While I put a lot of effort into altering the materials appropriately in Maya instead of with Substance Painter, as soon as I exported the models and materials into Unreal Engine there were issues. The materials did not transfer as they should have and were completely different colours. At this point I was running out of time, so I had to just change the colours in Unreal in order to complete the animation in time. Due to this I lost much quality appearance and the outcome is not my initial intention at all. I adjusted quickly and worked with what was available to meat the time. If I still have time I will try to make some simple UV’s in Substance Painter and redo the rendered video. Not only this, I realised that Maya’s lights would not imported into Unreal, so I also had to restart my lighting set-up with what Unreal had available.
Maya Character Model
Thinking about how I will add the body décor. Since I want to be slightly protruding from the body as though he is wearing a suit and those parts are standing out as a piece of armour or alike. What it I duplicated the body. Then deleted faces I didn’t need and then moved the left-over vertices into the décor shapes and extruded back towards the body. Then, I would either combine, group, or attach the vertices back on to the body with
I think grouping is the best option. Firstly, since I will have an easier time adding material to the individual objects. It shouldn’t make a difference when exported into Unreal either way. Also, trying to attach appropriate vertices back onto the body will be a waste of time. The model will suffice as just by grouping. I should bevel the edges of the décor to make it look better.
After completing the hand and foot modelling separately from the body I used the bridge, multi-cut and target weld tools to combine the limbs together. The limb separations will be done after clean up the mesh in Maya.
While I used Maya’s grab tool a lot to readjust the mesh, I prefer to use Mudbox for the main detail/extras addition part. Plus I like to utilise Mudbox easy subdivision tool where I can quickly alternate between them.
I faced many issues with the software such as with Arnold and other plugins that wreaked havoc. It is due to these issues, however, that I have become more familiar with the system and the process of applying and importing plugins into Maya.
The hand UV’s are causing trouble. I think because of the extruded knuckles that side of the hand came out weird when I unfolded the UV. However, even after I tried this method, where I cut the top of the hand in half at the knuckles (UV made in the centre of the knuckles as I wanted to keep the finders together), this method still has weird outcomes when I unfold.
After I cut-and-sewed the UV’s, unfolding had almost no effect. As you can see in the image above, all the Uv’s look very strange and only the first click on ‘unfold’ had any effect. Many of the UV’s were overlapping or weird shapes. It was thanks to this that I learned more about the UV tools capabilities, leading me to realise that I knew next to nothing before. I learned more about the grab and smooth UV tools, and this helped me make sense of the messy UVs that wouldn’t cooperate (all of them). I also tried using the Symmetrize tool, but error messages kept coming up before I could.
I decided not to put too much effort into making the UV’s appearance to look pretty and perfect, with the trouble I have been going through because of the abnormalities, doing that would take too long. Also, I am not hand painting the UV’s in photoshop, so in Substance painter it shouldn’t matter too much at all if they look like this. Just as long as I have made sure none of the UV’s overlap.
Professional Practice Two Min Animation
I decided to expand on the environment design to enhance the theme of science-fiction. I intend to lean more towards a futuristic building that suits the style of the objects.
Working out the new design:
Here you can see a very high-walled building with three levels and a walkway on the ‘second story’ (or the equivalent). The centre-most parts of the walls on each level have the wall design, as you can see above. I was thinking of adding mesh lights in-between all of these as well as the lighting that you can see above. The tall walls and walkway will only be added if I have the time spare, otherwise, I shall remain with the single story building and wall patterns. The main source of lighting from bulbs hanging from the ceiling will also be altered for the theme. The light from the windows above will be minimal, just enough to have some natural lighting present.
Thinking about having natural lighting from the ceiling windows being from low-key night lights rather than daylight. With these Light renders, I think I like having a low-key lit scene to set the mood.
After a test I realised that the mesh lights can’t be imported into Unreal Engine, which puts a major halt to the lighting plan.
Professional Practice Assets
To create the fabric blowing in the wind asset I used n-cloth in Maya. I initially imagined this asset to be delicate and the fabric would be affected by the wind gently.
I was in a state of deliberation over the location of the of the point constraints. Not only that, but that location changes the visual style and movement of the material. Therefore, I spend time experimenting with this to fit my imagination and find the best outcome possible.
My previous comment may have been my initial thought, yet in some of my tests, no matter what I did or what preset I set the n-cloth to, I still ended up with a stretching effect. Sometimes, the mesh would stretch only the faces at the point constraint indefinitely, and sometimes only a little.
With this next test I tried sculpting the fabric before playing the render. While the initial starting point was not as static as a flat plane, it made no visible difference to the shape of the fabric while moving and being affected by the wind.
To fix the stretching problem, I used the suggestion from this video (QnA 01: Ncloth Strange Stretch – YouTube) that said to increase the number of point constraints applied to the n-cloth. While I preferred not to have a cluster of point constraints like this, I still tried it out. The stretching problem did not disappear and the fabric flew away as usual. The stretch was not indefinite, it stopped but was still too much to be natural.
