Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Stone Age" - Finished the animation, sound next

Today I finally got around cleaning up some of the annoyances and completing my animation. The next logical step was to set the scene up for rendering.

The light set up is fairly simple: 1 ambient+ 2 point + 1 areal light.

I have to admit that I had a lot of fun with this. Not only because it's my baby. It was the struggle itself that kept me motivated to work on it. I had to struggle with things that were new to me in maya. What I learned by doing that is certainly something that comes with an incredible amount of freedom to create. It would be a lie to say that I never hated Maya. Heck, everyone in my class seems to be hating it at first. I hated it's graph editor.I hated the way the keyframes are displayed. It was so different from flash and toonboom. So different than 2d animation. But you know what, after using those tools long enough to understand them, they all started to make sense. I love everything that I initially hated. It's so nifty and useful.Every little feature. It's no chance that Maya is King in 3d animation and effects!

The challenge to do it in a month and a half seemed close to impossible to the people around me. Half of them were telling me- oh no, you are never gonna make it- after they initially saw it's animatic.

Not only did I make it,I also helped others make theirs. While making it, I worked on my 2d animation to get it polished. While making it, I learned to use other features of maya that weren't used in it, I also gave myself a fair amount of sleep and leisure time. I built EVERYTHING that you will see in it from scratch.It was built by the book, but it also has it's own unique features and quirks. I even managed to go off track and experiment with things. Thats when I made a couple of shots that just had to go, because they don't work well for the story.

This is a playblast of one of them:

It's a very raw version of what I had in mind, but it was all made to test those snapping controls that will be important in future animations.

And this is the very first character sketch of the cave man and the mammoth. All scribly drafts of basic ideas in my messy notebook. Looking back at those, it seems that I made a considerable ammount of changes to my character designs. Not sure if it was just for the fun of it, or because they seem to work better in 3d with the changes. I still feel that I managed to stick to that original idea very well.

Today I went to the university lab, logged in 4 computers and started rendering it. According to my maths rendering should have taken 4:30 hours on one computer and one hour on 4. It proved right. Thankfully I kept the polycount very low. Actually I could have smoothed my characters at least once, but I just hate the smooth tool. Subdividing is a bad practice in my book.

So, my whole scene- absolutely everything in it: all the characters, trees,rocks and so on is 19 400 polygons. One frame took roughly 4 -7 seconds to render on 480x640 (production quality,low res).

Now that it's all rendered in IFF files, what I will do tomorrow is put them in a video format and add some basic sound. You might hear me in the final piece, since I can't find anyone willing to do the caveman's voice xD..

After all that is done, it will be a glorious minute and a half, which could have been 3 minutes if I kept all the shots.Hopefully this or next week you'll see :)

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