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Hash, Inc. - Animation:Master

Tuckertown and other Stories

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Nice duck box I like the light rays




I don't use volumetrics very often but I like them!

I need to spend some time with them so I better understand how to use them.


Up next...



I revisited an old idea that I couldn't get to work a long time ago related to render passes and... it worked quite well.

The basic idea:


Create controllers (for this test I created Background, Middleground and Foreground controllers)


Import models into Choreography and assign them to a controller (this is based on overlap... background objects will almost always have something that lies in front, middle ground objects will often have something in front of them and foreground objects rarely will have anything in front of them. Objects within each 'zone' can freely overlap.


Turn controllers on/off in order to render out passes with nothing (only backdrop/camera color/alpha channel... as applicable), background zone only, background and middle ground zone only, all objects, middleground objects only and foreground objects only.


The controllers use expressions to drive the Active property of models in a Chor.

A handy trick to editing placement of objects in the scene according to their 'zones' is to move to a frame where the models are visible, turn off Animate Mode and adjust the models to get proper overlap over or behind objects in other zones. Then turn Animate Mode back on.


In the animated screen shot (see attached) the colored squares in the lower left corner are the controllers.



This relates a little to tests automating crowd control.

Another related idea is to have objects/characters move out of the way automatically as another object/character approaches (i.e. objects/characters avoid a controller). I think that is what originally got me thinking about this approach to render passes when I saw Hash Inc's Tech Talk about dynamic objects.


Steffen does have a Render Passes plugin that can assist in this manner but I don't think it directly manipulates transparency and doesn't use the Active property of models.


In prior versions I think I set up the expression wrong or A:M wouldn't save the expression once created using the Active property (I can't quite recall). But it works great now!


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Random Mr. Fantastic


I started modeling random legs (with no real target to hit) and the color I applied happened to be blue...

That made me start to move in the direction of Fantastic Four characters.


I was working my way from bottom to top and I got tired of the model about the time I got to the chest... but I'm glad I didn't give up at that point because those splines then started to turn into Mr. Fantastic and the little details kept me interested. Needs to look at least a little like Reed Richards... needs the chest logo.... needs the signature hair... hmmm... need to make sure he can stretch.... pose him in a Chor.... what the heck is he doing... need some kind of Kirby contraption.... how about a corner logo showing the unposed character... needs some kind of title/text.... Ultimate Nullifier thingy can be made with SVG importer with pieces assembled, modified and such in A:M.


I didn't bother to model the hands.


All in all a fun foray into trying to capture the sense of a character from memory.


Edit: Added the Invisible Girl but shes a bit hard to see... 'cause she's invisible. ;)




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I just realized that contraption looks (somewhat) like a duck.

Although why Mr. Fantastic is running forward to save a mecha-duck is unknown to me.

If Mr. F's eyes were looking backward and we saw Galactus in a bath towel giving chase... that might explain something. (or not)

Perhaps it's a Jack and the Beanstalk type story with the role of Jack being played by the fabulous four.

And the duck... in the role of the golden goose.


Hmmm.... something weird going on with the random ducks that sneak their way into my 3d doodles.

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I just realized that contraption looks (somewhat) like a duck.

Although why Mr. Fantastic is running forward to save a mecha-duck is unknown to me.

If Mr. F's eyes were looking backward and we saw Galactus in a bath towel giving chase... that might explain something. (or not)

Perhaps it's a Jack and the Beanstalk type story with the role of Jack being played by the fabulous four.

And the duck... in the role of the golden goose.


Hmmm.... something weird going on with the random ducks that sneak their way into my 3d doodles.


That would be one awesome story!

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That would be one awesome story!


Last night I found myself contemplating that storyline a little more and even did a few quick pen doodles on paper to capture a few character moments (cues that might jog my memory if I ever decided to explore some more).



Tonight I decided to see if I could put together a quick version of Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew; Benjamin Grimm:

The rocks/plates were a hastily tossed in Cell Turb material.



(You don't want to see this guy from side view but it looks a little like him from front view)


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Here's a quick attempt at the Human Torch.


I confess that I didn't think it'd turn out this good.

