Animation Studio 1 – 11 – Furious Posing
This is the final entry for my Character Design project, this is gonna be a long one as I will talk about all the remaining steps until the production of the final Image. This was a bit of a chaotic process as although there was some coordination, it wasn’t optimal but we did get a great final result despite all the speed bumps.
Rigging & Skinning
The rigging process was easy, as I’ve gotten much more comfortable with creating custom rigs, but the characters short limbs did provide a bit of a challenge, as some of them weren’t bending when applying an IK solver. Thanks to the teachers I figured out it was because there was no bend on the elbow bend, beside that there were no major issues. I created The rig so that I could animate him in the future. I even added bones to the eyebrows and the mustache for extra control.
I then applied the skin modifier and spent some time identifying that all the elements deformed properly, the only part that didn’t work properly was the sleeve, but I didn’t have enough time to adjust it properly. In the end the sleeves didn’t affect the look of the final render as you can’t actually see the distortion from the angle of the final shot. All the geometry I added for the proper distortion of the character really helped in the end, showcasing how important it is to have proper topology.
Posing & Gathering the other Models
With all the aspects of my own character complete I decided to give him a simple standing pose where he is just grabbing his staff, as the character is very passive with his movement. There was no major distortion in the geometry as I spent my time with the skinning.
Simon, one of my team members, modeled a whole environment for the characters to be placed in, it was great as it really suited and complemented the look of the models, I spent a few hours collecting the models from everyone, making sure all the materials and textures worked. Some of the models were broken or didn’t have a pose at all, but at the end it all worked. The most important was to showcase all the character properly so their placement was very important, we communicated a lot to determine what was the best composition and arrangement until we ended up with the final positioning. All the models were fairly consistent although some of the colours were a bit to dark and some of the proportions didn’t match the ones of the other characters.
Lighting & Rendering
This was the funnest step, as I haven’t got much experience with lighting and rendering, that’s why I volunteered to do it. I started by adjusting the light that represents the fireplace. I then added a secondary light source in the form of a spotlight from the top left to represent the light from the moon. I then added a texture to the projection colour of the fireplace to give it more of a fire look instead of just a standard glow. The final light was a ambient light to bring colour to the shadows.
I used Mental Ray as my rendering engine, as I familiar with it and it allows the use of ambient occlusion materials. I also had final gather on just to add that extra uh la la, although it was probably not necessary. To create the ambient occlusion pass I simply used the material override in the render settings, where I plugged in a AO mental ray material with 128 samples if I remember right.
The ambient occlusion provided some challenges as the pass didn’t take into consideration the alphas from the bushes as all the materials where replaced. I eventually I found a solution but I didn’t have enough time to re render the pass and it wasn’t that noticeable in the final image anyway. Th solution is in the video below where you basically have to plug in the ambient occlusion material manually into each shader, except for the bushes where I would have to assign the original texture containing the alpha information into the opacity channel. But now I know how to create AO passes in any scene with any alpha information.
Beside the AO pass, I also did a render as an rpf file as it can contain extra channels to help with compositing, in this case I used the Z depth and object ID. With all my passes rendered (next time I will also make a shadow pass for extra control) I imported them into After Effects, as I had never done this before I had to do some research on how to actually use the extra channel information, it turns out all the information can be extracted with the use of all the effects in the 3d Channel section of the effects panel. First I adjusted the opacity of the AO pass, this is what I fiddled with the most as I had to find a balance between realistic lighting and hiding to much detail. I then used the Z depth channel to add a lens blur to put the forest out of focus, I also used it to add fog to the background to hide the fact that there was no background image. Finally I used the object ID which I added to the fire mesh to isolate it on its own layer, where I added a glow effect, this added a lot to scene. I also did some colour correction, although it is very subtle, and Tas made a new logo which I put on the top.
The final step was to get all the characters into sketchfab, there was a lot of problems with, Simon was meant to do it but at the end he needed my help, so we did it together for a while. One of the problems is that the textures weren’t applying properly, so we did some research and found out that triangulating the character might fix, and it did. Another issue was that some of the alphas weren’t working on the characters, so I assumed its because sketchfab is similar to game engines in that they only accept alpha information if it is a channel in the diffuse texture. So we used the alphas that were part of the diffuse. but one of our team members actually didn’t have the alpha channel set up properly in their diffuse, but I just jumped into Photoshop and deleted all the white parts of the texture which were alphas.
The last issue with the scene was my actual model as i had made it in maya the actual smoothing groups broke, so i had to reset them and redo them manually in 3DS max. Easy solution, just a bit time consuming, I believe we had so many issues with sketchfab as we all had a few different settings with our meshes, so on solution that fixed most of the models sometimes didn’t work on a couple.
Wrap Up & Feedback
We finally showed our finished render and I believe it was one of the best one thanks to the coordination we had in the last couple of weeks of the project. I was really happy with the way it turned out and this is the project were I probably learnt the most as I stepped outside of my comfort zone. Most of the feedback was positive but I did get some criticism for the lighting in the final scene so I will be trying to improve my lighting skills by attempting to light up every single model i make t showcase it properly.