Industry Practice


I want to take the opportunity of this unit to completely focus on improving my fluid dynamics skills. In, past projects I have been able to use some dynamics but its always been overshadowed by animation or modelling etc. With this unit I can put all my time into researching and developing these specific skills, preparing me for the industry, plus giving me some dynamics to put into my show reel, which I desperately need.


Simulations are found all across the animation industry, you’ll find it in games, feature films, tv and adverts. Although they are hardly ever the main aspect of an animation (bar something like Moana) they really help to add that extra dimension of detail.

There are a bunch of software packages used in the industry for the creation of dynamic simulations. From my experience and research the main packages used are Houdini, Realflow, Phoenix FD and FumeFX.


Houdini is a procedural node based 3D package, its functionality is not too dissimilar to that of Maya. Its main focus has been on effective built in simulation tools, but with recent updates its modelling, rigging and animating tools have become close to that of Maya, if not even more. Houdini is generally the go to for any sort of simulation. Its customise-ability and functionality is next to none for any dynamics solution. It has all the dynamics tools built into the vanilla version, with no plugins required. This is where Houdini trumps Maya. The drawback of Houdini is due to its complexity and wide range of tools, it takes a long time to become proficient at using it. It would be like learning how to use Maya x10 all over again.


Real flow is a dedicated fluid simulation program. Its functionality ranges from small, macro liquid simulations, like water droplets. To medium scale rivers and large scale ocean surface simulations. As well as liquids it can create soft and hard body and even granular simulations, like sand and snow.

Realflow is node based like Houdini, a workflow I find much easier to use, the ability to view the whole work tree and make non destructive changes. However unlike Houdini, Realflow only deals with dynamics, mostly fluid dynamics, but it has some soft body and rigid body functionality. The node based system and focused tools make Realflow a much easier program to learn. I have been using it last term and this term, the simulations are quick, but the meshing tools, I find at smaller resolutions, make the liquid look too smooth and more paint like instead of like water. This came in handy for a project where I needed to make an oil like substance, but for this project I want to create something of a higher quality.

Phoenix FD and Fume FX

Phoenix and Fume are very similar software packages. They are both plugins for Maya and other packages, they are very similar in terms of functionality, however Fume FX only deals with volumetric and and particle fluid dynamics, whereas Phoenix FD has the option for liquid fluid dynamics as well. This is one of the reasons I am using Phoenix as my simulator this term. Another reason I am using Phoenix is that, The Chaosgroup (creators of VRay and Phoenix FD) offer a student version for around £70, but Fume FX do not. I could have used a pirated copy but i would not have an updated version, it could be buggy, and I wouldn’t have the support directly from the company. I have purchased both Vray and Phoenix student copies to accelerate my dynamics studies.

Because Phoenix and Vray are produced by the same company, the two plugins work seamlessly together within Maya. This makes pipelines very streamlined and effective. Render times are reduced when compared to rendering Maya fluids, simulations are faster, and Phoenix comes with built in shaders, which can produce content to a photo real standard.


Thinking forward to the future as a freelance artist, using Phoenix makes more sense than Houdini. Yes Houdini is more widely used in the industry but is very expensive costing $4500 yearly. When compared to Phoenix which is £500 one off payment, plus Vray £600, and the cost of Maya £1600 yearly, going this route I would save over £1000 every year and still be able to produce high quality content.

From my research, speaking to the guys from Rixy and other people from the industry all say that feature film is the highest paid sector but work can be hard to come by. Saying this however, the market is not very saturated so when work does come along, dynamic artists get picked up straight away.

Networking in this industry is key. With few Dynamic artists in the industry, artists will gain a reputation for certain tasks such as fire or water simulations, and a large network will make work easy to find.


The Simulation

As mentioned previously I will be using Phoenix FD to produce the simulation for this unit. Phoenix comes with built in presets but I will be building the simulation from the ground up to show the whole workflow.