I was expecting an unrecognizable mess.


From start to finish about 30 minutes work with a couple 'errors' turning out to work out to be strengths.


The particle fire is created using a single tiny orange rectangle.


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Is he giving the middle Finger telling us we are number 1 LMAO


Those would be his thumbs.


I ran across a project on the Extra DVD (one by Andy Gibbons) that has some flame work.

I'll try to post that here in the forum sometime this week.

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  • *A:M User*

Ok, Rodney, this is perfect timing as I am working with the dragon. My first test of fire breathing dragon was a total waste of time. I would love to see this setup. I will try to make it this Saturday to live question and answer time with Robert. I will be traveling this week with work so will not be around until then.

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Most excellent. The cross pollination of ideas is exactly why we are here in the forum hanging out together.


While particle fire has long been of interest to me I certainly have no great insights into how to get to the results we (collectively) want in fire effects. There are a ton of different effects that all fall within the broader category of 'fire effects' not to mention the other effects such as smoke that accompany fire and sell it to an audience without taking them out of the moment on either extreme... not looking at all like fire or looking too much like real fire when the style of the story doesn't call for it.


My experiments with fire and smoke suggest that fire effects can largely be achieved both with and without particles... not to mention through the use of actual fire footage/video. As is usually the case, much depends on what the end goal for that effect will be... dragon blasts of fire toward a given target I must presume being somewhere in the mix.


Yes, most definitely, let's get Robert thinking about fire effects so we can put a focus on that during a Live Answer Time session! :)

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Thanks Matt!

I'm going to tackle some more fantastic four stuff in the future because it's got me feeling creative again.

That and the general skeleton of the 'Jack and the Beanstalk' storyline has conjured up specific moments that can be translated into FF imagery.


Of late I have been distracted by finding my Extra DVD.

It had been missing in action for quite awhile and I unearthed it while cleaning.

Some of the resources contained thereon really need to be shared with the community so I'm trying to get them posted and into more general circulation.

Doing that has made me want to work on areas related to A:M Exchange and press toward the future of what can be realized there.

In contrast to diving in and just modeling stuff from scratch, exploring the works of others is always inspirational.

So the trip is rather cyclic... and feeds the beast of creativity.


And... hopefully at the crossroads of creativity and inspiration converge motivation and patience can meet.


Fill in your own words for those four things. ;)

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Random mass of planets...


(The stars are a bit hard to see in the thumbnail... developing an approach to creating easy stars was a goal in working on this piece and while it doesn't quite hit the mark I found an approach I want to explore further)


Attached a second screen capture that adds a little color to the starfield.


planets and stars.png

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Random scene created in 'Make Dragon' button testing.

This was more of a 'make.horse>make.lizard>make.dragon' test because that's the way it was developing (I started trying to automate the creation of a horse-like shape).

For some unknown reason, at the point where I added the rock for the lizard to perch on top o (left of screenshot), A:M crashed.


Posting this because I don't think I saved much of the test and want to revisit the general idea some day.


Added: Found/posted screenshot of the splines used to create the creatures (horse and lizard).

The lizard was a modification of the horse. The dragon splines (not seen) was a modification of the lizard.


And Added: alternative approach using cylinders with dangling splines (splines not seen).

The idea being that the dangling splines would then be connected to cylinders in close proximity.




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  • 2 weeks later...
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Random test of 2D Layers in A:M.


A file naming issue where extra periods in a filename is causing Layers not to be correctly saved in a Project and that is quite a pain.

Workaround: Use rename utility to remove the extra periods in the file names.

I use Irfanview for the batch renaming.


Characters are just randomly doodled characters each placed on their own separate layer in A:M.

Shadows are working but hard to make out in this render.


Added: Not quite successful attempt to automate shading of the characters by using a second instance of the layer to cast a shadow over the other layer(s).

This technique is quite useful when trying to cast a shadow onto a scene, such as characters walking through a forest and into shadow of the sun-blocking leaves.



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Here's a first pass at Captain Koiby...


Even for random characters I often try to give them a name, background or attach them to a story.

