28 November 2013

Projecting video footage on to 3D objects

Having modeled a basic character based on my designs in a previous post I have been experimenting with having the live-action footage from our experiments as textures on objects within Maya.

In this example I have created extracted the 'lens' in the characters faced and duplicated this. To create the look of glass I have enlarged the duplicate and added several extrudes to create a raised surface. I have also added a spot light as the main illumination in the scene, I have set the light decay to Quadratic, this creates a more natural look as the fall off of the light is closer to that of light in reality. This means that the further away the light is from the object the less like there will be, with a setting of no decay the value of the light will not change no matter how far away the light is from the object. I also added a point light behind the character to highlight some of the rear details and have added two planes with surface shaders applied to them to create reflections.

I first tested a still image as the texture on the lens to see what it would look like. Clearly in this image the lighting is too dark so I also needed to adjust this. I also used an image of a camera lens underneath the frame from the video here, adjusting the coloration of the video footage is something we will address at a later date.

In order to project the video onto the lens I first created a simple UV layout for the lens, I then created a UV snapshot of this and opened the file in After Effects, this allowed me to maintain the dimensions of the UVs and import the video footage over the top. I then create a spherical mask to mask out the area of the video that was outside the lens. 

Using a mask to create an image sequence
Doing this in After Effects then allowed me to export the footage as single frames (an image sequence), I was then able to set this image sequence as a texture for the lens object in Maya. It took me a while to achieve this correctly, the main problem being the naming of the files, it seems Maya is rather particular about the naming of the files in an image sequence. I eventually found that naming the images image.00, image.01 etc was the correct naming system in order for the image sequence to work. I then exported a few frames in order to ensure that the image sequence was working. As I am working with the Mental Ray shader mia_material_x I was unable to test the image sequence in the scene as the shader just appears as black.

I also created a transparent, reflective material for the outer lens, although I am not quite happy with the results, this purely functions as a test scene.

Image sequence as texture on lens, outer lens with bevel to create reflection 

Having achieved this task we are now aware of the workflow for applying image sequences to objects in Maya and the way After Effects can be utilised to create image sequences from video footage. Below is the test of the image sequence.

20 November 2013

Fun With Corn Flour and Sound

This is the video I managed to capture from the experiment. Unfortunately, I do not think it is good enough.

  1. The white balance is not correct.
  2. Not enough light (bigger aperture, more lights).
  3. Slow shutter speed.
  4. Would be ideal if we could get a green background.
  5. For better results and stronger speaker/ sub would be needed.
These are all things I am going to adjust in tomorrows experimental session. One of the bulbs blew leaving us with only one light. This left the scene a little dark. I did not want to open the aperture to wide incase of not having the whole scene shape. I also did not want to change ISO because of noise. To lighten the scene I slowed the shutter speed, but this has resulted in very blurry results. because of this, in tomorrows session I will be strict on variables and note down all the numbers being used.

© Conor Page

19 November 2013

Corn Flour Experiments

Today Conor and I experimented with corn flour to see what results we could get on camera. I photographed some of the experiment whilst Conor filmed it. 

The first mixture we made did not have a thick enough consistency and didn't create the results we were hoping for. We also experimented with different audio options as we were unsure whether it was the strength of the audio or the consistency of the mixture. Although the vibrations from the speaker created some interesting patterns in the mixture we still didn't create the effect we were hoping for.

By adding more flour we were able to create a thicker substance that resulted in the following images. We also experimented with adding food colouring.

11 November 2013

Experimenting with Sound and materials

Corn Flour Experiments

Whilst researching experiments involving different materials that we could recreate and film for use in our animation, I have come across some interesting experiments involving corn flour and speakers. When corn flour is mixed with water an interesting consistency is achieved in which the mixture behaves like both a liquid and a solid. This experiment is often carried out for the interest of children, however combining this with colours and other materials and placing the mixture over a speaker could certainly achieve some interesting results. This technique could also be combined with CG to create something unique.

Slow Motion colour in water

Building on the experiments already carried out by Conor this video presents an interesting approach to filming liquids in water in slow motion, the idea of placing coloured gels in front of lights is particularly interesting.

Experimenting with Ferro Fluid

These experiments create a similar effect to that achieved using cornflour. These experiments involve combining printer toner with oil and using a magnet to cause the mixture to react.

