Robot Baseball Playblast

8 12 2012

Here is my final project for ART 314. Its only a play blast because its still needs a lot of work, but its coming along nicely. You can see its jerky at times and it has no sound yet. It’ll get there. There, now get off my back Cromar!


Mid Semester Check In

15 03 2012

It’s the half-way point in the semester and I think I’ve made significant progress. But there is still a lot of work to do. My models are fully rigged but that’s only the begining. I still need to start animating and create my environment and look at textures for my model. For now we’ll look at my rigs.

Above is a clip of one of my rigged characters. It shows his full walk cycle and then the rig and controls used to animate him. The controls are the yellow shapes around the character, the internal skeleton is also visible. I had some problems initially with the rig because I wanted to use the Interactive Skin Bind in Maya but that wouldn’t work. Every time I tried to use that binding method, the program crashed. I had to come up with an alternative.

I tried a few alternate methods, from Rigid Binds to painting weights on smooth binds. I eventually stumbled onto a tutorial online that showed me the component editor. The component editor allowed me to assign the vertices in my mesh to a particular joint. That was perfect for me because I didn’t want too much deformation in the geometry and this allowed the different components like the head and body to be assigned to their own joints without and influence from one another. Once the rig was working properly I had to animate.

Animating this was a unique challenge for me because I had never riggend a bi-pedal humanoid character before. I found a few tutorials that were extremely helpful though. One showed how to animate a walk cycle in maya and the other showed the theory behind a walk cycle. They can be found here and here, respectively. Below is my other character.

This character was a bit frustrating at first because the way I wanted him to animate would not work with the same type of rig I created for the first character. This character has telescopic arms and legs that can extend out, as shown above. I had to come up with a totally new rig. Again I found a very helpful tutorial that helped with this, that dealt with dynamic pistons. This tutorial introduced me to clusters, which is a feature in Maya that lets you group vertices together. So it is similar in theory to the component editor but there are no joints to attach to. The “skeleton” is formed from the point, orient, aim and parent constraints applied to the clusters and controls.

Model, Models and Modeling

20 02 2012

I finally completed the models for my two robot teams. I will use these two models as a base to create two whole teams of nine players. I can do this by duplicating the geometry nine times.  I can give them different numbers and different rust patterns through the materials I assign to the different players. This will give them more of an individual identity with minimal work for me.

Above is the orthographic sketch that I used as my image plane for my model. Below is the final result of my work. As you can see there were some minor changes to the original design. I simplified the hips and rounded the feet, other than that it’s pretty true to my original design.

I think the model came out really well. There was a few problem areas. Mostly the areas I changed. The original hip design proved to be more difficult to design than I anticipated, I eventually resolved to just put a place holder cylinder there and move on but then I liked the cylinder so I kept it. The feet took a lot longer to figure out, but that was just minor tweaks till I got the look I wanted. I also had a bit of a snag mirroring the geometry over  the y-axis and none of the tutorial’s solutions helped but eventually I found a workaround. I just duplicated the geometry added a negative sign to the scale and a negative sign to the x position and it mirrored perfectly.

Again above is the orthographic sketch and below is the finished model. This one had the most changes to my original design, going from a bi-pedal walking robot to a uni-cycular rolling robot.

I decided to change the model so drastically after I modeled the legs and it just didn’t look right. The legs didn’t really match the design scheme of the arms. You can see in the original sketch that the arms are piston like extendo arms and the legs were rubber hose things….they didn’t match. So my teacher told me to change them so we came up with a similar piston style for the legs. However then the feet really didn’t work so I changed them to wheels, then the two legs with wheels looked silly so I changed it to one. I also tapered the body. The big box body just didn’t sit right with me. You can see I was thinking about tapering the body in the original sketch but it was more of an afterthought. Other than that the design is the same.

Now I’m moving on to rigging. It shouldn’t be too bad the models are very simple so the rigs should be simple too…..famous last words. In the near future I will also be posting some concept sketches so you can get a feel for what the models will look like with the materials.

New Semester, New Project

24 01 2012

It’s that time again, the new semester has started and I need a new project to keep myself occupied in class. The class is ART314 and this is my second time through, by choice! I needed another 300 level studio. The class deals with a certain software agenda, namely Maya, but other than that I’m on my own.

I’ve wanted to do an animated short for a little while now and this is my chance to do it. My idea for this short is basically robots playing baseball. The idea came from an old sketch I drew years ago of a cute little robot, a little broken down, staring inquisitively at a baseball. My original idea was to have this character just exploring a junkyard setting playing with different things he finds, like a baseball. However that sounds like a certain Pixar movie that came out not too long ago, so I decided to scrap that idea. My teacher, a classmate and I came up with a new idea of the robot actually playing baseball, and I liked it. So I threw together a little storyboard.


This is obviously a very rough storyboard, but I think it has a lot of potential and a fun vibe to it. Which is exactly what I was going for. Its going to be a big endeavor for me because I’ve never quite done anything like this but I’m excited for it. There will definitely be some challenges, like animating several entities moving independently of each other in the same environment. I would also like the quality to be higher so that will require more work from me. Anyway, after getting a rough story idea down on paper, I needed characters.


The image above is my attempt at conceptualizing what my robots will look like. You can see the different variations I went through in designing the head, body, feet and hands. I eventually settled on the two roughly in the middle. The one has stars around it. The hands and feet were the major challenge. I was trying to keep there geometry simple so I could model it easily but still maintain their flexibility and aesthetic. I think I solved the problem pretty efficiently with a kind of mitten hand and a foot that has only two sections.

Now the fun part comes. Modeling everything and making sure it’ll actually look right.

The Chase

15 12 2011

Here it is. The culmination of a semesters worth of work. I learned a lot through out this project. I learned how to Match Move so I could include CGI elements to live action footage. I learned how to use chroma keying in Preimere for green screen effects. I got a better feel for pacing a time in film making. I’m taking away a lot of valuable skills away from this project. I’m also hoping that I put out a good product as well. I think I did. Although it does have some short comings, and we discussed them in our critique. There were a few opportunities to increase the tension that I didn’t fully exploit. One such example is the first time the character encounters the green screen, he enters it with a little too much enthusiasm. It should have seemed a little more out of the ordinary. My teacher, William Cromar, also suggested more locations. The character really only runs through the woods and then it ends. I totally agree with that. I even had another location in the original storyboard but was cut due to time constraints. The good thing about this video is that it’s set up in such a way that I can go back and add to it, which I want to do.

One Month Left…..

8 11 2011

Above is the storyboard I created for the short film I am making in class. This is only the very beginning of the storyboard, it shows up to just under half way. This has been an essential tool in filming which is still ongoing.

My previous post shows my fully rigged rabbit. You can find that post here. I have finally got the little guy hopping around. I’m really impressed with the way it turned out. I started out with no idea where to begin on how to animate him but after working with my teacher William Cromar I ended up with this:

Filming is going well, much better than expected actually. I have a lot of shots that I’m really proud of the way they turned out. I will post some of them once I edit them down. Speaking of editing, I will be entering the editing and post production work some time next week, most likely Thursday.

Rabbit Rigged

27 10 2011

This is a little bit of my progress on the rigging of my white rabbit character for my film. I wanted to show the development of the skeleton and then the skeleton and body together. You can see that the skeleton changed slightly from the first and second pictures. I decided to eliminate one of the joints to stream line the design. I didn’t want to have any more joints than I needed.