There is sadly not much online content for Phoenix FD for Maya, the majority of tutorials I found were for 3dsMax. However because the programs are so similar, it was not so hard to transfer the information into Maya. The ChaosGroup have a fantastic documentation site, which details everything about each attribute, although this is helpful, it does sometimes lack the information on the application of said attributes and unless you kno what your reading it won’t make sense. Below is all the content I have used to help me further my learning


Here are my progress playblasts, at the start the waves were coming out too linear, not enough variation, it was also moving too slowly. This was a problem with the world scaling of the ocean texture, I changed the metre scale to 1 and added some more velocity. I also added an uneven surface below to alter the flow and create more interesting wave shapes. After increasing the resolution the 2nd playblast was the result.

Video Breakdown

Here is the video breakdown, the actual run time was about 3-4 hours but I have condensed it down to 2-3 minutes, i briefly voice over detailing what i am currently doing.

Here is my final rendered out come, I am quite pleased with the results. I have rendered it out in a square resolution as I intend to post it on my Instagram as part of my plan to improve my online profile.

The water level has rendered at a fine detail and in my opinion is close to photo real. I would’ve liked to have run a high resolution simulation, this would prevent the water droplets you see on the building from being so large. This would also have added more foam and splashes to the scene which I think it needs. I was able to boost the foam in nuke as i had rendered out a pass of just foam, i couldn’t make there be more foam but i could boost the levels and make it more visible.

This has been a helpful project, to get to the final stage I had done many previous R&D tests, this has far broadened my knowledge of phoenix FD. In my opinion having problems is the only way you learn, learning the solutions brings knowledge.

I will be continuing to use Phoenix over the summer as part of portfolio unit. producing short 10 second videos and posting them on social media. hopefully by the start of next term I will have a bank of various simulations i can use for my portfolio



Password: thingummyblob

I, like the majority of the class, really enjoyed the sound of the Beano brief. I Hadn’t put my own idea forward for the brief because I wanted to focus my work on the areas of industry that interest me and the skills I want to improve. I am working on a couple Beano Projects.

The first and biggest is Dorota’s Thingymeblob project, with Tomas and Sam. Dorot, Tomas and I have worked well together in the past and with Sam animating, I think we can produce a very polished final piece. For this project we are trying to distribute the roles effectively and use proper workflows between all the different stages. I will be creating the dynamics, texturing/shading, cameras, lighting, rendering and compositing. These are the areas where I feel I could offer the best work and also where I want to improve.

Here is the plan I have out together for our group Beano Project, it details all of our roles and, if we stick to it, should have us finished a week before hand in, to allow for any changes and mistakes.


Shader Work


Here are the first tests I have created. I am using the same VrayFastSSS material as ihave done in previous projects. The scatter light it creates has a nice aesthetic on a lot of objects. I am just doing some colour tests to see the best colour for The Blobs base colour. We intend her to be able to change colour depending on her mood so I will do more tests once I’ve settled on the basic shader.

Dorota wanted the blob to be more transparent so I changed the scatter properties to refractive and increased the scale so that is became translucent. The bubbles inside are created using MASH, Maya’s new procedural effects tool. In the first instance the spheres inside are shaded with a glass material with inverted normals so they look like bubbles. Dorota wanted it to be more like a lava lamp so I’ve applied a light material so that they glow inside the body

I had been struggling a long time with creating a shader that had bubble built into the refraction but my attempts were not successful. Whilst I was researching for methods to distribute objects throughout a mesh, I came across this tutorial on MASH, which is exactly what I needed and there are no problems with using animated meshes either.


Here is the shader on the updated mesh. We have the different colours for all the shades she is going to take on during the animation. I have still yet to add a bump map to the model to get some really nice liquidy drips come off her body.

Dorota’s instruction was to make Simon look cute like the children in Pixar, Dreamworks and Universal movies. It’s all in the eyes, that’s where we see the most of the characters emotion. She gave me some reference files to work from and I had done my own research using tutorials.




For the smoke simulation I have been using Phoenix FD, a fluid dynamics plug in for maya that I have bought to prepare myself for working in the industry. I have been using this project as well as both VFX projects and Dev’s industry practice unit, to further my training using Phoenix FD

Here is a quick video of the workflow used to create a smoke simulation, this is an example of how I made the higher resolution sim, as you can see me referring to the orginal simulation for the attributes.

Here is the higher resolution sim, not quite as high as i would like but we coudn’t wait for a high resolution version, it did come out a bit noisy in the renders.




