For this part of the assignment we were given the task to create a 3D animation based on a car of some sort. To be honest I felt a little disappointed we couldn’t get to choose what to exactly animate as I had started getting motion cycles ready for not only myself, but FMP groups and portfolio work which did immediately get me back into the spirit of my favourite hobby. At the time I didn’t realise the different forms supposedly in animation and how much of it there is to learn about it, so looking back I’m glad in a way we were given the task to animate a car.
What the Animation Is About
Going back to the last document about our 3D animation I wanted to base mine in the level I’ll be creating for the game: ‘The Depths Between’, where my character will eventually appear to the main protagonist. Already I had developed sketches for the level’s layout but the track was a complete different story. After looking at various car adverts and re-capping on favourite roller coaster rides I wanted the animation to be a mixture of both where the design of the race-track will be similar to that of a roller coaster but the camera movement will make the animation seem as though it’s a car advert.
With keeping the fact I want the layout of my level to appear in the game it means I have to create a few static meshes, that being a Paradoquin (one of the game’s enemies and transportation option), runes, a temple shrine and rock. Within the environment I want to place a lot of trees in there creating a typical forest approach which will not only be complicated to animate around but take a decent amount of time to render out as well.
Now for the car I’ve decided to go with the design of the Sparrowhawk kart as the design is based on Leash’s companion which is again a Sparrowhawk. Leash won’t be appearing in this animation because of the limited time we have to not only model a lot of components that will be going into this design but the animating itself will be a time consumer- plus as she’s my character (wolf and dragon hybrid) I would rather spend a decent amount of time creating her and putting the creature through most of the Autodesk collection until I deem her perfect; rather than rushing her. Taking into consideration I have to model a Paradoquin which a ghost horse and kart based on a hawk, my time is going to be really limited for anything else.
Two Separate Paths
As I missed the lessons on how we were taught to animate using path constraints, cameras and lights I didn’t realise we had to do this until later on in the assignment. Personally I started messing around with Bipup animations where I got one doing a walk cycle and then another representing one of the fights in Final Fantasy: Advent Children which I didn’t get to finish, thus learning the use of the keyframe timeline, time configuration, Set/Auto Key and rendering the animation in a suitable format.
When I started making the track for my animation I thought I would let it follow similar to how it would work out in UDK, where the player will stumble upon a set of runes that they can’t translate and must decide between two paths where one will lead to Leash’s area in Crystal Memoirs and the other to instant death. So with this I sketched two race-tracks where the car will go both the bad way and are joint together until you hit the first loop of the track so the bad route I made seem plain possibly being easier to drive across. Now the good way leads off into the forest where we travel down on a roller coaster route, skidding down various turns from different heights into the pond and out again straight into another loop where we begin to exit the forest and come to the exit of my level where a Paradoquin will be grazing nearby so the car stops there. My plan for this was to animate it all manually until I got told we had to use path constraints, cameras ect. Taking this into consideration I’ve decided to make the bad route be a path animation using splines, target cameras and movement and a daylight system for both tracks.
Progress: Extra Models
I made the rock and rune models first as they seemed the simplest out of my list and were created by making a polygonal mesh and using the pro-boolean technique to create them. Next was my temple shrine, now there are various different designs of these shrines in Japan and mean different things so mine is dedicated to birds and after looking at various pictures of the same shrine on Google I made mine by using cylinders, swift loops and extrusions. Finally all that I had left was my Paradoquin. In the story of our game the main character stumbles upon the herd’s leader which has the same build as a Clydesdale or Shire so I made a plan and applied a reference picture of a Shire and began modelling from a sphere, applying the connect, extrude and swift loop tool. During the time it took to make this I didn’t realise how many little mistakes in had until I started UVW mapping the horse which took a lot of time in itself. Finally I made my own texture and applied it to the Paradoquin. The hawk car though was easier to make than I thought, the body I made at home and the wings I made during my time at college so all I had left was again to make another set of textures for the car and UVW map it.
Out of all my assets I felt my Paradoquin and Bird shrine came out extremely well with not only modelling but the texturing as well. The rocks and runes look decent but my hawk car the only thing I would change is the texture of the face, in the middle of the head a black line does appear because in Photoshop I used a black backdrop and painted over it using the Sparrowhawk’s colours sticking close to the UVW template that 3DS Max had generated for me. I left it like this at the time because I felt I didn’t have time to mess around with a texture when I still had to do the animation as well as create a level for the other part of this assignment. Now that I personally know what I can do to alter this if I had the time when making my second animation, to re-edit the texture in Photoshop then I will do.
Preview Animation: Loop Track
This animation is based on the bad route where nothing bad is actually going to happen, before I even started applying splines I stupidly added in foliage for my environment where most of the scene was covered in trees that all looked the same. Now when I finally got my line following the track, the next problem I had was when I connected the car to the path constraint as the car ended up being too big for the track and the spline made the car go through the track, the ground, off the track ect This made it look extremely messy and as though the car was having a fit, so in the end I deleted all my trees because it made 3DS Max slow and awkward to navigate around, re-adjusted my splines by going through the keyframe and checking each stage to make sure the car stays on the track and following it the right way.
Next was attaching a camera to the car and having that animated, using a target camera I linked the bottom piece with my dummy and turned on Auto key and began going through the timeline of keyframe and adjusting the pan and orbit of the camera by using the options in the bottom-right hand corner. A couple of time I got frustrated because my camera movement didn’t follow the car in certain stages or wasn’t fluid enough so again it took time to alter but I became happy with the end result. Finally all that’s left is the rendering, as this needs to be a loop animation I made sure my the range was between 0-100, the loop box was checked and my rendered output would be in my memory stick, with the resolution being 600x800 and the file type being AVI. This means it will be clear enough for the audience to see and be playable on many formats.
This animation may not be ready for the intended deadline as I wanted everything that needed to be done on the other animation so I’m not panicking and rushing this animation to be finished. The difference between the two is my hawk’s head will hopefully have a better texture on it, there will be trees in this environment, particle systems will be attached to the car and the animation itself will follow closely to the intended storyboard.
So what’s going to happen?
First off I’ll be animating the basic movement of the car going around the track with the particle systems going using the auto-key, next I’ll bring in point lights that’s allocated to the back of the car as rear lights which will have a low lighting and again animated to look as though the car is getting ready to set off. Half-way through the track I want the wheels of the car to ‘fly off’ where the car begins to hover and strobe lighting appears underneath and the car simply hovers the rest of the way, going through the pond and out of the forest where the Paradoquin will be grazing. Finally all that’s left is applying another target camera where the shots will resemble that similar to a car advert which for some places is where our tangents come in. Tangents alter the acceleration or decrease on animated pieces so within the storyboard there are places where the car will have to go slow-motion to give an exaggerated approach to the audience.
If there’s anything I would like to do if there’s extra time it would be add in another Bipip character that appears near the track ready to try and catch the car halfway through. When I’ve rendered this out my final plans are to place both animations in Sony Vegas and add in music and text before again rendering it out into a WMV or AVI again.