Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Catching up

While the previous post was the first actual "content" in the past five months or so, this is the semi-obligatory "Holy cow, I haven't written in ages!" catching-up post. A lot has happened since last November, but even as I type this, I'm still evaluating how much of the goings-on of the past five months to share in this space. Hmmm...

Work-wise, most of my time was spent supervising a BOZ Christmas special which is slated for release later this year. In the middle of that, I had an opportunity to help with our portion of animation on TMNT. In the end I only animated one shot, which is probably why my name was omitted from the credits, but it was fun all the same. I was also able to contribute a little bit to the cinematics for the upcoming Transformers video game. Animation-wise, it was only one shot (again), but I actually appear -- in silhouette form, anyway -- in one scene of the game.

There's been a bit of a break recently in BOZ video production, so I've had the opportunity to animate on some other projects. Recently we've been doing a number of promotional bits for Shrek the Third -- TV commercials for product tie-ins, character interviews, etc. -- and earlier today I put the finishing touches on a rather long (25-second) shot of Puss in Boots. The model is nicely rigged and was fun to animate, although it was strange looking at the fur-less version of Puss and wondering how the poses I made would appear in the final render. Anyway, I saved out a number of videos showing the progress of the clip from start to finish, and once I have my hands on a rendered version, I'll post the collection to the Animation page of my site.

An interesting non-character animation opportunity arose while working on a shot for one of the commercials. I probably shouldn't give the details away until the commercials airs, so for now I'll just say that it involved animating a number of cylindrical objects bouncing and spinning on a tabletop. Hand keying all that spinning action in a believable way would have been a huge pain, but luckily I was able to draw upon the work I'd done roughly six years ago for an Animation:Master rig experiment and build my own rig for the objects that made the spinning animation SO much easier. I was even able to add an element missing from my original A:M rig that automatically offsets the contact point as the object tilts, which makes the spinning action more realistic. There have been times when I've questioned the value of those old non-character animation experiments, so being able to go back and draw upon one of them to get a job done was a fun sort of validation. Unfortunately there's still a hitch in the Maya version of the rig that I wasn't able to overcome due to my limited understanding of Maya's constraints, but working around it for the purpose of getting the shot done was fairly easy. Once I figure it out, I'm thinking of constructing an auto-rigger and sharing it on the MEL scripts page of my main site. No guarantees, but it'll probably happen...eventually...

That's about all the time I have for updates at this point. I'll try to be more active with this crazy blog thingamabob as time permits. As with the auto-rigger mentioned above, though, there are no guarantees, but it'll probably happen...eventually. :)


Mark Strohbehn said...

Hey Justin,

I've been meaning to tell you how helpful it is to see how you break down your video reference and to have you explain the different stages you went through from blocking to final render on the Boz and Everyone's Hero scenes. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this material. I was thrilled to see that you intend to post more examples in the future. You're an excellent teacher.



sushipajamas said...

hey hey, catch up again, ok?