Doing the lighting for this project was quite challenging, due to the high detail of all the assets in the scene and the amount of light, even to get out low resolution tests would take a very long time, making it difficult to make changes. Having all shots contained in one scene had its draw backs and benefits. it made the lighting easier as i didnt have to recreate lights for each scene, just add them where appropriate, but this is also the reason everything became much slower

Below is a series of my lighting test, trying to find the correct mood for the scene. For some objects I would create the lighting in its own scene and reference it into the main scene. This allowed me to update the textures and lighting quickly without waiting for all the geometry to compile in the larger scene.



I really appreciated being able to use the render farm this term. It was helpful to get to grips with it before the start of my 3rd year where I will be using it a lot more, hopefully problem free. Having the render farm s what has made this project possible. The renders would’ve taken too long on our own computers or would not have been a high enough quality to submit to The Beano. Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to produce all of our shots on the render farm. This meant we had to find a work around. for shots that were cancelled mid way through, we decided to just shorten the length of the shots. We had to cut 1 shot, and render the other shots at a lower resolution using our own accounts on the render farm. The simulation scene needed to be rendered on my won machine due to the farm not support the Phoenix FD plug-in. It was a shame some shots were rendered at a lower quality, in my opinion it is very noticeable. Shots 8, 11 and 12 are the lower quality shots.

Below are the final renders for each shot.



It was my intention to render everything out from the scene individually using render layers, giving me full control over the lighting and compositing. However I was unable to do with with the tight deadline. In the end we just produced beauty renders, with reflection, GI, AO and depth passes, this gave me some control over the look when compositing but not to the detail I would like with more time. The depth pass is handy when compositing allowing me to add depth of field to my renders in post, rather than rendering it straight onto the shot, which increases the render times.

To save time I have used a workflow for grading I have used before. It’s very simple consisting of a grade node to boost the light and darks, and a colorgrade node to boost the intensity of specific colours, namely the red and the blue. I then applied the specular and reflection passes over the top to make them ‘pop’ livening up the scene, the final step is adding in the depth of field using the depth pass and the ZDepth node. I found a neat trick online for upscaling 1080p footage to 4k without too much quality loss, using a TVIScale node. I found this to be effective scaling from 720p to 4k and then reformatted to 1080p, obviously the quality is not the same but it was better than simple reformatted 720p to 1080p.

Here is a comparison between the different scaling methods, you can clearly see the fidelity of the TVIscale node, adding far for detail than other methods.


For reference here is my nuke tree and a close up to show my work flow.


The ‘Beano’ brief, a project I was very excited about, not only because of the prospect of money at the end but also for the connections with the industry it could bring and the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals; giving professional and constructive feedback. At the start of term, it was my plan to assist multiple groups with the lighting, texturing/shading and rendering of their 3D projects. I planned to work on Dorota’s project as well as Ren and Finns 3D project, however, due to some technical issues Ren and Finn were unable to produce animation ready for rendering by the deadline, this, however, gave me more time to work on my other project. Despite this, I will still be producing some beauty renders for them, for the next presentations, at the Beano headquarters, on the 20th of June. Dorota and I have consistently worked well together on previous projects, developing a strong personal and professional relationship, which is key to our success. Over the course of the term I became more involved project, taking on the role of producer, organising people’s workload and deadlines, problem-solving and making sure the project was finished on time, being the only group to have a finished product by the 6th of June, I feel I have achieved this role successfully.

2nd Year Film Project ‘Rushes’ VFX


“Rushes is an experimental thriller observing the instant nature of a bad decision and the ripples and effects it can have on other people’s lives. Looking at the mechanical nature of time from 5 different perspectives this stylistic short takes inspirations from High Rise, and Vantage Point. Set in a confused world, somewhere between the 70s and the future there is a strong push on colour and distortion through art deco themes.”


I was approached by Tara Trangmar, a third year DFP student, to do the VFX for her FMP. She is the producer on the Vanitati project and had heard I was keen on creating liquid simulations.

There are four different shots that require VFX. There are two screen replacements I need to create and composite on Nuke. Also, there are two tricky water simulations, the first requires a custom mesh of a duvet and a guided simulation to trickle down it; the second requires the liquid to emit from a moving person and react with the scene around them. What makes this tricky is the camera is moving also.

