I finished up a sketchbook. Here are some of my favorite things I did. It took me over a year to fill it up, so some of these are old, some are new. I finished up a sketchbook. Here are some of my favorite things I did. It took me over a year to fill it up, so some of these are old, some are new.

I finished up a sketchbook. Here are some of my favorite things I did. It took me over a year to fill it up, so some of these are old, some are new.

I created a custom rig for the Phantom Lancer model from Dota2. You can find the model and joint rig at: http://www.dota2.com/workshop/requirementsI’m still testing the rig, but hope to have it up somewhere soon for people to use.Phantom Lancer is a character from Valve’s Dota 2. I did not create the model or joint structure. Just this animation and the rig.

I created a custom rig for the Phantom Lancer model from Dota2. You can find the model and joint rig at: http://www.dota2.com/workshop/requirements

I’m still testing the rig, but hope to have it up somewhere soon for people to use.

Phantom Lancer is a character from Valve’s Dota 2. I did not create the model or joint structure. Just this animation and the rig.

I’ve made some tutorials for my class, and I decided to post them here. Right now they focus on particles and cloth simulations, but I hope to get more up soon. I’m new at creating tutorials so any kind of feedback would be great! 

Common Mistakes for Maya Beginners

I’ve been teaching for a few weeks now and my class just started to learn Maya. I keep seeing the same mistakes from my students. And they are the same mistakes I made when I first started. I decided to compile list of the mistakes I’ve seen and write down how to fix them. If you don’t want to read everything, I have a summary at the bottom.

1: Extrusions – Extruding your mesh is one of the best ways to start shaping your model. It is also one of the best ways to screw it up. If you don’t pay attention when using the extrude tool, then you can create a mesh with poor topology. Many times, I see new users hit the extrude tool, but then click off of the mesh immediately. Not seeing any change, the user reselects the faces and extrudes again. What these users don’t realize, is that they have layered on the extrusions, and they have multiple edge loops lying on top of each other.  Depending on what you select and extrude, this can create a nightmare. A quick way to check how your mesh looks, is hitting the 3 key on your number line. There are a few ways to fix this:

-       Undo. If you catch your mistake early, you may be able to undo back.

-       Delete Edge/Vertex. This one is an easier fix. If your mesh continues on wards towards another edge loop, this is usually what you would do. Double click on one of the edges in Edge Mode, then go to Edit Mesh > Delete Edge/Vertex

-        Append to Polygon Tool. To use this tool, you have to first delete the faces that you created with the extrusion. From there, go to Edit Mesh > Append to Polygon tool. Click on one edge, and then a bunch of purple arrows should appear. These arrows tell you where you can connect the face. Click on the edge you want (usually the face opposite of where you clicked) and a new face should appear. (Note, make sure you click exactly on the edge. Otherwise the face will appear where you don’t want it.)

-       Start over. Depending on how bad the mesh is, it could be easier to start over and pay more attention to what is extruded.

2: Delete – The Delete Edge/Vertex is an essential tool, and one that not enough new users know about. You can delete faces by hitting the delete/backspace button on your keyboard without any problems. If you select an edge and then hit backspace/delete, it looks like it works, but, you are being deceived. Hitting delete with an edge selected takes away the edge, but it does not take away the vertices. These vertices mess with your edge loops and topology. You will no longer be able to create a full edge loop around those faces with the Insert Edge Loop tool, and you will have n-gons all over the place. It is important that the Delete Edge/Vertex tool is used when deleting edges (found under: Edit Mesh > Delete Edge/Vertex). If you found that you have made this mistake, here are some fixes:

-       Undo. Hopefully you will catch the mistake early and you have time to undo it.

-       Append to Polygon Tool. Delete the faces where you have the extra vertices, and then use the Append to Polygon tool to match up the edge loops.

(Note on using the Delete Edge/Vertex tool: It isn’t always wise to use this tool on one edge. The face that remains will be an n-gon (a face with more that five edges. I would suggest selecting the entire edge loop and then using the tool. But like every rule, there are always exceptions.)

