Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The tiger is IKed and enveloped .... I didn't use the prepackaged rigs, my characters are not human like (the tiger has a tail and has no knees!!) so I decided to move along with my own IK, which is quite an easy rig to create anyway ... the skeleton is not the time consuming thing ... its the enveloping that takes forever!! It took me about 3 tries ... there is never an automatic way of enveloping characters, there are always many points that have to be reweighted one by one ... and it seems more difficult when working with a polygon mesh that has a subdivision surface. Since the polygon mesh is the one that is enveloped, it can be deceiving when weighting the points on it ... when you look at the subdivision surface, the points need to be tweaked more ... I'm tempted to freeze the subdivision surface and just work on that, but then it will be slower to animate (and at this point I'd have to reweight the points again !)

My next step is to add eyes, nose, and stripes to the tiger.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I've uploaded the rough render of the first scene (remember not all elements are there yet, I've only modelled and animated the moose and the canary so far). watch scene1 rough (1.5 MB MP4)

I have the second scene rendered too, but I'm not happy with the timing, so I'll be tweaking it before uploading it. Its kind of a drag, I should have noticed the problems with the timing before, but I was concentrating on the fire on the sofa (particles) that wasn't rendering ... it was because the color animation type was still set at birth rather than at age%... now I've got the fire but the timing is wrong.

I've modelled the tiger and am quite happy with him so I'm going on to IKing, this time trying the pre-packaged bi-ped rigs, although its going to take some adjusting, since he really doesn't resemble a human.

Due to popular demand, I've changed the mouse pad available in the online store to a moosepad ... I'll be adding a 2004 Calendar of my most popular comics in the store soon... get it for your favorite computer geek.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The canary has jumped out of his cage, walked over to the cigarettes on the floor and picked one up. Now he's got to light it and I've decided to have him light it off a stray flame from the newspaper. I've been working on smoke and fire in a separate scene and have got it figured out. But now I realize that I just can't import the model of particles, because there are key frames on the smoke and flames and I'll have to move them all ... there there's probably a tool to automatically offset all my keys and but it'll take me a day to figure out how to use it ... so it'll be easier just to recreate the smoke and flames after noting the values ... I hope ...

I've also been trying to make a small QuickTime file of the animation so far (a few friends have asked to see it), but I'm having trouble compressing it down to a decent file size. I'll keep trying. Hopefully you'll see something soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I've left the moose aside for the moment and have moved onto the Canary. The Canary was pretty easy to model, but still it took a couple of tries before getting it right. I ended up using a polygonal sphere, moving lots of points, subdividing the area for the wings. At first I tried modelling the beak in the same model as the body but ended up just creating two half cones and closing the slice. The legs were modelled seperately. All parts were polygonal and then converted to subdivision surfaces.

The IK for the bird is quite simple as well since he doesn't move that much. His legs, wings and beaks, required simple skeleton. His bend is controlled by a cube at his "hips".

The hardest part of animating the canary is something I've struggled with for the moose as well. Using constraints and then turning them off, or on. The moose needed them for holding on to the newspaper, to the phone, to the sofa and to the cigarette. The canary needs the constraint for the cigarette. Its probably the nature of the beast, but it seems to take a lot of tweaking of keyframes to get the switch made from the object being constrained to another object to the object being animated with keyframes ... I don't have an answer other than perseverance.

Now, I have to look at particles again, because the newspaper must catch fire. I decided to take a look at the doc and tutorial again hoping that I could get further along than my first attempt. Low and behold, Softimage has provided sample scenes!! Not only for particles, but there is one that shows how to create the image with an alpha channel! Here is the path: XSIinstallation\Data\XSI_SAMPLES\Scenes\*

I'm looking at the Simulation_Particles_SmallFlame scene right now to see if it will help me make my fire!

Monday, November 03, 2003

The moose is pretty much animated. I'm spending a lot of time tweaking the f-curves and I suspect I need to go and do something else because I am too close to him (and am too critical!). I tied to do exactly that last Thursday, thinking that I would try to use an animated texture to create the smoke from the Moose's cigarette.

Creating an animated texture is quite easy, although at first I used an animated gif painted in Painter only to discover the alpha channel wasn't coming into XSI... so I tried instead with a tif and used Fireworks to animate it so I would have control over the spline ... it was great, until I tried to get XSI to use the alpha channel. It just wouldn't work! I checked the docs, the tutorials both on the CD and from the web and tried and tried and tried ... (sigh).

However my good friend Pierre Tousignant came over this evening to take a look at it with me and he asked if I was using compression on the tif file .. of course Fireworks compresses Tif with LZW compression on. Bringing the file into photoshop and resaving it with LZW turned off, makes XSI happy to give me the alpha channel ... This is kind of annoying, because the file size without compression is much bigger and Photoshop is not easy to animate in ...

Here is what you need to do if you want to use an animated texture with alpha channel in XSI:

1. Animate your image in Fireworks and export to tif 32 format
2. Bring your images into Photoshop and resave, toggling off the LZW compression
3. In XSI, apply a phong material to your object
4. Choose your Texture support for the object
5. Apply the sequence of images as a texture
6. In the phong property page on the transparency/reflection tab click on Connection Icon to the right of the RGBA sliders for the mix color and choose image, reselect the image sequence
7. In the phong property page go to the transparency/reflection tab, toggle on "use alpha" (*you may need to toggle on "invert" depending on your alpha)

I wasn't able to get the alpha channel on the animated gif files to work ... but I didn't spend a lot of time trying to troubleshoot (I tried lossless, alpha transparency).

I can't thank Pierre Tousignant enough for helping me out!