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Journals

Was that June 2018 just now?

Summary: did another lip sync exercise, started an animation add-on, saw a quenda

It’s been June 2018! The Blender 2.8 Code Quest has just finished up and it’s been amazing to see all the progress. Also I saw a quenda (southern brown bandicoot) in the local park this month for the first time ever. Here it is!

You can see and share the video on YouTube at higher res here. (If I inline the YouTube video here, it’ll track you.)

I spent the long weekend at the beginning of June completing exercise 4 of CG Cookie’s Demystifying Lip Sync course – two versions of it! At first I wanted to try using pre-posed mouth shapes for speed’s sake. I got this. (The “Melvin” character is from CG Cookie.)

It’s OK but very over-enunciated, the mouth goes too open and seems to rise and fall on the face a lot, etc. I put it down to relying too much on hastily-created pose libraries.

On my next attempt, I did a pass keyframing the gape of the mouth every two frames. The next pass I keyed the width of the mouth on alternating frames to the mouth gape, then the roll/pout of the lips on the same lip keys on the next pass. I used the pose library to hit particularly fiddly shapes and polished problematic timing afterwards. This “poseless” lipsync workflow was nicely rapid and produced good results in much less time. See what you think!

Much better, I think!

Speaking of animation, this month I started coding a animation tools add-on for Blender at the prompting of Looch. So far it has a couple of handy functions and one pretty cool function.

This shows a tool for the graph editor which makes actions more exaggerated or subtle. (animBot users might know this tool as Push/Pull.)

I’m doing time-critical project work at the day job this month and next month. This has meant some long (14+ hour!) work days. I’m making a point of relaxing and taking it easy when I’m at home so I don’t burn out too badly, so that means less animation/coding in my spare time and more sleep.

Next month is looking a little bit less intense than this month though, so hopefully I won’t have to resort to cute animal videos to sweeten the July recap. 🙂

Categories
Blender Journals Stuff I made

There goes May 2018

Summary: I made an animation tools plug-in for Blender 2.8 and I’m still working through body mechanics and lip sync animation courses for now.

Hello from May 2018. This month, Blender Animation Studio packed up and moved to the new HQ in Amsterdam North and to my south Margaret River tragically became famous for something other than surfing. The Hawai’ian volcano Kilauea started tearing up its neighbours and there was some royal wedding that people made a fuss about. And oh that torrent of never-ending GDPR emails, many from companies we look forward to never hearing a peep out of again..

Personally I spent most of the month battling one illness or another as the cold started settling in here.

There was a little pear animation I made. It uses shape keys and the Laplacian Deform modifier. Here’s the .blend file if you want a closer look. It was made for Blender 2.79a but it’s munty in the current 2.8 preview.

Speaking of Blender 2.8, I set up a Windows build environment this month when Blender’s nightly builds stopped during their office move. If you’ve ever wanted to try out unbuilt branches (like greasepencil-object) or code changes as they get committed, this is not super difficult to do and absolutely worth it!

I even did a little coding myself. Now that armature-driven animation is possible in Blender 2.8 again, I wrote a little add-on to put back the old 2.7-series keyframing tools on the toolbar exactly how they were before.

And of course there’s the fun of loading up old files in the 2.8 preview to see how well they work. Here’s an abandoned animation test from A moment in the sun rendered in 2.8’s Eevee renderer (currently a work-in-progress). None of the materials have been tweaked to work in Eevee – it’s doing a pretty good job reproducing the Cycles materials, I reckon!

 

I kept going with the Animation Body Mechanics course. I submitted this polished jump for exercise 2. (Character rig is from CG Cookie.)

 

It only had to be a simple jump across a gap, but I got fancy – that’s how this four seconds of animation is the end result of nearly 26 hours of blocking, splining and polishing over an entire month.

I’ve been encouraged to stick closer to the assigned work in future without creating momentum-crippling challenges for myself. I think this is sound advice. 🙂

For something a little easier, I started the Demystifying Lip Sync Animation course too. My linguistics training helps me get good mouth shapes at speed. Here’s my submission for exercise 2 of the course. (Character and sound from CG Cookie.)