I chose to help on this project because it was an ideal opportunity to practice some more complex simulation and compositing techniques. This is a solo project for me so I am able to practice some efficient workflows for if I ever work freelance.

Shot 1

I am having a lot of issue with this shot. There is tonnes of motion blur as the actor starts to move. This is making it impossible to track the phone screen, it doesn’t help that the tracking markers are not crosses or small dots. there is a solution however, the video is longer than the shot and there is about 10 seconds art the start where the actor isn’t walking and this is trackable, I’m just waiting to hear back from Tara on whether it is ok to move ahead with this change

Shot 3

The only reference I was given for this shot was the short story board and that she wanted it to be ‘kubrick esq’. This was the scene from The Shining she gave me as reference.

Because this was the only reference my first tests the blood was very powerful. After showing it to Tara she said it was too much so, next time i am going to tone it down, make it more realistic.

First of all I needed to track the camera on nuke, that’s what all the locators are in the first video.  With this markers as a guide, I have made a basic model of the room for the liquid to react with. The first video is made using Bifrost but I have switched to PhoenixFD as it is easier to simulate smaller scale liquids and renders better with Vray. I am using a similar method of using a body rig as a collider for the actor and animating it to match-move with him. This is working OK, but there is a little bit of sliding where it doesn’t completely match his movement, I should be able to fix this in Nuke though, using the tracking markers provided.


Shot 4

This shot requires the screen to be replaced with a custom calling screen and for their to be blood splatter over the whole thing.

First of all I am planning out what needs to be done. The tracking and screen replacement will be done on Nuke and the blood will most likely be done using Real Flow.


First of all I need to create the video for what the screen is going to be replaced with. I have used a combination of these Android templates and custom images in After Effects to make a calling screen.


Below is a breakdown of the call screen replacement. I’m tracking the green markers, and using the data to drive the roto paint to remove the trackers. The same tracking data is used to hold the screen and cracker screen onto the phone.


Here is a quick slap comp of a still frame of the fluid simulation. Here I’m testing to see if my camera track is sticking to the plate properly.




I took on this project because I wanted to test myself produce the full vfx pipeline. This project has required me to do modelling, rigging, texturing, lighting, rending, dynamics and compositing. This project has really helped me improve my dynamics abillties, with varied shots for me to practice on. In hindsight it was too much work to take on, I think it would’ve been possible to do just one VFX project. However I have time over summer to fully complete each shot.

I had a lot of issue with these shots, mostly to do with tracking markers and lack of reference. I put the blame on myself because I was not able to attend the shoot where i would have been able to better direct what I needed, however it was on our last deadline so I could not make it. This made it a good opportunity to work with footage that wasn’t perfect, causing me to find effective ways to solve the problems, even if it is ‘boshing’ it till it works. The method does’t matter as long as it works.

3rd Year Film Project ‘Vanitati’ VFX


The film starts with Dylan, 25, in his bedroom, descending into insanity, cutting off his hair, poking his eyes into his skull and leaking black goo. This is contrasted with a developing story of his overwhelming work life and the suffocating nature of a purposeless career. Disorientating, we see Dylan between work and home, also at a club where Victoria, his fiance, is constantly struggling for attention and fun. She is very much in the moment and very different to her lover. Every encounter seems to become worryingly more painful for Dylan. He drinks and takes a pill he receives from a slot machine. Throughout all of this, there is the building pressure that he is going to loose either his job or his girlfriend if he continues like this. He is forced to confront his fears and it revealed that all is not what is seems and time has lapsed over. Dylan has lost himself in an impersonal world with no one to reach for. What will happen to him?


Last term Ren approached me to see if I would be interested in working on a 3rd year film project that she was involved in. The film required a lot of liquid simulations so Ren had recommended that they contact me for my help. Including Ren and myself, there is a group of 5/6 of us working on this project. I am taking care of the majority of the 3D work including all of the simulation, rendering and some comp work.

The film requires a liquid simulation of a black, oil like substance, that is a key aspect to this film. For these simulations I am using a combination of Realflow and Maya’s Bifrost, both of which I have used in previous units.

Along with the simulations I will need to track and comp the CG elements onto the live plates, with use of Nuke and the skills we learnt in our VFX unit.

