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John Bigboote

New Distort in an Action

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Hey Guys! Playing with V18E got me to this:

 

I make a simple model, like a tube (simple circle extruded 8X) and I bring it into an action. I want to make a New Distort in the action to bend the tube, so I rt-click on the action and choose New Distort. I now notice that a new object has been created in the Objects PWS and an instant of it is in my Action... but if I go into muscle-mode to start deforming the distort-mesh, my tube-model remains unaffected. I see that there is a 'target' pull-down in the distort action object's properties... but it seems to be unable to select anything.

 

How can I get this to work?

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I remember that... searching the archives I see that I've been down this road before and hit the same dead-end. I have a crazy idea that with 1 distortion-box model associated multiple times with a rigged character and constrained to certain joints (elbows, shoulders, torsos) that the distortion would control the bend based on how the rig-bones move/rotate... thus over-riding any weighting, smartskin, intermediary bones issues... and allowing for dense geometry models to bend as smooth as minimally built ones.

 

The problem I encounter is that the distort model can only be associated with 1 bone, you can put multiple bones into the distort... but the entire model once applied in an action or pose will only honor 1 exterior bone... even constraining the distorts other bones with orient like translate to's will not allow the distort mesh to bend according to outside influences.

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and allowing for dense geometry models to bend as smooth as minimally built ones.

 

 

Bone Falloffs can do this. It's not one-step, but it's not nearly as many steps as trying to get Distortion boxes to do it.

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Took a look at Bone Falloffs... a great feature that should be remembered and commonly utilized- but not what I had in mind. I think A:M has the technology already to do what I have in mind but just needs the ability to 'connect' two existing features: a distort to a models bone(s)(and multiple distorts) on a permanent basis. It's hard to explain. Here is a link demonstrating how another character animation software is utilizing lattice or wrap deformers:

 

Now, I'm not trying to say 'A:M should emulate this other softwares feature'... in this thread I am simply grasping to try to get our powerful deform feature(available while modeling, available in actions, poses and smartskins) to do something similar to what you might see in that video. I'm not really looking at the part where they distort the type... I know A:M can do a similar effect... I'm looking at the character stuff, in particular the face morphing and the smooth bending neck at the very end. I know I am opening myself to criticism for even looking at the other software... I apologize in advance.

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I look at that and... what is not doable in A:M?

 

Show me the example that YOU are trying to do NOW that CAN'T BE DONE!

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I make a simple model, like a tube (simple circle extruded 8X) and I bring it into an action. I want to make a New Distort in the action to bend the tube, so I rt-click on the action and choose New Distort. I now notice that a new object has been created in the Objects PWS and an instant of it is in my Action... but if I go into muscle-mode to start deforming the distort-mesh, my tube-model remains unaffected. I see that there is a 'target' pull-down in the distort action object's properties... but it seems to be unable to select anything.

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I make a simple model, like a tube (simple circle extruded 8X) and I bring it into an action. I want to make a New Distort in the action to bend the tube...

 

Here's a slightly more complicated case. Is this good enough?

 

CylBend.mov

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That was just two bones for the whole mesh.

 

Here's a one (one!) fanbone version...

 

CylFanBend.mov

 

 

Look at that smooth bend on that complex mesh with just one fanbone!

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Here is the same model with twisting motion on the Z axis after the bends

 

CylFantwist.mov

 

the first twist to the left is 120°. I think that looks fine.

 

The second is 180° to the right. That starts to look lumpy at the most extreme rotation, but a human neck won't even do 90°

 

Any of these motions are far more motion than Modo was able to show its distortion boxes doing. If they could have they would have.

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This could be the next "It Can't Be Done"

 

Would a tutorial on using these bone falloffs be a desirable thing or is this still not solving he problem you need solved?

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Here's a variation that distributes the bend along the entire length of the tube... 640 CPs.

 

CylFantwistMore.mov

 

 

That's still with just one fan bone.

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First let me say that there is some cheating going on in that Modo video. th_old.gif

 

There is an edit where they have jumped from creating the distortion cage on that character to where it is rigged and they can animate it. I don't believe it is a one-button-press solution as the video implies.

 

They have also covered over typical problem areas like where the shoulders join to the torso with non-moving straps. The neck is smoothly bending but they only rotate it a small angle and the rest of that character appears to be a bunch of separate parts not actually skinned together like we do in A:M.

 

 

 

None-the less... back to doing it with a distortion box.

 

I created a new Action for the tube model and added a Distortion box to it.

