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Yet another project to keep me from getting enough sleep...but lot's of fun nonetheless. This idea for a series was one I suggested as a project for the Atlanta AM User's Group. The idea was to use marshmallows as the characters and have all sorts of horrible and hilariously funny things happen to them "by accident". We would call the series the "Marshmallow Safety Films". Being such vulnerable creations, accidents are pretty easy to come by. :D Colin Freeman took a first crack at modeling one of the characters while I developed several story boards. Shortly thereafter Colin had to focus the Egyptian project he was doing at IBM, and we have not gotten the group together since then.

 

That was quite a while ago. I have just resurrected this little project, with a view to maybe getting two or three episodes done in time for a local film festival next year. I've changed the model somewhat to simplify it.

 

Marshmallow.jpg

 

Integrating the mouth into a cylindical head is a bit of a challenge. May need some help there, especially. My goal is to get a good bit of expressiveness out of just the eyes and mouth, plus gestures and body language, while keeping the model design as simple as possible.

 

I have several storyboards worked out for the series:

 

"Smoking can be Hazardous to Your Health."

"Campfire Safety"

"Hot Cocoa"

"A Day at the Beach"

"Home Appliances"

 

and a horror film tribute

 

"The Blob Invades Sugarville"

 

 

Bill Gaylord

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Look forward to learning about special effects on this project. Lot's of potential for interesting sight gags! Any suggestions, recommendations, pointers, tutorials for special effects applications will be much appreciated. ;)

 

Bill Gaylord

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One thought would be to take the panda on fire project off the CD (don't know if it's on the new one, but it was on the Keekat and maybe even the Perk CD's) and use your marshmellow instead. That would be great to see the little guy running around, all on fire with smoke pouring out behind!! Even shoot some DV footage at the beach, semi-evening by fire ring...have it jump off the stick and run around in circles in the sand, maybe do a drop, stop and roll.

 

Greg

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Need some help with the mouth. Since the mouth is a big factor in the expressiveness of the face, I want to make it one of the more "high performance" parts of the model. Here are pictures of how I've integrated the mouth. This may limit how much I can manipulate the mouth before I start getting serious kinks and creases (at least unatural creases I don't want...). If anybody has any good suggestions on how to improve the mesh in and around the mouth to improve it's smoothness when stretched and manipulated, I would greatly appreciate it!

 

MMmouthSide01.jpgMMmouthSide02.jpg

 

These pics should give you an idea of where five-point patches, hooks, and other potential "trouble areas" are located.

 

Include sketches, if you can, showing how you might modify or replace what I have done. Any general advice on how to make sure the mouth mesh behaves--gamma tweaks, etc.-- will be appreciated, too.

 

Thanks!!

Bill Gaylord

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simplified the mouth following John Henderson's "Kapsules" as a guide. Much better behaved mouth mesh! Threw in a tongue.

 

Marshmallow02.jpgMarshmallow03.jpg

 

The eyes will have simple pupils that will be adjustable in size as explained in my cartoon eye tutorial.

 

Cartoon Eye Tutorial

 

Any comments/suggestions are welcome.

 

Bill Gaylord

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is another eye test. This is a test of the full rig, based on Raf Anzovin's approach with the "lid line" control, and my own rig for controlling the size of the pupil. This is a rough cut that is runs by a bit too fast and lacks some refinements I would have added for a more important test.

 

Marshmallow Eyes 2

 

I'm pretty pleased with the controls. I've tried to express puzzlement (Huh?), shock (OMG!), and abject horror (Aaaahhh!!) in rapid succession using just simple eyelids and "black dot" pupils. The idea is to get more expression with less anatomy. Let me know what you think of the design.

 

Bill Gaylord

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I've got the eyes rigged and have started working on the mouth. To save some time and perhaps even get symmetrical controls, I've been trying to copy in one pose and then "paste mirrored" in another. Can't seem to get it to work. Copy and Paste work, but not "paste mirrored". I've tried tolerances all the way up to 5cm, which is larger than the mouth, but still no response. Any ideas what I am doing wrong? I select the mouth area in the source pose (which simultaneously highlights the same area in the destination pose) and copy. Then I click on the destination pose window and click "paste mirrored"--nothing happens. If I simply paste, that copies the moved CPs just fine. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Here is a picture of the two windows:

 

CopyPasteMirrored.jpg

 

I copy from the bottom one and try to paste mirrored to the top. Maybe somebody out there can figure out what I am doing wrong. Should the relationships button be on or off? Animate button?