3: Rotating with the view cube – The view cube is a great tool, but not a tool that should be constantly relied on to move around your object or scene. I find it is used best when you want to orient yourself to the front/back/side of the object, or to right yourself up when you are upside down. I wouldn’t use it for everyday rotating, because it will always rotate around the origin of the scene. If you are working up close to a few faces, and want to see it from another angle, you can easily lose your view when rotating with the view cube. If you forget you are in an orthographic view, and you use the view cube, then you will change the perspective and still not be able to rotate normally. (To fix this, hover over the view cube, and hit the home button just above it.) You can’t go wrong if you rotate/pan/zoom with the alt button and the mouse buttons.

4: Two hands – While this isn’t necessarily a mistake, it is something that makes life easier. Working in Maya is a two handed affair. Your work will be slow and tedious if you don’t start to take advantage of the hot keys and the alt button to rotate/pan/zoom. Here are some of the most basic hotkeys:

-       Q – Select Tool

-       W – Move Tool

-       E – Rotate Tool

-       R – Scale Tool

-       Y – Repeat Last Tool

-       G – Repeat

5: Save. Always save your work, but you should save it more often in Maya. In addition, it is best to save in increments. If you are modeling a person and you got the basic shape completed save it as person_01. Then you go work on the face. Save that as person_02. And the next one as person_03. This way, when you realized you made a huge mistake in file person_03, you can go back to person_02 and not start over. Other people will have different ways of naming things, but the most important thing to get out of this section is to save incrementally.

TL;DR. Make sure you save often, you only extrude once, delete edges with the Delete Edge/Vertex tool, you take advantage of the hot keys, and you use the view cube to reorient yourself around the scene.

  

These are the biggest things I’ve seen so far. I’ll add more to this as I go. I would also like to add, my suggestions on how to model and move in Maya are based off of my own practices. There are multiple ways of doing things, and ways that may be better than what I write down. If you know of a better way, please let me know. I always like to learn.

Check it out! It holds loads of artwork from movies, including pencil tests, concept and production design, behind the scenes, and artist. Definitely worth a look!

This is the interactive art project I’ve been working on. You can also see the project on the Brick Theater website (http://bricktheater.com/) (click on the gameplay icon and then scroll down to Targeting Eyes) Here is the synopsis of the project:

Targeting Eyes is a live game performance that explores the artist’s cultural and gendered upbringing, where she was raised to avoid eye contact, to avert her gaze. This performance demonstrates her personal struggle in social spaces, revealing her anxiety, which creates diverse mixed reality states. This project playfully provides a game space with the goal of targeting eyes in First-person shooter (FPS) mode, using this game space as a strictly governed space, with clear rules and goals. The higher level of this game presents her voice-activated virtual body, allowing her to freely tell her stories, being detached from her social body, exploring her own ways of “Being- In the World”. This project explores the body struggling between objective and phenomenological realms, implementing interactive technology from rigid control to free improvisation. 

Big Kid Now

I’m a little late in posting, but I’m a college graduate now! I have a degree in Kinetic Imaging from Virginia Commonwealth University. That means I can create animations, video, and sound pieces. My specialty is 3D animation, but I can do any of these things. Anyone want to hire an animator? (Demo Reel Here: http://vimeo.com/46697182) 

I’m working with one of my professors on an interactive art piece. I’m going to see if I can post some work in progress photos on here. It’ll be shown at Brick Theater in Brooklyn, New York during July. It will be a part of the Game Play 2013: Celebration of Video Game Performance Art exhibit. 

I have some other projects in the making too. I’m rigging a cool mechanical golem, and will soon be rigging a moth bat creature. Soon I’ll be animating! More to come!

nyssashawart:

