Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, May 29, 2010 2 comments

                                                                           VEERY NIIICE

Year One is more or less over,and it was a great few months. Yesterday the Crit went really well and I've finally recovered from the deadline. I'm happy with the feedback I received, people seemed to enjoy my animation. I think Dr. Klappa was pleased with it as well as both the tutors, but there were things that could / should have been improved. The ending definitely could have had more of an impact rather than fizzling out. I should have put a bit more bang on the end, and I'll try and keep some energy in reserve in future projects to make sure the ending gets the attention it needs.

Other than that, I've learned a huge amount over the last 8 month having never touched Maya before. I am now quite comfortable with the basics of the software and look forward to investigating the more complex parts of it, which we've already started looking at. Over the next few weeks I'm going to pay attention to the rigging and skinning tutorials a lot more and try to go over them all again to fully understand it all.

I'm sure in a couple of weeks I'll start to want to work again (Ridiculous..) so when the time comes I'll set up a seperate blog for my summer project and get cracking. To everybody I won't see before September: have a good summer, and remember not to get your hopes up over the World Cup.

Final Animation. Fern: The Life Cycle

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, May 27, 2010 7 comments
Here is my final animation, I'm happy with it and I'll post more after the crit tommorow, but as for tonight, I'm celebrating with a beer or 10 and hope I remember to turn up at the crit tommorow morning!

Right-Click on it and go to 'Watch on Youtube' as my blog cuts the right hand side off.

DVD Cover

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1 comments
Here is my DVD Cover for the animation, I'm sure you can see it's influences. I've tried to show each part of the animation somewhere on the back or front of the cover.

Soundtrack and Alien Vegetables

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2 comments
Right, so all my 3D is complete and rendered, I've got my final edit together with a quick soundtrack, but it doesn't quite fit. I'm going to spend the rest of the day re-doing the sound, trying to make it tie-in well with the visuals. I'm currently using the Hans Zimmer track 'One Day', which was on a OST for Pirates 3, I think it has all the right vibes, but I need to try and  pinpoint the timing. I'm also trying to incoporate the big-movie sound effects, which is also taking quite a bit of effort to get right. Hopefully the sound will compliment it by Friday, I just need to concentrate on how.

On a lighter note, me and my housemates have spent all day cleaning our student house and we found these in the back of a cupboard, left there probably about 7 months ago. It now looks like some sort of Alien, with long potato tenticles.

Final Scene Shots

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, May 25, 2010 0 comments
Here a few quick renders from my final scene. The sperm cell hasn't got a proper shader on it yet, but It will have eventually. The holes in the ground will have rising smoke coming out, which I discussed with Pete earlier, and he advised me the best way of doing it in Maya and AE. I'm hoping to have everything rendered and edited tommorow, meaning I can finalise it all with a soundtrack before Thursday.

I'm going to retexture the egg and modify it as it is only a sphere.

Finale Scene

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, May 24, 2010 2 comments
I've edited all my scenes together and I have been fiddling with the pacing. I have one more scene to make and render in Maya and I want it to stand out from the rest of my animation. The 5 or 6 shots before the finale all use one colour pallette and the greeny/blue haze lighting, so I want the inside of the egg chamber to be in contrast to them.

I've decided to mimic the interior scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, using rocky outbursts and red/orangey glow lighting everywhere. I think this will give the ending a really dramatic feel and highlight the egg. I've been researching into it as I haven't watched the film in a while.

Im hoping that by introducing this red-based environment into my animation that it will help vary it, replicating adventure films that tend to feature in every type of environment.

Scene Update

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, May 23, 2010 2 comments
After a pretty tough weekend of PC problems and mammoth rendering I'm almost at the end of the 3D stage. Below are a few shots of the scene I created today and yesterday. It takes place on the surface of the leaf at night. I have a couple more shots to do - the big 'finale' which I'll start tonight and hope to have finished by tommorow afternoon. A lot of my time went on figuring out some water dynamics and after quite a bit of reading and playing around, I'm starting to understand the Dynamic side a lot more.

I'm going to work a bit on these scenes some more in After Effects and after the really helpful tutorial by Pete on Friday create a title-sequence similar to that in my animatic. This should give me about 3 days to sort out the soundtrack, which I think is going to be very tough, It needs to be effective or the whole animation will really suffer.

Maya Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, May 22, 2010 1 comments
I've continued working in Maya over the past few days and I think it has finally paid off as I don't have a lot more 3D to do, which means I get to sit in the really hot sun outside and become slowly annoyed by my neighbour's lawnmower which sounds like something the Soviet's made in the 1930s out of scrap metal.

I've got one more scene to do, then a lot of After Effects work and editing in Premiere, ready for Friday. I want to have a couple of days for adding and editing sound as it is a huge part of my piece and needs to match the animation.

Below are some renders of my final scenes. The first one being quite a dark shot of the Gametophyte growing out of the spore, this scene will be lit up by flashes of lightining. The background will be digitally painted, it makes more sense in motion (like most things)

The next scene is the sperm-sacks, one of which bursts and releases the sperm-cells. Once again, the background will be added in After Effects after being modelled in Maya, I think it will be quite mountainous, as if the surface of the gametophyte is bumpy.
I've still got to animate the cells flowing down the leaf to the egg, which is my final scene. I'm going to put as much effort into it as possible, to make it worth the journey.

After Effects Title Tutorial

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, May 21, 2010 0 comments
Here is my result of peter's tutorial , combining 5 Jpeg Images with text in After Effects with a lot of manipulating For about an hour or so work I think it looks good.