 

Bill Gaylord

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I think Hutch has got the way of it Bill :D Deselectand then paste mirrored.

Just looked in on this thread for the first time, and it looks pretty cool.

For what it's worth I'd add teeth, they're necessary(or at least add a lot) for some expressions and sounds.

The eye test looks good, although I'd up the specularity and add reflection on the eyeballs to differentiate them from the marshmellow.

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Still not getting it right somehow. Perhaps a simple step-by-step example ("micro" tutorial) would help. I haven't found much info on how to use it properly. It's got to be something simple I'm missing.

 

I agree about the eyes needing more reflectivity and specularity. Have been focusing more on the mechanics of making them move. I think teeth would add a lot as well. I was thinking along the lines of using "jimmies" (those little "capsule" shaped candy sprinkles) for teeth. It might be interesting to animate one marshmallow adding teeth to another--multicolored teeth from a small pile of "jimmies".

 

Thanks!

 

Bill Gaylord

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Just tried it again and it worked fine. The key does seem to be to select only one side and then the other for the copy and paste mirrored. Worked just fine with .1cm tolerance and could probably work with a smaller tolerance. Phil Leavens explained it in more detail and it finally clicked in this rusty cog mind of mine.

 

Thanks!

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This may not look like much change, but most of his face rigging is done. Just have to add the main mouth controls now that I have all the low level controls done. Before long he should be talking, if not singing and dancing! Need to add some teeth. I have enough low level controls that I can get a wide range of mouth movements. I'll probably do a fairly realistic setup and a cartoony one similar to Justin Barrett's "Veggie Tales" mouth poses.

 

Marshmallow04.jpg

 

Anybody know how to get bias handles to work in a pose? I want to adjust the curvature of the lips as they move in or out, but I can't seem to get the bias handles to move while in a percentage pose. Anybody know what I may be missing here?

 

Bill Gaylord

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Still not much visible progress, but now he has teeth! They are patterned after "jimmies", those little cylindrical candy sprinkles. May actually finish rigging this guy today. Let me know what you think about the design. Any comments, critiques, suggestions quite welcome!

 

Marshmallow05.jpg

 

Bill Gaylord

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Need some help here. I'm trying to adjust the bias when moving the lips in or out in a percentage pose. I want to adjust the curve of the lip in profile using the bias to pucker the lips when they stick out. I can't get the bias handles to work! Nor does it seem to work when I adjust the bias numerically in the properties window. Is bias not a property you can animate? Or is this perhaps a bug I should report? Here is a view of the pose window:

 

bias.jpg

 

Any idea what I might be doing wrong, or might be missing? I'd have had the whole Marshmallow rigged by now if it weren't for this hurdle I can't seem to clear.

 

Bill Gaylord

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I am just guessing...

 

See the little boxes at the bottome? You are keying muscle movement but it looks like the key bias button is not checked (the one right next to the key muscle button).

 

Like I said I am just guessing here.

 

Vernon "!" Zehr

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I said to myself, "Yah, Vern! That's got to be it!", so I tried it. No such luck. I'm beginning to think this might be a bug or at least a needed feature. All I can do is lengthen the handle. I think it might be time to contact the Hash support crew.

 

Thanks anyway man! Love your Happy Bear and friends!

 

Bill Gaylord

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Thanks, Jeff. I really look forward to bringing this little guy to life. Animation is my favorite part of the process.

 

RE bias adjustments in a percentage pose: I tried a simple experiment in both 11.1a and 10.5. Both have very similar results. The bias handles don't work like they do in a model window. Also any CP with bias altered in the pose no longer responds properly in the model window. Have reported this to Hash support. Not sure whether these are bugs or I am just trying to do something that isn't supported yet.

 

Bill Gaylord

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  • 3 weeks later...

Amazing what becomes obvious after you take a break from a project. Although the bias adjustment problem mentioned earlier is still a problem, I found a simple solution to getting a nice pucker. It is so obvious!

 

The mouth has a spline ring with CPs I can pull back a bit to round out the pucker, as can be seen in profile below:

 

Bias01.jpg

 

Still would like the bias adjustments issue fixed, but this will work just fine for now. Have submitted a bug report to Hash.