Iron Filings

Whilst looking at videos made with iron filings and magnets I came across this video of iron dust appearing to 'dance' in time with music. This looks amazing and it would be very interesting to experiment with this technique.

Post by Jess

Good Idea

After looking through this book, Animation Portfolio by Andrew Selby, I stumbled across this.

I haven't seen this particular animation before and it may sound stupid but I come across this and thought what a good idea. It has also made me realise that this project is exactly for this. Think outside of the box. Anything and everything can be used to our advantage, aesthetically and technically, and anything and everything should be used. With out experimenting, good ideas wouldn't exist.

Just this image alone sparks so many different ideas in my mind. I doubt I will be able to get through them all.

Hopefully myself, Jess and our experimentation will create a good idea or many and this will be implemented into a final piece.

©Conor Page

Andrew Selby, 2013. Animation (Portfolio). Edition. Laurence King Publishers.

10 November 2013

Fun with Liquid

Continuing on from yesterday. Here are the clips from todays experiment.

This is how my set up looked this time round.

I am pretty pleased with the outcome of this experiment and will be revisiting this again as well as the milk experiment however, I will change some of the variables to get a different outcome. 

I used note books to stop the light from the light box reflecting on the glass of the jar we was using. Next time round I want to experiment with the material of the Jar I use to see if I can get a clear material less reflective.

The white round object is actually from a large lamp shade and it was used to soften the light it was used for. Here I am using it not only for a white background but to bounce light back to lighten up the object. It was very effective. For future experiments I will consider having a green background to key out the background for compositing. 

I spoke with Jess about this over an instant messaging service and she liked the outcome. We both agreed on doing these experiments larger scale to find out what we can get from that.

© Conor Page.
Music: Polaris(Intro) by Hiddeminside

Fun With Milk

I decided to go ahead and experiment with milk and food colouring to find out what would happen.

Here are some of the results. 

This was the set up I was using. Unfortunately I did not get the results I was looking for form this. Compared to the video I posted earlier, I was expecting the colouring to sit still within the milk until soap was added however, this was not the case. For some reason, I do not know, the colours reacted with the milk before adding any other substance. I tried ink and food colouring. They had differing effects but still reacted in similar ways. I still filmed this because this could be used later in production. 

I will carry on experimenting with this to see what other effects I can achieve.

© Conor Page 2013

7 November 2013

Reference images for ruined environment

Preliminary ideas and sketches based on audio

As a starting point for the experimental animation we have chosen to use a track called 'Polaris' by the artist Hiddeminside (http://www.jamendo.com/es/track/837424/polaris-intro). We decided to do this because we were having difficulty getting the project off the ground and finding a mutual starting point. We do not intend to make a 'music video' but more to shape the animation around the pace of the music, without the intention to sell the music as such.

 The site Jamendo is a place for artists to post and share their music for use by others as long as this is on non-profit basis. We have also contacted the creator directly and requested permission to use the track, which he has granted as long as we provide a link to his work when uploading online.

Having listened to the track multiple time I began to gain a sense that the beginning and the end of the track are quite tragic, low beats, the centre of the track is incredibly upbeat and 'dancey'. I thought it could be possible that we could plan a cyclical narrative around a theory based on a cycle, such as 'the social cycle theory', these theories are based on history repeating itself. In this way we could not only experiment but also put across an idea or message in a non-linear format and evoke thought from the audience. Any manner of materials and techniques could be used to represent changes in society and changes in emotion. I also feel that colour will play an important part.

Below are photographs from some of my responses to the music from my sketchbook.

This was one of my first ideas for a character, this could be a character that starts as a simple android with no organic features such as eyebrows or hair, as the tone of the music changes to one of happiness the character could begin sprouting organic matter such as plants and flowers from a gap in the top of it's head. The gap in the head could be suggestive of a lack of substance in a machine world. The matter protruding from the head would not necessarily have to be 'real' and could instead be represented as if it were holographic. 

We could also use a mixture of materials and techniques to have different aspects arising from the characters head. Utilmately the character will become empty again as all living things must die, this is relevant to the music due to the sense of sadness created at the end. I like this idea, but feel it would be difficult to base an animation on it. It would probably be necessary to include more than one character to create interest. As our main prerogative is to experiment it may be wise to veer away from too much character animation. This being said I like the idea of having a character as this will allow me to improve my skills as well as providing a figure with which the audience can relate.