That way, while I may never have use for them again at least they can go off and have their own adventures. ;)

If they seem to gel, and putting characters together often accomplishes this, I might even give them a title to one of those adventures.

That title often gives a framework to their story that supplies opportunity for plot and character development.

In this case, the 'story' title is 'Koiby's Edge' and the basic 'feel' of the story follows that of the novel, 'City at Worlds End' by Edmond Hamilton.

You can hear that story read over youtube here: LINK


Does 'Koiby's Edge' track closely to that novel? No. Thus far it can't because I'm not familiar with that story myself.

That's why I'm listening to it on youtube.

I wouldn't rule out some kind of homage or tribute but I doubt I have the patience for that.


At any rate, here's a WIP of Captain Koiby. When splining undeveloped characters such as Koiby, as each spline and patch is placed a personality and character begin to surface. And a few of the character's secrets as well.


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I should add a few thoughts related to the last post that relate to thought and theory of production and I welcome your own insights.


In the case of a fully formed story (which is certainly preferred) that 'script' drives the requirements of production.

In the case of 'free form' storytelling in the tradition of those old classic serials published in pulp magazines at the turn of last century (think: Tarzan, etc.) the requirements are fluid and can quickly change.

This makes the imperative that of producing what is needed right now vs what might (theoretically) be needed someday.

Of course, writing a few descriptive words in serialized fiction is always going to be easier than populating that same world of words in 3D.


There is some gold to be mined in this arena in that more often than not the models we create are overproduced.

I've seen this first hand where props that don't get used (or are barely seen) in production get lots of attention and time devoted to them.

This time surely would be better spent on those things that will 'feature'.


This isn't to say considerable forethought shouldn't go into the detail of everything that will appear in a scene but in those cases some thought should be given to whether that object is known to play an important role... or is expected to play a significant role later. Even then, with budgeting of production time at a minimum it might be best to build a proxy that will satisfy the needs of production today and then improve upon it later when more detail is needed. If, models are not programmed for reuse, that is to say 'shared with others' or recurring, then very likely simplicity should prevail.


So, why aren't we completing those short films and movies?

Could one important barrier to success be that we tend to get lost in needless and unnecessary detail?

Some productions do call for lavish attention to even the most minute detail.

But if they do, they need to adjust their production budget and schedule... and therefore productions expectations... accordingly to allow for such detail.

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Another of Koiby's crew.


This is Loosh (Luis).

I don't know much about him other than that.

He kinda looks like a poor man's Jabba the Hutt.


I didn't quite capture that naive and kind happy goof in the drawing but ya gotta start someplace.


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Random damaged building...


Some folks may recall the story that relates to this image (ref: Loyd Moore's "Woke Up Dead")

I was going for a building created out of stonework, brick and dead wood as the place these buildings are in has nothing living in it.

The bluish wisp of color just to the foreground of the buildings to be replaced by blackish sweeping particles of death.


Why is there no door?

I assume it's because no one would dare enter/exit on the ground level in this part of the city.

Although, come to think of it there probably shouldn't be windows that low either.


Needed: Serious damage to the stone pavement and walls of buildings to invoke ages of scratching, scraping, and devastation as the evidence of the spirit of death repeatedly passing that way. Lots more rumble and such (detail) of damage to the corner building and detail on the adjacent stone structures/buildings.


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I probably should put posts like this on my blog but... it takes so little to amuse me.

(The attachment is a test in rapidly producing storyboards)



Today's word study: Premise


A premise can literally be thought of as a preview; something seen (or experienced) in anticipation of an event.

The origin of the word premise is said to be:


late Middle English: from Old French [/size]premisse, from medieval Latin [/size]praemissa (propositio ) ‘(proposition) set in front,’ from Latin [/size]praemittere, from [/size]prae ‘before’ + [/size]mittere ‘send.’[/size]

It is in this sense of the word that we consider the setting of our scene, the characters that will inhabit that set and the conflicts to be staged.

This setup prepares those in an audience with information we can't afford to tarry on in the telling of the tale, especially as we launch a story not at the very beginning but already well underway.