 

Man, I am eager to get this little guy movin' around and talkin'! Have a lip sync test scene planned that will be a parody of a parody that Justin Barrett did. Hope y'all will enjoy it when I get it put together.

 

Bill Gaylord

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Hey Bill, great work on your marshamallow.

 

To quote The Princess Bride:

 

Inigo Montoya: "I admit you are a much better modeler than me."

 

Dread Pirate Roberts: "Than why are you smiling?"

 

Montoya: "Because I am modeling in AM with my left hand, and I am not left handed."

 

Roberts: "Well I too am not left handed."

 

:P:D:lol:

 

 

Just had to add that. Anyway, I finished my Marshamallow animation a few months back.

http://amfilms.hash.com/search/Entry.php?entry=850

 

Here's a larger file if you wish to see.

http://gutterbrothersllc.com/video/

 

Anyway, I like your marshmallow better. I look forward to your finished project. :)

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Yes! I love your Mac & Mallow film!

 

Hope you and many others will get a kick out of the Marshmallow Safety Films, if I ever get around to finishing any of them. Once I get the basic marshmallow model and rigging worked out I look forward to doing some "screen tests" and then starting work on an actual episode. Most will range from relatively simple sight gags lasting a few seconds, to more elaborate "accidents" that will likely run for a couple of minutes. Once I get some of those under my belt, I may tackle a "feature length" film that might last a whopping 10 minutes or so (a takeoff on the movie "The Blob").

 

I'm hoping Colin Freeman and I can get the Atlanta AM user's group going again soon. This might be a good collaborative project for such a group.

 

Thanks for the jokes and the encouragement!

 

Bill Gaylord

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For the past few months I've been overwhelmed with my "paying" job working for BellSouth as a technical consultant. The tree animation project has also been neglected for quite some time.

 

The marshmallow is a bit of a diversion that is helping me learn a lot about rigging a face for animation (albeit a simplefied one). Once I get this little guy rigged and cloned, I should be able to crank out a series of shorts sort of like "Petey and Jaydee", but with marshmallows.

 

Bill Gaylord

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Hi Bill- this is looking great! I like what you've done with the eyes. I'm working on a character posted in WIP with very similar eyelid structure. Could you post a wireframe of the eyes?

 

Thanks, good luck with this. I'm looking forward to more.

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Thanks, Gerry! Here is a picture with the wireframe that should at least give you some hints on how the eyes are constructed. For a detailed tutorial on how I build the cartoon eyes with a resizeable pupil check out: Cartoon Eye Tutorial

 

MMEyes01.jpg

 

To make the lids, lathe a sphere a bit larger than the eyeball, then delete one pole plus all but two of the spline rings south (or north--depending on which pole) of the "equator". Then you sort of tuck these two spline rings up inside the lid so the surface curves inward at the equator. By adjusting the diameter and postition of the tucked-in rings, you can get very close to a perfect outer hemisphere shape without having to tweak any bias. These lids are basically simple bowl shapes...nothing complicated.

 

MMEye02.jpg

 

Hope this helps!

 

Bill Gaylord

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Hi Bill - yup it helps a lot, but I should have been more specific. What I was wondering about was the opening and closing of the eyelids. Is is a pose slider? How do you get the lids to move in the same curve as the surface of the eyeball?

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Hi Bill,

 

the old guy is looking good! Good to hear your busy, and good to see it. You've come a long way since our first Atlanta AM meetings!

 

We'll try to get together for another soon. Right now I'm swamped as well.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

C

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Hi Bill - yup it helps a lot, but I should have been more specific. What I was wondering about was the opening and closing of the eyelids. Is is a pose slider? How do you get the lids to move in the same curve as the surface of the eyeball?

 

Since the lids are fixed bowl shapes I assign a bone to each lid and center the bones origin at the very center of the eye. That is the way I get the lids to follow the curve of the eye. I then use a set of additional bones, constraints, and percentage poses to build a set of controls for actual use in animation. I would highly recommend Raf Anzovin's "Rigging a Face" tutorial CD. He presents a way to rig the eyelid controls that is easier to use in animation. It takes a bit of time to learn but is worth the effort.