A small break from your regularly scheduled daily doodle, which you can find here. And I know, text posts on Tumblr are such a drag but:
There’s been far too little coverage(if you’re not looking for it or aren’t personally connected to the issues) of the 400+ VFX artists who engaged in a demonstration in Hollywood during the Oscars. Rhythm & Hues, one of the main VFX studios behind Life of Pi, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was forced to let around 200 people go-many of whom haven’t yet received pay for work completed before being fired.
That’s right. The studio that accepted the Oscar for best VFX on a movie that made over $500 million worldwide in the box office can’t even afford to pay its staff.
What’s more, just as Bill Westenhofer(VFX supervisor on Life of Pi at R&H) began to bring up the plight in his acceptance speech, the orchestra was given the cue to play him off. With Jaws. Seconds later, his mic was cut.
Classssssy.
To be fair, acceptance speeches that run long are often given cues to wrap it up, but the numbers don’t really add up.
But what is this all about, really? Reddit user PixelMagic has one of the more succinct explanations of the issues at play:
“VFX studios are having a very difficult time making profit on movies they work on, even if that movies goes on to make millions or over a billion dollars. VFX studios make 5% profit on a GOOD year, but most of the time breaking even or even losing money on a job. This in turn has a very negative effect on vfx workers working at those companies. The entire fault does not lie with movie studios or vfx studios, but both contribute to the bad state of affairs in different ways.

The most noticable, is that other countries offer tax subsides that do not allow even competition. If a VFX studio in California bids on work for a set price, then a VFX studio in Vancouver can bid that very same price AND offer a 30-35% (not sure of exact figures) tax rebate on that work, but the VFX studio doesn’t get that money, the movie studio does. So they (the movie studio) automatically get 30% of their VFX paid for by tax payers instead of out of their already wealthy pockets. The California VFX studio therefore cannot compete with this situation, so fair competition is impossible.


Low rung jobs such as roto/paint fixes are being outsourced to China and India by movie studios because they can get the work done far cheaper there.


Movie studios put vast pressure on VFX houses to lower costs AND do more work at those costs. They also put huge pressure on VFX studios to open offices in subsidized locales so they (the movie studio) can take advantage of tax breaks. Most VFX studios who refuse or can’t afford to offer a subsidized location don’t get the work and go out of business. However, movie studios expect the VFX studio to take care of all the costs of moving to the new country themselves. And still have the nerve to ask for cheaper labor.


In addition to movie studios asking for more and cheaper work, they want it done in less time. VFX on a movie used to be 1 year long, and now they are trying to take the process down to 6 months or less. Because of this…


VFX studios often have their staff put in TONS of overtime. 10-12 hour days are a norm, and during crunch time 16 hour days, heck, spending the night at the studio, is not unheard of and in fact common. These horrendous hours can last 3-6 months, 7 days a week. On top of this, several VFX companies are not paying for that overtime, because movie studios refuse to pay for the extra hours (remember they are putting on the pressure for cheaper), even though they have insane deadlines for VFX delivery.


Every other movie trade except VFX has a union to prevent such gross injustices. VFX artists don’t have a stable 9-5 full time job. They are just temp contract workers, jumping company to company, project to project. As such, they do not have portable benefits, as other unionized trades in filmmaking do.


Artists are too afraid to speak up against these injustices because they’ll just kick you out the door for causing too much trouble, because there are 100 dumb young kids who would jump at the chance to work on a Hollywood movie for peanuts. Without a union, they don’t have much leverage.


VFX studios are too chicken to take a stand against the movie studios, because really, they only have about 5-6 clients such as Paramount, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony, etc. If a VFX studio stood up to one of these companies about their unfair practices, they’d get black listed as trouble makers and never asked to work again, thus driving them out of business. Likewise, if a VFX worker complains to a supervisor about unfair hours and no overtime pay, he is similarly black listed to not be hired again on the next project.

This is just a handful of problems, but I feel the major ones. VFX artists in Hollywood are treated like shit. VFX artists have a huge passion and love of their skill and trade, and because of it are taken advantage of. It’s time for them to stand up and just be treated like decent hard working human beings.”
More on those kids working for peanuts.
Tumblr, you LOVE these movies. Let’s support the people who help make them stunning, or at least, you know, help them keep their jobs.

nyssashawart:

A small break from your regularly scheduled daily doodle, which you can find here. And I know, text posts on Tumblr are such a drag but:

There’s been far too little coverage(if you’re not looking for it or aren’t personally connected to the issues) of the 400+ VFX artists who engaged in a demonstration in Hollywood during the Oscars. Rhythm & Hues, one of the main VFX studios behind Life of Pi, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was forced to let around 200 people go-many of whom haven’t yet received pay for work completed before being fired.