 

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great June. 🙂

Categories
Blender Journals

April 2018 retrospective

So that was April 2018. When a Toronto cop showed the world how it’s done. When the Koreas finally started talking about ending their war. When the Australian financial sector’s dodgy behaviour was finally exposed for all to see. When.. uh… something of significance happened in Perth probably, not sure what.

I got a couple of new synthesiser bits this month, including the venerable complex LFO TINRS Wobbler and a portable enclosure with a built-in power supply. The week that the enclosure began its journey over from Melbourne, my car decided once and for all that my modular synthesiser was getting far too much attention. There soon came an ominous and expensive rattling noise from the engine…

If my chances of making it to Blender Conference 2018 were slim before, my car’s repair bills have now nailed that particular coffin shut, set it ablaze and launched it into the sun. Foo.

Blendery things

The Blender Institute began their super duper code sprint up in Amsterdam and the daily builds of Blender 2.8 are getting super duper interesting as a result! I’ll hold off from making any remarks because it’s all very much a work in progress, but there’s some promising developments.. as well as a reignition of the old LMB/RMB select debate.. ah well, may as well take the good with the bad!

Animation Bootcamp

I finished up CG Cookie’s Animation Bootcamp this month. This was my first submission for Exercise 11, the first walk cycle of the course!

I got some feedback from Instructor Wayne on this submission and had another crack at it.

Not great, true, but not awful either. The second full-body walk cycle was a little better.

It needs some polish but my peers at CG Cookie decided it was good enough to pass as is. I’ll come back to both of these another day.

I went on to the next CG Cookie animation course, Animation Workflow and Body Mechanics, and now that I’ve got a better eye for when something looks off it’s taking much longer to get my exercises to the point where I’m happy to submit them. Knowing when something’s off is easy, knowing how it’s off and how to fix it efficiently is what I’ve yet to learn. Better stick with it!

A pig

Out of the blue one Friday, I decided to challenge myself to realise a character design because it’s been a while since I tried. I did up this orthographic reference in Krita.

A flat pig

Then I tried to sculpt it. It came out looking different but so much better:

Oh hi!

Here, Mr Pig is an unretopologised sculpture. The animation is done by shape-keying a deforming lattice (head and cheeks) and the sculpted mesh (eyebrows). The freckle texture is done with vertex painting. The animation is extremely limited – he can’t open his mouth or blink yet, for instance. Still, cute pig!

The miracle of lattices!

I’m retopologising the sculpture to a mesh so that I can use it to practice UV unwrapping and surfacing, specifically texture painting. And maybe a little bit of animation too. We’ll see!

That’s all for April. If you’ve got any comments or questions or just want to rap, you can reply to this post’s toots/tweets on Mastodon or Twitter.

Categories
Journals

March 2018 round-up

Welcome to March 2018 – the month of the Cambridge Analytica scandal on the Internet, a ball-tampering scandal in Australia and a big-arse broken drill here in Perth.

In happier news, eastern quolls have been reintroduced to the Australian mainland after going extinct there, and both Krita 4.0 and Blender 2.79b came out in March 2018 too! Yay!

Here’s what I got up to.

Synthesiser!

Two new Eurorack modules arrived this month:

  • Befaco MIDI Thing (kit, racked up 6 March 2018) [modulargrid]
  • Erica Synths Graphic VCO (26 March 2018) [modulargrid]

The MIDI Thing has a simple but useful job: I can now drive my modular synth from my computer’s sequencer like any other external or virtual instrument, allowing finely controlled Nikmis-style baroque electronica… or whatever, I just link to Nikmis whenever I can.

The Graphic VCO is a multiple wavetable oscillator which allows etch-a-sketch style wave-cycle editing from the module itself. Its sound hearkens back to the gritty lo-fi digital scratch of Waldorf’s PPG Wave synths from the 1980s. Here’s a little sample with notes and modulation data coming from the TiNRS Tuesday.

 

After buying yet another set of dud bucket brigade delay chips off the interweb, I’ve abandoned the 106 Chorus build again. There’s too much counterfeit crap out there and I don’t want that chorus enough to keep buying duds. Yet.

