8-Bit Project Beginnings

8-Bit Project Beginnings 0

The end goal for this blog is to document my journey to becoming an Autodesk Maya artist. I’m doing whatever I can to get to that goal by learning from my own personal projects and sharing my progress with you here.

I have some self-doubts as I continue to write, but I believe we all have to go through our own creative struggles to get to where we need to be. I just happen to be sharing those struggles in the hope that it helps others become better Autodesk Maya artists too.

IMPORTING AUDIO

A few years ago, when I was looking for inspirational audio during my schooling, I came across a really great sounding 8-bit song Most awesome 8-bit song ever3 as I was listening to different versions of converted 8-bit pop culture songs. It gave me ideas to create a project with an 8-bit theme, and years later, this is where my focus is beginning.

When I first heard the audio I didn’t know how to download it from a YouTube video. If you don’t know, as I didn’t back then, the way I downloaded it onto my computer was to use the web browser Mozilla Firefox’s add-on feature that extends the browsers capabilities. Here’s an example video on how to do that: Download Free Music And Videos On Youtube Using Mozilla Firefox. In Autodesk Maya, you will need to download a .wav file format as your audio.

With the audio now on my desktop, my thoughts for the beginning of the project were to first start animating my website branding logo with the opening beats and tones of the music before working on the core of the animation story. I don’t feel the need to create a storyboard for this introduction section of my project.

Now that I had the first section of what idea I wanted to work on, it was time to import the audio into the Autodesk Maya program which is pretty straight-forward. On Maya’s time slider, set the ticker onto the frame you want to begin your audio and go to File-Import to choose your file and the wav file appears in the timeline. If the audio doesn’t play, make sure your animation settings have a playback of 24fps.

IMPORTING VECTOR CURVES TO MAYA

I’ve had a basic logo that I created a few years ago which I use for my website.

Logo

I’ve always wanted to convert the logo into 3D from from an Adobe Illustrator vector file to fit with the branding better. I’ve wanted to use the option even more so after seeing the different workflows beginning with the Maya 2016 extension 1: improved vector graphics workflow video and the newer MASH nodes as in Maya 2016 extension 2: Motion Graphics.

When I used the SVG node on import like the above example videos above, I ran into all sorts of bug issues with Maya 2018. Maya crashed every single time I tried the various ways and I couldn’t figure out how to resolve the issue so I went back and did it in Maya 2016 in the same way they’ve done for a while. Maya tutorial-creating 3D logos and tribal’s from any picture

With all the extra curves in my original design (the checkerboard, the extra type as part of my design, and unneeded extras), the results weren’t quite what I was looking for in my logo, so I simplified the design in the 3D version to it’s basic core.

 

Before

When I went searching how to improve the look, I noticed the text features that have been updated in Maya 2018 which worked better than the effort I went through explaining. I decided to use this option in the long run because it had features that I could animate better than the curves I had imported.

 

 

After

That was done in a separate Maya scene, but once it was looking more to my liking, I imported it into my original audio file project I had just been working on previously. Again, File-Import your Maya scene into the current scene you are working on—it shows up automatically in the Outliner.

The end result is having the two merged opening assets ready to work with some rough timing for the opening animation.

REFERENCES

Working with Autodesk Maya can take a lot of researching into reference, googling YouTube videos, and playing around with different nodes to get what you’re after. It could be time consuming to get the results you’re looking for, but a great learning experience with the program that can teach where you need to improve in my opinion.

Next my focus will be on researching the storyline I want to achieve. Possibly, I’ll use some storyboarding references and 8-bit video game design for style frame looks to show.

How I’m Taking Action to Become a Better 3D Artist 0

 

 

A new decade, a birthday, or a new year, can be the best time to look back and see how far we’ve come, and where we’re going, in the direction of our lives.

This New Year happens to find me traveling throughout Thailand. At least for a while.

 

Trang Islands

 

With my different environment and time availability, so went a few bad habits. After 6 weeks, life has replaced those habits with a re-focus on disciplined action.

My first steps have been to continue improving with book lessons in Autodesk Maya:

 

Polygon model of a Catapult

 

Polygon and Nurbs modeling of a Toy plane

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Searching for my creativity 0

Overall, when it comes down to it, I use this blog as a search for my own creativity. I’d like my creativity to be challenged in the long term which is why i chose 3D animation as a subject of interest. Lately, I’ve been learning Maya again from the beginning. I purchased the Introducing Autodesk Maya 2016 book to get a better handle on modeling, rigging and animation. It’s both review and a learning of different areas and techniques that I’ve glossed over in previous efforts. It’s always been a difficult road for me to learn this program, and as interesting as it is, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around all the information this program takes to become better.

My interests range in different areas. As much as I want to get into VR, it’s still going to be a long term goal creatively before I get to that level. This is where I am.

 

Redefining Myself As A 3D-VR Hobby Blogger 0

As much as I enjoy writing, writing for people on a blog makes me self-conscious of what I say here. I haven’t found the right tone, voice or subject to make me too active on this blog yet.

To me, my writing voice sounds dry, but it’s just me trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about. As you’ll figure out shortly, I really don’t. I’m still exploring as I go. I’m sure I’ll get over it one day and start being more confident in what I have to say as time goes on.

A few months ago I nearly scrapped it all, but instead archived 15 posts, embarrassed from ever pushing the publish button on most of the things I’ve said to date. My personal animation projects as my topic of choice was going nowhere worthy of continuing for me. Not yet anyway.

I guess frustration got the best of me.

I had this feeling that I’d never understand or get this blogging thing right, whatever “right” is supposed to mean in the blogging world. I’m still not sure if I ever will.

I mostly wanted to start over from scratch after that realization. I felt that I could do much better.