 

In the model window for that newly created D Box I added bones in the typical two-main-bones-plus-one-fan-bone arrangement and attached the D Box's CPs to those bones.

 

Back in the action I added the constraint to make the fan bone 50% follow the second "main" bone.

 

I dropped the tube model into a Chor, i dropped the Action onto the model and animated the bones of the D Box in the Chor.

 

CylDBox.mov

 

It can be done, but I'm still thinking why not use bone falloffs to weight the mesh? It's simpler, it's more flexible, it's easier to edit and easier to animate with.

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It can be done, but I'm still thinking why not use bone falloffs to weight the mesh? It's simpler, it's more flexible, it's easier to edit and easier to animate with.

 

With a distortion box one can squish and squash more easily and in disproportionate ways & for isolated discrete areas - eyes, nose, head, 1 finger, etc. Seems it would be an easier method than having to build that into a rig.

 

Bending, twisting is not all that one wants to do. In your last example, one could scale the middle area of the distortion box to have the tube distort in a variety of ways that would be more complicated to do with a bone setup.

 

I have never been able to get distortion boxes in A:M to work consistently, I believe there are bugs. But it could be that I wasn't using them correctly.

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Matt cited a tube as a shape he wanted to distort so that's why i did a tube and demonstrated the bending and twisting motion that seems to be the goal of interest in the Modo video.

 

Here is the tube rigged with bone falloffs, now with authentic scaling motion.

 

CylFanScaled.mov

 

 

 

As far as squishing the head around in a distortion box, our distortion boxes work for that too.

 

If there's a case where that is not working, let's look at that.

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I'm testing out scaling with a distortion box.

 

Pushing and pulling points in relation to each other works as expected, but imagine selecting one plane of points of the distortion box... the dimension perpendicular to the plane will be infinitely thin.

 

Should I be able to scale that thin dimension and get a result? Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't. Interesting.

 

 

update: my distortion box seems not to work in NetRender (in v18)

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Now, I'm not trying to say 'A:M should emulate this other softwares feature'... in this thread I am simply grasping to try to get our powerful deform feature(available while modeling, available in actions, poses and smartskins) to do something similar to what you might see in that video. I'm not really looking at the part where they distort the type... I know A:M can do a similar effect... I'm looking at the character stuff, in particular the face morphing and the smooth bending neck at the very end. I know I am opening myself to criticism for even looking at the other software... I apologize in advance.

 

 

The cage deformer around the sweater is interesting also. And even tho John/Matt isn't interested in distorting the type - I am..on a consistent basis. IIRC, sometimes it works, sometimes not, sometimes never again after bringing in chor fresh.. I never spent much time on it, don't remember which version I was trying...haven't tried it in a long time.

 

Matt cited a tube as a shape he wanted to distort so that's why i did a tube and demonstrated the bending and twisting motion that seems to be the goal of interest in the Modo video.

 

Here is the tube rigged with bone falloffs, now with authentic scaling motion.

 

CylFanScaled.mov

 

As far as squishing the head around in a distortion box, our distortion boxes work for that too.

 

If there's a case where that is not working, let's look at that.

 

That's looking good!

Edited by NancyGormezano

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Distortion cages should do exactly what is on view in that video.

Although... Disclaimer: I'm not sure how to approach automation of that last wind-blown dynamic look.

 

Here's a quick project I put together to remind myself how to use distortion cages.

A few things that I note:

 

- It's best to use a new distortion cage rather than reuse the same over and over again

(One cage per bone chain is probably ideal.. just scale the cage to fit and adjust the cage resolution as necessary)

 

There are several reason for this... not all of those reasons I can recall at the moment but a few of the straightforward reasons:

- You can control the density of the cages independently whereas you can't if you use the same one in multiple places.

- Multiple cages on bones near each other can interfere with the effect of other cages.

- When this is the same cage it can get really confusing. Having different thicknesses/scales/resolutions can help define what you are working with quickly.

- When initially setting up cages it is best to save/close and reopen the project to seat all the changes into place. The graphics card might not be able to keep up with everything and you'll think things aren't working when they actually may.

 

A few other things:

- When animating it's generally best to animate with Bones first and then go back in and finesse with distortion (think of it as secondary action and follow through)

- It is often best to begin with a low rez distortion cage. You can go back in and then up the rez later (make this change in the root distortion cage... as far you can't change it elsewhere)

This last one has a very nice effect of smoothing out choppy animation that was created with the lower density cage. I haven't experimented with this much but something that looked broken was automatically fixed and smoothed out after upping the rez. Nice!