The Goo


To match my simulated liquid to the, liquid used on set, the crew has sent me some reference footage. Here I can get a better understanding of the viscosity of the liquid and also some good reference of the aesthetic. I can clearly see it is of a similar consistency to honey and has the same glossy surface like oil. I can also see there is a brownish tinge when the liquid is spread thinly. This could be achieved one of two ways that I know, either with the VraySSS shader or with Bifrosts liquid shader, using the density data to drive the diffuse colour.

Here are my first couple of tests, testing out different viscosity’s of the liquid. These simulations were created using Realflow. I can see from both tests that I am going to need to increase the stickiness off the liquid so that it doesn’t just slide off of the surface.


Shot Planning:

This first scene is the largest of simulation scenes. A large body of liquid needs to fall from above the shot and crash down onto the actor and environment. The director indicated that it should be like a ‘tidal wave of black goo’. My first thought was to make this using Bifrost, I am more familiar with the interface of Maya, and I have had issues before with moving colliders in Realflow. Bifrosts sim time for a simulation this size is also faster.


Below are a select few of my playblasts to show the progress of the simulation and the mechanics behind it. I have created the body rig by taking a mesh from Adobe Fuse (3D character models) and using the quick rig in Maya 2017 to have at least a usable mesh to animate, this is then applied a collider, along with the cymbals and walls. I have animated the emitters to offset the liquid so it doesn’t fall in such a uniform manner.

We needed to get something to show to the editors so they could grade the shot, here is a quick comp I did of a medium resolution sim.


As mentioned before I had been using Bifrost for this simulation, I find at small scales like this the meshing is too thick and unrealistic. Once I purchased Phoenix FD I switched to using that, it meant starting again but the result I achieved was better. I was able to push the resolution high whilst remaining stable and the rendering out of Vray looks much better than Bifrost.


Shot 2

The second shot is of the actor popping his eyes out of his sockets with a spectacular oil spray. This shot is challenging because it requires an accurate collider mesh for the oil to react with, this then needs to be tracked onto face and then the liquid simulated. The length of the shot also makes it hard has the actor frequently overs his face and the tracking markers with his arms.

Henry was supposed to be removing the tracking markers but it was my job to do all the fluid work.

I started off by using some modelling technique we learnt with Dev and Sanjay and applied it to this project. I made a replica of the actors head head using some reference files sent to me by the producer

For this simulation i have been using Realflow but I am going to switch to Phoenix FD for 2 reasons, first of all it has a wetting setting, which leaves a stain over where the liquid has run and i have been having issues with real flow where the liquid behaves not physically accurate, it could either be a problem with the mesh or a scaling issue.

Shot 3

Shot 3 Sam and I are working on, he was doing the comp work and I am doing the dynamics. He’s done the 2D work of making the clock spin and it was my job to create the liquid flying around the edge.

I have been using Phoenix FD for this simulation. There is an emitter hidden behind the clock and then a rotating disk which acts as the emitter, the velocity of the disk is transferred to the liquid making it spray out.Capture.PNG

Here are some of my tests to get the velocity of the liquid right, on the left it is too so i slowed down the emitter and turn the gravity down, so we could really see the motion of the liquid. The director agreed to this version so I was ready to do a higher resolution sim that you see below.

The shot on the right is the comp that Sam put together, i basically need to take his nuke comp and just add the liquid onto it, then the shot will be finished.



This is an on going project, I planned to have some shots finished for the deadline but the Beano project took up too much of my time. Sam and Henry have also left the project, giving me and Ren more to do. although, there is no set deadline on the project so I am able to get it all to a finished standard over the summer.

This project has been a great opportunity for me to improve my fluid dynamics abilities and has given me the chance to spend time learning how to use Phoenix FD. I am hoping, that once finished, I will be able to use some of the shots in my show reel.

This project has also been a good collaborative experience, working with film students. They come from a different background so the correct communication needs to be used to make sure everyone is on the same page.


Submission and Evaluation

RSA Submission 


This was my section of the submission



intro write about our ideas

This unit has probably been the unit with the highest workload so far, but that is probably my own fault, taking on too much work even when advised against it at the beginning of the term. But how will I improve without increasing my work load. Overall it has been a good unit, I’ve enjoyed finally getting to learn some real animation skills and I have seen my animating skills improve over the duration of the unit.

