Oinkfrog rig gets pupil blends

Diving into the Oinkfrog rig, I set about creating two main blends for his pupils. Being a nice cartoony character, he can change the shape of his pupils to reflect emotions and thoughts. I already added scaling for the pupil, this time it was shapes via blends.

First pass I duplicated the pupils and altered the control vertices to create the two main shapes for each pupil (love hearts and angry). I added the blends and things looked good at first - but the rotations of the blended pupils was as if the nice lattice deformer over the whole eye wasnt applying. I experimented with the order of the inputs, but that didnt help either it would either cut in as the eye rotated or it would pop inside.
So I undid all of that and went to the inputs for the pupil (right-click - inputs - all inputs) and set the lattice to 'no effect'. This looke like a step backwards, but my plan was to setup the blend in this config then re-apply the lattice. So I duplicated 2 copies of each pupil in this state and again edited the control verices to create a heart and a frowny pupil. I then setup the 2 blend sets. I then moved these blends to be below their respective lattices in the inputs and turned the lattices back on again (normal).

Hey presto - it all worked like a charm. The blended eyes now not only move properly with the eye, but the scale/size attribute works for them as well. The shapes could have been a little more refined, but these ones work with the nurbs spheres I have and dont fall into the eyeball much.

I am pretty happy with this actually, now onto another task in the list.

Twitter humans

I am still strangely enthralled by the whole Twitter thing. I am still not sure at all why it is appealing, but there is a definite lure in the way the whole thing works.

Here are the people I am most enjoying following thus far:

There are more of course - but these I like seeing most as the updates come up atm.

Jennifer Maestre Art

Couldnt resist a post here on some groovy art using arrays of pencils and nails to create great organic works that look like undersea creatures. There is nothing remotely digital about the works, though I cant help but think that the extrapolation of the idea could see much larger and more complex versions created through the inclusion of digitally generative software. Her pieces are truly lovely as they are though - check out Jennifer Maestre's site for more.

Here is a sneak preview:

[Jennifer Maestre art pieces via her website]

Oinkfrog TODOnew

I have re-evaluated the next steps for the Oinkfrog Maya model and rig - and will target these things next:

  • Eyes: Create blend shapes for his pupils (heart, happy, sad, confused).
  • Eyes: Create material for pupil that allows for a ring pupil rather than the solid disk.
  • Eyes: Create material for the 'whites' that can allow for red at the edges.
  • Eyes: Add text to the main handles for the linked controllers - have them logical.
  • Eyes: Add attribute to rotate the eyelids in two planes.
  • Skin: De-skin body and fix arm local axes.
  • Skin: Re-skin main body with extra work on mouth and teeth.
  • Texture: Refine texture image - nicer seams and colour transitions.
  • Tail: build curl.
  • Tail: build driven keys for leftrightupdownetc.
  • Feet: flipper IKs perhaps - need some controls.
  • Feet: driver for when hips go past ankle IK.
  • Arms - stretchable (IK/FK switcher check).
  • Elbows/Knees: extra bone to hold the ball together.
  • Hands: drivers for fingers - control each finger with single controller.
  • Hands: blends for flatter pads.
  • Mouth: blend to control lips.
  • Mouth: blend to do wrinkles at head junction.
  • Mouth: drivers for the main expressions.
  • Mouth: lip blends to give some expressions despite the wide mouth.
  • Mouth: blends for small open closures - maybe he can almost mumble then.
  • Nostrils: blends to alter position in nose.
  • Interface: Build sliders and helpers.
  • Limits: set all locked elements and limits on translations etc.

With the bulk of these in place I can do a suite of animation tests to see if he can do the sort of things that an Oinkfrog should be able to do. Then based on that I will tackle the final set of refinements and enhancements.

Oinkfrog Eyes and Brows

Tonight I added a suite of blend shapes for each eyebrow that now let him have a nicer set of expressions. His eyes at the moment are kinda glued in this rather dramatic gigantic state and so to get some emotions to show through, the eyebrows are even more important. The combination of the blends and the two bone rotations seems to be working:

I did a little work on the materials as well - he is looking more sprightly now. I then added another attribute to the eyes which controls the pupil size this time. Now that this is working I might venture to add some more...

Surreal CGS Winners

The recent CGSociety Surreal art competition produced some fascinating pieces as we would expect. I would love to find a way to dedicate time to entering such things myself.

[Image of 'time' from the CGSociety competition site]

This was the winning entry titled 'time' by Gediminas Pranckevicius and shows some real control with the tool (3Ds Max in this case) to realise a thoughtful piece that has a serene calmness while toying with our expectations. Comments are suitably targeting the water, composition and such, for me I actuallt really like the tree :-) here is a little closeup from the BIG version of the file on the site.

