Animated Short

So our next assignment after finishing the 3D environment project is to make a 30 second short based around the theme of bravery. We have been placed in groups by our Lecturer. I am working with James, Michael and Lauren.

Initial Ideas based around Bravery.

These are the ideas we came up with during our initial brainstorming session:

Tough guy gets beat up by tiny spider. As it is spider season and lots of people are scared of spiders we thought it would be funny if instead of the spider getting squished. The spider would get his own back on the humans.

Tiny character ends up being the tough guy. Developing on the spider idea. We discussed how the character who you would least expect would end up being the tough guy and save the day etc.

Goat and Chupacabra. Another idea that we had was about a mountain goat and a  creature called Chupacabra.

Mountain Comes alive. The mountain could come alive

Decided Idea- Goat and Chupacabra

The Story Idea we decided to center around is about a goat character and their run in with the mythical ‘Chupacabra’ a creature said to hunt them. (Translates as goat sucker) We like the idea of the goat trying to stand up to the creature and possibly killing it accidentally.

It started around the idea of certain breeds of goat have a genetic problem that they faint when startled, we liked the idea that the mountain goat would just freeze up and fall over at the sight of danger. We like the idea that the goat would be brave but because of its natural behaviour couldn’t help but fainting.

The Chupacabra will be more sinister coming to eat the goat but may be in for a surprise when/if he gets shown up by this small goat.

At this stage we briefly looked into the myth of the Chupacabra:

  • Originated in Puerto Rico in the mid-90s
  • Attacked and killed local livestock
  • Has been reported across Mexico and the southern U.S
  • Often described as a canine or reptile like creature

We might design our own take on the chupacabra, maybe using elements from the reports. The Chupacabra most likely is some for of wild dog but reports and imagery describe the Chupacabra as being dog like and even as far as being alien. (Wide range of different description.)

Here are some images of different versions of Chupacabras:




Walk Cycles and Body Mechanics

Posing Rigs

Our lecturer Alec set us the task of downloading the Jack and Jill body mechanic models and use them to create poses. This task allowed us to start to learn how to use them before we try and animate the models. The image below shows the basic controls of the rig.

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Here are some poses:

Basket Ball


Boxing and Performer


Demonstrating weight




I then went on to try and animate a walk cycle and body mechanic movement using the rigs.

Walk Cycle

Before we started to try and animate a walk cycle we were shown a demonstration in class on how to approach it. I went on from there to try and animate the jack rig in class. I found it rather difficult yet great fun as you could create whatever walk you wanted.

The hardest thing about the walk cycle was making it look smooth and getting rid of the popping knees.

This is an early attempt on a walk cycle. I removed the arms and the head so I could focus on the leg movement.

The main problems were the knees kept popping.

Here is a video that explains the process and helped me during the task.

I also found this channel which provides reference walks and other movements. I used the male walk as a reference.


The most useful reference material I used was from Richard Williams Animation Survival Guide. I imported the images into Maya and used them as a rough guide for timings and keyframes.


After I tried a basic walk. I went onto to try and get a basic run. It turned out very rough but was great practise before I went onto animating my final walk cycle.

I then went on to use the Jill rig to try and animate a female walk. I used the images above as a rough reference.

I also got Jack Ellison – to video me attempting a girly walk.

I looked at other examples of female walk cycles on youtube to get a feel for the differences between male and and female movements. (Mainly in the hips)

This is a play blast mid way through animating the female walk. I tried to animate the arms at the same time as the legs which proved to be quite hard.

I went back and used the animators survival guide for reference for the arms.


I found the placement of the arms extremely useful as it was one of the hardest parts of the walk to get right. I adjusted the hands out slightly to give a slightly more feminine look. (Over exaggerating)

Here is a render of my final walk cycle. I rendered it out with a light to give the impression that the model is actually making distance. overall the effect worked yet the shadow makes the ground flicker slightly.

Body Mechanics

For my body mechanics I wanted to focus on some kind of extreme sport. I thought it would be cool to try out a free style move. like a backflip.

To practice before starting my final body mechanic I decided to try and animate the rig carrying out a upper cut boxing move.

I used endlessreference’s video to base my upper cut on.


I blocked out the major movements of the character based on the reference then went back to fill in some keyframes to make the animation slightly more fluid.


The animation didn’t turn out as well as I wanted and I felt like a punch didn’t really show as much movement as I wanted.

I then moved onto my backflip. I used a reference video of a backflip.

During animating the backflip I decided to turn it into a dive implementing the backflip movement into a a dive through a hoop.

Here is my final render:


3D Environment

We have been set the task to create a 3D interior/exterior scene that conveys a narrative. We have split into groups. I am in a group with Holly and Conor.

Storyline: We started by discussing some ideas and how we could deliver a narrative through visuals and sound.

Time period

  • Boxing Arena (1940s-50s) / Pool table/ aftermath of sporting event
  • Old person’s living room/ up as reference
  • D day Beach/ Saving Private Ryan
  • Holding Cells (which have been escaped)/ The Dark Knight
  • Strange/evil bakery
  • A murderer’s house/detective office (room with clues to their evil character)
  • Kung Fu master’s place of meditation and training
  • Stage show/eerie magic show
  • 1920s moonshining / Speakeasy (L.A. NOIRE inspo)

We picked our top ideas and discussed what we could do with them before deciding on a final idea to go with.

Old Person house/Living Room


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Boxing Arena/ Aftermath

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We decided quite early on that we wanted to go with the boxing idea. We discussed different settings/ narratives that we could explore. We particularly liked the idea that the Mafia would be involved and there has been some sort of scandal.