Related word:

Mise-en-scène (French pronunciation: ​[mizɑ̃sɛn] "placing on stage") is an expression used to describe the design aspects of a theatre or film production, which essentially means "visual theme" or "telling a story"—both in visually artful ways through storyboarding, cinematography and stage design, and in poetically artful ways through direction. It is also commonly used to refer to multiple single scenes within the film to represent the film.(Wikipedia)

The Premise.jpg

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And speaking of setting up scenes..


Here's random test of a low patch scene.


34 patches

2 images (applied as patch images to those 34 patches).

3 lights (default lights are still there but turned off)



The scene could definitely benefit from additional variation in the back wall (of crates).

Even adding a diffuse map to alter color of individual crates would help.

Not to mention a little displacement and/or bump mapping to separate the crates.

An alternative might be to add a transparent border around the image so create that separation.

Care must be taken to ensure those same images aren't used for the three featured crates as we wouldn't want those connecting sides to disappear.


Interestingly, the patch count wouldn't be bad even if the wall (and floor) were duplicates of the crate.

The brick plugin would make short work of stacking crates.


Crate images were randomly grabbed from the internet.



Edit: Upped from 20 to 34 patches to give the backdrop some depth/base.

lowpatch 34patch 2mages.jpg

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Here's a slightly similar setup consisting of:


277 patches

3 images


The main benefit to making each crate a separate model is that each can be modified quickly independent of each other.


Wall o' crates built using the brick plugin.

lowpatch 277patch 3images.jpg


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Thanks Terry!



This post comes with a question.

If I can't figure it out I'll likely bring it to a Live Answer Session and see what the experts have to say about it.


In short, there are two 'holes' in the pants of this monster's legs.

What I'm wanting to do is have them appear/disappear as needed like bullet holes, squibs in a movie might not be present in one frame but them present in the next.

It should be noted that both the fabric and the flesh of the holes is a separate mesh so it should be easy just to make them transparent.

However, I find that because of the way I've grouped and colored them they turn white if I modify the surface transparency rather than disappear.

I suppose I could set the transparency to 100% in all pertinent groups (torn pants part, skin overlay and new transparency group) but it should be easier... I'm surely missing something because I know I've done things like this before.


Any takers?


One option might be to make the holes Action Objects and then simply turn them on/off.


Apologies if this is too small and spinning too fast to see the detail of the holes.

Basic project file to follow.


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Would it be difficult to make Bullet holes in legs as well.Torn flesh


Not at all. I thought of making a few variations on this theme that demonstrate different approaches and (as always) the situation will dictate what approaches will work best.


Some of those variations might be:

- To make the tears in the pants more like grazing cuts than holes. The thought behind the current holes was that the skin isn't penetrated by the bullet because as everyone knows.... werewolves are only vulnerable to silver bullets. So the scenerio would be: werewolf gets shot multiple times where holes in pants and shirt demonstrate his invulnerability to bullets. Werewolf snarls in defiance. Camera shifts to girl with gun who places silver bullet into gun, then smiles. Camera back to Werewolf who receives shot to the chest which has obvious effect.


- Setup a scene where holes are shot out of a brick or concrete wall (I've had many scenes like this show up in my artwork over the years and have tested this out a little in 3D). In many cases with walls the ideal approach to creating bullet holes would be to use Boolean Cutters where the models used to remove the wall are textured spheres or similar shapes that texture the wall even as they cut out parts of it. Additonal debri would then be introduced to suggest parts of the wall fragmenting.


A lot will depend on the style we would be aiming for.


But back to the question. Perhaps the easiest way to add a sense of torn flesh or holes in the legs would be to apply a decal to those 'squib' models; a short series of animated images might work best and allow for dialing in different effects.


Similar approaches would be used to create blood splatter etc. although the blood splatter would of course be coming out of the back of the leg.

Small entry point. Large exit wound. Etc.

(Ah, the joys of ballistics)

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  • 7 months later...
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I'm not sure if I posted anything related to this or not... it seems familiar.

I ran across a few random project files and it reminded me of the foray into madness that I call...


