Monday, November 3, 2008

BG version 3.something...

When I finished BG v3.0, my goal was to start animating again. It's been WAY too long since I actually set some keys on a personal project... So, I set out and I started to story board out some ideas. I was also reading the comments from you all about BG v3 and what improvements/additions you all wanted. Most of them were already on my list of things that I wanted to add...especially the bendy limb stuff. So, a bit begrudgingly, I decided that I would go back and work on the rig a bit more. These updates to Basic Guy will be more fun to animate for me too!

So, the first thing that I decided to implement was the bendy limb stuff. It took me a bit to figure out the best way to do this. I played with spline ik solutions, expression based solutions, utility node solutions...pretty much anything that I could think of. Unfortunately, nothing was working the wayt that I wanted it to. I would get everything set up and then I would run into issues such as spline ik twisting issues, fk/ik snapping issues, etc. Needless to say, I lost handfuls of hair during this!

The solution that I ended up going with was based off of Aaron Holly's ribbon spine. If you have never heard of this solution, it basically uses hair follicles to use as the deformer! This seems to be by far the most versatile solution. Perfect it is not, but I am very happy with it right now. The only down side of this solution is that I think you must be using Maya "Unlimited" to have the bendy stuff work. However, since I'm not really using much of the "hair" side of things, I may be wrong about this....

I also added more finger controls. Or more specifically, I added the "carpal" bones. This will allow you to get more realistic/less rigid hand poses.

Now this next announcement is really exciting to me. A co-worker has agreed to lay out his uvs for me!!!! Yes, Basic Guy is FINALLY getting uv'd! He also said that he would paint a texture for him as well. I'm also toying with the idea of modeling "clothes" that would be swappable on him. This way, BG will be way more customizable than he is now...

Also in the works is a more robust GUI. However, since MEL and me are not the best of friends, this process is taking some time. But, in the end, I hope to have a GUI where you can select rig parts, the ik/fk matching, maybe some pose buttons, face rig, etc...

Anyway, there is a small update as to what I've been doing lately.

Thanks to all of you who have emailed me with priceless feedback and also all the kind words!

Cheers and happy animating!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tutorial: FK/Ik matching

Oh my, what's this!?!?! Another post in the month of July! That makes for a total of 3 whole posts this month (a loud gasp is heard from the masses)! Yeah yeah yeah, I'm as surprised as the rest of you;) Who knows, maybe I'll become a "good" blogger after all. Hah! I doubt that very much...

Anyway, I just finished a tutorial that I have been meaning to write for a while now. It's a tutorial on how I do the fk/ik matching in my rigs. It's about 7 or so pages long. I quickly cover how I create my arm rigs as well as the MEL code that I use to match one rig to the other. Hopefully, it is clear enough (and not too boring) to follow along. Of course this is just one way to do this task. But, it seems to work well for me. It also seems to be very quick for Maya to evaluate.

The download consists of:
1) A Maya scene (created in Maya 7.0.1, but should work in Maya 7-2008)
2) the tutorial (".pdf" style)
3) the MEL scripts

Go ahead, sit back with a big, hot cup of (strong) coffee and read on...

Here is the direct link:
Tim's fkik_snapping/matching_tutorial

Cheers and enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And then there was version 3.0.1...

Hey all,
So, after a few minor complaints about the face rig location, I decided to do a minor rig update. Version 3.0.1 now has the ability to shift Basic Guy's face rig to the left or right side of his face. I guess people were having "a hard time posing him with the rig there". I'm not sure if I understand that completely (you all know that you can turn the rig(s) visibility on and off... right?). Or, were they having a hard time animating the face with the rig there?

Either way, you now have more options! I should have thought of that initially, but I didn't...doh!

Anyway, thanks for all the great feedback! I hope that you are all enjoying the latest update! I can't wait to finish my friggen work deadline (I'm at the end of "crunch" right now on our latest game title... gha!) so that I can take a stab at animating him again!

Here is the new version:

Here is the link to the rig overview again (for those that love boring camtasia videos;) ):

As always, enjoy and happy animating!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Basic Guy 3.0.0 Released!!!!

Wow, I have finally put the final touches on Basic Guy v3.0.0 (I believe that a pig JUST flew by my window)!!! I'm not sure if you can tell, but I'm REALLY excited about it... I actually have butterflies going on in my stomach. What initially started, almost a year ago, as me simply adding a mouth to him is now a fully rigged face. I took a long time rigging and re-rigging his face (There were also a lot of model changes... which led to re-skinning the face over and over again...ugh). Unfortunately, I had a very hard time finding "free" time to really sit down and focus on him (long hours at work, playing with my son, and hanging out with my wife and friends are my excuses). Anyway, the rig is more or less based off of the ever so popular Jason Osipa style face rig. The way that I have it set up makes it pretty easy for me (or whoever) to add more controls or to refine the shapes/sliders that are already there. I really do hope that you all like the new additions. I'm even posting him before I have really animated him myself (gasp!)! I did, however, spend a lot of time pushing and pulling on him to make sure that he holds up in most situations (3d characters all have their breaking points).

