Taganimation

Blender – Duplicating Objects Around

Should have said, “a round” or “a circle”.

As this Blender artist points out, ” when trying to make a circular array with that offset object as the center of the array circle, it always doesn’t behave quite like what’s expected. ”

It’s quite a powerful ability to create an circular array of instanced objects, but if the pivot for the whole object is in the center, well… it looses a lot of it’s use.

How to make a circular array using offset object as center presents some options.

Blender – Paint Effects

Haven’t dealt with shots that involve footprints in the snow or walls being splattered with blueberry pies, my jaw hit the floor when I saw this.  If you’re quick with the mouse, it takes less than 1 minute to set up.

Here’s the instructions.

http://www.miikahweb.com/en/articles/blender-dynamicpaint-basics

… and some examples.

 

Creating Gollum

The Lord of the Rings – Extended Edition DVDs have a great section called “The Taming of Smeagol”, where they talk of the process used to create Gollums 3D character. Includes modeling, motion capture, rigging and animation.

If you don’t have the DVDs, these two videos cover much of the material… maybe all… or more!  Can’t remember.  There’s a bit of overlap between the two linked videos, but if you enjoy one, you’ll find both interesting.


Python in Blender

It was only a matter of time before I started my journey into scripting in Blender. Learning MEL (Maya’s Embedded Language) was one of the most powerful things any Maya 3D artist can do.  When it came go giving advice to students that were looking to break into the industry, learning scripting was the piece of advice that I could dish out with confidence. Even if you only learn a handful of functions, you can perform (what seem like) miracles.  Spend a day going through a set of introductory tutorials on scripting (Intro to Python in Blender, perhaps) and you’ll feel what I’m laying down here.

My time with MEL has lapsed and now I’m in Blender.  There is a confidence that I am experiencing, knowing that I am moving in the right direction. Putting energy into a language (python) and animation software (Blender) that will never be taken away (till an EMP takes out all electronics).

Resources

Blender 3D: Noob to Pro – Advanced Tutorials – Introduction – I am guilty of having not spent as much time in the Noob to Pro series as I should. I guess I get a bit sucked into videos sometimes, too often forgetting the speed and efficiency of text + images. This series is quick n dirty.

Blender 3D: Blending Into Python – Includes optimization guide, cookbook, APC, quickstart, reference, etc

Blender Cookie – Python + Blender – On this Youtube channel, this crew has demonstrated an ability to create quality video tutorials.

Blender.org – Advanced -> Scripting – RTFM!

Blender.org – API documentation – There’s also a link to download the contents in a ZIP file, for localized reference.

Nathan Miller’s Blender Python Notebook – The Proving Ground – Procedurally built architecture?  Includes sections on mesh definition, modifieers, math mesh, random mesh and “supershape 3D”?  Looks like a blast!

Blender – Muscle System

This video demonstrates a relatively simple muscle system that does not rely on blend/tweening shapes in order to correct for the collapsing volumes that are common with most skinning solutions.

For an idea of how this works, you can download from blendswap.com.

Samadhi

Fully documentary is coming soon.  Here’s a sample.

Google’s Visual Pattern Matching

DeepDream – a code example for visualizing Neural Networks

via Gizmodo article on DeepDream

Journey through the layers of the mind from Memo Akten on Vimeo.

Blender – 15 Days Later – Open Source is Home

opensourcesoftware
First question that most have is,

“What is open source? You mean free?”

Yes, it’s free and more.

Open source means that not only are you given the product, but you are given the blueprints as well. If you need to make changes, you have the ability to go in and change the software yourself (or find someone to do it for you). Thousands of copies/variations are out there floating on the Internet. Some flavours are simplified, some complicated, all are customized to various degrees. This means that even if you loose your copy of the product, another copy can always be found…    somewhere.

NO ONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO  TAKE AWAY YOUR TOOLS.

Web developers are very familiar with this concept, as may of their tools are open source. Some may use commercial software but, in the end, the media itself is open source. You only really need a text editor to do most everything for the web.

Some common things I hear whenever I mention Linux, Gimp, Blender or virtually anything that is open source:

“Because it’s free, it must not have powerful features.”

Over the past 6 years I have probably spent $15,000 on software. I own licenses to multiple versions of Photoshop, yet I still use GIMP because it loads super fast and I can install it on all my computers, or any machine I come to contact with (yes, it was me who installed it on your PC). There’s an unbelievable amount of online support from all over the world, and more tutorials than anyone could ever ask for.

“Linux is complex and the interfaces are confusing.”

Most open source software, in the beginning, can be pretty crude. That being said, most of my multimedia applications have been around for a decade or two, and most of this software is pretty finely polished nowadays. All the open source applications I use are MUCH simpler than the commercial counterparts. In many cases, this simplicity was the primary reason I migrated to many of the free tools. As an example, look at how effectively Blender lets me scale the entire interface. I’ve personally never seen something like this. As for Linux being crude, take a look a this UI demo.

