Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Artefact 2 - Hypothesis and Preview

Following on from my first artefact I am going to look at the conveyance of emotions when contextualized and whether this can have a greater effect on the audiences understanding.

Hypothesis: 'I believe that if you give context to a characters emotional reaction the emotion will be easier to recognize than without it.'

To test this theory my artefact will feature between 5-8 short animations featuring a character displaying an emotion in response to something. Each of these individual animations will be broken down into 3 duplicates: one featuring the character on its own; one having an object that the character reacts to; and the last one introducing a second character performing there own action that would trigger the original reaction from the main character.

My intention is to show these sets of 3 animations to a focus group pausing between each clip to ask what they believe the emotion to be, so I can gauge at what point the correct emotion becomes apparent.

A quick preview of an animation set to be used for this artefact:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Research Project: Artefact 1 Reflections

Looking at the results from the focus group and outside questioning I did in regards to my first artefact, asking people what emotion the character was conveying and what aspect of the character gave them this impression, e.g. a hand gesture or back arch, there were a few common occurrences around what people said.

Hands were a key point that people said directed their opinion of the emotion, with their placement being indicative of the characters emotion. Whilst this was a main response from those I asked I cannot be certain whether this has anything to do with the particular poses I chose, however I feel like it being the majority reason for a lot of people is something to look at.
A possibility to take this further would be to look at hand gestures on there own and see the whether they alone can convey emotion and indicate more to an audience.

One step during the focus group session I did was to use questionnaire forms for people to fill out rather than immediate verbal feedback. My reasoning for this came from an initial test of my images where people were influenced by others responses prior to giving their own resulting in multiple similar answers.
To avoid this the form meant people weren't 'copying' others answers and gave me a mixed variety of results or, more to the point, produced several matches of responses, strengthening the ability to state clearly whether or not a image worked in conveying the desired emotion.

In terms of answering my hypothesis, whether or not a still image can be used to convey the emotion of a character, the majority of images received the correct answer for the emotion, however the more positive emotions and ones such as shock or surprise didn't have as great of a result.
The main reason for this I believe is that positive emotions are more based on pace and the way someone moves rather than just the way the body is affected when static/held, like with negative emotions (sadness, anger) where the body slumps or stiffens in response to this. Shock and surprise are also like this due to them being motion based reactions, a quick jump or start in response to something, and can not be shown in a held form.

The next stage for my second artefact will be to move on to conveyance with animation, where I can look more in depth at the emotions that had a weaker result e.g. happiness, shock, surprise, and explore how motion has an effect on the conveyance, using aspects such as timing and spacing to experiment with different aspects.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

StickDraw Throw

Might have worked better in landscape for better exaggeration of the throw

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Research Project - Artefact 1

As my first artefact for my research project I am looking at the conveyance of emotions through static poses, in particular, what elements of the body are the key indicators used when discerning specific emotions. I've produced a series of images using a faceless character, posed in an attempt to convey different emotions. Using a focus group as well as some other minor groups I will ask for peoples opinion on the specific emotion being shown and what gave them this idea.

The 14 images made for this project using the MooM rig (http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/character-rigs/c/moom-v4-0-3-by-ramtin) with a slight alteration to conceal the face:

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Client Project: Progress

Quick update on my current university project. Still quite a bit to do, but the core part is just going to be modelling the parts.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Context - Company Aspirations

Seed Animation - London

Birdbox Studios - London

Squeeze Studios - Quebec

The previous 3 studios listed are all smaller scale studios that focus more on advertising and commercialized projects, however my long term goal is to work for a company that solely focuses on story based projects. The following all were major influences on my decision to do animation and achieve there level of work, that being high visual and animation quality works in the form of cinematics most of the time.

Blur Studios - California

Digic Pictures - Budapest

Blizzard Entertainment - California

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Research Project - Laban Movement Analysis

Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is a system looking at describing movement in a precise manor for the purpose of teaching and understanding different aspects of movement through observation as well as experience.

LMA states that every movement can be described through the following categories:


Looks at movement of separate body parts and their relationship.

