Friday, December 3, 2010

Since Last I Wrote

My last entry to the Bodacious Creed blog was five days ago, but it feels like I haven't written anything for weeks!  I've been working hard on the thesis all these days.  I've done and learned a lot, just since last Sunday.  So, here's a breakdown of what I've been doing and how it's all going.

A. I had my weekly online meeting with my Group Study instructor, Chad Josewski, on Monday.  I always learn a lot from those meetings, because I'll come in with specific questions and Chad will answer them all.  He also points out where he sees my models need improvement.  Here's some of what resulted from that meeting.

  1. For the head model, I fixed Creed's beard.  I had it as a sort of rectangle on his chin, and Chad pointed out that such a pattern isn't very realistic.  So, I fixed the cut map for it and now it looks much better.  I'll insert an image at the end of this post.
  2. Chad affirmed that I'm going about doing Creed's texture the right way.  So, I've continued on with that.
  3. He also let me know the level of detail the models of Creed and Boyd should generally be at before texture placement starts.  So, I'll be getting Boyd up to that detail level, which is basically emphasizing her muscles a bit more and showing more definition over all, with nice, clean sculpting lines.  I started Creed's texturing a bit below this level, but he's a unique case.  As he's going to be undead, for this specific model, it makes sense to put on the normal skin texture, and detail/zombify the model and the texture together.
B. I had an upsetting problem with the head model.  Not the hair... that was easy to fix once pointed out.  It was with the blend shapes.

Remember, I talked about those before?  The blend shapes are all the morphs that allow for the face to be animated.  Eyebrow raises, smiles, things like that.  I had animated the head tilts, the eyes, the eye brows, the eye lids, and the jaw.  When I went to animate the mouth shapes (the phonemes, for when he's talking), some weird things started happening.  The shape of the mouth would be different depending on where I was in the animation.  Sometimes it would do the opposite of what it was supposed to, say closing instead of opening, or totally distorting the face.

I ended up resetting the animation to see what was going on, and after much trial and error, figured out that the blend shapes were interfering with each other.  I would raise eyebrows, then go to widen the mouth, and the eyebrows would lower.  I was afraid I would have to go back about five weeks worth of work, and redo all the blend shapes.  I was afraid that the problem lay with zBrush.  (And believe me, I'm glad that wasn't the problem, since zBrush makes creating them so much easier, and better looking!)

I posted to two school forums: the one for my Head Sculpture class, and the 3D Modeling workshop, and asked if anyone could figure out what was going on.  I also posted the file itself so people could check it out.

One of my classmates came through later that evening.  (This stuff was all yesterday.)  The problem was that I had the various blend shapes applied by category.  Basically, I had told Maya, "Okay, here are the major expression blend shapes, apply those.  Now, here are the eyebrow blend shapes, apply those."  Because of that, they were all affecting each other.  Turns out what I needed to do was remove all the blend shapes from the head, and tell Maya, "Okay, here are ALL the blend shapes.  Apply them in one category."

And now, they're working fine, and not interfering with each other.  Phew!

Since I had to redo the animation anyway, I re-videoed myself acting out the line, and have started the animation again.  Since I now know what I'm doing with the animation, it's coming along rather quickly.  I'm already up to animating the eye lids.

Oh, the line?  It's from American Beauty, and is Kevin Spacey saying, "It's the weirdest thing.  I feel like I've been in a coma for about twenty years, and I'm just now waking up."  I had asked if we could record an original line, but we're supposed to choose one that comes with the class.  That's Okay, this one works pretty well.

Time permitting, I'll do a vlog later today and actually show a little bit of this work.

Meanwhile, here's the improved beard!  (Okay, so it's two pictures!)

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