[Close-up of 'time' by Gediminas Pranckevicius from the CGSociety competition site]

There are plenty of others to check out, I like this one by BarronImpossible

[Close-up of 'indistry' by Simon Dominic from the CGSociety competition site]

Macross Zero

Hmm very strange stuff indeed. Perhaps it did lose a little in the translation, for example I cant imaging them saying "Something bothersome has come..." yet that is the neato subititle.
Anyhow, still lots of fun and some of the combat sequences are awesome, jets 'n' missiles etc arcing all over the place through the clouds. I am pretty sure there was some quite meaningful stuff going on and inferring alot it does get you thinking - that said a better translation I am sure would help.

I have a little more anime (Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed), I'll have to find myself some more after that. There are heaps of interesting newish ones and I am looking forward to revisiting the likes of Akira, Ninja Scroll and the original Robotech: Macross Saga.

Oinkfrog Work

Giving a little more time to Oinkfrog I tackled a few things tonight. I changed his mouth bone structure as the existing one meant that any rotation at the centre of the mouth not only applied to the head, but also equally to both sides of the mouth. This meant that having nice mouth shapes flowing all the way to the centre of the mouth wasnt possible.

So I separated the mouth bones from the spine having new bones in the centre parent contrained to the spine and now all is much better behaved and much more usable. I need to fix the weightings to accomodate the new design, but this will be an improvement.

I also created an initial set of eyebrow blend shapes, not only so I can start getting all the detail for them in place, but also to make sure that all the rig deformations work with the blends as well.

Awesome Trailers

At both films we were treated to trailers of course - these two stand out a long way from the pack: Transformers and Terminator! Alas no embedding for these babies - but they are worth the long trek to youtube to see them.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Terminator Salvation


The second film was X-Men Origins : Wolverine.

The next telling of the X-Men universe took us back to see how some of the mutants and experiments came to be centred around Wolverine. This film lacks some clarity of purpose, apart from seeing things unfold. I preferred the previous films as far as the combat between two sides of thinking went. That said, the production values are very high yet again and we are treated to another bevy of nice effects work.

[Wolverine promo image]

Star Trek

We went off to see 2 movies today - MOVIE DAY.

[Image from the Star Trek film via the official movie site]

Starting early with Star Trek and the rebirth of all the original characters. Here is the trailer to get you in the mood.

The film is all about the characters and their different personalities, the making of a very different StarFleet captain in James Tiberius Kirk and his relationship with a special young crew. This happens through some stunning action sequences that lift the whole film. The whole thing is chock full of classic Star Trek references and I am sure the real trekkies would spot a whole lot more. The reverence to things like this is what makes the film for me, it is more than just a sci-fi action film, it is the continuation of a grand creation. The production values are first class and all round a great experience and one we can talk about.


Effects wise, we get it all and in great detail. Ships and landscapes being ripped into a gazzillion pieces (counted them myself) and surrounded by lighting, smoke and flame effects of all kinds. There are some CG creatures and characters to round out the alienness of the universe as well.

[Images from the Star Trek film via the official movie site]

Star Trek Site
Star Trek Movie Site

Posing Present

One more pose task for this week, a silhouette posing of Generi opening a present. I went for a childlike sitting with the accompanying exuberance for the task. In Silhouette you miss the expressions and details, but it does mean the pose needs to be extra strong.

Posing Expressions

This may well have been the most fun I have all session so far. The reference material was straight from Gary Faigin's Facial Expressions book and we were to try and pose little Generi into 3 of them. First up, the illustrations in the book are wonderful, a lovely blend of character in linework illustrations that doesnt end up too cartoony.

So I tackled TERROR first and Generi's face and rig makes for a wonderful terror. Upraurious Laughter worked pretty well, though getting him to squint isnt quite the same. Given this I decided to try another squinty one, see whe effect it may have, and Physical Repulsion certainly cant be confused with laughter. The capability of Generi means many of the subtleties arent there from real human faces, so it was fun finding other ways to emphasis the emotion in question.

Animation and LipSync Style

This post had its genesis in an enthusiastic discussion at work on various Anime that we liked or mystified us in various ways - current and long past. So with the likes of Akira and Robotech/Macross childhood memories on the mind I was thinking about the very specific animation style used in anime and the 'lip sync'

So I grabbed a copy of some MacrossZero epsides - having a blast watching these! Here is a vid of some now classic Lip sync Anime from Robotech - in a different language even:

Then during our animation class some of us were talking about the muppets with respect to lipsync. Most of the Muppets can only deliver open-closed mouth shapes, not a visime to be found. This shows to me how easily we can adapt the idea of mouth motion with the sound and other body language to read the words as working.

Perhaps also because different people speak so differently, we fill in the rest. Some people speak without moving much at all and we Aussies slur speech together that we dont need so much mouth motion.