Quick Shot: Spore Crash Landing

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, May 19, 2010 1 comments
I had a disaster earlier, I clicked a dodgy .EXE and my laptop shutdown.I never backed up any work from his project, a stupid thing to do, so I had a terrifying couple of hours trying to fix my harddrive and make it boot. I eventually managed it and I'm now backing up everything, like I've had a near-death experience.

I've updated the spore-crashing shot and I'm now working on the next shot, trying to keep up some momentum to get some progress. Below is the next scene, which is where the Gametophyte has grown out of the spore and the camera zooms into the sperm sacks on a micro-level. I'm hoping to improve the ground textures, but I like the lighting. It can't be seen in the image but when animating there are flashes of lightining, I may add rain, but I think that will be distracting. The light-ray has also been powered up a little to make it more dramatic.

EDIT: I've added some light rays splitting through the grass:

This is a quick shot I did yesterday, it is the spore hitting the dirt, ready to grow. I wanted to make it cinematic so I used this camera shot. It was the 'Independance Day' / 'Men in Black' spaceship crash angle, covering the camera with muck and dirt. The ending of this shot is a transition.

Once again, I think the lighting can be improved in this one. I am going to add some sunlight bursting through the grass. Even though this is about a 4 second shot, I think it can still be dramatic with lighting.

More Refining

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 5 comments
Trying to get it looking right. I'm learning quite a bit about the Maya lighting system, just trying to make it do what I want.

I have overhauled and pushed the lighting even further. Phil advised me to trade in realism for atmosphere so I decided to go overboard and see how far I could push it. I'm still tweaking the lights but I do think this gives in a slightl better edge. Everything is a bit ramped up, hopefully making a more dramatic scene.

After looking at this scene for so long some fresh input would be great, if someone could tell me what it looks like for someone seeing it for the first time that could help.

I'll update the images when I progress, I'm still trying to get them right

Refining Canyon Scene

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2 comments
I've taken Phil's advice and I've re-done the lighting on the Canyon scene. I want it to look like it is underneath a canopy of trees, with the shadows outlining the objects above them. It now matches the other scenes much better and the Sporagnium pod at the end of the shot is highlighted in a orangey/ goldy shine, which makes it seem more important. I've also made the water look a bit more muddy and dark.


Spore Crashing

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 1 comments
I've been working on my next shot, of the spore crashing into the dirt. I've been trying to come up with ways of making this cinematic and the shot in Independance Day which has been replicated in many movies kept popping into my head. Below is the playblast, I'm playing around in After Effects to make it much more dramatic with dirt spraying everywhere.I think with the right sound effects this could work.

The dirt will reach the camera after some post-processing in AE and cover it, ending the shot.

Maya Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, May 17, 2010 4 comments
After a helpful tutorial with Phil this morning, I've been polishing and making some changes to my first few scenes. The changes are mainly about making sure the setting of each scene works. Below shows the canyon with a blue sky, which I've changed to a forest backdrop which makes the first couple of scenes seem very enclosed in the woods.

It looks more realistic in the video. I've also had a few thoughts on structure. Phil told me that as I'm aiming for an all-round adventure Bruckheimer style I should mix up the atmosphere. I decided to make the next scene, with the spores going through the air in the forest a lot darker. I did this by toning down the colour and changing the background as advised to a forest.

Once again, it looks better in motion as the background is blurred.

This led me onto my next idea, which was to have the next scene, after the spore has landed, to be a thunderstorm-type scene, where the leaf grows out of the top. I think this would match well, as the scene structure would go from Very Bright (Canyon) , Slightly Darker and Moodier (Forest) to the Gametophyte growing where it will begin the rain. This is also quite crucial to the process, as the sperm sacks will only burst after filling with moisture.

 I have a shot structure planned for this, which I hope will look cinematic.

Scene 2 Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, May 15, 2010 0 comments
After plenty of weekend beer I've wrestled my second scene to a place where I am quite happy with it. Below are a few frames rendered, the whole scene needs to be rendered which could take a long while. I've simplified both the textures and lighting from the first attempts to help it render quicker. It is now rendering in the standard Maya Software renderer rather than Mental Ray.

I think this makes it easier to see and understand, but the lighting is not as dramatic.

Sporangium Pods

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, May 13, 2010 3 comments
I've decided to put the pods on a stalk, like in the reference image below:

Here is how they look in my scene, I'm still fiddling with them.

I'm not happy with the look of my pods, I want them to look more cinematic, I've been looking at the pods from the first scenes of Alien. I'd like to replicate them, not to introduce a Sci-Fi feel, as thats not the genre I'm going for, but a cinematic environment.  I've looked at the H.R Giger book in the baseroom to get some reference. I'm going to attempt this in Maya and post my progress.

Quick test of my second scene, the point where it ends is where the Sporangium are going to be.

I've been playing around, trying to create some nice looking Sporangium pods. This is what I currently have. They don't animate too well, but I'll try and work them out tommorow. I quite like the veiny plant-look of them, but they might be a bit overdone.

Canyon Scene Research

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, May 12, 2010 0 comments
I've been looking at some clips from action films to get a grasp of what camera angles I should be using.

The Death Star scene from Star Wars : A New Hope. The camera shows follows the ship speeding through the death-star 'canyon'. The camera swoops side to side to show the ship at high speed, I'll take this onboard (Ha!)

If anyone can think of some scenes from movies which have canyon scenes like the one above that would be helpful. I couldn't find the dog-fight scene from Independance Day on youtube, but that would definitely help.

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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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