Boxing Arena –

  • time period could be old or new.
  • Two fighters.
  • Could be a scandal involved/cheating
  • Old vs new boxers (end of an era)
  • Possible accident/taken too far (the referee could be bad or a cheater)
  • Props – Banners/flyers/newspapers
  • Sound effects/music to explain story too – shouting/screaming/ whistles/ booing/ dollar bills
  • Possible camera technique- newspaper/flyer flies towards camera to start story then it blows away to go towards stadium
  • Animal vs man

We have decided to set the scene between the 1940s-1950s giving us a nice style and plenty of assets to make based on the 1940s.

Concepts and Imagery

Original photo

The Ring

Photo mashed concept


Tunnel into arena idea


Older boxing sketch idea/ based on Sherlock Holmes


Connor’s Concept


Story Behind the scene

The narrative we wanted to explore was that the Mafia have been involved in a scandal during the big fight. We discussed potential ideas and did some research on the Mafia and boxers during the time period. Holly found an article about a boxer nicknamed the Raging bull (LaMotta) who deliberately a lost a fight for loyalty to the Mafia.

We continue looking at the darker side of the boxing industry. Former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta spent five years trying to avoid the trappings of the Mafia. Known for his grit and toughness in the ring, LaMotta was called “Raging Bull.” Finally, through his brother, LaMotta was offered a deal for the championship, in exchange for loyalty to the Mafia. LaMotta signed with the devil and intentionally lost a bout.”

Boxers in Action–7364

We decided to base our narrative on LaMotta with the Mafia being involved with our match. We decided that we would make assets/props suggesting the Mafia were involved (at the match) guns/ fedoras, money briefcases and shaded glasses.

To start we decided to make some posters based on the LaMotta fight against Billy fox

Holly came up with the main style for the posters. We then made one poster each.







Modelling the Room

I decided that I would like to come up with general room design. So I began modelling what I imagined based of reference images and input from my team. Before I started on the room I made a rough boxing ring so I could have a centre piece to base the room around for scale.

I also tried out some lighting.


I began to place shapes to create the curved arena I imagined.


I then went on and made the arena stands as rough shapes and started to make a large stand in the background.


I added in railings, stairs, temporary floor boards and some other models just to scale the scene.


Final Room Design

This is a render of the final room model and its layout.

Room modelled by myself, assets modelled by Holly, Connor and Myself.


We also discussed the idea of placing silhouettes of Mafia members which could cast shadows over the scene. This idea wasn’t used in the end due to use of the occlusion texture.


Maya Assets



UV Mapping

At first UV mapping seemed daunting but I gradually got the hang of it. The images below show some uv maps on some of my assets. The video helped me learn how to UV map.

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As well with making the room I took my other group member’s assets and placed them round the scene. Here are some renders of our scene with our assets placed.We focused on the placement of the Mafia assets to give subtle hints. For example the money coming out of the briefcase. My main goal while making the room and placing the assets was to make it feel lived in. Like a boxing fight had just taken place.



Rendered wireframe.


Final Rendered Video



Life Drawing The principles of Animation

For this assignment we have to research the 12 Principles of Animation found in Disney’s Illusion of life and beyond

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This link shows quick animated gifs demonstrating each principle:

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Squash and Stretch

This action gives the illusion of weight and volume to a character as it moves. Also squash and stretch is useful in animating dialogue and doing facial expressions. Adding exaggeration to an object in motion gives it a greater sense of weight and volume. This principle is often demonstrated with a bouncing ball. The ball appears stretched when it is falling and  squashed when it hits the ground. By squashing and stretching the ball, an animator gives a more realistic feel.


This movement prepares the audience for a major action the character is about to perform, such as, starting to run, jump or change expression.  For example an acrobat does not just suddenly jump off the floor unexpectedly. A backwards motion occurs before the forward action is executed. The backward motion is the anticipation.


Influenced by theatrical principles, staging helps establish mood, create focus and clarify what is happening in the scene.  Do not confuse the audience with too many actions at once. Use one action clearly stated to get the idea across. A pose or action should clearly communicate to the audience the attitude, mood, reaction or idea of the character. The effective use of long, medium, or close up shots, as well as camera angles also helps in telling the story.

Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose Animation

Straight ahead animation starts at the first drawing and works drawing to drawing to the end of a scene. This animation style in unpredictable. Pose to Pose is more planned out and charted with key drawings done at intervals throughout the scene. Size, volumes, and proportions are controlled better this way, as is the action.

Follow Through and Overlapping Action

When the main body/mass of the character stops all the other parts continue to move and catch up to the main mass of the character, such as arms, long hair, clothing, coat tails or a dress, floppy ears or a long tail. They are following the path of action. Nothing ever just stops at once. Overlapping action is when the character changes direction while his tail or clothes etc continues forward. The character is going in a new direction, to be followed, a number of frames later, by his tail and clothes in the new direction. Drag is when parts of the characters body are slightly behind the main body. Eg the legs walk on but the arms and head are slightly behind. Timing becomes critical to the effectiveness of drag and the overlapping action.

Slow In and Slow Out

As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like.


All actions follow an arc or slightly circular path. This is especially true of the human figure and the action of animals. Arcs give animation a more natural action and better flow. There are some expectations for example the animation of a mechanical device.

Secondary Action

This action adds to and enriches the main action and adds more dimension to the character animation, supplementing and/or re-enforcing the main action. For example when two character would leaning in for a kiss. The main action is the kiss the secondary action could be the hands of one of the characters playing with hair of the other.