- There are a few other things to watch out for but I can't recall at the moment.

 

Ah... here's another: Beware what can happen if/when geometry falls outside of the perimeter of your distortion cage. I haven't delved too deeply but expect the mesh to move back to wherever it was last keyframed.

 

I've got mirror-mode on my mind to experiment with as I recall that should work with distortion cages as well.

So... off to test.

 

Edit: As far as bugs are concerned the only potential bug that suggested itself to me was the orientation of the cages which (I assume) takes it's orientation from the Bone it is assigned to. This may not be evidence of a bug but it can be quite confusing because when you try to transform or scale in say... the Y direction... that isn't what you are always gonna get. There are workarounds to this and more than likely (as Nancy suggested) I'm not approaching usage from the correct way.

 

Added rendering of rabbit.

Rabbit_DistortionCaged1.prj

distortioncages.mov

distortioncages_shaded.mov

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Nicely done Robert!

That's the ticket!

 

I thought of another tip for using Distortion Cages.

 

Sometimes it can be hard to know what part of a cage you are manipulating and equally hard to determine what part of a cage you want to manipulate.

This is especially true for high resolution cages.

 

So what to do?

Name Groups is the thing.

 

Example: When animating in a Chor and you decide to manipulate your Distortion cage select you cages Control Points (using the Shift key or whatever works best to select the parts of the cage). Then Right Click and Rename the Groups name. These groups can of course be defined before you animate but if you forget to do that or didn't plan ahead don't let that stop you. The next time you need that paricular location deformed/distorted then just click on that Groups name and adjust as necessary. You can even hide things outside of that range but... note that you'll probably have to go back into the original model to unhide the underlying mesh.

 

AND OH BY THE WAY...

 

Mirror Mode, Magnet Mode and both modes together work great with Distortion cages. :)

 

Edit: And another tip -- because it can be hard to find your distortion cages in the Project Workspace listing you may want to create a Filter for it so that you can access it via Name or Type or some other criteria and easily call it up on a tab in the PWS.

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Robert,

The one thing that isn't clear to me is how you are assigning bones to different parts of the distortion cage.

I'm approaching it differently than you are (and that isn't good!)

 

Can you clarify that part?

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Robert,

The one thing that isn't clear to me is how you are assigning bones to different parts of the distortion cage.

I'm approaching it differently than you are (and that isn't good!)

 

Can you clarify that part?

 

After I add the New Distort to the Action, I go to the "model" of the Distort box that is added to the Objects folder and add bones there.

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After I add the New Distort to the Action, I go to the "model" of the Distort box that is added to the Objects folder and add bones there.

 

Okay, got it. I just wanted to make sure!

 

Distortion is a very deep feature.

It's good that we are diving into it. :)

 

I've mostly used distortion for modeling but it's real power is in assisting the animation workflow.

Distortion_modeling.jpg

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GLAD that I checked-into the forum today...! Rodney and Rob have made me some heavy reading material for tonight- I so appreciate! THIS is powerful stuff! You guys ROCK!

 

THINK how cool this would have been to have on the Scarecrow of Oz!

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THINK how cool this would have been to have on the Scarecrow of Oz!

 

Wouldn't it have been.

We had it back in TWO but didn't have the wherewithal to leverage it there either. (Although note that I'm not suggesting that no one used it)

Raf Anzovin did some fine testing with it way back when too.

 

There is an image of Scarecrow floating about that has him all kind of stretching and matching the drawn imagery with facial contortions and exaggeration.

My memory says that Mark Strobehn put that together.

Not sure.

 

Whoops... found it!

 

post-60-1133113819.jpg

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Once again... this is great stuff here, bigger than I think people might know. This could be hyped as a major new feature, as Luxology is doing with M*d*801. I'm sure there is some 'behind the curtains footwork' to be done in other apps as we are discovering we have here- NOTHING is automatic!

 

I was basically doing what Rob is doing in his EXCELLENT last sample with screen capture(thanks for that, Rob) except for ONE thing... I was building it all in an Action(and adding bones to the distort model) and then proceeding to TEST it in the same Action... whereas I see Rob went ahead and tested it in the choreography- I hope that it is as simple as THAT! Need to get time to play- very excited!