We wanted to take this unit as an opportunity to re enter the RSA after we sadly didn’t win last year. We had a point to prove and hopefully with a year to improve our skills we have produced something that has a possibility of winning. We tried to take on board what the mentioned last year about the work being too confusing, so this time we tried to produce something that had a clear story and purpose. I think we achieved that by creating a very visually appealing piece with a short story that an audience could follow. We wanted to make something a bit different compared to other videos that all follow the similar motion graphics / info graphic style. We wanted to make something that really stood out, which is what I think drew them to our piece last year.

The RSA entry was heavily influenced by Pixar, with all our characters taking reference from previous Pixar characters and the whole piece has a very Toy Story esq. to it. We did this because we know how iconic Pixars look is and know it is an effective way to create emotional stories that audiences can empathise with. Empathy was a big part of this topic and creating animations that audiences can empathise with is key to making an impactful video. I think I have achieved this, especially with the grandfather/grandchild relationship of Walter and Cody.

I decided to do this project as a group because the work load would have been far too much for just one person. I worked well with Dorota last year on this project and it was both of our intentions to enter again this year. We asked Emma to work with us as we thought we would be able to get more done when there were three of us. Sadly towards the end of the project Emma was having some personal issues which meant she was unable to complete a lot of the work she had been set. This set our work back a lot because it meant mine and Dorota’s work load increased and sadly it caused us to, in my opinion, not produce a product that was up to my standards. This increased workload to a toll on the other jump and modelling projects. I was unable to fully complete either of them, firstly, because the RSA hand in was earlier meaning I had to leave the other projects until after the hand in and secondly because of the issues with Emma I was extremely stressed from working and not sleeping for a week, I had lost a lot of my motivation.

Another problem we had was, because we were using Vray, the other two were not familiar on how to use it, this meant a lot of my time I shouldve been working on the animation, was spent trying to set up the scenes for the other two to render. towards the end Dorota got the hang of using vray was able to render without my input. However because of their unfamiliarity with the program some of our shots came out looking slightly different. This was also the issue I had when Tomas rendered a couple of the scenes for us. I tried to match the colours in nuke as much as possible but it is still noticeable in my opinion.

On a good note I was extremely pleased at how my renders came out. Lighting and rendering is becoming another area that I am really interested in, aside from dynamics, I really enjoy the outcomes I am producing and see my self improving all the time. I think the depth of field really sells the toy like nature of the piece, close up to the toys has a large depth of field and when its far out in the room it has a low depth of field. I also feel my animation skills have greatly improved over the course of the unit.

I am disappointed in myself for not completing the jump or having the time to create the IK/FK switch on my arm rig. I know i am capable of completing both to a high standard but the work load for for was just too much. I now know for the future not to take on too much and really focus refining something fully before trying to take on anything else.

In conclusion it has been rather up and down this project, there has been some things I have been really pleased about and others that have really dampened my mood for the whole unit. I still intend to pursue improving my animation skills and intend to finish all the projects to a higher standard over the Easter break as i think all of them would be fantastic additions to my show reel.




Modelling and Rig

My intention for this model was not to come out with some crazy weird design and cool story to boot. What I want to create is a photo real as possible arm. I have been working a lot with Vray recently and it is fantastic as producing photo real renders, so this inspired me to create a photo real arm.

Here are the reference images I have been using to help me model the arm rig. The images of the hands are the ones Dev and Sanjay gave us, and the muscle image was to help me plan out the topology based off the twists of the muscles.


I started off by just blocking out the main shape of the hands, trying to the the proportions of each individual element. Once I was happy with the shape I began adding edge loops to start defining the main features.


Here I am still in the process of just getting  the shape of the main body, and defining the knuckles on one finger. Then I duplicated/scaled them into place. Using the merge tool and polygon append I was able to attach the fingers to the main body mesh. Now that the form has come together I can smooth the mesh and work on the details.


Now that the main shape the of hand is finished i can move onto the arm. I am using this muscle reference to help me match the topology to the muscle twists in the arm. This will help later when rigging the forearm twist. I have used a mixture of soft select and Maya sculpting tools to help morph the mesh into the correct shape.