A variety of slow and fast timing within a scene adds texture and interest to the movement. Most animation is done on twos . Also, there is timing in the acting of a character to establish mood, emotion, and reaction to another character or to a situation. Differences in time have a big effect on the final feel of the animation.


Its like a caricature of facial features, expressions, poses, attitudes and actions. Action copied straight from live action film can be accurate, but stiff and mechanical looking which won’t be as exciting an interesting to look at.

Solid Drawing

The basic principles of drawing form, weight, volume solidity and the illusion of three dimension apply to animation.


All characters have to have appeal whether they are heroic, villainous, comic or cute. it doesn’t just mean the characters are good looking or cute. Appeal, includes an easy to read design, clear drawing, and personality development that will capture and involve the audience’s interest.

Character design 

Another part of this assignment was to design our own characters using the principle of appeal. At first I found this daunting as I have never dived into character design to an extent that a could just create a new character. We had to use everything we had learnt n life drawing over the past year and try and implement these skills when coming up and drawing out our characters.

From the start I knew I wanted to have a character who was a bird. My first idea was a circus bird.

After completing some very rough life drawings based on this idea I decided to research some other cartoon bird characters for inspiration etc.


description provided on Kevin/Snipe

  • Even though Kevin’s a female, her appearance is based on the male Himalayan Monal pheasant.
  • Many sources, including Peter Docter’s study guide to Up, say that Kevin’s species is the mythical “Snipe”, a fictional bird created to send foolish people on wild goose chases. In reality, a snipe is a kind of wading bird which has a long slender bill and brown patterned plumage.

Kevin was a particularly good reference as I wanted my character to be tall and have a similar build to Kevin.


Another character influence was Crane from Kung Fu panda. Again I chose Crane as reference due to his tall slender build. I looked at how cranes legs and wings were put together.


After some more thought I decided a Pelican would make an interesting design with its large beak and wings. I thought it would look cool placing the body of a Pelican on top of tall legs like Crane and Kevin. Finding Nemo had a pelican character which also was good reference.


mine mine


Rough drawing on how wings work.



This image was quite help when looking at a birds anatomy. From imagine Fx

I also looked at the owl from Whinne the Pooh to see how he developed hands out of his wings when he needed to hold or point at something. I liked the idea on how his first couple of feathers developed into fingers when they were needed.

Based on these ideas and references I sketched some characters18426805_1305152789592256_812393735_o18427011_1305152782925590_848836554_o

Untitled-1 copy

I then took these and completed some sketches from different angles.



This is my character rotation. I found it rather difficult to imagine what the character would look like from different angles. Lets just say it put my life drawing skills to the test.


Silhouette version to see if the character is recognisable blacked out.


I then went on to choose anticipation, staging, exaggeration and solid drawing to show through my character.

Solid Drawing:


Exaggeration. I spread the characters wings exaggerating his stance:


As I originally had thought that the character would be a circus bird so I put together rough scene based on that idea. The character isn’t coloured. There are also broken down versions.

I tried to get this image to cover a couple of the principles. I placed the lights to highlight him which acts as staging. I also made his next bend back slightly to try and show him anticipating looking into the hat.

Anticipation ,staging, Exaggeration :

character scene1character scenebluecharacter sceneredlines

Life drawing Progress over Semester 2

With first year coming to an end in a week’s time and a year of life drawing under my belt I have quite a lot to reflect on. When I found out at the start of last semester that we would have a weekly life drawing class I was quite intimidated and to be honest quite worried as many of my class mates had already had experience in foundation. After the first couple of classes I felt like I didn’t even know how to draw but as the first semester went on I began to feel more and more comfortable. By the end of the first semester I definitely had improved and learnt a lot.

Going into second semester I felt a lot more comfortable after knowing what to expect. We continued with our weekly classes. For the first couple of classes we just practiced general life drawing 30 second poses to get back into the process after our break. We then progressed to looking at different techniques for example, head rotations using Pinocchio, character rotations drawing the head, proportions of the body and using the life models to draw live story boards as they acted out scenes. We also focused on particular parts of the body such as hands, feet and the head. During class I approached the tasks with a positive attitude even though I found some tasks rather difficult and my results may not have been the best. During each class our lecturer gave demonstrations with visual examples and also walked around the room giving advice, showing us what we were doing wrong and how to improve it. I found this extremely helpful as it allowed me to take the advice and try implementing it into my next drawing. We also got some tutorials for drawing hands and feet were our lecturer would demonstrate how he would approach breaking down the drawing. We then would try this technique from different angles from around the room. We also had a theory class where we had to read articles about issues within the industry and then have a short debate. I particularly liked this class as it made me think of research in a different way which I could implement into my actual work In the future.

We also were set life drawing homework’s which included drawing Pinocchio head rotations, balance, feet, storyboards, hands and character designs. For our final assignment, we had to design our own characters based on the principle of appeal and then choose 4 other principles to show using our characters. This was challenging but a fun way to end a year of life drawing. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed life drawing as it is has definitely improved my drawing skills and opened my eyes when it comes to designing characters and drawing anatomy. Although I still may not be amazing at life drawing I have definitely improved and picked up skills which will help me throughout the next few years.


Here are some images of my life drawings covering tasks from each week:

Head Topology

Our next assignment for Imagining and Data Visualisation is to model/ sculpt a classmates head using sculpting software then retopologise it in Maya.

I decided to make my sculpture in Maya first as I thought it would be easier but it ended up being a longer process so I stopped and restarted my head in Mudbox. (I choose to make Jack’s head. ) I took a side and front on photo and lined up his facial features.