As always, I’m an amateur and I do this as a hobby. I repeat those words like it’s my mantra because I do my best to keep any readers from having high expectations of me. Or, maybe I say it to keep me from having high expectations of myself!? Either way, I’m starting over and redefining myself as a hobby blogger.

In the last 6 months, my interests have gone from animation to Virtual Reality after buying a Google Cardboard in January. My past interests in Autodesk Maya have returned and I’m relearning the software with that area in mind.

My goals are to get a better understanding of Maya, Unity and the creation tools used for VR. We’ll need more people innovating and experimenting.

I’d like to become one of them and inspire other hobbyists to shape these areas with their skills and energy for years to come.

I’ll try to improve where I can, but I hope to grow this blog into something more active and entertaining. I’m starting that goal with this post.

I’ll try to make my writing and topics less cringe worthy on this new path, but I can’t make any promises.

Animation Mentor VOD Lectures 0

The greatest find for me these last few weeks, has been receiving knowledge about Animation Mentor’s Video On Demand services through Vimeo.

If you want to be a highly skilled character animator, or VFX artist, the fastest path to being hired in a studio would be to attend Animation Mentor’s detailed programs.

If you can’t do that right now, but you’d still like to see what kind of detail is taught at their school, the next best thing has become available through Video On Demand.

 

Animation Mentor

Animation Mentor

 

I’d like to spread the word so that animators and VFX artists can take advantage of the lectures offered here. I’m a big believer in the quality presented at this school. Here’s a snippet of what they are offering to you:

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Could You Become a Better Filmmaker Using 3D Previsualization? 0

A website for animation competitions

A website for animation competitions

The good news about starting a blog is that it always gives me new challenges to face and experiments to try out. That could be from figuring out how to be more productive with my content, to determining which direction my blog structure will move towards. There’s always something to improve, test and learn.

I’ve given myself another obstacle for March, since it seems like I’m willing to stress myself out somewhat; I’m going to be starting an 11 Second Club animation project and see how far I can get with it.

I don’t necessarily feel like doing anymore book or video tutorials on how to learn Maya, so I’m going to be throwing myself into a project, which will definitely result in a poor attempt of animation.

Why poor?

My skills aren’t close to being good enough yet. I gave up a few times when it became too hard to learn Maya. I’ve done a lot of tutorials, and schooling, but my knowledge hasn’t been used for any independent projects until this one. Which is why I’m guessing the results are going to suck.

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Entry Level VFX: Matchmoving in 3DEqualizer 2

 

CGWorkshop

CGWorkshop

Unless you understand a little bit about Post Production, a person who isn’t very familiar with the VFX process probably hasn’t heard much about the role of a Matchmover within a studio. It’s a part of Visual Effects that is seen often, but if the artist has done their job properly, it is almost unrecognizable.

Matchmoving is the process of combining live-action video footage with VFX; The goal is to create an accurate reconstruction of the camera, for use within a virtual environment layout, and for tracking purposes. It allows films to blend with realistic animations and effects seamlessly.

This allows CGI and film to line up so that Optimus Prime looks like he’s walking around a city live in Transformers, or it’s to create the first down yellow line seen on television when you watch a football game, or the mouth animation in the Bush’s Beans commercial that makes us believe the dog is aware and speaking with the actor.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve noticed how Matchmoving has been heavily integrated into the Virtual Production pipeline, especially in the area it must be required in, the process called Post-vis.

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Where to Find Education for Previsualization 0

DDST_PVIZ_large

Jurassic Park Previs

 

I’ve been meaning to create a blog post on Brian Pohl’s suggestions for me when I asked him how one becomes a Previs Artist at the Previs lecture series event I attended in October.

If you’re just getting started in the subject as a student, as I am, he mainly tried to direct me towards the classes that are available at Gnomon School of Visual Effects; including the class he teaches for Previs and Animatics.

Of course, there are some prerequisite classes to go through before reaching his class. The prerequisite classes will help prepare you with your goals of becoming better storytellers and communicators within the process of Previs. These are the semester classes Brian recommended; please click the links for extended information:

 

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Previs Lecture Series: “Oz the Great and Powerful” 0

Oz

Photo Credit: The Third Floor, Inc.

 

It’s hard for me to explain all of the awesomeness I experienced attending this Previs lecture. Especially because I only had a limited form of documenting this, a simple pen and paper (and my memory). I started writing down full quotes in several areas of the presentation before they quickly moved on to the next slide. I was left deflated because they were meaningful quotes, explaining industry professional perspectives, but I couldn’t jot down my notes fast enough.

I’ve decided to just go ahead and describe the experience I went through when I attended, including the notes and concepts I could grasp at the time. I hope it helps you understand the impact Previs is making as an integral part of the filmmaking process.

 

Arrival

So, on Saturday October 26th, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Previs lecture series put on by Loyola Marymount University and the Previsualization Society. I live in Anaheim, CA and it was a good 40 minute drive away to attend, but to me, I knew this was going to be well worth the drive. I had been waiting two weeks for this event.

Once I arrived at LMU, I found the campus to be larger than I had expected it to be. I found parking in the garage and found the general direction to head towards. I was thankful that the parking wasn’t being enforced over the weekend because the only spot I could find was where they usually valet.

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12 Principles of Animation 0

Bouncing Ball Animation

Bouncing Ball Animation

 

If you have any future goals to learn about Previsualization as an artist, animation will be part of your toolset to use to explain your great ideas. I can’t see any reason you wouldn’t have a need to learn animation as part of your generalist studies in Maya.

Here are some basic tips and guidelines to get you up to speed on where to start in basic animation principles for Maya.

The 12 Principles of Animation:

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