“Gimp, Blender and other open software is buggy.”

I honestly don’t see a difference, though if someone twisted my arm… I would say that commercial software tends to crash more on me that the open source counterparts.  This could be due to the fact that most of my commercial software is on Windows (sorry Microsoft) and that Linux is known to be more stable and recover well from crashes.  Problems are bound to happen and, because open source can be altered, problems are never true show-stoppers. You are probably not alone if you are having trouble, so the answer is almost always already out there to be discovered.

“No professionals use open source software.”

Take a look at the following image.

Portrait-of-Charles-Darwin_by-David-Revoy

Darwin by David Revoy

This was created by David Revoy, an artist that has been using open source software for 100% of his work. He uses GIMP, Krita, MyPaint, Blender, all running under Linux. While it used to be a pain to find compatible hardware for Linux…   it’s pretty simple nowadays. Personally, I find that nearly all my devices (including my Wacom drawing tablet) were working without having to download or setup drivers. Real *cough* plug-n-play.

David shares why he chose to go to open source, back in 2009.

Am I happy about this personal choice ? Yes 🙂 and I can without any remorse put my old software license in a box for long term storage, just to show to my ( hypothetic and not yet existing )  grant-children what were …. the proprietary 2D software I started with.

To become more familiar with David Revoy’s work, I highly recommend purchasing his “Chaos and Evolutions” DVD.  If you can’t afford the purchase right now, he’s made the video available on Youtube. He’s using some of the software mentioned above, including Alchemy (tool that Android Jones assisted the develop of).

As I mentioned before, I’ve easily spent $15,000+ on software over the past 6 years (since going independent). I’m putting energy into open source tools because of my own personal issues with licensing commercial software, as well as issues I’ve witnessed my clients struggling with.

I am not saying that commercial software isn’t needed, I’m just saying that it should not be the foundation of a creative production. If the core of a project is open source, this means that all the base products will be available to everyone on the project. If animators want to do a bit of audio testing with their animations, they have Audacity to do some light sound editing of their own.  If a project manager wants to make some slick diagrams in Inkscape, a tool is available to them without spending a few hundred on Adobe Illustrator.

Please keep in mind.  These software are not trying to clone commercial software applications. They have developed and grown over the years, based on feedback from users all around the world. There’s always a learning curve but, like when you learned touch-typing, you’ll be zipping along faster than before, once you get over the initial hump.

Not convinced? Perhaps you have preconceptions based on what you saw 5-6 years ago.  Well, I’m here to tell you that times have changed. Checkout Vimeo and Youtube for some tutorials and you’ll be amazed at what you find. If you’re fortunate enough, perhaps the Vimeo video has a “Download” option available. If that’s the case, then you can save a local copy and watch the video in VLC, where you can use the “[” and “]” keys to control the speed of the tutorial.  I typically run at 130-150% of normal speed.  😉

If you’ve got your checkbook out, you might want to support the current Krita Kickstarter. They’re planning on adding animation functionality, amongst other features.

Capturing Movement w/ Connections Overlayed

Was just introduced to this…

…and through watching this…

…am guessing they used Brekel and for sure they used Houdini.

Blender – Everyday – Day 1

IMG_3132

Talking about it enough, but time to “put my money where my mouth is”. I will never really know just how viable Blender is as a base 3D animation software, till I try it.

Once per day, for about 2 hours, I will invest time into learning Blender. One I get the basics down, I will challenge myself to producing sharable artwork.

Here’s some inspiration to drive me. Blender is no longer just a hobbyist’s 3D animation software…   and hasn’t been for some time. Seems that “first world” countries are the slowest places to catch on to a growing trend.

Started with some interface basics here.

Re-Learning Mathematics

This collection grows with time, so come back to check it out sometime in the future. If it stays quite for too long, ping me and let me know!

New 3D animation techniques have me revisiting mathematics. In my math book research, I found this information below to be particularly interesting and/or useful.

Perspective! by David Chelsea
Why not start with a bit of inspiration first? Would you be inspired to know that you can learn to draw environments like a professional comic book artist… while also forming questions as to why all these proportions line up almost magically.
Perspective

Precalculus Mathemetics in a Nutshell by George F. Simmons
AH! It looks like a text book!! Don’t worry, it’s actually tiny, at about 100 pages. The author teaches calculus and states that he teaches precalculus (algebra, geometry and trigonometry) in a single day. It will take most of us longer than that… but this information gives a great grounding position to pounce off from.
Calculus

The Secrets of Triangles by Alfred S. Posamentier
I’ve only read a few sections, but this appears to be a great place to start for those that want to understand points in space and their relations to each other.
SecretsOfTriangles

Measurement by Paul Lockhart
It’s all about the relationships. Want to play with some math without writing letters or numbers? Start here.
Measurement

Euclid’s Window by Leonard Mlodinow  (haven’t read yet, but I kept encountering it while looking at the books above).
EuclidsWindow

For the 3D animation programmer out there, you have quite a few to select from and I will have to take some time in the future listening those out, as well.