Here was my progress when I was I was using Maya. I  modelled the nose, eyes and mouth area.


Tutorial I followed during using Maya

This is the tutorial I followed to help me to get to grips with Mudbox and its controls.

I started again using Mudbox which is a sculpting software. I started of with a rough shape and sculpted It into jacks rough head shape. I used the reference images to guide me. I placed spheres to act as eyeballs which were also useful guides for the upper face region. I used the grab tool to pull the mesh into the shape I needed. I then used other tools such as the wax, sculpt and foam tools to build up the face. I then used the knife tool to cut in finer details such as the ear, eye and eyebrows . The smooth tool was also important as it allowed me to maintain the realistic natural look. I smoothed rough details which I had cut out. I particularly enjoyed the process of sculpting as while using a graphics tablet it seemed very natural.

Screenshots during different stages of sculpting.


Final sculpt in Mudbox Render View:


I then imported the head sculpt into Maya. I messed around bit with the ai standard textures. As I had just watched the new Guardians of the galaxy film I thought it would be cool to make the head sculpt look like a character Yondu out of Guardians of the Galaxy. I added a rough Finn which worked well.



This is the final head model with the ai skin texture not retopoligised:


After completing the main sculpt in Mudbox I then imported it into Maya to retopoligise. I lowered the mesh before importing it so it wouldn’t lag while using the mesh in Maya. I follow a tutorial by Danny Mac on how you should retopolgise and what steps to take make the mesh work well. I used the quad tool to draw a mesh over the sculpt.

I found the process rather frustrating as my mesh kept ripping and wasn’t totally symmetrical which made the process harder.

Here are some images from he process:

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After finishing the mesh it clipped the sides of the model making it looked jagged and rough even after smoothing it which wasn’t the effect I was aiming for.

Mesh during construction:

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I took the model back into Mudbox and lowered the mesh and then re imported it into Maya. I then started to use the quad tool again using the lowered mesh as reference. This process was easier but probably will not work for all future sculpts. I altered the mesh and reduced it so it would be under 10000 polygons. I dragged the faces around, used the smooth and relax tools to try and retain more detail.

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These results when rendered were far less jaggy and rough. :


Overall I found the retopology process far less enjoyable than the actual sculpting. I will need to work on retopology for any future sculpting.


2D/3D Animation Combined Disney’s Paperman

Over the years 3D animation has proven to be a great success with all the major animation companies following suite and using 3D animation as the main method to produce and tell their stories. One creative and economical use of 3D animation can be evidenced in many of the recently released classically animated features. Backgrounds, camera moves, crowd scenes, and machines of all descriptions have been modeled and animated digitally. In many cases this approach can save both time and money.

This is an interesting article that I found which talks about the Disney’s Paperman, the style, production and the possibility of this combination of 3D and 2D animation being used in a full feature length film.

“While 3D animation has proved itself as a master of realism, it has often been accused of failing to capture the feeling and characterization that classical animation has offered audiences for the past century. The animation industry has begun to respond to this feedback, and has adjusted it’s priorities accordingly. More and more we are seeing a hybrid of classical and 3D animation; each technique being utilized for what it does best. Bringing inanimate objects, or those with simple geometry, to life is well within the digital realm. ” -(Sean MacLennan Murch)

Quite a recent short film is Paperman by Disney which focuses heavily on the use of 2D and 3D animation.

The Question On Everyone’s Mind…

“From the breathtaking appeal of the character designs, to the whimsy of the 2D/CG hybrid animation style and the resonant story of hope and love, there was a collective understanding that John and his team had crafted something very special…

After the Paperman screening at DTS, a bunch of our technical directors, my buddy Mike Greenholt (animation director) and I hung around and drilled John Kahrs with questions about the film.

Everyone was then (as the rest of the industry is now) wondering:”

“Could we do a feature this way?”


1.) John Kahrs Is Still “Pursuing” This Process At Disney:

Animation Tools In 'Paperman'“During our conversation with John Kahrs after the DTS screening, it was clear to me that all we really needed was time and a budget to streamline the technical process.

According to this interview with AWN, John Kahrs’ current work at Disney involves “pursuing” this CG/2D hybrid technique further.

Historically, Disney and Pixar shorts have often been experiments which advance the state of the art.

Steamboat Willie introduced sound and it is generally accepted knowledge that the feathers in For The Birds were an early test for Sulley’s fur.

The point is, Paperman is a technological and artistic advancement of the state of the art.

Although John Kahrs’ statement about his mysterious “pursuit” of this process is probably the most concrete reason to believe that a Paperman-style feature is on it’s way, it’s not the only reason…”

2.) Animation Artists Are Insane:

Here’s (basically) how the Paperman process works:

  1. The CG animators animate the scene in CG pretty much the same way they do in any other CG film.
  2. The computer renders the CG animation in a flat, “cel shaded” or “toon shaded”kind of way. (There’s no line art/ drawing at this point, just the fills.)
  3. The lines are drawn by hand onto the key frames inside of what appears to be the custom software that was designed for the production.
  4. This software “sticks” the drawings to the CG models in the keyframes and auto-generates the in-betweens the animation
  5. The auto-generated in-betweens are not as artful as the completely hand-made keyframe drawings so the animators still have to go through and tweak the in-betweens to look authentically hand-drawn, appealing and organic.
  6. The paper texture is added in compositing.

After seeing Paperman I was amazed at how the 2D and 3D elements merged and worked so well together. It had the clarity of a modern 3D film but the feel of Disney’s older classics. I would love to see Disney take this method an implement it into a full feature length film as Paper man has proven that 3D and 2D definitely were made to work and be used together.