 

What I would recommend for your model is to use one bone each for controlling the top and bottom lids in your model that pivot at the center of the eye. Then use a Smartskin relationship for each of the upper and lower lids. Use the bone rotation to control the rotation of each of the semicircular splines in the moving part of your eyelid. Make sure you go a bit farther than you expect to give yourself enough range of lid motion. Once the Smartskins are keyed, you will have four main control bones that control the four lids. Then you can add constraints and percentage poses that in turn control these bones to give you a nice set of animation controls.

 

Bill Gaylord

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The wide mouth design is creating challenges. For most mouth movement it has worked out OK, but an extreme combination of pursing and puckering the lips looks a bit ugly in my opinion. Let me know what you think. I'm seriously considering redoing the mouth mesh.

 

Here are some pictures to illustrate. The first is the neutral mouth. The second and third show the purse/pucker. Note the ridges that form in the extremes.

 

MMmouth01.jpgMMmouth02.jpgMMmouth03.jpg

 

Here is an early thumbnail sketch of the marshmallows. This design has very small mouths. Any opinions on whether I should make it small as in the original sketches or extra wide as in the current design or something in between?

 

Smoking.jpg

 

Smaller would behave better, but give me your votes! Or mesh design suggestions that might make the wide mouth work better in the extremes.

 

Bill Gaylord

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Bill, the first thing that comes to mind is whether the purse/pucker expression will be used for more than a moment, if not I don't mind the slight creasing. It even appears to go with the facial lines of the character. Second, can you do an effective purse/pucker that's not so extreme?

 

One last comment, maybe you could make the small mouth the default (it seems to go better with the character designs) and have the option for the big mouth when called for.

 

this is looking good, it's fun to watch develop.

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Here is the smallmouth variety of Marshmallow...

 

MMsmallmouth.jpg

 

The mouth slit is just visible, but should give you a sense of relative size. I think this looks more appropriate and should be much easier to rig. Also added another spline ring around the mouth that should help quite a bit.

 

MMmouthmesh.jpg

 

Well, round two of rigging a mouth! :blink:

 

Bill Gaylord

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Actually this was in an action window, so lighting is not ideal. This was just a test of how well the "puckering" of the lips works. Normally they won't "pooch" out like that. I am very pleased with the lack of creases or ridges in this mesh design.

 

Soon I will have all the mouth controls configured and will move on to the rest of the rigging. I wanted the mouth to be one of the high performance pieces of the model so I could get a lot of mileage out of the mouth and eye expressions.

 

Thanks for the input!

 

Bill Gaylord

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Most of the facial rigging is "bone free"...mostly muscle mode or simple translations controlled by percentage poses, except for the eye rig, so not much would be visible as in a normal skeletal rig. I will share as much as I can, though.

 

Bill Gaylord

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  • 4 weeks later...

Haven't had much spare time in the past two weeks, but have squeezed in time to experiment with various ways to rig the Marshmallow's arms. Here is what I did for the shoulder. The idea is to make the main shoulder ring pivot like it is fixed to an axel. The next ring is the actual pivot point and acts mostly as a hinge joint. The result is similar to a universal joint that connects two rotating shafts at an angle. This is a simplified shoulder design for simple characters where the shoulder does not really need to be joined to the body. The following picture shows how it works:

 

ShoulderRig01.jpg

 

The "axel" bone is a child of the shoulder bone. It has an "aim roll at" constraint to a target that is in turn controlled by the angle and roll of the upper arm bone. The target bone has two "translate to" constraints--one to a bone that is a child of the upper arm bone and one that is a child of the shoulder bone. This combination allows the arm to rotate forward beyond 90 degrees without the target bone passing to the opposite side of the axel bone. If it did, the roll of the axel bone would suddenly pop to the other side causing a gruesome kink in the shoulder.

 

I use Sonofpat's idea of using several bones with "orient like" constraints around the shoulder ring associated with the pivot point. That does most of the work of smoothing the shoulder mesh. I then give it some final tweaks using a Smartskin on the upper arm bone, setting just four extremes--forward, backward, up, and down. Works great with the TSM2 arm rig!

 

I'll do the same with the hip joints as the Marshmallow has no hips, strictly speaking. ("He has no butt!!!")

 

I may post an animation of the arm rig to show off it's performance.

 

Bill Gaylord

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