The most valuable part of Warwick’s animation cycle is his mechanical arm. This will help when taking into consideration how to properly display the weighting of the hand during animation.

17e6bfe77a69550fcd2d1cbaf7cd5e19.gif5565eb653d076a299187c98e6ab16b4a.gif

 

References

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/3ds-max/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/3DSMax/files/GUID-DA60809C-7486-47BC-818B-61716CD3AE1E-htm.html

https://www.neoglyphic.com/neofur

http://www.vermintide.com/newsletter/

http://audreee.deviantart.com/art/Naga-high-and-low-poly-282339160

https://www.reallusion.com/iclone/help/3DXchange5/Pipeline/03_Pipelines/Exporting_Motions_for_3DS_Max_CAT_Rig.htm

http://arlab.com/doc/arlab/product/3d_engine/exporters/3ds_max/3.case_study/case_study_scene

http://www.sidefx.com/docs/houdini/shade/normalmaps

Mini Specialization- Post Modem

 

The mini specialization was something that was intended to show a particular area in animation that the animator would like to improve upon and show skill and research. The area that I wanted to show increase in was emotion through character animation. I originally planned on doing this solely on facial animation however this later changed to wanting to include whole body language.This project was inspired heavily on “Riot games” decision a while back to incorporate facial rigging onto one of their characters “Poppy”. What really drew me to this was the concept of a character with a large head on a small body which would benefit more with facial rigging then a character in proportion. To replicate something remotely similar I chose to use the free character rig “BONNIE”. This character wasn’t entirely to scale with “Poppy” however her cartoonish aesthetic still gave her a head large enough to encourage the viewers focus.

 

working.21.pngI feel like the project was initially planned well. A lot of study went into examining facial movements. One of my favourite examples was the idea that a viewer can tell what mood a person is in based on the eyes and eyebrows alone. Another concept that I explored which almost completely derails the first was based on a study. Viewers were given a head to examine and define what they thought the expression was. However when the body was revealed the expression seemed completely different.

Unfortunately a lot of this theory didn’t get a lot of testing. Like most other projects this ended up being a case of poor time management. On top of this the quantity of work I wanted to produce wasn’t completed. Later to the end of the project I was hoping to have 4 walk cycles depicting different emotions as well as 3 total face changes. The walk cycle that was completed needed some improvements as well as random problems that occurred with the character’s hair.

If needed to be done again I would have scheduled the time more efficiently. Additionally I would have smoothed out the existing animation to improve its fluidity in movement as well as add secondary actions such as facial movement.