I also went through and tried to clean up any bugs that people had reported. The biggest one that I have (hopefully) resolved is the fk/ik matching when he has the world node anywhere other than 0,0,0, and his scale set to anything other than 1 (Thanks for finding that and reporting it Gino!). Honestly, I am not sure how I overlooked that in the previous versions! Anyway, I apologize for any inconveniences that created.

Instead of writing a rig manual, I created a video "rig overview" if you will. It's about 25 minutes long and about 60 MB. I wouldn't call it the most exciting video that you'll ever watch (I did it early in the morning and without a lot of coffee in the veins!)...but, I hope that it covers a lot of the questions that some of you might have. Also, I apologize if the audio is low. I tried to punch it up after the fact, but I may not have punched it up enough.
Here is the link to the video (takes a little bit to load):

Anyway, I'll stop writing because I'm sure that 90%+ just want to see the next link ;):
Basic Guy v3.0.0.rar

As always, enjoy, and happy animating!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tutorial #1: Basic Guy Dress up

While putting the finishing touches on Basic Guy v3.0 (not pictured... the one pictured is the "old" version), I decided to finally start a tutorial section on my site. The first tutorial that I've done is rather basic in nature. I have received a few emails asking me how to change Basic Guys geometry so it appears that he is wearing clothes. Some people have already figured out how to "dress" him for their animations, and in doing so have inspired others around the world. I felt that this would be a great place for me to share some of my knowledge and also play with some other software other than Maya.

I have never laid out the uvs for him, but instead I apply different colors to different geometry faces. Sure, this isn't anywhere near as cool or powerful as an actual texture, but it does help change basic guy's appearance. He is after all... Basic Guy;)

I actually had quite a bit of fun creating this video tutorial. I plan on finding the time to create more in the future (unless the masses tell me to never make another one!). God knows that there is TONS of better material out there to teach you Maya, animation, modeling, or whatever. But, I also love to share the knowledge that I have learned over the years. Maybe someone will learn something while watching my videos. It's also a fun way for me to document things that I can look back on years later and laugh at!

Anyway, I'm sorry that this isn't the post announcing BG 3.0, but I do promise that it will be very soon. He is actually about 99% done. I am just making sure that everything is as clean as can be before I release him to the world.

Here is the link to the tutorial section of my site:
BasicGuy Dressup Tutorial

Cheers and happy animating!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

yet another update...

I have come to a conclusion… I am a terrible blogger! Since I first posted my blog, nearly six months ago, I have only posted three entries. In person, I talk a lot. Some people might even say too much;) But, for some reason, I have a really hard time sitting down and updating this site. So, I apologize to those that continue to stop by and see what I have going on.

However, I’m sure that 99% of those that stop by are wondering about Basic Guy v3.0 (and could care less about what I have to “say”). I get emails from all over the world asking “yo Tim, we’re waiting man!!!! What gives man?!?!”. Trust me, I want him done as much, if not more so, than the rest of you. Unfortunately, finding the time to actually sit down and work on him is REALLY hard for me these days.

Note: I’m about to go off topic;)

Recently (December of 2007), I have opened a small animation studio in Portland, Oregon. That’s the NW United States for those not familiar with the states. It is actually a satellite studio for Page 44 Studios. They are located in San Francisco, CA (I think everybody knows where California is!). I used to be the lead animator there for over four years. But, back in 2005 I moved back up to Oregon to try something new… Well, Oregon is not the place to really live if you are an animator…yet. We have a few studios here. But, it’s nothing like Cali though.

After struggling to find steady animation work, I decided to try a different route. Why not get something of my own going? I have always loved leading a team. So starting a studio was something that really spoke to me. While Portland isn’t saturated with tons of studios, we have a pretty large pool of talent. At first the studio was going to be 100% me. However, I have very little business training and figuring out where to start was a bit scary.

But, then I started talking to Page 44 again and they suggested the idea of me opening a branch up here. Needless to say, it is a dream come (coming) true! Sure the studio isn’t exactly “mine”, but I get to more or less run it however I want.

I have recently hired three talented animators to help me get things going. We are currently working on a very high profile video game title (I can’t really say too much about it because it hasn’t been publicly announced yet.). At this point, I have reached my limit for co-workers. I’d love to have more animators, but Page 44 already has a team of animators in San Francisco as well. Hopefully, one day I will have a team of animators, modelers, etc! Maybe next project…

By now, you’re probably skimming everything that I’ve written looking for anything about Basic Guy. Fine, I’ll get back to thatJ Basic Guy v3.0 is still being worked on… ever so slowly. If you read the part where I explained what is currently going on with my career, then you’ll understand that I have a lot going on with work right now. I also have a wife and son that I want to spend time with after working LONG hours every day.

Unfortunately, for Basic Guy, he gets ignored most days. There really isn’t a lot left to do. But, finding the time to do it is another thing. I’d love to say that I’ll have him done soon, but I can’t make that promise. But, it is something that I REALLY want to finish ASAP and release to you all. So please don’t lose faith in him! I’m also dying to animate him again as well…

Cheers and happy animating!