Rendering is still underway, the estimate ETA is about 30 more hours worth of computations. While the computers crunch away, I’m going to work on audio using OpenGL previews so everything will be good to go when things finish. A ton of research and development went into this 3 minutes worth of animation. The following was developed as a result of its production:

– A specialized method for having characters interact with things dynamically. Example: being able to make characters hold objects in either hand and drop them while being 100% in control of the motions, and using only 1 animation track.

– A quick means of taking static looping animations and pairing them with the environment. Example: Taking a looping walk animation and using it to make characters do things like go up stairs while turning.

– Motion capture integration. Although I did not use any mocap in this animated short, it was a big area of research while it was in production. This means that without any additional software or equipment, I can utilize free-to-use motion capture archives on the internet and pair them with my custom rigs seamlessly to help me develop content faster. It is incredibly easy now… but figuring it all out was total hell! They have a saying about how mechanics charge their customers that I think mirrors my experience: “Putting in the screw: 20¢… knowing where to put the screw in: $6000).

– Integration of automated controls with manual keyframing. When I began the short I actually did not know much about how to make things work together this way.

– Post production stuff, especially the ambient occlusion pass. This is something I know I need to put more research into still, but it is nonetheless something I think will enhance Delura’s visuals.

– The rest of IKBooster. I am almost certain that I have explored every single corner and feature that this toolset has to offer and this short was a major catalyst for that.

-New rig. I actually re-did the Delura rig a 3rd time to take advantage of a special plugin (Update Bones) made by Mike Green that non-destructively modifies skeletons of characters by using Lightwave’s skelegons (which enables mirror-editing as well). This was necessary to enable me to quickly re-use animations on any characters straight through IKBooster. The old method I used of saving/loading animations had some big limitations… it is complicated to explain. Let’s just say I can now easily apply animations to different proportioned characters and have them work perfectly. So, if I have a character with stubby legs, and one with long legs, the animations I save will calculate their forward movement based on how long their legs are. Pretty cool eh? And this is native stuff in Lightwave!

So… I’d say almost as much work went into research/development as the animation itself! I know it kind of gets in the way of content in the short run, but like all artists I am in a constant state of needing to learn and nurture my talents and keep testing myself and my methods wherever I can.

Edit: I plan to continue the weekly comic next week.