How Disney Lights their Animations (Research)

During the making of our final animated short I was modelling and texturing the room. I also was in control of the lights In the scene. One of the main things I was aiming for during the construction of the scene was the pinky dusk lighting which created a nice romantic feel. I focused a lot on allowing the light to look realistic and natural using large windows, skydomes, coloured lights and reflections. I was very happy with the end result which went on to help the animation to look appealing and catch the viewers eye. Now after completing the animation I thought it would be interesting to see how Disney actually lights there own animations.

“Disney’s winner for Best Animated Film, Big Hero 6, is one of its best-looking films. Between the intricate detail of San Fransokyo’s 83,000 buildings and the soft edges of Baymax the robot, Disney worked technical magic — and now we have a better idea of how it was done. Yesterday, the company released a comprehensive explanation of its Hyperion rendering engine, which simulates how sunlight works.”

“Hyperion uses a technique called path tracing, which is an advancement on ray-tracing technology; this simulates the way light works in the real world, except in reverse. Rays from the Sun bounce off all objects, enabling us to see them — but it’s difficult for computers to render billions of rays in real time. Instead of calculating the path of every ray of light in a scene, Hyperion only renders light seen by the camera, bundling all the rays traveling in the same direction into a “path” for efficiency. Pixar has also been using its own Global Illumination technology to bring more depth and life to its animated scenes. For Disney and Pixar, the future looks bright.”

Animated Short

Week 1 -Initial Ideas

For our next assignment we have been set the task of completing a 25 second animation which has to be : HD, 24fps, 15-25 seconds long and deliver something which causes an emotion. I am in a team with Matthew, Glenn and Lauren

It has to deliver some kind of emotion which we are totally free to decide on. For the first week as a group we discussed genres and possible ideas for a general story/narrative. We brainstormed many ideas until we decided that we wanted the genre to be based around comedy/ thriller. We were thinking of what hassles us day to day that could be made into a funny animation. Someone then said what about the elevators. Immediately we all agreed. The elevators are slow they always pass you and most of the time you’re better off taking the stairs. We thought this would make a great animation as the idea was to give the elevator a  personality and show what it’s really doing when your sitting waiting for hours on end.


After deciding on a rough idea we started to flesh it out with really rough storyboards, some basic character designs and a couple of different versions/endings. We then pitched our idea to the class and our lecturers. The idea consisted of two elevators sitting at the top floor generally talking. One says to the other “old lady on the bottom floor your turn”. The other elevator then unwillingly goes down passing people on other floors grinning as he passes. He then gets the bottom and is shocked to find a fat man instead of an old lady. The other lift then slowly comes down and says “do you even lift bro”.We then received some helpful constructive criticism on how we need to be able to tell our story in 10 seconds which would translate to around 25 seconds of on screen time. Otherwise we received a positive reaction to overall idea/plot.

Week 2 -Storyboarding/Animatic

For the second week we had to make a storyboard and an animatic for our animation. After our first pitch we decided that we needed to rework the story so it would fit with the given timescale and wouldn’t feel rushed. Before we started to draw up the storyboard we thought it would be helpful to go and take photos of the elevators in the university. Looking at different camera angles and possible shots that we could include in our animation.

Here are some of the photos:


After we looked at the different camera angles. We started to draw up our first proper storyboard. We also  changed our story slightly so now there is only one elevator who is trying to get away from a fat ugly man who is trying to catch the lift at the top floor. The elevator rushes away when the man presses the button. He passes the other floors laughing but when he gets to the bottom he is shocked to see the man has beat him down. After speaking to the maintenance man he then unrolls the out of order tape.

We split up the story board into sections e.g. line art, shading and then editing it together to create the animatic.

Rough storyboard


Concept by Matthew


Final storyboard/ animatic

This is the storyboard that we pitched to the class. Generally the class understood the story and found it amusing but our lecturers still weren’t totally sold. They gave us feedback on some of the camera angles which they thought didn’t work/ read well. They also commented on the design of the elevator and certain problems that the eyes may cause for example when the doors open where do the eyes go. So coming away from the pitch we need to decide on a design for the elevator which works well and also a final story.

We also created another alternative ending where the man just squashes the elevator and then the escalator cracks a pun.

Week 3 Finalising Idea/ Design/ Concepts/ Research

Currently we are looking and experimenting with different designs for the characters especially the elevator. We have been looking into how we could bring the elevator to life which would make sense and work well. We started to research different ways others have animated and brought everyday objects to life especially using eyes.

We looked at Alan’s Apartment a sketch by Monkey Tennis who created an animation about everyday objects. “imagine if all the objects you interacted with on a daily basis had thoughts and feelings. What would life be like from their point of view!? How would they react to being used!? Are they enjoying their job or do they feel trapped and imprisoned!?
In Alan’s Apartment we give these objects a voice and the freedom to express what they truly think about their designated roles, and what the life of an inanimate object is really like.”

We liked how monkey tennis brought everyday objects to life using 3D methods, adding an obvious 3D face which worked well to deliver over the top expressions. The problem with our elevator is that some are glass, some are metal. Where would he face go when the doors open? If the face is in the inside the face won’t be scene if people are in the elevator and it also depends what material the elevator is made from. Opaque etc.