This idea sprung from the design drawn by Conor in which the character would be representative of me as a means of portraying personal aspects in the animation. I really like the idea of using a character or elements that are part machine and part organic but am not too sure about having a character based on myself.

In this page of my sketchbook I was trying to come to terms with the changes in the music and how this could be represented digitally. I particularly like the idea of basing the animation on a theme or theory that is depicted with abstract imagery.

 One of the ideas I am most hopeful about is this concept of having a faceless character with screens either embedded into the face or floating in-front of it in an abstract manner. This idea also relates to Conor's idea of having a glass screen on the characters face on which things can then be projected.

 This would allow us to experiment with all manner of materials to represent changes in the pace of the music. Some of the theories/ theme I am most interested in are as following:

Malthusian Catastrophe, this was originally the belief that society would eventually be forced into subsistence-level living because population growth would outpace agricultural production. The predictions made by the theory historically have not come in to place, however I felt that some aspects were still relevant to society today. 

Kondratiev Wave, supposedly cycle like phenomena in modern economy. The wave is based on periods of High and low sectoral growth.

Collapsing of civilisations, The theory that the development of societies occurs in circles that parallel the lives of individuals - Societies are born, mature, age and die.

Social Cycle Theory  - Sociological theory, argues that events and stages of society and history are generally repeating themselves in cycles. Such a theory does not imply that there can really be any social progress.
These were my least favourite character designs, I was attempting to design a character that would be able to create empathy whilst still presenting abstract qualities to its design. I didn't particularly like the most cartoony approach I achieved here.

 I was particularly keen on having the setting based in a kind of post-apocolyptic world and this was where I got the idea for the gas mask, I also came across a lot of images of reflections in the eyes of gas masks while researching. 

A basic story outline that I had in mind was to start with a featureless character, alone in a baron landscape (I would like the landscape to remain fairly representative, perhaps with large amounts of fog or particles suggestive of a civilisation that has been destroyed), as the character awakens and comes into contact with debris around him the memories of the objects that they once were are reflected on the screens/goggles. It is in this area that we will be able to experiment with materials, symbolism and various techniques. Ultimately the character will again become featureless as the memories cease to exist.

This could also be in reference to fabrication and the inner life of objects.

 Some very basic outlines that we could base the visuals on:

Overall I hope that this post will help to inform (Conor) of my thought process and together we will be able to elaborate on ideas and come with a rough plan next week so that we can begin experimenting.

Post by Jess

Influential & Inspirational Images

SOLIPSIST from Andrew Thomas Huang on Vimeo.
This short film by Andrew Huang is just amazing. He as been able to combine live action with cg seamlessly. You sit and wonder how he achieved what you see on screen. This has been hugely inspirational. Not just for myself but for Jess as well. 

Taking what we have seen, we could take this effect for texture within our animation. Instead of using sand, which is a material that is used often by this artist, we could use other materials.

Fun with Magic Milk and Food Coloring! (Science Experiment): http://youtu.be/pW-bn9zssak

This is a video that shows how washing-up soap reacts with milk. Searching the internet I have found out that milk contains fatty molecules that distort when bound with the bipolar characteristics of the soap.

you can find out more about this chemical reaction here: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/milk-color-explosion

I have also worked as an assistant for student photographer to produce image such as:

<-- These where created by dropping food colouring into water. Simple yet can achieve great results.

Conon Moriarty, the student photographer I was helping said he was inspired by an artist by the name of Ruslan Khasanov.

Conon Moriarty's blog can be found here: http://cononmoriarty.tumblr.com

We wondered why some of the colours we used created this disc like shape in the water. We are not sure entirely but the food dyes we used were natural. This means that each colour was made from a different fruit or vegetable and we believe that the different chemical compounds of the fruit and vegetables used for these specific colours react differently to the water.

Pacific Light from Ruslan Khasanov on Vimeo.

After watching this artists short i can see why Moriarty wanted to experiment himself. I think these were made using the same technique. Maybe introducing soap and oils to separate the colours.

After looking at these videos me and Jess have decided that we would like to experiment with these techniques and use them as layering texture within our animation. 
Once we have experimented with this we will post our results.