Once I was happy with my model in Maya, I imported it into zBrush so I could add the xtra details into the fingers and knuckles, add some texture to the skin so it doesn’t look so smooth, and some veins as the model is quite muscular. With this high poly zbrush mesh i then baked it onto the lower res mesh in Maya because a mesh with 1.2mil polys would not be useable to animate on. The bake comes out as a normal map which I can apply to my Vray Sub Surface shader.


The rigging process I found quite easy. before this unit I already understood the basics of rigging from last terms unit when we created the swan rig. Something like an arm wasn’t too hard to make. Although one cool thing I picked up was with the forearm twist, using the expression  (forearm_L_joint.rotateX = wrist_L_ctrl.rotateZ *-0.5;) so that the forearm would twist at 50% of the wrist to avoid the abnormal twist that would occur only at the wrist without this expression. Once all the joints and their corresponding controllers where in place and working, I could work on the painted weights of each joint, this tends to be quite a time consuming process especially when it needs to be done for each finger and its joints.



Now that everything is in working order I could work on the rendering process. To get the proper skin like texture I am using the Vray fast SSS shader I have been using for the RSA entry. when combined with the normals map and a bit of texturing on the diffuse channel it produces some very realistic results. To create the UV map for the arm i have been using UV Layout , a program that Josh introduced to us, which is especially good at flatting complex meshes.


Here is a quick animation showing the movement of all the joints working together, and also a hi res render showing the final look of the arm.

RSA Animation

Here is my dissection of the transcript of our audio file. This is to better help us understand what is really being said in the excerpt.


Story Development:

Here is our initial storyboard drawn up by Dorota


Character Synopsis


Cody lost his parents when he was young, they mysteriously went missing before he could remember. He has, since then, lived with his grandfather Walter, who he loves like a father. Cody is a fun loving; care free child, with a cheeky streak that is always getting him into trouble. Although he may be troublesome at times he is still the sweet child at heart, which he takes after his mother, as his grandfather knows all to well. Full of energy and humour Cody is always up for playing even if his grandfather needs to rest, he can be likened to Labrador puppy or monkey swinging in the trees.

All three of us all agreed that we want to create an animation that is heavily influenced by Pixar’s animation. Because of this we are drawing a lot of reference from examples of children we felt capture the essence of the character we want to make. Dash from the Incredibles embodies the cheeky fun loving aspects of Cody, he’s bold, gets into trouble at school and strives to do help when he can, all of which are apparent in Cody’s personality.



Mery is our main character, she will be the one narrating along with the animation. To try and have the character to be believable we have taken inspiration from the original speaker “Nathalie Spencer”. By looking into her online presence we were able to draw some broad conclusions about her personality, such as being very driven and optimistic; smart and forward thinking. We then combined that with traits that we felt would suit the character for the animation.

Growing up Mery was always the smart one at school, great for her grades but was never seen as one of the ‘cool kids’. But optimistic Mery never let that bother her, she was quite content being quiet. As she got older she began to realise that she could be more confident around like minded individuals, with the social politics of secondary school far behind her, she was able to be completely herself and focus on what truly matters. Being a health worker herself, she strives to help people to the best of her ability, putting their problems ahead of hers, some says shes inspiring and some say shes a true social innovator.



Walter has lived a long and, bar a few minor incidents, content life. The loss of his daughter a few years back really took its toll on the old golden ager, pushing him to the brink of dispair and depression. The only thing that brought him back from the edge was when Little Cody was left in his care, pulling back together the pieces of his broken heart, with someone once again to love and to care for he would do right by his daughter and raise the child as if he was his own. Despite his old age Walter does all he can to keep Cody happy; playing with him even though his joints firmly disagree and never staying cross at him long; because come on, who could stay angry with a kid like that.

Pixar is great at creating empathy with their characters, even more so with the senior people they create, already sweet in real life, the capture the essence that makes the audience’s hearts melt.

Im using Carl from ‘Up’ as reference here because of he too has lost a loved on his life and during the course of the film he re-finds his love for life, through the connection he makes with a unsuspecting child. The man he becomes at the end of the movie is where we draw most of our reference. At this point he has become revitalised and content with his life, he is no longer the miserable, grumpy old man.



Character Pose Sheets

Here are the character pose sheets that Dorota has drawn up for us. We can all refer to this and the character synopsis and reference to ensure that we all animate in a unified manner and make sure our character personalities are consistent throughout.