As well as 3D faces we have also been discussing using a 3D model with 2D animated faces placed on top.  A good example of the use of 3D and 2D animation in one is Pixar’s short Day and Night were the main characters are 2D and 3D visuals are used to help deliver the story behind them. (Double exposure/image within and image)

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Day and Night inspired Concept:

Untitled-1 copy

I originally had imagined that the elevator would be able to bend parts of its structure like its handle bar to create a smile. We researched the Blue Umbrella a short by Pixar which focuses on photorealism and brings objects to life through very subtle means.

I completed a concept inspired on the The Blue Umbrella:

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I also made a quick concept in Maya looking at a photorealistic approach. After seeing my results I don’t think that the photorealistic approach would suite it. I think a colourful cartoony style would work better.


As well as looking at modern elevators we also have been discussing the idea of using vintage elevators from the early 1900s. We thought this might add more character to our animation as its from a very visually interesting period. The older elevators also use to have elevator operators which would be an opening for another interesting character.

More Images

After much discussion within the group about our story we decided that we wanted to change it to a comedy romance were the elevator falls in love with a new vending machine. So far we have a drawn up a rough storyboard and also started to do some concept characters.




Vintage character designs

vending-1 copy

17571935_1828296280529566_2145225360_oMatthew’s Concept

I created some more characters such as a gob stopper machine and a seat which we may use as secondary/ background characters. I thought it may be interesting to give all of the objects the in scene eyes such as the doors, bins etc as well as the main characters.

elevator vector-1elevator vector-Recoveredgob copysofa

After some group discussion we decided to use Matthews character designs. He completed some  character  rotations which I then took and modelled in Maya to see if the designs worked well in 3D.

Here are the Maya models which are not finalised:

I thought these models would be good reference for scale etc for when we started to make the scene.

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This is an image of all the concepts that weren’t used as our idea changed

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These are two animatics that had been made for our presentation based on the elevator vending machine romance.

GoodBye Elevator

After we pitched our idea to our class and lecturer’s we where asked why we decided to stay with the elevator character and not just base the whole animation on vending machine characters. We were told that it would be good if we could amend our story so its based purely around the vending machine characters as they really liked their designs.

Once again we came up with new elements to a story which only had vending machine characters. It basically consisted of two vending machines falling in love. They start walking over to kiss each other but they haven’t realised what kind of vending machines they are. One a Mentos machine and the other a Cola machine. Once they kiss they would explode and the aftermath and shocked expressions of the other endings machines would be shown. (simplified story).

We went with this idea for a while then decided during the making of another animatic that there wasn’t enough time to show all the scenes that were needed to allow the animation to make sense. We decided as a group that we had to cut down on shots but try and still let it flow well.

Work completed with physics for explosion idea. Mentos and coke coming out of vending  machine ideas.

balls2physics test

Matthew worked on the animatic planning shots and important timing limits. Glenn worked on making new vending machine models which where rigged with wires and moving eyes and mouths. Lauren worked on assets for the room while I made the room based of Lauren’s earlier designs.


Lauren’s Design


Lauren’s Design


Laurens Design17858251_1318333018242542_1587358683_o

Lauren’s Design


Lauren’s Design


The design was based of the university corridor on the animation floor.

Room Construction/Scene

So after finally settling on a story we started to work on making assets while gradually amending our shots/ timings based on feedback and resources such as time. I started to model our scene in Maya.

I started just placing rough shapes then gradually adding more detail to get the shape and dimensions of the room correct. I used the placeholder vending machines as scale references basing the room off them. We decided that we would just use Arnold presets to texture the scene as they allowed us to achieve a cartoony yet realistic look.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 18.21.24roomscene1

I focused on lighting the room using reflections to show the natural light from the windows. I tried to use under 4 lights to keep the render times down. I added a slight pink colour to the light to make it look like dusk. I also added in a sky dome to with a HDR image of a dusk skyline which also added to the effect.

This tutorial explains the process well.

Video based on how Disney lights there animations. Thought it would be interesting Separate blog post based on this.

render1sceneduskrender2 scene

After I had completed the rough layout of the room I started to play around more with the lights/reflection settings and also start to add more detail such as doors, tiles, roof lights.dgrdfgddsvdsvds

I made brick walls for the outside incase we wanted to include any outside shots. I also made a outside image plane. It consists of building models I had made for the floating city project.



Different colours of light and different exposuresScreen Shot 2017-04-11 at 17.18.23Lauren gave me her assets such as the tables, flowers, water fountain and seat to fill out the room. I then went and placed all the assets around the room leaving space for the animation.


As the scene came together the render time went up. This was mainly due to the reflection settings being to high and there being to many lights with high sample levels.

I started to reduce some settings. The scene looses some of its photorealistic elements but still looks good and might even suit the characters better as they are more cartoony. I also added in an image plane that I had made using building models from our floating city project. I placed them infant the old image plane I used. I rendered this out and placed it in the scene which gave it a more realistic 3D look which matches the scene style.


Romantic scene setup.

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Heart idea camera angle.


Here is a screenshot of our final scene with some of our final characters.

rendered with characters

Final Animatic 

Matthew kept the animatic up to date throughout the later part of the process adding and replacing shots based on feedback from our lecturers.

Characters Modelled/Rigged (Glenn)

While I was modelling the scene Glenn modelled the characters and built up the rig to allow us to animate them. We knew we wanted the lips, eyes and body to move making the characters feel alive. The rig consisted of a lattice, and blend shape functions to allow the lips/ mouth to move.

We also new that we wanted to have the vending machines full of food. The two main characters had Cola and Mentos which needed branding. The other machines were filled with made up spoof brands based of classmates etc. We each either modelled food packaging or came up with some brand/logos. Each vending machine had its own textured brand. Etc krips, Jelison’s Mintes, Canon Cola and Ojs.