Khasanov's website can be found here: http://ruskhasanov.com/8719/1622915/home/pacific-light

Post by Conor

4 November 2013

Multidisciplinary audio-visual project: Alessandro Bavari - Metachaos

METACHAOS from Alessandro Bavari on Vimeo.

I though this animation could be inspiring to us during this experimental project for numerous reasons. It takes a very stylistic approach, uses a combination of various techniques and also employs strong metaphorical meaning. We could certainly incorporate similar elements into this project.

The short film uses live-action shots, CGI animation, tracking and motion captures and various analogical techniques.

The symbolic and metaphorical aspects of the film are particularly interesting and are described as follows on the directors Vimeo site. 

Metachaos, from Greek Meta (beyond) and Chaos (the abyss where the eternally-formless state of the universe hides), indicates a primordial shape of ameba, which lacks in precise morphology, and it is characterized by mutation and mitosis.
In fact the bodies represented in METACHAOS, even though they are characterized by an apparently anthropomorphous appearance, in reality they are without identity and conscience. They exist confined in a spaceless and timeless state, an hostile and decadent hyperuranium where a fortress, in perpetual movement, dominates the landscape in defense of a supercelestial, harmonic but fragile parallel dimension. In its destructive instinct of violating the dimensional limbo, the mutant horde penetrates the intimacy of the fortress, laying siege like a virus. Similar to the balance of a philological continuum in human species, bringing the status of things back to the primordial broth.

Source: http://vimeo.com/16056709

The main audio is combined with sound effects that enhance the visuals and evoke a reaction. This may be something we want to consider when planning our animation, if we decide to take an approach that would benefit from additional sound effects.

I was particularly drawn to the dark style and limited colour palette, as well as the use of shaky camera shots which add to the surreal nature.

The film is incredibly thought provoking and disturbing, yet extremely effective in its employment of techniques. 

When planning our own project we could experiment with techniques similar to those employed here, as well as similar approaches to the aesthetics, without aping the directors style. I particularly like the representation of the human characters and the lack of recognisable detail. 

Post by Jess

Inspirational Steampunk Animations

Christopher Alender - Eye of the Storm (music video for Lovett)

I particularly enjoyed this steampunk animated music video due to the limited detail of the main character and the stylistic manner in which he has been represented with a blackened face. This allows the animation and the action to tell the story without facial expressions. 

The making of Eye of the Storm describes the process used to create the film. The main character has been filmed against a blue screen and certain elements such as his goggles have been painted in bright colours. This allows the colour elements to be keyed out digitally and replaced. CG elements and digital special effects have been added to create the backgrounds and weather elements.

This is a very interesting concept and could be applied to our own experimental animation in a number of ways. The director discusses wanting to create a hybrid between photorealism and illustration, this style would particularly suit a steampunk theme.

A similar style could be achieved using a combination of different techniques from photography, cut-out animation, 2D digital and 3D digital. Certain elements such as the rain could also be created using a multi-plane technique, projecting the digital and animating materials over the top. 

The VFX progression reel is particularly inspiring as it shows the multilayering technique that has been used to create the final image, regardless of the final medium we decide to use this process will be valuable to use.

Post by Jess

Working With Sounds

Some sounds that we could use in our animation after receiving confirmation from the artist.

Artist: Ariety. Title: Lille Dunkerque.
Link: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/7552/lille-dunkerque

Artist: Hidddeminside. Title: Alphard.
Link: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/837447/alphard

Artist: Hiddeminside. Title: Orion.
Link: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/837513/orion

Artist: Hiddeminside. Title: Polaris (Intro)
Link: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/837424/polaris-intro#

Artist: Hiddeninside. Title: Trinity.
Link:  http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/837575/trinity    

Artist: ISItheDreaMaker. Title: Save The Planet. 

Artist: ISItheDreaMaker.r Title: Test Trance. 
Link:  http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/49232/testtrance 

Artist: Mixmasterlord (HARDTRANCELORD). Title: Dream Maker. 
Link:  http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1014443/dream-maker-hard-trance-lord    

Artist: Raphael. Title: Connection Terminated. 

Artist: Saelynh. Title: Inside My Heart 1.5. 

Artist: Zebra Mussel. Title: Unity.