 

IMAGINE a rig where distorts were placed:

Hips to torso

knees X2

shoulders X2

elbows X2

 

Thats 7 distorts... could make for a nice 'drag-drop-adjust' rigging solution built on top of a TSM2 or the Hash Rig...

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Are we there yet?

 

No, there's work to do. I see big possibilities. Can anyone envision a way that this could be further simplified programmically so we could present a case to Steffen for a feature request?

 

I don't know if Martin lurks or cares... but I'd bet the farm he would get a HOOT out of this!

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As Rodney alluded to earlier a Distortion box will only work on mesh within its boundaries.

 

So you can't use a D Box just on an elbow. It would bend the elbow but the portion of the forearm that extends beyond the elbow would not travel with it.

 

If that forearm was on a bone (as is typically done) and you rotated it hoping to match the portion of the forearm that extends past the Dbox with the portion that is inside the DBox, it would cause the portion within the DBox to be doubly bent.

 

The only way to solve that would be to have the DBox for the elbow also contain the rest of the arm beyond the elbow. That will be impractical.

 

You need another deformer scheme for things like knees and necks and elbows.

 

Good News! We have several good ones already. One of them is CP weighting and with Bone Falloffs that is easy to do on complex meshes.

 

Have I mentioned Bone Falloffs before? I'll do it now.

 

Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs, Bone Falloffs.

 

It is drastically easier and superior to a Distortion box scheme for joints. The result in the Modo video is not better than what we do already In A:M.

 

The modo video shows them creating a box which is really many boxes stuck together. What they end up with is a d box structure that is nearly as dense as a well-made A:M spline model would have been anyway. That still needs to be rigged with some sort of bone-like control to move it around. If their distortion cage was a strong rigging solution they would not have had to demonstrate it on a model with so many cheats in it.

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As Rodney alluded to earlier a Distortion box will only work on mesh within its boundaries.

 

The more serious problem is perhaps the reverse of this... meshes distorting when they come within the confines of a different distortion cage boundary.

See the last few frames of the attached .MOV where the hands enter the distortion cage assigned to Rabbit's hips...

 

There are some likely ways to combat this of course (I assume that in this case the distortion takes place because the arms and hands are children of the Hips*.

 

I shall try to test this out and report back in.

 

 

 

 

*Okay that didn't make sense. Technically *all* children are children of the hips. :rolleyes:

hipstorso.mov

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Wow, guys, this is some really cool and powerful stuff.

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Can anyone envision a way that this could be further simplified

 

I'd say that practically speaking we need to explore further and understand what we have available.

The one obstacle that I am running into that needs to be resolved would be some means to dampen the effect of distortion on subsequent bones in a chain.

What's the word I'm looking for here... oh yeah... falloff. hehe.

 

Perhaps there is something in Distortion that already allows for this but I don't see it.

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As the Tinkering Gnome is still delving into the world of distortion I thought I'd do a few follow up tests and this one turned out as I had hoped it would.

It's just an example that shows that the displacement is confined to children of the bone the distortion cage is assigned to.

I'm not suggesting that this is always the case (although I suspect it should be) but it definitely is in a Pose Driven Distortion Cage (PDDC).

This suggests that some of Matt's goals are achievable.

A few more tests might determine the extent of how successful such a thing would be.

 

At some point however it almost becomes the equivalent of a feature request for every bone to have an option to turn on/off it's own personally assigned distortion cage.

What the use-case purpose of this and how it would blend with features we already have at our disposal would remain to be seen.

I do now wonder how difficult it might be to create an excel spreadsheet that assigns a distortion cage to every bone in a model might be. :P

 

Attached is a very boring video that shows that distortion DOES NOT happen when the arms enter the distortion cage assigned to the pelvis.

(That's a good thing)

boneheirarchy.mov

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I've been doing lipsynch and character animation with dboxes for at least 7 or 8 years.... I even suggested we use it, along with a stripped down version of the 2001 rig, for the OZ movies when I was involved in the early early discussions with the big man. but I was drowned out in favor of what is apparently a still evolving rig monster.

I can only imagine how much easier it would have been on production for you guys had it been kept this simple...

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I've been doing lipsynch and character animation with dboxes for at least 7 or 8 years.... I even suggested we use it, along with a stripped down version of the 2001 rig, for the OZ movies when I was involved in the early early discussions with the big man. but I was drowned out in favor of what is apparently a still evolving rig monster.

I can only imagine how much easier it would have been on production for you guys had it been kept this simple...

 

 

I remember your 'keystone cop' character was one of the most bendy rigs I'd ever seen!

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