Matthew’s Krips Design18042899_1860892107269983_1571804781_o

Matthews Mintes Design18119641_1332924686783375_22216462_o

Lauren’s Spudo Design18090515_1287301988044003_1787694201_o18083476_1287301994710669_129935745_o17797796_1269666539807548_596111274_ojelisons

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Glenn’s Brands


After many designs models made Glenn went away with all the current designs and modelled and rigged all the characters. We were aiming for a metallic glossy look that would catch the eye and look well. Cars inspired as that Pixar movie focused on reflective metallic surfaces. This put our render time up by quite a lot but it was definitely worth it. we also chose red for our main character as he had a cola brand and the people associate red with cola due to Coca Cola. There are three male and three female characters each with there own stereotypical characteristics like the emotions out of Pixars Inside Out.



Here are some images of the Characters with food/ branding.


Beginning Animation

Once the characters had been imported into the scene we each took some scenes from the animatic and animated the characters for that particular scene. Glenn showed us how to use the blend shapes and lattice rigs which proved to be rather hard to use. Glenn had also added in a plug which when it worked produced and nice effect especially in the running scene.

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A major scene during the animated short is when the vending machines kiss and then start to swell up. We decided as a group that we wanted to add in a foam effect like how coke and mentos actually react. Lauren went away and created the effect using  the n particle feature in Maya. She then implemented it into the scene. We used tutorials and helped each other critiquing each scene to try and get it to be the best it could be.

The main scenes I animated were the intro and the end scene with the vending machines getting soaked by the explosion. For the intro we decided we wanted the title to appear on the vending machine screen. Lauren put this title together but we thought that the text would look cool in a digital text.


I made a model of the title in Maya in a digital clock style text and then imported it in. I then animated it flashing on screen. Matthew animated the camera and Glenn showed me how to use the blend shape mouths.

For the last scene I animated the soaked shocked scene. I added in an emitter and used it to resemble foam soaking the vending machines. (particle effects) I cached the effect and then animated shocked faces on to the vending machines. The blue one faints at the end.

I also animated the previous shocked scene when they see the vending machines going in for the kiss.

final render introrenderedtitle

3D Digital Text made in Maya

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This is the a concept by Lauren of the fizz heart. Lauren went on to create the fizz effect using the n particles.18191276_1335759003166610_1215494015_n

Lauren’s Progress on Fizz.

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Fizz screenshot

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After my first experience with rendering during the floating city I knew what to expect from the process. We tried to optimise the scene by minimising the amount of lights used etc. We also turned the samples down which increased grain in the shadows but reduced render time. We are planning to re render everything after the presentation and the feedback anyway. We split most of our animated scenes over multiple computers to speed the render times up. We then went round and gathered the frames. I then started to edit the file together. We used Fcheck to check the frames to make sure they were all present and correct. I am using DaVinic Resolve to edit the frames together. I used free sounds of the internet such as coins, foam and fizzing. I then placed in the clips and played around with timings.

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We decided on adding music during the running scene. The choices where between Lets get it on or Dreamweaver. Both songs are used for similar styled scenes in movies. We decided to use lets get t in as we though it best suit the visuals and added to the humour.


After I had completed the editing we prepared a presentation for the animation project. When we presented we received a very positive reaction from the lecturers and our classmates. We recieved some feedback from our lecturers:

Animation for first presentation


Noise at the end

Scale of foam

Animate the running more from the chest up

Too much camera movement at the start

Sign Value Backlit

Camera cut too much

Ambient sounds


Coke can sound

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This camera pan was removed

Errors that we had identified that the lecturers didn’t mention. This scene was flipped as the heart shape didn’t work properly the right way round. The textures therefore for were also flipped so they would appear correct. That may be why the textures are hard to see.


For our feedback we went and corrected two major scenes. One was when the vending machines were kissing. We fixed the textures so they were more viable so the joke of Coke and Mentos mixing was more obvious. We also correct that actual fizz reducing it as we were told to make it smaller. For the scene were the male vending machines nudge the main character out. We took out the camera pan as we were told it involved too much camera movement. Finally we added in more sounds to help tell the story such as cans dropping, Mentos popping out of their packets etc.

During the amendment process. We had quite a few issues with rendering where the lighting glitches out and the foam also did not render how we had imagined it. We actually thought that the foam read better in the first version of the animation. We are now re rendering the scene to fix the lighting issues and change the foam back to the way it was. We still made the amendments to the camera pan and issues highlighted in the images above.

Here is the second version of the animation. We will upload the final third version when rendered. It will consist of all the amendments and foam more like the original version:


This is now the final version with the amendments re rendered. It contains new sounds and everything mentioned above.

Floating City Overview

Starting Floating City Project

Research/ Initial ideas

So for our first assignment in Imaging and Data Visualisation we have been set the task of modelling a floating city in Maya. In groups we have to gather statistical and cultural data on Belfast. Based on our statistics and research we have to design a 3D representation with motion graphics with annotations. I am working with Glenn and Leon for this task.

So far we have decided to base our research on Belfast as we thought it would to easier to gather relevant information as we could gather information from physical sources as well as online ones.


So far we completed some statistical and cultural research on Belfast. We have been collecting data from different sources such as Census data, Police Data and Tourism statistics. Here is some serious statistical Data represented in charts/ graphs:

Links we gather are information from:


Trivial Information

As we were developing our ideas we also were discussing collecting slightly more humorous data about students and other buildings such as Boojums, best pokestops, best place for a night out etc. We thought as well as the serious statistical data that this would be funny and more engaging.