For the person who hates math, I recommend checking this list out, as it may help you understand where math becomes beautiful.

Animated Infographics

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus
tech history

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus from Patrick Clair on Vimeo.

Bitcoin Explained
the technical can be visable

Bitcoin Explained from Duncan Elms on Vimeo.

The Innovation of Loneliness
How we can become disconnected in all this connectedness.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

Fracking explained – opportunity or danger

Fracking explained – opportunity or danger from Kurzgesagt on Vimeo.

Rear Window Timelapse
stich together the pieces of a Hitchcock mystery to get the whole picture

Rear Window Timelapse from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.

BBC KNOWLEDGE 60

BBC KNOWLEDGE 60 from iamrader on Vimeo.

GENESIS
We don’t have to get lost in the details.

GENESIS from Malevo on Vimeo.

Procrastination
What are you doing here?

Procrastination from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

Deutsche Telekom
or maybe keep it pretty and conceptual

Deutsche Telekom “Das Netz der Zukunft” from Original Program on Vimeo.

Vector Math for 3D Graphics and Animation

2014-01-27 09.32.05First, I’m not a “graphics programmer”. I do quite a bit of scripting (Maya’s MEL scripting language) and enter dozens of expressions (Houdini), but have never compiled a single line of C++.

I was never a big fan of math, especially algebra (grammar = yuck), though I did breeze through my Geometry class. I survived a decade working in the 3D animation industry working as a rigger, technical artist and production technology lead and only implemented a little triangle math only a handful of times. *note: This does NOT mean you should skip out on getting a proper understanding of Euler rotation orders and gimbal lock, if you want to be a good character TD.

Though no one needs to understand 3D math in order to become a 3D artist, even some digital sculptors realize the importance of a little trigonometry. Having an elementary 3D math base gives an artist a better understanding of the ‘why”s.

So, since I don’t remember too much of my high school math and never took a single trigonometry class (I’ll blame the education system), I eventually realized that if I was going to produce anything jaw-dropping, I was going to need to study up a bit…

…and luckily the internet has the answers!

Where to start?
There is a boatload of free online courses available to those willing to learn from text and videos, but mathematics is a massive world and it’s difficult to figure out where to start. For those that have completed highschool (maybe even just 10th grade) and are interested playing with some bit of 3D code, here’s some items I found quite useful. Keep in mind that most 3D animation software packages will include tools (commands, expressions, functions, etc.) that will do the math for you. Remember to search the documentation!!

vectors
If you have a line, what direction is it pointing? If you have an object in space, what direction is it moving? This is your vector. The length (aka “magnitude”) of a vector can tell you it’s speed. A normalized vector is always 1, and is useful to apply to other operations. You can subtract two vectors and you’ll get another vector which tells you the direction from one vector to another. More examples with images on MathIsFun.com.

cross product (aka vector product)
a × b = |a| |b| sin(θ) n
I have two vectors and I want to find another vector that is perpendicular (90 degress) to these two vectors. The cross product of the two vectors will help. It’s useful if I have a plane and I need to know the surface normal to the plane. For those using particles, this tells us the direction that particles would travel if we are emitting from the middle of a surface. BUT, be careful, the direction of this newly calculated vector depends on what order you specified a & b. This is where the dot product comes in very handy! More cross product details on MathIsFun.com.

dot product
a · b = |a| × |b| × cos(θ)
If you have two vectors, the dot product will tell you if the vectors are moving in the same general direction (greater than 0) or moving in two completely different directions and will never intersect the same plane (less than 0). If you have just used the cross product to find a perpendicular vector (like a surface normal), you can use the dot product to see if the if it’s facing the right direction (up?). More info on MathIsFun.com.

For video explanations, Khan Academy has a great section on vector dot and cross products or trigonometry and precalculus if you already have a basic understanding of geometry.

Here’s a list links to more information on vector math:

So what’s next?  Perhaps some matrix calculations? Maybe linear algebra via MIT’s online course or N.J. Wildberger (known for “rational trigonometry”).

Finally, checkout this list of free technical online courses, including programming.

Thanks to Les for the inspiration to catalog my findings.

Pure “Play” has been missing from my work.

Beeple, you’ve inspired me.  “One a day“?  Ok, I’ll try, but maybe end up starting with “Twice a week”, first.  This should be a good way to learn Blender.

I am going to start with this tutorial from BlenderTuts.  Something simple, yet organic and (if rigged) animated!!