That’s right. The studio that accepted the Oscar for best VFX on a movie that made over $500 million worldwide in the box office can’t even afford to pay its staff.

What’s more, just as Bill Westenhofer(VFX supervisor on Life of Pi at R&H) began to bring up the plight in his acceptance speech, the orchestra was given the cue to play him off. With Jaws. Seconds later, his mic was cut.

Classssssy.

To be fair, acceptance speeches that run long are often given cues to wrap it up, but the numbers don’t really add up.

But what is this all about, really? Reddit user PixelMagic has one of the more succinct explanations of the issues at play:

“VFX studios are having a very difficult time making profit on movies they work on, even if that movies goes on to make millions or over a billion dollars. VFX studios make 5% profit on a GOOD year, but most of the time breaking even or even losing money on a job. This in turn has a very negative effect on vfx workers working at those companies. The entire fault does not lie with movie studios or vfx studios, but both contribute to the bad state of affairs in different ways.

  1. The most noticable, is that other countries offer tax subsides that do not allow even competition. If a VFX studio in California bids on work for a set price, then a VFX studio in Vancouver can bid that very same price AND offer a 30-35% (not sure of exact figures) tax rebate on that work, but the VFX studio doesn’t get that money, the movie studio does. So they (the movie studio) automatically get 30% of their VFX paid for by tax payers instead of out of their already wealthy pockets. The California VFX studio therefore cannot compete with this situation, so fair competition is impossible.

  2. Low rung jobs such as roto/paint fixes are being outsourced to China and India by movie studios because they can get the work done far cheaper there.

  3. Movie studios put vast pressure on VFX houses to lower costs AND do more work at those costs. They also put huge pressure on VFX studios to open offices in subsidized locales so they (the movie studio) can take advantage of tax breaks. Most VFX studios who refuse or can’t afford to offer a subsidized location don’t get the work and go out of business. However, movie studios expect the VFX studio to take care of all the costs of moving to the new country themselves. And still have the nerve to ask for cheaper labor.

  4. In addition to movie studios asking for more and cheaper work, they want it done in less time. VFX on a movie used to be 1 year long, and now they are trying to take the process down to 6 months or less. Because of this…

  5. VFX studios often have their staff put in TONS of overtime. 10-12 hour days are a norm, and during crunch time 16 hour days, heck, spending the night at the studio, is not unheard of and in fact common. These horrendous hours can last 3-6 months, 7 days a week. On top of this, several VFX companies are not paying for that overtime, because movie studios refuse to pay for the extra hours (remember they are putting on the pressure for cheaper), even though they have insane deadlines for VFX delivery.

  6. Every other movie trade except VFX has a union to prevent such gross injustices. VFX artists don’t have a stable 9-5 full time job. They are just temp contract workers, jumping company to company, project to project. As such, they do not have portable benefits, as other unionized trades in filmmaking do.

  7. Artists are too afraid to speak up against these injustices because they’ll just kick you out the door for causing too much trouble, because there are 100 dumb young kids who would jump at the chance to work on a Hollywood movie for peanuts. Without a union, they don’t have much leverage.

  8. VFX studios are too chicken to take a stand against the movie studios, because really, they only have about 5-6 clients such as Paramount, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony, etc. If a VFX studio stood up to one of these companies about their unfair practices, they’d get black listed as trouble makers and never asked to work again, thus driving them out of business. Likewise, if a VFX worker complains to a supervisor about unfair hours and no overtime pay, he is similarly black listed to not be hired again on the next project.

This is just a handful of problems, but I feel the major ones. VFX artists in Hollywood are treated like shit. VFX artists have a huge passion and love of their skill and trade, and because of it are taken advantage of. It’s time for them to stand up and just be treated like decent hard working human beings.”

More on those kids working for peanuts.

Tumblr, you LOVE these movies. Let’s support the people who help make them stunning, or at least, you know, help them keep their jobs.