 Initial Ideas

As a group we have started to discuss different ideas on what our city will look like.We wanted to keep it quite simple but be interesting to look at with bright colours etc. Our first idea was to make a city made up from revolving cogs with different kinds of buildings placed around them. It also would have chains etc hanging from the cogs going for a slight steam punk style. We also had ideas of having the city ride on the back of some biological creature but due to time this idea wasn’t feasible. Our final idea was to create a city with recognisable buildings from Belfast like the Albert clock, Queens and the City Hall. We also were going to add in buildings such as The Bot Pub and Boojum as students may visit these ones more frequently. These buildings would all be low poly and would be arranged to fit around each other. We also wanted to still include the cog idea and chains. We thought the buildings could be linked by chains and then the buildings would still sit on a base of revolving cogs.Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 12.31.57

These are some Initial ideas from Glenn and leon. Other images from Google

As well as focusing on Belfast we came up with some ideas for floating cities based of cities abroad. For example a city on a Sombrero, a city based around Hollywood Hills, Dublin Floating on top of a pint of Guinness. Glenn also had the idea of of placing the Violumpet player at the top of our city.

Inspiration/ Influences. 

We looked at good examples such as the Avengers age of Ultron and District 9 which have floating structures. We also looked at low poly work and ideas using cogs and different structures. We particularly liked the idea of stacked buildings.





Images taken from google images.

Developing Ideas / Maya

I started  to complete some concept ideas for the cogs etc using photo mashing and painting. I also started to build some low poly buildings/ structures from around Belfast. Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 12.22.29.png

Cog Concept.jpg



Glenn’s Cog Conceptconcept2

Glenn’s Chain Concept

After seeing our results with the cogs we didn’t think it suited the colourful style we had imagined. We also found out that other groups in the class were also looking at cogs so we decided to scrap the cog idea and just focus on our colourful student themed city.


Student city concepts. We imagined that all the buildings that we were planning on building would be stacked up on top of each other forming a tower of iconic buildings from around Belfast.

17236912_1243608432413359_1989425259_o17273158_1243608429080026_1432617992_osketchy conceptCONCEPT

Reference photos for some of the buildings we have decided to model

We decided to model iconic buildings as well as others such as clubs bars and fast food outlets once again focusing on students. We used first hand photos as well as second hand photos from the internet.

Maya Construction Deciding on Modelling Style

So for our floating city we have started to build recognisable buildings/ structures from Belfast. I’ve been working on the Harland and Wolff Cranes. Heres some images of my progress. We decided that we wanted our buildings to have a unique and colourful look that would attract the eye but after building the crane I decided to focus slightly more on a lower poly style as time was an issue.

What is low Poly ? : Low poly is a polygon mesh in 3D computer graphics that has a relatively small number of polygons. Low poly meshes occur in real-time applications (e.g. games) and contrast with high poly meshes in animated movies and special effects of the same era.


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After completing my first model for the project Glenn and I decided that it needed to be more low poly and cartoony. We looked at some low poly structures and other artists focusing on Belfast buildings and buildings stacked on top of each other.

Lawerence Etherington, The Etherington Brothers-Stacked Buildings.

Art By Tanya Mai Johnston, Wacky Belfast Buildings

 Big Balls Studio- Low Poly Buildings




Buildings on Maya

These are some images during construction of the the individual buildings. They range from City Hospital, Victoria Square Dome, The Obel Tower, Harland and Wolff Cranes, Stormont and Finally Divis Flats. Some models were a joint effort such as The Alert clock, Titanic Building and The Boat Building which we all ended up working on.

gdfgdgdivisdivis2divis3domeeuropa renderedobelcrane 10crane 9stormont2


Construction Of City In Maya and Animation

After we had built and textured each building we imported them into one file and started to stack them on top of each other creating our stacked city. We had built some buildings with animation in mind. Glenn took the clock faces, crane and flag from the Kremlin and animated them. This made our city slightly more interactive.

constructionFloating City rendered 2floatng city construction

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We moved the buildings around until we felt happy with the way it looked then added in more buildings gradually building up the stack. We also then decided on making a low poly grass and mud base instead of using the cogs. This worked well as it suited the city and overall style better than the cogs.

I modelled the grass and then Glenn modelled the soil base.


Final City Completed 

These are rendered images of our city. After completing the main Maya model we each took copies of the final file and started placing cameras and key framing camera shots. We worked together as a group to figure out how to render a sequence correctly ( Creating the city as the central pivot for the camera and then parenting the background with the camera). We then play blasted our camera shots and then planned where our statistics would pop up during our final video leaving areas of sky for information to appear.

rendered colourrenderedcityrenderedcity2

Rendering and Data Visualisation

After we placed and keyframes our cameras we rendered out the shots.

What is rendering. I thought this was and interesting addition to the post as it is a question which I have been asked before.

We also have briefly looked into Data Visualisation and how you can display complex data to make it easier to understand.  This video explains the concept well. We are going place pop up text during our final video displaying some serious and humours statistics.

What is rendering. I thought this was and interesting addition to the post as it is a question which I have been asked before.

We also have briefly looked into Data Visualisation and how you can display complex data to make it easier to understand.  This video explains the concept well.

Looked into this style for presenting are data.

Floating City Final Video


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OpenLearn. (2017). 20 things you might not know about Belfast…. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017]. (2017). Tourism Performance Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Mar. 2017]. (2017). 34 Fun Facts About Belfast, Northern Ireland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Boney M Belfast. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Parklife 2017. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). The beauty of data visualization – David McCandless. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). What is Data Visualization?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].