Here I created a cylinder mesh for the fabric to both attach via ‘nconstraint- point to surface’ and collide with. I was unsure it this would look good but experimented anyway with a new technique. This technique was something I picked up in a YouTube video, when trying to find alternative effects of different constraints: Quickly Create Realistic Curtains using nCloth in Maya 2020 – YouTube
Once the fabric falls, as you can see in this image, the fabric should blow to the -X axis. However, in the render the fabric in the +X axis always blows above the object instead of below. So, duplicated the constraint object so that there was one as the constraint and one object to collide with. I also decreased the side of the cylinder object and hid it. This created the perfect effect. The place of the constraint was visually present but not as obstructive and protruding as before. It created the best render so I continued with these tests.
Lighting. For this attempt I set up the lighting in a three-point. plus one above. The back one is lightly dimmer in order to have a subtle backlight.
Settings for fabric asset
WS: 10 D: 0_0.1_-1.0 WN: 7
H: 214.61 S: 0.397 V: 0.957
H: 186.92 S: 0.487 V: 0.470
I found that these material setting created a really nice visual effect for the fabric. You can see it in the more developed fabric tests in the video below.
With the way this asset looks at the end: go back to the gentle wind or keep this violent one which looks good with the shapes it makes.
All depends on the type of ‘ocean’ we want to create. And how the visual movement of the fabric will mesh with /contribute to the aesthetic to the other assets and the whole animation in general. Best thing would be to try out both and be prepared with two assets to find the best one.
I used a colour gradient by adding a ‘ramp’ to the material colour (as you can see above).
This the colour gradient I aimed to create this effect. Half of the object disappearing into the background with an apparent faded gradient. Only if this asset would be overplayed with others would you see all of the object. At that point it should be no problem as it will simply create diversity with colour. The outcome was exactly as I had hoped for, however after I rendered the asset without a background ( so that later we can overlay multiple assets together in premiere) and imported it into premiere to export the test I found another problem. I used the colour picker to apply the exact same colour, however, no matter what I did, it looked different. I suspect this may be due to lighting that I applied to the meshes in Maya. For now it isn’t a huge problem, I will see how this asset looks with the others and decide if it needs further adjustment.
Here you can see the full tunnel asset. The camera moves throughout the middle (right to left in the image above), and the objects don’t move. The reason the objects don’t move is since I wanted to create the feeling of ‘motion from the different angles created from objects with different rotational orientation. Such as the square outlines or the zagged rotations in the tunnel.
I initially created a whole tunnel which I planned on having light rays shine through holes within it. Nevertheless, I was forced to adjust to problems that occurred with the render outcome. Although the lighting I used and the material colour was the same throughout, some objects seemed to be lighter or darker than others.
Rotating Shapes Asset no. 2
After I tried the coloured tests, I think it is best to stay with the sample ‘white’ colour for now and add colour to only certain parts to exaggerate the music. Here I experimented with the camera angle. I also added bevels to the edges of most of the outer edges to make it look a bit better.
Assignment of Assets to the Teammates
Here we discussed and decided on the assets we each wished to make, as well as the assets that would best fit together. We limited the number to begin with, and then decide later after review of the made assets (at that point) where we wish to go from there. Six for each team member was this number. The rest are less significant and not entirely necessary to the animation.
This will be paired up with the audio reactive light from Aftereffects as a silhouette. That is why this asset is the colour of the background chosen colour. I tried, first to create multiple, however only the original single circle experiment worked for some reason. So, I will try again later if I have time.
More Refined Assets
Professional Practice Early Experiments
Here I made rough, experimental and observational drawings to aid the development of the design process and help my visual style merge well with the chosen audio track. I took many inspirations from any naturally moving objects, anything and everything I found. Mostly, subjects that presented a fluid movement were focussed on to provide appropriate consistency with the theme.
RAM Notes – Translating Music into Visuals
Things to think about when creating visuals for the audio
- What is in focus- or not?
- What are you translating= emotion?
- Form- overall appearance
- Movement- speed and time
- Beat and tempo
^Do any of these change and why?^
Four main types of movement in physics
Music translation into visual movement- which of these does the music sound like to you? (Match both these sections together)
- Drop/ fall/ land
- Flow/blow (like an object moving around another- wind or a rock in a stream)
- Flexion (bending of a joint)
- Rotation- pivot point
- Tension- relaxed/ stiff
While I really like some of these designs I made, I had to choose the most practice ideas to move forwards with. The ones with a large collection of shapes, lines or objects would have taken much longer to animate. Therefore, I will choose a selection to simplify and exaggerate witht he movement.
Jared’s Test images of progress:
Maya Object Models
I have found that I can visualise the materials of each part on the sickle better when looking at the model itself rather than just my 2D concept of it. Had to restart the sickle once.
