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Simon Edmondson

It was a dark and stormy night.

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The idea with the curtains/drapes was simply that they would be powered. I'll get the sound put on the final version. I figured anyone who could afford a TV that size would probably have powered curtains !

 

I suppose this might fall into the category I call, "sweat the details... the big stuff will that care of itself."

 

My primary thought here was that there are two main approaches to closing the curtains and an alternate that would be entirely verbal:

 

1. She has a remote in her hand and points the remote at the window.

 

2. A little box on the wall is blinking green.. slowly... as she moves away it turns red just prior to the curtains closing.

 

3. She says the words 'curtains. close." just before the curtains close.

 

In all three cases this is an anticipatory moment that clearly demonstrates what motivates the curtains to close. The audience won't know unless you tell them.

 

Modern life ( joke )

 

I'm slow. I'm sorry. I just don't get the joke.

Perhaps I am too far away and perhaps you are too close. ;)

 

If you are trying to suggest that things don't always work out like we plan them... there is great opportunity for that kind of thing in what you've got set up. Perhaps the guy driving would be stopped at a red stoplight.... then a stop sign... then a car wreck in the road... (I dunno... it's your story!) Perhaps the curtains wouldn't close all the way and she would have to manually close them. Perhaps the sun lamp would flicker too much and she'd have to adjust it. (I think you actually had that in there a few WIPs ago)

 

Whereas the principles I was considering the most in my previous was one of clarity and appeal I seem to be more focused in this post on the principle of anticipation and how it leads to clarity. What is it that you want the audience to anticipate? What are these events building up to? What is the punchline of the joke?

 

An additional thing I would suggest would be to work to clarify that the driver of the car is a guy and the character in front of the window is a girl. You can do this is many ways and in hindsight the onlything that suggests to me that the character at the window is a girl is the red lipstick. You've got to admit that isn't a lot to go on...

 

This may be an opportune time to update your characters. I know the ultra skinny characters are something of a trademark look for you but IMO there needs to be some more differentiation. I was honestly trying to figure out why this guy had suddenly transformed into a girl.

 

Always remember: You know the story but those in the audience do not. If you don't tell us what you want us to know, we won't know.

 

 

Added: I realize you aren't done with the short so much of this may not be fully applicable given that you are already working on these things from another approach. These are just things that come to mind while considering what is there currently.

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Rodney

I've been indulging in a spot of displacement activity while thinking what to do with it ( I'll post that in the composite thread later ).

I think I've got a better ending but it will take a while to do...

Thank you for your feedback.

regards

simon

 

PS

Is there a good guide to using hair available anywhere ?

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If you are trying to keep a short schedule I'll recommend going with modeled hair. A few strategic images applied to the hair would be sufficient for the job. If you are really up to delving into particle hair just prepare yourself for the adventure. It'll be well worth the trip but it takes time and patience to get there.

 

I believe a really good starting point for hair would be Holmes Bryant's tutorial:

 

http://www.hash.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=29738

 

I would work through that in conjunction with watching the Hash Inc Tech Talk on the same subject:

 

http://www.hash.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=26614

 

My thought is that you might start working through the tutorial until you get bored or frustrated then take a break and review the Tech Talk and other resources. Then start Holmes' tutorial over again from scratch. This (in my opinion) will accelerate your learning and help you better retain what you've learned.

 

We've been a little slow at getting a forum area dedicated specifically to Hair (particle and otherwise) but we'll get there eventually.

 

Added: There are other resources available to... as others join in the discussion we'll be able to explore those too!

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...

I believe a really good starting point for hair would be Holmes Bryant's tutorial:

 

My thought is that you might start working through the tutorial until you get bored or frustrated then take a break and review the Tech Talk and other resources. Then start Holmes' tutorial over again from scratch. This (in my opinion) will accelerate your learning and help you better retain what you've learned....

Added: There are other resources available to... as others join in the discussion we'll be able to explore those too!

 

 

Rodney

 

Thank you as ever for your help. I'm working through the Wookie tutorial but will try the others tomorrow. I've come up with a better story for the project so the week has got even longer ! Whatever it takes really.

 

Part of the difficulty is, I suspect, I didn't prepare it thoroughly before starting. I have an idea I'm quite excited about for next year but this time I intend to work it out properly from start to finish. I ( try to ) learn from my mistakes.

regards

simon

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Bit busy with more mundane things today, but thought I'd worked thought Holmes Bryant's hair tutorial only to get this result when ?I tried it on the model . Could somebody kindly point me to where I might have gone wrong |?

regards

simon

 

Hair0.jpg

Suitable style for a dark and scary night perhaps ?