Consider - Which body part initiates the movement?
               -In what way are the different body parts involved in the movement?
               -Are parts of the body being held?


How the body concentrates its exertion while performing movements.
The appearance and style of a movement can change depending on the characters inner involvement and personal preference. (Depending on how someone feels towards something effects the level of effort they put into a movement involving it)
Analysis and conscious use of effort is an important tool to observe, label and expand nonverbal expression.


The location, direction and path of a movement. 
The relationship between someone and their environment.
Uses the five Plato solids as models for personal space (kinesphere).


The changing forms the body makes in space.
Observation of shape changes can lead to understanding of a characters affinity/disaffinity towards their surroundings.
For example: Extending a hand in greeting can have its meaning altered if the character were to lean forwards at the same time.


The modes of interaction oneself, others and the environment.
The relationship between a character and others can be conveyed through how they position themselves.


In reference to the other aspects this is how a movement is structured and stressed by someone to discern a pattern. (Possibly give a trait to a character in how they move, making them recognisable to an audience?).

Looking at the LMA will be a huge factor when considering the different elements of my research project as it primarily focuses on expression through movement and uses methods to articulate and measure its effectiveness. 
Its breakdown of each area of movement will aid in the production of my artefacts, giving me more aspects to experiment with to give a different effect.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Assigned Client Project - Considering Composition

With some feedback from my tutor I have been reconsidering the final form of my scene.

My original design has the unfolded cityscape in a squarish block on a mostly flat plane, lacking depth and the impressive appearance I intended.

Directed to look at the Disneyland castle for reference, this has a much more grand look with numerous towering spires and a 'completeness' about it that has all of its elements fit together.

The triangle shape it forms, thinning as it reaches the tip of the central spire, is a good reference to follow, containing most of the elements in the central area and including much more height within the overall shape.

My original design already featured spire-like structures that are its key parts, so keeping these but adjusting there positioning and connection with the rest of the structure will hopefully achieve a much more impressive form that will illustrate my idea effectively.

Some other images I found that have a similar spire structure or interesting design.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Assigned Client Project - The Box

The Box - Aleksander Magnussen
I found this video along with a tutorial that has the style of animation for how I plan to have elements of the structure unfold.

Link : http://www.3dtotal.com/tutorials/the_box/

Assigned Client Project - Final Idea

More development and taking feedback from my presentation showing my work on this project I feel I have reached the point where my idea is hitting the target I was aiming for and that it will convey my two key areas well ('Home' and 'Variety').

The Story

A man leaves his home (work? holiday?). 
He's sad and disappointed to be leaving (long day? missing something?).
He's left. His home small and simple.
Silence ensues.
Suddenly the home opens, a wall slides down, the roof lifts.
A castle wall extends from the side, a building rises opposite as a fountain sprays lightly in a square.
More buildings continue to rise, forming towering structures with the house at its core.
A Christmas tree pops up within a small room. The tracks of a tram spiral around a structure as the tram it self slowly trundles along them.
The Christmas tree grows squeezing into its tight room. The tram travels further, track growing ahead of it, as structures continue to build and unfold.
The Christmas tree bursts forth from the small room as it grows again, a towering structure of its own.
Night falls as the tram continues its journey. Lights flicker on inside it and spotlights illuminate the vast structures.
At the peak of the structures the tram ends its journey, the colourful lights of the fair shining out against the black of the night as it unfolds.
The structure is complete, rising high, full of activity as the rides jump into action and the tree gently rocks in the wind.
The man comes home, a skip in his step as he gets closer.
The man sees the structure, staring in awe at all that its built up from.
The man stands in wonder, silent.
Walking with eagerness/ pride he heads to his home.
The structure begins to close, folding back in on itself.
The man reaches the door of his home.
The structure is gone, it is a home again.
The man goes inside.
The warm glow of a fire/TV shines through the windows, the only light in the dark.
The home is small, warm, welcoming.


