A moment in the sun Journals

It’s time for 17 to 23 July 2016. After last week, I’m back in the saddle. This week’s entry is mostly about automation.

Pointy’s new eyebrow means using Blender nightlies for production. The nightlies have an option to switch on the new and improved dependency graph. Sadly, the new and improved dependency graph breaks my scenes – specifically, the constraint relationship between Pointy and his sweet hat. Remember this from last week?

The good news is that I found a fix! (Also there’s dialogue on that shot now.)

The bad news is that for every single affected scene, I’d have to splat the old
Pointy, load the new Pointy, apply the old Pointy’s action, splat the
old sombrero, load the new sombrero, constrain the new sombrero to
Pointy’s head and apply a new sombrero action to make the sombrero the right shape. Assuming I even do these things correctly the first time, that’s hours of tedious busywork standing in the way of making progress. Every time I open an old shot to work on it, I have to do that again.

I decided to teach Blender how to do that so that I don’t have to.

Blender has a full scripting language (Python) built in and an application programming interface (API) for making Blender do stuff automagically. Five hours later, I can make Blender do the
aforementioned loady-switchy-constrainy-deletey drudge work. I can even
put the script behind a convenient button on the interface so I don’t have to go
looking for it. Yay!

I’ve also made some extra buttons to control “Only Render” and “Background Images” from 3D view without diving into the properties menu as well as choosing which kind of keyframe I’m adding. These are very handy for layout.

It’s nice being able to code. 🙂

I made progress on another task this week – making a procedural pebbly texture for the ground. I did tests back in February 2015 but they used geometry. Scattering millions of stones across the ground however will make my renders way slower. Here’s the version with actual geometry:

And here again is the texture-only version based on Voronoi noise:

The geometry version is more realistic and the procedural version is more impressionistic. I like them both. Ultimately it’s an art direction call which one I go with, but the procedural texture could win out with a few bits of actual geometry on top.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!


It’s Sunday. Here’s what I did this week.

On Monday, Tuesday and Saturday I wrote drafts of a project I’m kicking around quietly. It’s proving a real bitch to get the tone right, so It may be a non-starter.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I began making Pointy from “A moment in the sun”. (He’s a bit peeved because I haven’t worked on him since Wednesday.)

On Thursday I worked on the bear nose morph test for the quiet project and posted a timelapse of it afterwards.

On Friday and Saturday I wrote a bit of music for fun – nothing worth showing off. The timelapses would definitely go better with music and narration, and thanks to VirtualDub it’s possible to add an audio track to a silent video without having to recompress the video. Useful!

The weekend has mainly been catching up on movies. I watched Barbarella, La Dolce Vita and The Godfather, Part III. Barbarella was very late sixties cute and silly; I enjoyed the memory of La Dolce Vita more than the experience of watching it because it went on for so bloody long; and Godfather III was.. well.. Sofia Coppola can direct better than she can act, that’s for sure.

I suspect La Dolce Vita’s going to need some time to digest. I liked 8 ½ and Fellini Satyricon better, though the image of a giant Jesus statue being flown across the city by helicopter is a great way to open a film.



Good news, everyone! Blender 2.71 Release Candidate with its sexy splash screen is now available! Quite possibly by the time you read this, the final version will be out, and quite possibly other versions besides.

And now for another video – still a build timelapse, but for a short proof of concept test for a surreal/absurdist project I want to do after “A moment in the sun”. It involves a metamorphosis. I wanted to be able to morph not just the mesh but also the textures and materials. This is a timelapse of a quick “first draft” attempt and shouldn’t be considered in any way authoritative about anything.

In this video, you can watch me:

  • modelling a cartoon bear’s snout based off reference art
  • repositioning the snout’s vertices to turn it into a human face
  • setting up driven shape keys to go between the two
  • altering the driver’s curves to give more character to the morph
  • setting up an armature for character animation
  • unwrapping the mesh and getting it ready for texturing
  • painting three different materials using Texture Paint 
  • failing to save one of the textures and having to paint it again >:|
  • fading between the different materials dynamically using drivers

Done in Blender 2.71 test version.