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Could somebody kindly point me to where I might have gone wrong |?

 

Particle hair.

Should have gone with the skull cap (and/or used patch image or decaled hair). ;)

 

The secret to particle hair IMO is to keep it at a very low density until you have it exactly as you need it at the lower density and then increase that density. As there are many parameters to tweak it takes quite awhile to get a good feeling for it and it helps to experiment with one patch (and not an entire scene) until you feel comfortable animating with it.

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Could somebody kindly point me to where I might have gone wrong |?

 

Particle hair.

Should have gone with the skull cap (and/or used patch image or decaled hair). ;)

 

The secret to particle hair IMO is to keep it at a very low density until you have it exactly as you need it at the lower density and then increase that density. As there are many parameters to tweak it takes quite awhile to get a good feeling for it and it helps to experiment with one patch (and not an entire scene) until you feel comfortable animating with it.

 

Rodney

Thank you for your reply.

You are correct, it is particle hair. I'll go back to the earlier section of Homeslices tutorial.

I only put it in the chor when I got to that part of the tut and I had the chor there...

regards

simon

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I would work through that in conjunction with watching the Hash Inc Tech Talk on the same subject:

 

http://www.hash.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=26614

 

We've been a little slow at getting a forum area dedicated specifically to Hair (particle and otherwise) but we'll get there eventually.

 

Added: There are other resources available to... as others join in the discussion we'll be able to explore those too!

 

Rodney

 

I worked through Holmes tutorial, with mixed results, then turned to the AM files you suggested.

Unfortunately, the tech talk is very difficult to follow because it reads as though translated from another language or possibly an audio file ? Hot example, the second sentence reads

 

"You oblivious know how to make a new hair here."

 

and there are many similarly mangled sentences which make it awkward to follow. I then tried the tech talk video but the sound came up only, no video image.

Tried the link in Chrome, ( as opposed to Safari), but it would not play QT files that old and the change settings dialogue was hiding somewhere unknown.

 

The tutorial in TAOM uses a decal to control the length of the hair but is there anywhere that explains how to draw up the decal to get what you want?

I tried the method Holmes outlined on a simple flat plane, and got the following result. I moved the plane around in a chor but the hair stretched and lagged rather than followed the plane. I am obviously missing something here ?

 

Locks.mov

 

Could someone kindly point me in the right direction ?

regards

simon

 

Locks.prj

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I usually use a image on the emiter and just use the tools in the hair grooming mode ,it works very well Simmon

hair.jpg

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and there are many similarly mangled sentences which make it awkward to follow. I then tried the tech talk video but the sound came up only, no video image.

 

To view the Tech Talks I believe you'll need to install the Techsmith Ensharpen Codec:

 

(You'll find it down that the bottom right of this page)

 

http://www.techsmith.com/download.html

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I usually use a image on the emiter and just use the tools in the hair grooming mode ,it works very well Simmon

 

 

Steve

Thank you very much for your help.

I'm trying that method but I'm not getting as far as your splendid examples.

 

I've revised my earlier post. Got rid of the dreadlocks and just going for straight hair on a four CP patch.

I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible. Have a black an white striped image. and it doesn't seem to give the expected variation.

H'mmm time for something to eat and a cup of tea...

regards

simon

 

Hair_Test.jpg

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To view the Tech Talks I believe you'll need to install the Techsmith Ensharpen Codec:

 

(You'll find it down that the bottom right of this page)

 

http://www.techsmith.com/download.html

 

 

Rodney

Thank you for that. The image now appears and, erring on the side of caution as ever, I'm DLing thefile too.

regards

simon

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Hey, she's looking good! Nicely done.

 

Can I ask again... because you didn't address this before when I asked... why you've settled on the style of the unnaturally thin chest and stomache area for your characters?

 

I ask because these look like normal character except for that area.

If they are robots then disregard... I get it.

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Hey, she's looking good! Nicely done.

 

Can I ask again... because you didn't address this before when I asked... why you've settled on the style of the unnaturally thin chest and stomache area for your characters?

 

I ask because these look like normal character except for that area.

If they are robots then disregard... I get it.