Poor Man's Pixel Painter


The basic idea

Create a grid or series of grids that acts as a canvas and 'draw' Groups into them, giving each group/shape a color

I'm using grids of 100x100 with a 1cm interval in the attached imagery.

Using larger grid will increase the 'resolution' of the drawn imagery but will likely result in considerable lag especially on systems with little RAM.


The drawing (with a pen/stylus) is made easier by using the Lasso tool (Shift G) to get a feel more like that of drawing.

Use the Shift key to add to the groups as the color only needs to be added at the beginning and then 'pixels' are added to the shapes via holding the shift key down.

Other Tools such as basic selection, Lasso Line and Patch Group can also be used.


It can help to work from back to front but if something is drawn out of order (and therefore hiding behind another group) simply drag and drop the group to the desired location.

For instance, in the attached the red border around the orange lightning bolt was drawn after the orange lightning bolt... obscuring it behind the red. Moving the red group up in the heirarchy of the PWS sends it backward on the canvas.


Care must be taken not to move any of the grid squares (unless an embossed effect is desired).

Groups can also be copy/pasted and the resulting grid square geometry placed anywhere in 3D space.

Just make sure the shapes are in front of other objects and the canvas.


I must have been bored when I was doing this as it's a whole lot easier just to draw something in a dedicated paint program but someone must have posted something that inspired the exploration and thought that we could 'paint' directly in A:M.


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  • 1 month later...
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Someone is getting a head start on "Planes, Trains, Automobiles"



That wasn't the original intent but now that you mention it...


The train is from a story by a kid I know who drew me a tale about a train robbery where two (mostly inept) robbers steal a train and the short mystery involved in finding where they have it hidden.

Kids always come up with the best stories... not always the most logical... but always entertaining and enthusiastically told.


The sad thing...

I am not doing this story justice.

But you've got to start somewhere.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Thought I'd attempt to translate the Bearded Man (one of the train robbers) into 3D.


Interestingly, the white wheels of the train don't look as bad with the right lighting...


Disclaimer! Bearded man NOT to scale. ;)


Edit: Posted a second image closer to scale.



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Thanks David!


Here's a quick addition of Bearded Man's partner... Tall Man.


I got a little lazy with this guy and as of right now he's missing some splines that are hidden from the camera such as the back of his head.BeardedManTallmanScalea000.png

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Now I wanna see this story... :D


Me too! That's why I'm helping to create it.


The author, a young boy about 8 years old, has a knack for telling jokes so I'm looking to see how we can incorporate his penchant for humor and that general style into this particular story. This, and other layering in of details by other kids makes for fun and engaging 'dailies'. Although I suppose at this stage those could be called 'weeklies'. Hmmmm... I should incorporate that jargon into the mix but call them 'weaklies'. Then at those sessions we run them a bit like Disney/PIXAR storyboarding sessions where we try to extract the strengths and weaknesses (as they are seen at that exact moment) and plus up the story.

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Today's Live Answer Session had me itching to play with particle hair again and I wondered how close I could come to some little swatches of fake terrain that yet another kid I've been working with had created. Among other things she enjoys creating dioramas and I have plans to use some of those as backdrops in projects. In the course of creating her dioramas she made me a few tiny cardboard test swatches that I thought would be perfect for scanning into the computer.


So, I launched out on a journey to create some particle grass swatches.

Attached is an image of the real world swatch (on the left) and my pitiful attempt to recreate it (on the right).

Stil I thought it worked out pretty nice.


I've attached a second image that has a number of other patch swatches I put together to remind me of the various parameters used with particle hair.

One thing I learned is that it's very easy to overcomplicate particles and if not careful pretty soon layers upon layers of settings accomplish nothing.

And... it's always nice if we can remember the settings we used so we can recreate or recognize them later.

As such it's always best to keep things as simple as possible.


I was pretty heavily into it before I realized I should be rendering with alpha channel transparency and with orthoganal camera if I ever decided I wanted to patch together all the various digital swatches.



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Sometimes what you get in a quick render within the Chor window is very different that the final render.

Perhaps that is because it might use the render properties in Tools/Options?


This is the same model as the one on the right above and what it looks like before rendering:


Kinda interesting.


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