Monday, 14 May 2012

The Major Project - Other Effects

Animation is practically over. While for the last week I have been finishing off all the animation, I have also had to tackle some other interesting challenges too.

There's no doubt that you have seen in my pre-vis some cones, which were supposed to be representing either piles of socks or coins. Piles of something anyway. So one of the challenges this week was to actually make those props, and I can tell you that the pile of socks particularly, was a pain to make. More on that in a bit, but first the pile of coins.

The first and most obvious way to make a pile of coins would be to use dynamics to drop coins into a pile, although I knew straight away that it should be a hollow pile so I would need some sort of mesh shaped like a pile to drop coins onto.

It didn't work very well. It was slow and no matter how much stickiness and friction I added, I couldn't get a decent pile made efficiently. That's when I turned to Maya's Hair System!

The hair system generates (what Maya calls) hair follicles all over a mesh from which hairs are placed. I don't need the hairs, just the follicles as they gave me random positions over the pile mesh that I can parent geometry to.

I created a simple script to automate the duplicating and parenting of the coin mesh so that I had hundreds of coins stuck all over the mesh, creating my basic pile.

I had a small and large coin so it also made sure that both sizes were randomly placed over the pile.

I then had another similar script to randomly assign three variations of a coin shader to all the coins in the pile.

The last step was to check for the intersecting coins where they were too close to each other and manually move them to create the final pile of coins.

A similar technique was used to create the sock pile, but with one slight difference.

It was necessary to have the socks lay over the pile rather than be rigidly stuck to the pile. So the main difference was that I generated the socks (with Maya Hair) onto a flat plane, which I then used a wrap deformer to make the plane control the socks, and the plane was dropped onto the pile with cloth dynamics.

It was a pain because applying the wrap deformer to 900 socks not only took a very long time (half an hour at least), but after that was done, calculating those socks was extremely slow. Once it was done though, I could remove all wrap deformers and cloth sim stuff and all was fine.

In one of the last scenes the Monk crash lands into the pile of socks. This again was tricky, as I had to animate the pile mesh, and again used wrap deformers to control the socks around it. In this case I did end up caching the socks, so that it was just reading a file rather than calculating stuff, which improved performance a bit.

The good news is that it is all done now.

There were a few other effects I have needed to create for the animation. The kitten running through a puddle of ink, and the candle flame.

The ink splashing was achieved with Maya's nParticle System...

…and the candle flame was done with soft-body dynamics.

In the case of the candle flame I was following a tutorial from The Gnomon Workshop.

So currently I am at the texturing, lighting and rendering stage. Two scenes have been rendered, but there is still a long way to go as there are 28 more shots to left to finish.

Then there's the intro sequence, the making of, technical documents, show reel, and an updated blog design all to be done in the next two weeks. No pressure then!

A Flock of Pixels.


  1. Keep the momentum going - you are nearly there! :)

  2. you re alive ethan, looking amazing man !!! I actually need some special effects to be done, mind doing them :) lol only kidding !!

  3. and I'm liking the new blog template, Ethan :)