Primary Blocking:



Whilst working on my shots I worked in quite a fluid manner. Because I knew working on one shot from start to finish would become very tedious, I, at least for the beginning, worked on all the shots together. Towards the end when I was trying to finesse them I would work on them one by one. However for this reason there is no exact primary/secondary/finessing stage to my playblasts, so I am just going to include a few examples from each shot showing my progress and then the final rendered version.

Shot 1

Shot 2

Shot 3

We decided to change the camera angle on this shot because from the previous angle the audience was unable to properly see the animation so we wanted to zoom it in a bit.

Shot 4

Shot 5

Shot 6


The snowball effect was made using RealFlow a liquid simulation piece of software i have been learning in my spare time. We wanted to use it in this project because the snowball would look really weak if it wasn’t made using a simulation.

Shot 7




Rendering and Lighting

For this project I again used Vray as my renderer. I really like the ease of use and image quality when using this renderer. There is a wealth of information in the vray documentation that makes learning the plug in extremely accessible. I recently discovered that vray allows you to turn maya’s cameras in to ‘vray physical cameras’ this enables real world camera controls like ISO and f/stop which vastly improves the render quality and allows me to light the scene to a real world lighting. I was testing doing indoor shooting with my SLR camera to see what camera settings I should be using in Maya. Below is the process in images of my lighting tests. The scene consists of a sun and sky to get the light portal on the floor as well as various point and rectangle lights on the lights in the room.



Of course we needed to composite all of our work below is the graph network for every shot of our piece, first of all i tried to colour match each shot to each other. This proved hard as the scenes that were rendered on Tomas’s computer came out slightly different to the ones on mine. I got it as a close as i could within the time constraints. I then applied a universal grade to every shot and using a zDepth pass I was able to create the high depth of field look.





The Jump Animation


Character Synopsis and Thumbnail Poses:

Pose Renders

Jump Reference

As silly as this video is, it still serves as a good reference for the motion of the human form jumping. Although it doesn’t have an reference for a solid landing, the take off has a lot of variation.

I found this great Youtube Channel called “EndlessReference” its packed full of reference videos for all types of movement. It’s handy that they show the footage from a side view and front view so it would be possible to use it on an image plane in Maya.

Here is a clip from a new animated movie called Ballerina, I’ve included it because of the elaborate jumps contained similar to the one I intend to create.

1:10 for slow mo ballerina leap.

1:20 slow mo facial movement


I’ve included images as reference also, as the really capture the essence of the moment and express a lot of emotion, particularly on the little boys face. It is also grate reference for how the body contorts on a still frame.

Extreme Poses

Updated Extreme Poses

Primary Blocking

Timing spacing and favouring

Secondary Blocking

Overlap and follow through

Lip Syncing


Here is the most recent composition of my jump animation. I have been trying to finesse the overlap and follow through, arcs and timing, these are the things that I feel reall make an animation come alive. Sadly I was unable to finish this animation, I had to put it on hold to make time to complete our RSA animation. There then wasn’t enough time once we handed it in to then complete this and the modelling and rigging project. I would have liked the time to add in the hat as it would have been a really nice addition to the animation as it really helped to sell the cocky slightly drunk cowboy look I was going for. After the hand it i will be continuing to finesse this as it could be a good addition to my show reel.

Hat Flourish

To effectively incorporate the extra prop in to my scene I will need to use both FK and IK controllers for the arms. Using the IK controller allows me to parent the IK handle to the hat, in turn driving the arm with the hat. This prevent any sliding that could occur when try to eyeball it with an FK controller. An issue i have been facing is transitioning between the FK and IK modes. I have been using this documentation on FK/IK blending to to fond the correct way to have a smooth transition.






Hicks, M. (2015) Here are 8 virtual reality films you can watch right now. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2017).

In-line Citation: (Hicks, 2015)



Bibliography: Huxley, A. (1969) Brave new world: A novel. Harmondsworth, United Kingdom: Penguin Books, Middlesex, England.

In-line Citation: (Huxley, 1969)


Buckley, J. (2017). Why Simon Sinek’s Video on Millennials Was Wrong. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: [Accessed 9 Feb. 2017].