1.Blade top. most reflective part.
2. Main Blade material: carbon steel (typical for knives).
3. Cover/skin of darker colour. Muddy reflectiveness.
4. Ivory-like or white wood. Nothing too hard like metal. Nothing too feeble like plastic.
5. (Strong hard area to be used for hitting with the back of the sickle) Carbon steel. Hard but not brittle, this metal is generally implemented in buildings and bridges, gears, pipelines and couplings, cars, cutting tools (such as chisels) etc.
High carbon steel has a much better tensile strength, used to make cutting tools, blades, punches, dies, springs and high-strength wire (Rogers, 2016).
6. Red rubber grip.
7. Strap/ wrap. Either brown leather or some sort of red fabric.
8. Metal rim encircling the handle.
9. Same material as no. 4 but with some decorative carvings on the knife butt. These will be made with the Mudbox sculpting tool. Either indent or outdent- test to see which looks better.
Had to restart once because I kept getting an error message: “Mesh has non-manifold UVs. Clean up the mesh before using unfold”. I attempted to correct it somehow but nothing worked. Once I restarted, I only seemed to avoid the problem as long as I didn’t extrude the shapes on the front of the grenade’s body. So, I abandoned this section of my design, in the hoped that I’d be able to alter the model in Mudbox later.
Rogers, A., 2016. About carbon steel and its uses. [online] Metalex. Available at: <https://www.metalex.co.uk/carbon-steel-uses/> [Accessed 19 March 2021].
I have a lot more to plan and decide upon but for now, this is what I envision for the environment. Note to self: turn as many things as you find suitable into a sci-fi theme. I don’t have in terms of environment right now.
Decision made so far:
Floor is old solid wooden flooring.
The platform below the rope and the stair steps will be anti slip metal.
The walls of the warehouse will be large concrete slabs.
Make my environment worthy of the name SCI-FI. Spaceship like?
Proof of Concept
The proof of concept is a great opportunity to figure out hoe to work the lighting I make in Maya into Unreal- how does that even work?
When making the proof of concept I had many problems concerning Unreal Engine since it was my first time using it. Many error messages came up about having to rebuild the lighting and even doing that didn’t solve the problem. Apparently, the UV’s were overlapping. I believe this problem is caused since in Maya I extruded the rope along a curve with the extruded faces too close together, causing the UV’s to overlap.
As you can see after I went back to try and make sure there were no overlapping models there were still error messages labelling models as either having “degenerate tangent bases” or “some nearly zero bi-normals.” I have gone back and edited the necessary UV’s and some of the error messages have gone. Not only this but now when I press “Play” the character model and camera acts strange. It automatically goes into first-person instead of the selected third and the character will not move at all. All I can do is move around the camera. I have tested if this is only the software, and if I open a new scene then the character moves fine. I noticed that the camera/character get messed up as soon as I import the scene from Maya. Maybe if I simplify the scene’s objects I won’t have any problems, if I model the absolute basic shapes since I only created these models as rough impressions of the finals. Therefore, since I may have not inputted as much care as I would to the final models, I may have left out important steps or made simple mistakes.
When trying to fix these problems, there were certain forums that resolved this issue, however these solutions did not work for me.
Check list in Maya- prep mesh for Unreal
- No Uv’s are overlapping
- Centre pivot all models
- Delete by type history all models
- Freeze transformation all models
- Group all mesh that I will export into one and then export.
- In Unreal import settings select ‘normal and tangents’. This is supposed to stop error messages coming up. Just to be safe I will do it, however, it hasn’t changed anything for me yet.
- The models in Maya must be exported as FBX so that materials are exported also.
- Once I have combined anything in Maya, delete history immediately (this may have caused a lot of problems in Unreal).
There seemed to be problems with my mesh so I restarted from scratch on the proof of concept. When I imported this new mesh into Unreal, the camera and character acted normally until I moved the character and camera onto the scene. When the environment is scaled up to size NEXT TO these then there is no problem. I will try to remove a couple of the walls to see if this makes a difference. The step after that is to remove the floor. My teacher recommended placing the models into Unreal separately, this may also work. Either way, I feel I am finally close to overcoming all of these problems and close to starting to record the video!
Finally solved these problems and began making the video and now the rendered video camera doesn’t follow the same movements as in play mode. The camera follows the character fine, but not the movements of the mouse, so I can’t show the character looking around throughout the video.
Proof of Concept and tests:
I have tested/checked what the camera does in irst person and the recording and play mode perspective are the same. So, this is an option for the final video. I just have to get rid of the gun that is automatically equiped.
Time period: 9 Weeks. From the 17th March to 19th May.
Alloted time to update blog posts by end of each week.
2 weeks before deadline write critical appraisal.
Roughly 12 objects to model, texture and colour…
3-4 weeks max to make the models, 1 to texture and 1 to finish up and put in Unreal Engine to make the video.