How to create a SnowMan in Blender (Part 1) from Oliver Villar Diz on Vimeo.

Video Card for Professional 3D Work

Time to upgrade the video card and it’s been a tough decision.  “Professional 3D card” like nVidia’s Quadro versus a consumer grade gaming card like the GeForce cards.  Is there a difference?  There’s a lot of debate out there, but it ultimately depends on the budget and how the card is going to be used.  I’m a professional 3D animator who does quite a bit of character work in packages like Maya, but I also do some FX work in Houdini and some digital sculpting in 3D Coat.  Houdini and 3D Coat can take advantage of the CUDA cores and according to this thread in the 3D Coat forums, the CUDA performance has been degraded in recent releases on the GeForce cards. They seem to be settling on the Geforce GTX 580.

After much research, I’ve decided to replace my Quadro 600 card.  It has been reliable and doesn’t consume much power, but the frame-rates are killing my eyes.  I’ve opted for the Geforce GTX 580 w/ 3GB of RAM.  Cost me $260, used on Amazon.   The other option I was considering was the Quadro 4000 w/ 2GB of RAM…  but I would have had to talk a seller down from $450.  Considering the benchmarks and the stats below… well… I’m going to take a gamble on a “non-professional” card.

Quadro 600
RAM = 1GB
CUDA = 96
mem interface = 128
max power = 40w

GeForce GTX 580
$389 (or $225 used)
RAM = 1.5GB
CUDA cores = 512
mem interface = 192
max power = 244 W

Quadro K4000
$763
RAM = 3GB
CUDA cores = 768
mem interface = 192
max power consumption = 80W

Quadro 4000
$665 (or $430 used)
RAM = 2GB
CUDA cores = 256
mem interface = 256
max power consumption = 142W

Quadro K2000
$423
RAM = 2GB
CUDA cores = 384
interface = 128 bit
max power = ?

Here’s some links to some of the Quadro vs GeForce debates.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/332498-33-evga-quadro-2000-4000

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/386333-33-quadro-geforce-autocad-solidworks-sketchup

http://3d-coat.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=14766

Blender Rig from Sintel Open Movie

Starting to dig into Blender, starting with a free lite version of the character from Sintel.

Sintel Lite

Links to the Vimeo video rig tour, rig and textures can be found here:
http://www.sintel.org/news/sintel-lite

Animation Recommendations for Videogasm

Psychedelic Patterns and Fractals

“The Music Scene” from Anthony Francisco Schepperd on Vimeo.

Spirals

abstract animation film for neuroscientific purpose. It is seen by children (age of two to ten years) on a screen in front of them while they are in a brain scanner.

 

3D fractals creating alien landscapes.

 

Showing behavior systems. Techinically… it’s tech demo, but the patterns are gorgeous.

 

More flocking systems

 

Growing crystal structures… sculptures.

 

Animation Shorts

Voxels take over.

 

Stop motion w/ practical effects.

 

Visitor from far away + a soccer ball = ?

 

One of my favorites that I still back to watch. The director rammed it with symbolism. Kinda creepy.

 

Live action first person chase

 

Stop mostion w/ laser pointers and long exposuress creates a kitty made of light.

 

Simple and cute… and great little tale.

 

Appropriate narrated story w/ slower gradually increasing visuals.

 

Insane chase scene.

 

FX driven take of a man conquering his compulsive disorder. (dark comedy)

 

very minimalistic tribute to Stanley Kubrick

Commercials and Title Credits

Cyberspace intro… for video game “Syndicate”

Tech Demos and Artistic Process

Slick presentation of the creation process of a growing grape effect in 3D.

 

Streetfighter fans will get a kick of these motion capture abstractions w/ particles.

 

The current technique of digital sculpting.

 

Movement Festival (DEMF) 2013 Dancers

First, I saw Jade Zuberi in a circle near the main stage. Although this “So You Think You Can Dance” segment makes him look good… it was even more jaw-dropping to see in person. At first I didn’t think it was him, as I didn’t recognise his moves… but the style and that facial expression are unforgetable.

Also, here’s some videos I found of dancers that I saw at this years Movement in Detroit, dancing at the festival.

Illusion’s energy on the dancefloor was a blast to watch.

Breakdance circle near the Made In Detroit stage.

Flec Mindscape is a contact juggler found a perfect auto-retrieving location at the fest (a brick bowl).

And more interesting characters.
http://youtu.be/HcLSgM1pfr4
http://youtu.be/pqMEafQHUlw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYf6p_ReLXs

Gource – Data Visualization for File Tree Manipulators

Gource is a bit of open code that creates time lapse videos to visualize file trees being created.

Kill Only What We Eat

… and eat all that we kill. Inspired by some sections that I saw in last night’s showing of Samsara.

Monster Roll from Dan Blank on Vimeo.


A better quality HD version can be found on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/54531136

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