 

Rodney

Pardon me I didn't intentionally not address the question. It was a stylistic decision sometime back, taken for a number of reasons. Partly my lack of modelling ability but also a reaction to photorealism. I can appreciate other peoples skills in that regard, and there are some very able people on the forum but, too often you wonder why not do it live action instead? I think the clincher was reading an article or book somewhere were they suggested that using stick figures meant there was nowhere to hide, your errors or mistakes would be more apparent and that seemed like a good idea if I wanted to improve. That may have been the George Maestri book I mentioned the other day.

 

I had an idea for a series of shorts based around similar figures under the provisional title of Blockheads. This one was Winona Blox ( the name taken from a character in the TV series "Justified" ), she has a rival Ava, ( similarly named ), each has a partner and there are kids too. The males tend to be straight edges and the females curved although they will need further development. I tried to use the simplest of graphic means to draw them and then replicate that in the models. The eyes, for example are black, flat with a line above and below. The mouths are very similar with no space behind the lips, just a black area.

 

Another influence was the Pink Panther, which was always one of my favourite cartoons because of what it did with very limited means. PP is basically a stick figure with a big head and a tail. The very simplicity of the means allows a huge range of options and plays against the form. A bit like some of the WB shorts were Bugs Bunny draws a door on the wall and escapes , only to meet something coming the other way ( although that might be a road runner cartoon ? ). I remember a PP short were he is walking down some stairs and notices a picture is not straight on the wall. He stops, straightens it and the whole world tips up and he falls down the stairs.

 

The intention next year is to use the stick figures to continue learning about timing, movement and techniques, while preparing designs, story and processes for a project using fuller figures and a combination of cg and stop motion. I'm working on the designs in the evening when the computer is rendering away. I have a terrible tendency to start when only 60% ready ( as evidenced by this short ) and hope to catch up with the other 40% when underway. Next year should rectify that. In my dreams maybe !

 

Coincidentally, I did have an idea for a possible community project that might be of use ? It was very simple. Knights in armour doing sports. Each person would make their own knight ( close to a stick figure ? ) and nominate a sport. Animate their character doing that sport, then try to animate it doing the sports nominated by other people. My choice would be the pole vault. The results could then be edited together like TV coverage of a track and field event,which tends to cut from sport to sport, complete with commentary. I wondered if it might work as a learning process and be fun to do ?

 

Best stop there before I go off and start rambling even more.

regards

simon

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Thanks for the explanation Simon. I figured it was a stylistic choice but was interested in hearing your take on it.

You are close enough to having those characters look 'normal' that I'd like to see you push them the rest of the way there or push their stylistic appearance further to exploit what you've already got going here.

 

Lest you think I just don't like the thinness of the characters at all, it might be good to know that I've long had some characters that have some similar thinness to them (mostly in the arms) but the design is built on (what I consider) a plausible reason for that thinness to be there. In my case however the characters are actually stickmen but there is a reason for them to be stickmen in a world where they can interact with real humans. In short, they were manufactured that way via nanotechnology and they have become (effectively) sentient beings. I use to have a few images here in the forum with them... in a topic titled, 'My Robot Movie' but the links broke when I moved years ago. I called that team of them, 'Team Megamatchstick' so technically they weren't stickmen but rather matchsticks. ;) The closest thing I can compare them to might be 'The Micronauts' if you are familar with them. Some day I'd like to to revisit those characters... and I do think they have a plausible thickness to their chest and stomach areas even though they are otherwise very unnaturally shaped.

 

For my part I'm trying to understand my own reaction to your character which has been, "Why don't these normal looking characters have a chest and a stomach?" versus "Hey, those are some cool looking stylized characters." I confess that I don't know why this is but that has been my general reaction each time I see them.

 

Consider the following and perhaps it'll make some sense:

Let's say one of your characters had a piece of clothing that hung down over their shoulders (a poncho or a vest or something similar). Would that clothing hang down naturally into the air (the missing space where the chest and stomach would be or would it conform to the shape of their abstract chest and stomach? I can anticipate your response as saying, "It'd hang down normally as if gravity were effecting it." Of course I might be wrong here. If it'd hang down normally then I again would question why the chest and stomach are missing.

 

I suppose what I am saying here is that if this abstracted style is the norm then something in their environment should echo that stylistic abstraction. Perhaps vases on a table would be unnaturally thin in the middle. Trees might be entirely too in their middle section. Common items around the house such as a full sized mirror or window might repeat that shape. In a Lego world one of the things that makes it so compelling is that the basic shape is repeated through everything and that provides the glue that forms a plausible reality (and a suspension of disbelief). Others may not have any issues with your current abstraction but for me it remains one of 'Why can't he see what is obviously wrong with these characters and just fix them?"