Animation!

For now I want to keep upskilling with CGC’s awesome animation courses, then see how I go with texturing and painting. When Blender 2.8 is stable and feature-complete enough to make a short movie with, I’ll hop back into Fishtank and use it as a way of familiarising myself with this new version.

Also I drew a random monster bandicoot in gumboots thing. Maybe he’d be a good character build. What do you think?

Hello!

Animation exercises

I’m a couple of exercises shy of finishing CG Cookie’s Animation Bootcamp course. Here’s my exercise submissions for this month, starting with hand-animated physics to develop timing and spacing, then bringing in squash & stretch, drag/overlap and even some character animation!

The bowling ball here is OK but the other balls… eh…

This one is technically good but a little unexciting. It’s surprisingly fiddly to make a ball roll believably over a sharp point. Really proud I pulled it off.

Squash and stretch comes in here and I’m still a bit green with keeping it consistent.

These motion graphics are a little rough on the settle and lack a bit of whoosh on the zoom.

This is the first bit of character animation we got to do in the course. Pretty happy with how it turned out!

This exercise was about hand-animating drag and follow-through into the antenna. We got given a swoop motion to start with but I redid it. The anticipation came out a little bit “square” and the settle needs work, but the antenna work is pretty good!

The last two assignments are both walk cycles. I wanted to have them finished by the end of the month, but the day job is getting more intense and walk cycles are kind of hard.

Thanks for catching up with me. If you’ve got questions or comments, feel free to fire them at me on Mastodon or Twitter. 🙂

Categories
Blender Journals Modular synthesisers Music & Synthesisers

February 2018 in effect!

Here’s my February 2018. Let’s get into it.

Synthemabits

This month’s new Eurorack modules include

  • Music Thing Modular Chord Organ (kit, 1 February 2018) [modulargrid]
  • Joranalogue Compare 2 dual window comparator/logic module (12 February 2018) [modulargrid]

The Chord Organ I wrote a post about jazzy chords I’m trying with the Chord Organ, including a configuration to copy and paste.

The Compare 2 is a smartly implemented window comparator system that also makes a cute little robot face when doing its thing.

View this post on Instagram

compare 2 has a face and that face is :E

A post shared by S J Bennett (@quollism) on

I experimentally tried streaming my patching sessions too. This is a 44 minute jam which starts off a bit slowly but it finds some nice little moments!

Movies and animation

Fishtank is parked because I’ve decided there’s something I need to deal with first.

Since I set myself the goal of becoming someone who makes animated movies, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about and getting practical experience in the pre-production bits. When it comes to outlines, thumbnails, storyboards, animatics and even 3D layout, I’m confident. But I’m too comfortable there to draw a line and move on from it.

At the beginning of this year, I resolved to work on smaller self-contained projects and exercises without extra strings attached. The effervescent Looch Muñoz posted an animation which brought home that I’d never looked into literal animation to any practical extent. So this month I dusted off my old CG Cookie account and got started on their Animation Bootcamp course.

For a few days, my spare time was all about the balls.

At the same time as I was learning how to see timing and spacing and how to manipulate them into illusions of mass and force, I felt like I was rediscovering my tenacity too. I was sticking with it. I was pushing through. I was learning.

I did four exercises over four days. I had a head of steam up. When it came time for exercise five and comparative ball bounces (basketball versus tennis ball versus bowling ball), my frustration got the better of me. I knew enough to know that I wasn’t getting as close as I ought to. My intuitions had outpaced my abilities.

This resulted in some impressively dedicated procrastination where I spent several nights in a row getting 24,000 words into an urban fantasy novella before writing myself into a corner and getting mired in rewrite hell. I’ve got it out of my system now, though. Sort of. (Not really.)

Animation-wise, I want to finish the rest of Animation Bootcamp as a priority. Having someone check my work and provide crit is invaluable. Beyond that I also want to tackle Wayne’s other animation courses at CGC to get my eye and confidence up many notches to where the prospect of animating doesn’t put me off so much any more.

And maybe in the process I’ll rediscover my tenacity again. That would be great too.