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.
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)
Day and Night inspired Concept:
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:
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 https://uk.pinterest.com/elizabeths4437/antique-elevatorsascenseurs-antiques/
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
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.
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
These are two animatics that had been made for our presentation based on the elevator vending machine romance.
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.
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.
The design was based of the university corridor on the animation floor.
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.
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. https://interestinglyanimated.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/how-disney-lights-their-animations-research/
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.
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 exposuresLauren 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.
Heart idea camera angle.
Here is a screenshot of our final scene with some of our final characters.
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 Design
Matthews Mintes Design
Lauren’s Spudo Design
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.
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.
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.
3D Digital Text made in Maya
This is the a concept by Lauren of the fizz heart. Lauren went on to create the fizz effect using the n particles.
Lauren’s Progress on Fizz.
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.
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
Coke can sound
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.