 

I hope this is making sense. I'm not suggesting you alter your character to conform to something you don't want or intend.

I'm just trying to make sense of them myself and their odd middle sections are growing on me. And I can immediately recognize your characters and distinguish them from someone elses. Perhaps you can explore that stylistic approach, push it further and take advantage of it. :)

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I hope this is making sense. I'm not suggesting you alter your character to conform to something you don't want or intend.

I'm just trying to make sense of them myself and their odd middle sections are growing on me. And I can immediately recognize your characters and distinguish them from someone elses. Perhaps you can explore that stylistic approach, push it further and take advantage of it. :)

 

Rodney

Thank you for your considered reply. The intention is to push them further and part of that will be the adding of clothes later on. Initially I had wanted to do without clothes but I think that would make them too simple. The hat in the earlier janitor shorts worked as a prop and a sign of what he was supposed to be. When he turned it round on his head there was the shift from what he was, to what he wanted to be. At least, that was the intention.

 

Now I've added hair, modified the chest on Winona, and made the bottom a little more rounded, I will probably make some changes to the males as well, especially as they are supposed to be builders. Not sure what they will be yet but I will post them when I do. The next short is lined up and storyboarded, an actor friend is going to do the voice and I even know the techniques to be used. (!!! shock). I've just got to get this one finished first....

regards

simon

 

Ps

A friend gave me a compilation of Sherman's Lagoon and I'm reading it now. I find the shifts between shark as human substitute and shark as shark keep putting me out of the narrative. Whereas the shifts in Calvin and Hobbes ( which we've talked about before ) are part and parcel of the narratives and work really well. The drawings are fab too!

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Responding to suggestions on improving the characters, I've spent some time trying to get hair to work. Here is a test of that work.Hair_Test.mov

 

At first glance it seemed OK but, when I stepped through it, there are seven frames where the back of the head is penetrated by the hair as the figure moves back. Collision detection was on in the settings, is there a way of preventing the problem.

 

It was rendered in V15j on a PC under Windows XP.

 

regards

simon

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If you havent allready you could try lowering the colision detction to say .5 and change the angle limits to 90 or whatever siuts ,other than that you could try puting more geometary on where it goese throughand add it to the head bone,would give the colision detct more to detect .Hope thats of some help.maybe try forces on/off Steve

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If you havent allready you could try lowering the colision detction to say .5 and change the angle limits to 90 or whatever siuts ,other than that you could try puting more geometary on where it goese throughand add it to the head bone,would give the colision detct more to detect .Hope thats of some help.maybe try forces on/off Steve

Steve

Thank you for your message. I shall try that later.

regards

simon

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[While working on the hair problem ( test render later ) I thought it might be a good idea to solve the distortion in the wrist (?)

 

diostortion.jpg

 

This is the problem

 

And this is the cp assignments in wire form

Wire_Bone.jpg

 

and shaded form

Shaded_Bone.jpg

 

At first all the cps were assigned to the hand geometry bone, the distortion was even more marked. So I tried assigning the first ring to the fan bone ( 2008 rig ) which improved it but still distorted, as you can see.

Is this a smartskin or weighting problem and, does anyone have a suggestin as to how I might correct it ?

regards

simon

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Hi Simon,

Although I'm no rigging specialist I might take a stab at this and I'm sure others will have better ideas, but looking at your screen shots I think you are asking rather a lot from not very much model geometry!

(I've scribbled some first impressions)

Whilst keeping the patch count low is generally a good thing, for areas like joints more can sometimes be better!

Whilst a lot can be achieved with good CP weighting some Smartskin will also be needed to pick up the slack as it were.

Its also with considering with things like hands, feet & heads do they need to be all modeled in one continues geometry? A separate hand pocking out of a shirt sleeve is free to rotate without twisting the arm mesh at all.

 

If I may, I might link this to your other post on project management.

When planning a character always ask yourself what am I going to want it to do? and can it do it? This doesn't just apply to complex movements but also to the seemingly simple ones too. Extending this further, conversely don't spend time in making a character capable of things its never going to need to do.

Wire_Bone.jpg

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Hi Simon,

.. I think you are asking rather a lot from not very much model geometry!

Whilst keeping the patch count low is generally a good thing, for areas like joints more can sometimes be better!

...

If I may, I might link this to your other post on project management.

When planning a character always ask yourself what am I going to want it to do? and can it do it? This doesn't just apply to complex movements but also to the seemingly simple ones too....