Here is a Muppet example

Then, listening to the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast, they covered a science news item on computers lip reading. I thought this was a pretty good test of how accurate lip sync may need to be. The article in electronic design does state how hard reading lips is and doing the lipsync work in class has me thinking it would be even harder than is implied here.

One of this weeks class resources was a tutorial by Aardman's Stefan Marjoram. This prompted me to have a closer look at some of the Aardman styling for lip sync. Which is, as the article states, poppier, plus as we know the mouths are uber-wide. Here is a claymation and CG example from them.

Lastly there are the many robots that feature in animation like Megatron. The trailer for the sequel has no lipsync - but is is very cool.

Collab Studio Presentations

[shot from the realtime crysis map by team Omega]

Today the FBE Collaboration Studio class (3rd year Architectural Computing) presented their week 8 groupwork on the fabrication of an unbuilt architecture using the Crysis engine. They are really engaging with the collaboration tasks as the session goes on. Here are some videos from some of the groups' team journal blogs, showing off elements of their models - check the main class blog for links to much more:

Twittering to Hellboy

I finally got around to registering onto Twitter, to see if I could work out whether it indeed made any sense. It is like getting a feed of intro snippets. I set myself up to follow, UNSW, FBE_UNSW and Engadget and I am still not sure I appreciate things, let alone understand the hype.

Anyone who may want to follow me - just search for Oinkfrog.


Anyhow, I did one update just now on my enjoyment that Hellboy2 was mentioned in my Animation class tonight. Characters like Johann Kraus, which have no face, still need to convey emotion and ideas through larger body movement and positions combined with voice acting.
The class was fun for other reasons as well though, exploring what facial elements combine to create various emotions. I am looking forward to this weeks exercises then...

Oinkfrog joint surgery

Even though the bulk of Oinkfrog was deforming quite nicely I went in to do some experimenting with his arms and scaling the joints in a few ways when I noticed that somehow along the line his joints in his top half all have their local axes set to match the world XYZ directions. This isnt good as I spent some time lining them all up some time ago and I have only just noticed.

This will make finger rotations painful, though I was thinking of adding another controller anyhow and this may mean that it just works. He has controllers for other parts and I hadnt even noticed. When I try and orient the joints now, all kinds of weird things happen.

Choices are to carry on with controllers keeping things sane, or to rebuild the rig to fix him up. The first lets me keep going and I hope I get somewhere cool, the second would allow me to go back and fix a heap of other things that I would improve now that I have a slightly better idea of what I am doing with modelling, UVing, rigging and more. Perhaps time and the endurance of my hand/finger will be the deciding factors.

O3D at Google

After checking out the wonders that Unity3D can bring to a browser, this is some work from the Google guys using O3D. There are some pretty neat examples on the site showing all manner of technical wizardry modifying 3D in realtime through the browser.

[shot of the Interiors Online demo using O3D running in the browser]

My take is it feels like a techy solution so far, it doesnt have the sweet Google interface class that will make it what it needs to be. The Unity engine is much more advanced from a user and interface perspective. The beach example (see vid below) from O3D is a fair way short of what Unity can do and isnt easy to move around in at all. BUT - it is WIP and I cant wait to see it after an iteration or two. Perhaps I am being a little unfair, if I hadnt seen what Unity could do, this would be very exciting :-)

Stretchy Arm Test

One of the things that I have been meaning to get to for the Oinkfrog model were some nice stretchy arms. The tutorial by Bora Dayioglu for stretchy arms seemed pretty cool, though it was exploring concepts I didnt know. So I set about tackling the tute first, pretty much as presented and got it all going by the end.

Next step is to build a version of it for Oinkfrog's arms and possibly fingers as well. Do I need him to be able to stretch just one section of arm at a time - maybe I will add another multiplier in there and another variable that controls the two segments stretch ratios...

I am still regulating my hands mouse usage, so after this and the lip sync today I will call it quits.

Lip Sync

My animation class is looking at lip sync at the moment, using Jason Osipa's Stop Staring method as a basis, with some help from the meistro Keith Lango. I havent really played with lipsync before, so this is proving entertaining. The breaking down of speech sounds (shapes really) is interesting and I like the simplification that the references run through.

That said, in running through the various exercises I found it much easier to key the mouth and jaw at about the same time rather than coming back later and doing the jaw. This seemed to get me closer to the mark in less time than just doing mouth widths and such then doing the jaw flapping later. Though Osipa's text seems to enforce this logic of the multiple passes, his nice diagrams show nice wide mouths in the first pass...

Here is me working with Generi. I ended up having his resting mouth narrower than the default, as there wasnt much room to go with the EE and it also meant less travel to get to the nice OO sounds as well.