This is the story outlining what happens with my final animation. It details the idea of my character leaving his home with a sad and negative feel about him. With him leaving his small, simple house unfolds and elements symbolizing that of Nottingham features begin to form from it. All this happens resulting in a large active structure with the house at its centre.
When the character returns home, with a much more positive spin on his emotions, happy to be back, he stares in awe at the structure, taking it all in.
The structure closes up back to the simple home as he reaches the door, ending with the house giving off a warm glow through its windows.

The completed scene of the unfolded structure.

Assigned Client Project - Nottingham Loves...

What is it that you think Nottingham Loves… and what do you love about Nottingham? There are many great things about the city and through this competition; you can share what you love with others.
This is the first client brief I have been assigned for the Young Creative Awards 2014.

When thinking about this brief and considering topics I could choose for why I or others love Nottingham I couldn't think of anything. I joked about Nottingham’s numerous flaws and issues I am aware of, having lived here for all 20 years of my life, but I couldn't think of one solid thing or reason I actually ‘loved’ it. I just do. It’s my home.
And there it was: ‘Home’. That was it. I might be cynical and negative about it sometimes, but I’m glad I live here and I don’t think I would have wanted to live anywhere else for those 20 years.
Nottingham is a large city with such a vast number of events, landmarks and history that I personally take for granted and don’t realize the sheer amount of things available.
Talking to others about the subject also brought up a similar mind set; joking about its problems and having that negative edge to their comments.
This started to push my idea and get the ball rolling.

My initial idea I came up with revolved around two things: ‘Home’ and ‘Variety’.
These two points are what I want to get across and try and give the idea that there’s so much available and taken for granted. At the end of the day it’s home and I’m always glad when I come back home. Back to the familiar and back to everything I know.

This drawing is the culmination of my first ideas coming together and refining my initial idea. The basics of it feature having the house clearly defined and the key focal point of the whole animation. From this however elements will pour forth symbolizing all the features of Nottingham.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Research Project - Reading Material

In preparation for working on my artefacts and developing my ideas for them I have been looking into existing research papers and theses that could be of relevance to my work.

On posture as a modality for expressing and recognizing emotions.

Creating Believable Acting in Animation

Recognizing Emotions Expressed by Body Pose: a Biologically Inspired Neural Model.

These mainly focus on the conveyance and recognition of emotions through body movements as this will be what my first two artefacts circulate around and will help when formulating the specifics of how I go about them.

I have also been reading other books that have more general information that will be useful:

The Illusion of Life - Disney Animation - Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas

The Animators Survival Kit -Richards Williams

Monday, 21 October 2013

Research Project Artefact Concepts

With my research project I have been considering my first two artefacts to produce. The main factor I want to focus on with these is the conveyance of emotions from a character, solely using body dynamics.
Looking at existing examples that focus on this concept such as the ‘Animation Mentor’ courses that have character posing as one of the lessons, producing strong, static poses conveying an emotion effectively as well as a research paper looking into the perception of emotions through static postures (http://staffwww.dcs.shef.ac.uk/people/D.Romano/ShaaraniRomanoACII07.pdf), I intend to produce my first artefact following on this line of static poses, feeling it to be a good starting point on understanding the basic elements of body dynamics.

My first artefact will consist of a series of images having a simple character, lacking a face to focus purely on the pose, being set into a variety of poses to convey different emotions. To get strong results I will mainly focus on key emotions e.g. happiness, sadness, anger, fear, but also include other more vague emotions to see how effective it can be at conveying these.

Some examples of static poses produced from the Animation Mentor Courses.

In terms of my second artefact I will want to evolve my original concept of conveying emotions through static poses into an animated form which will allow me to gain an understanding of how motion aids in giving of different emotions and also compare this with the effectiveness of how well they are conveyed in a static form.
This artefact will follow a similar vein as my first in producing a number short scenes each intent on conveying an emotion, again focusing on much more common emotions whilst also including less obvious ones.

I feel like the combination of these two artefacts shall be useful in understanding the effectiveness of body dynamics in how much they can be used to convey a character and their feelings to an audience as well as look at if the form in which they are placed alters the effectiveness of this.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Quick Jump

Having worked on and off over summer on a full character rig with facial animation and morphs in 3DS Max, I decided to take a break and quickly edit it to just focus on body animation so I could do some tests to reacquaint myself with things before getting back to uni.

