A moment in the sun Journals Stuff I made

Stories, shovels and scene-referred display

It feels like I didn’t get a lot done this week of 4 to 10 December 2016, but gut feelings are often self-deceiving lies – I got many things done. 🙂

As of Sunday evening, I have four A4 sheets of thumbnails telling a simpler, shorter  story than before. The only extra bit I’ve added since Sunday is a new stinger ending, recycled from an abandoned version of Sombrero that’s about a year old and the version of AMITS I abandoned just before that – except now they’re mixed up together. Yay bus stop!

I’ve been trying to pin down the exact design of the robot as well. It’s tricky. Rather than stay stuck, I created a military shovel for Gronky. Here’s a gallery of renders of the proud new shovel owner.

Why more than one render? The super cool thing this month in the Blenderverse is Troy Sobotka‘s nifty filmic LUTs. Read this for more info on why it matters. Big shout out to Troy for creating the filmic LUTs and evangelising them like a boss!

The Cycles materials in the render are all temporary placeholders, but the wider dynamic range is very welcome. Check out #filmic_blender on Twitter for better examples.

To finish up this week, here is the shovel in “pick mode” tumbling through the air thanks to a rotation pivoting system I rigged into it. Look out! 😀

Shovel FLY!
A moment in the sun Journals

Hi. 10 to 16 July 2016 was a rubbish week for me so here’s scene 02_01_A glitching like a boss under the new depsgraph. Accordingly, this week’s write-up is about weeks that suck and how I deal with them.

Relatively unproductive weeks have many causes. For me it could be getting overwhelmed by the giant pile of work between me and starting animation, or having my
general confidence torpedoed by a vertical learning curve for the dayjob, or a passing illness, chronic injuries playing up, freezing Antarctic air coming up for a
visit (I hate cold weather). This week, those things piled up simultaneously and Friday evening couldn’t come quickly enough.

At times like this, I’ve learnt it’s best for me to slow down – I
don’t stop but I do lower my productivity expectations to almost zero. I only take on
easy small things, because there’s always easy small things and small easy wins help me back to bigger ones. I look at
other people’s work for inspiration, try (and usually fail) to get to
bed early and generally wait for the brio to return. And when it does
and I have a measurable quantity of mental resilience again, I get on
with the bigger tricky stuff again.

Even at a crawling pace the week wasn’t a complete write-off – the
walkie talkie is a little bit better, and Pointy’s rig got updated with
a cool new eyebrow based on Algorith and Pepeland’s fantastic Bendy
Bones. I made a video about the new controls and put it to good use on a couple of shot re-dos already.

Thanks for reading. See you next week!


Welcome to 6 to 12 December 2015 where Pointy flies through the air Kaeloo-style!

I got two more shots in layout on Sunday. The subsequent shots call for some cartoony action which Pointy’s character rig wasn’t easily capable of. So this week turned into a rigging week.

Pointy can now be dangled from his neck in midair. I’ve achieved this by having two separate control rigs for his spine. The more traditional control rig has a parent-child hierarchy that goes from hips to nose (!). By contrast, the dangle rig splits its hierarchy at a “dangle point” at Pointy’s neck so that the lower body is parented to the upper body. This means I can animate Pointy’s bottom half as a hanging weight much easier. It’s hypothetically possible to do dangles with the old rig, but it’s stupidly time-consuming. This new control system will work out much better.

I also put IK/FK switch controls on the legs, created a tumble mechanism, polished up the eye controls and started implementing corrective shape keys to make extreme deformations around the neck less pinchy and foul.

That’s all for now. I’ve got a nasty subacromial bursitis in my right shoulder which needs to heal up after being needle-fed some nice juicy cortisone on Monday. I’ll be taking it as easy as possible on the mousing and typing front this coming week to give it a chance to heal up, so there might be less to report next week. We shall see!


Greetings from sunny 29 November to 5 December 2015. We hope you enjoy your stay. Have some pictures!

Last Sunday, Gronky’s glitchy curve-based mouth finally got replaced with a mesh-based mouth. The rig is much more intuitive and predictable than before and just as expressive. And I reckon it looks much better – more like a big plasticine pad. 🙂

The mouth was the last job to do before I could start layout. I screeched into a microphone for a bit after the mouth was done to get some scratch, then struck out and began doing layouts of rough shots to pin down framing and staging. I also made sure I did thumbnails of shots the night before so when I sat down to work, I wasn’t going in cold.

Over the course of the week I kept adding more shots (one shot a day was my absolute minimum target) and before I knew it, I had nine shots and thirty seconds of edited footage. I hit the weekend slightly ahead of schedule, right at the point where the action-comedy stuff kicks in. I’m a little bit afraid of how that stuff will turn out because I haven’t done much of it before, but the only thing for it is to give it a shot and stay upbeat in the face of repeated failure. 🙂

This is such a small project that I’m not even using a spreadsheet to track shots or dialogue in layout this time around. It’s nice to just draw and make the thing I drew then see whether it works in the edit, rather than losing my will to live amongst spreadsheets and correctly-named files and so on. I’ve worked at streamlining my writing and pre-visualisation process over the last 18 months and it’s feeling nicely lean now.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading and please hit me up with any questions or remarks in the comments or on Twitter. 🙂



This week I looked at the replacement animation thing from an alternative viewpoint to last week – that would be the viewpoint where I actually build something and try it out instead of guessing what I need it to do. I made a weird little googly-eyed guy, created a few mouths for him and made a little animation without any extra tools to help the process along. The animation is visible above. I think he’s saying “what?!”

Each replacement mouth rig contains at least a root position bone and a jaw bone. These bones are both constrained (slaved) to position and jaw counterparts on a master rig. The rigs also contain other bones which control their specific features – one has a pursed lip size control and one had a pout control. (While it’s possible to have geometry that can cover both pursing and pouting and more, this is a proof of concept.)

The first cool discovery came when I realised I could have the same action on all the different bones. This meant that the master bones and the custom bones on the replacement rigs can store their keyframes in the one place. Noice!

Alas, the keyframing that controls object visibility doesn’t live in the actions. It lives.. uh.. somewhere else. Fortunately, you can slave the visibility to a “visibility” control bone and that links just fine. Hooray!

A UI to make sure only one rig is active/visible at a time would help too.

The story is in active development again. I’ve got the outline written but the intro doesn’t give people a reason to keep watching yet aside from politeness and the fact that getting up from a chair is impossibly hard. Writing-wise I’ve set myself the relatively pathetic but easily achievable goal of a gag per night. It doesn’t have to be a good gag but it does have to exist. And writing funny things makes me happy.

Meanwhile, my desktop computer is doing things which make me suspect it wants me to spend money on it. A shiny new SSD however will have to wait until after I get back from Amsterdam in November. As much as I’d love to lose a weekend digging around in computer guts and bleeding, this weekend and next weekend are right out.

That’s all for this week. One more update from Perth and then it’s off to Amsterdam for Blender Conference 2015! Yay!