 

 

Mark

 

Thank you very much for your reply. I was wondering if that was what I might have to do and was slightly fearful of having to reinstall the rig ( for the 4-5th time ) as a consequence. I best make sure I learn on this project because the one I want to do is more complex still. Back to the splines it is...

regards

simon

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Hum… I might be wrong but I don't think you should need to reinstall the rig to fix the wrists as all you are doing is putting in some more spline rings. The new CP's will just need appropriate weighting to the different bones i.e Hand, Forearm Twist and Forearm bones.

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Hum… I might be wrong but I don't think you should need to reinstall the rig to fix the wrists as all you are doing is putting in some more spline rings. The new CP's will just need appropriate weighting to the different bones i.e Hand, Forearm Twist and Forearm bones.

 

 

Mark

Thank you. I'll be very glad if thats the case. I'll find out this afternoon.

Thank you for your help.

regards

simon

 

Ps

Mark

I'm using the 2008 rig. You mention assigning cps to the twist geometry ? Do you do that manually or use the auto assign function ?

regards

simon

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Do you do that manually or use the auto assign function ?

 

Doing it manually is usually quick and easyand it leaves you in full control of CP assignments.

Auto assign can work but you run the risk of having Bones grab CPs you don't want.

A method for dealing with that would be to hide all geometry that you don't want selected just before using Auto Assign.

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Doing it manually is usually quick and easyand it leaves you in full control of CP assignments.

Auto assign can work but you run the risk of having Bones grab CPs you don't want.

A method for dealing with that would be to hide all geometry that you don't want selected just before using Auto Assign.

 

 

Rodney.

Thank you. I'm doing that now. cheers

simon

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Mark

I'm using the 2008 rig. You mention assigning cps to the twist geometry ? Do you do that manually or use the auto assign function ?

I, like Rodney, would do it manually, especially as the rest of the model is done and you don't want to disturb other parts by accident.

 

The "Twist" Bone is at the end of and "inside" the Forearm Bone (see snapshot)

CP's in the forearm should be weighted to it and the Forearm Bone (the ones I'v circled in blue).

CP's close to the wrist mostly to the Twist Bone and those furthest from the wrist, more to the Forearm Bone.

Some experimenting will be required to get it right!

Screen_shot_2012_11_23_at_21.09.03.png

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...

The "Twist" Bone is at the end of and "inside" the Forearm Bone (see snapshot)

CP's in the forearm should be weighted to it and the Forearm Bone (the ones I'v circled in blue).

CP's close to the wrist mostly to the Twist Bone and those furthest from the wrist, more to the Forearm Bone.

Some experimenting will be required to get it right!

 

 

Mark

 

Thank you once again.

I had it right but, then made an adjustment without saving first. .

Wah !!!

I'll have another go tomorrow. Storyboard relief is calling tonight.

regards

simon

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Not part of Stormy but, found these while looking for parts of stormy

 

Pre stormy clip. You may notice a Gum.movsimilarity in the figures. I meant to do it HD but the files got lost in the transfer over to using Macs I think.

 

This one was done in an afternoon on the relevant day.

 

New_Year.mov

 

Back to stormy.

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HeHe, Liked the Gum one :) You should work on that some more!

 

 

Mark

Thank you. I had a HD version with better lighting but, I've lost the files. I may get around to it over christmas though...

regards

simon

 

This was the second part ( I found it today )

Stuck_shoulder.mov

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Still plugging away at the original post. This may be the final scene. Its not a full quality render, just an action test.

Any feedback welcome, as always.

regards

simon

 

Ps

This is the version without hair. That comes later when I get the action right...

 

Scene_Seven.mov

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That's coming along pretty nicely simon!

 

 

Thank you Gerry. I haven't assembled all the hair files yet but will do so over the next few days and post it then. Have to get the sound right next...

regards

simon

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I'll put the hair files together over the weekend but, I've reached the realisation that, as a narrative its not going to work very well so I'm thinking of stopping and moving on to one thats properly worked out in advance.

Thank you very much to everybody for their help. It has been very much appreciated and needed. I have learnt a Huge amount doing it.

regards

simon

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As Threatened, the hair version.

The strange colour change in scene six ( when the lights go out ), happened when, the light settings changed in the chor. I corrected it in the hairless version but, didn't spot it in time with this one and the render times were too long to correct. I'll learn next time...maybe !

 

simon

 

Hair.mov

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