Also this simple rig will help me produce some examples to coincide with my research project on body dynamics.

This is just a quick jump animation I made as a test.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Dojo Fight Scene

Late as this is, this is my finished piece for my final 2nd year university project, recreating the Matrix dojo fight scene.

From working on this I have a much better idea to focus on timing and weighting in my animation as it has a major effect on the whole animation.

Rig Used (Eleven Rig): http://elevenrig.blogspot.co.uk/

Back to Basics

Having taken a long break from any animation or work with any Autodesk software I decided to start with a few simple tasks to get back to grips with it.

This second walk cycle was also a bit of experimentation for my university research project looking at telling a narrative solely through body mechanics and facial expressions. The main focus was posture and body language trying to convey the sadness of the character.

For both of these I used the Alfred pre-rig that can be found here: http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/character-rigs/c/alfred

This quick ball bounce was to help me explore the squash/stretch principle and look at animation beads in Maya.

Friday, 22 February 2013

In The Style Of - Finished Animation

 For the past several weeks I having been working on my second, second year university project, producing a trailer for a reboot of an old childrens animation - Roobarb, using the style of Studio AKA's Lost and Found.
Whilst I really enjoyed this project and learnt a lot about organic single mesh rigging and animation I am sad that in trying to achieve the style of Lost and Found, I spent more time focusing on modelling the character and environment, reducing the amount of time I had to actually animate it.

Having a challenging character, a quadruped dog, as my first experience with using the CAT rig and its animation tools was another drawback that took away from this project for me a little. Tinkering with the rig envelopes constantly during that stage, trying to find the balance between each bones control zones was difficult and in the end still resulted in stretching and/or clipping of areas in the final animation.

 Although I don't intend to work more on this project as I feel I have learnt what I can from it, I wholly plan on working much more on this, most likely starting with a simpler bipedal character to better get to grips with the basics.

 Commenting on my final animation, I am happy with the finished result and even with the very noticeable clipping issues, I have learnt from this and will be able to put more consideration into my characters requirement at the design and model stage to allow for a much smoother rigging and animation process. I'm also glad I was able to include audio into this animation because, even though subtle, adds a lot to it when watching it.

And finally, my finished animation.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Walk Cycle Test

Started to do some extra animation work when not doing my university project.
This is a simple walk cycle I made using a pre-rigged model available here: http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/ultimate-bony 

This being my first ever attempt at animating a walk cycle or doing any animating in Maya, there are some details that will need work on to improve them, however I am happy with the general result.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

In The Style Of - Final Idea and Character Designs

Whilst not having posted anything over Christmas I have made good progress with my latest university project.

The project titled 'In the Style Of'' requires me to produce a 1 minute promotional trailer for a revamped version of a children's cartoon in one of three styles.
The choice of cartoons were: -Paddington Bear;
                                             -Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; and
                                             -Roobarb and Custard.

Having the least knowledge and personal experience with Roobarb and Custard I decided to choose this one as it meant I could approach it in an unbiased manner and focus purely on what I found in my research.

The styles we could choose one were based on animations produced by Studio AKA and Passion Pictures.
-The Lost Thing
-Lost and Found

Of the three styles I loved the look and feel of 'Lost and Found' by Studio AKA. 

The bright colour tones and painterly look makes some of the scenes really vibrant and the general emotive way the music and story work together drew me towards in when I was choosing.

Whilst the visual style might not be as abstract as the other two options I like the fact nothing has straight lines in a scene and each element has its own unusual look to it that takes it away from fitting into the normal world.

With both initial choices made and research into them completed I did a lot of deciding for a suitable story or route for my animation to take. Originally working with the concept of having both the dog and cat characters with a much more humanoid look to them, designing them with this in mind.

Even though I liked the look this character had to him and felt he was very defined, after furthering a suitable story line I had to redesign my characters with them being quadrupeds  having my story being a prologue to the cartoons of Roobarb and Custard being a puppy and kitten.

New character designs with them as quadrupeds.

Initial Model of Roobarb Character