Test Render and the New Website

I Love You project has some recent developments, mainly, it has its own production journal at iloveu.studioharumi.com, and that will be the place to read about the new problems we have with production, how we solved them, as well as to see new media, such as test renders, playblasts, inspirational material and such. And since I’ll be posting project related stuff over there, I decided to just occasionally update my production journal (this thing here, FogLog – of course!) with the new stuff from the production.

The latest update on my part was a tiny test render – 100 frames of the setup from the first shot animatic. Only camera moves, aside from PaintFX shrub and bricks that have some animated deformers. I’ve added yellow background, and some animated noise in After Effects, with Luma Key previously added to the comp, so that the noise only shows on the black areas and simulates the paper texture.

I’m not very happy with how Maya’s Toon Outlines came out. The most annoying aspect of it is flickering. Another thing that is quite troubling is the artifact of thicker outlines from the background get drawn a bit on the top of foreground object, which is very visible on Howard. The only solution I can think of is to render in passes and let Howard be on a new render layer, composited on top of the background in post. I was doing some tests the other day with mental ray contours (I wanted to do a quick animation in the style of the game Rez), and I’ve also got the result in which the background object’s contour gets drawn a tiny bit on the top of the foreground object’s contour. If anyone knows any setting that can prevent this from happening, please let me know! On the other hand, new Maya 7 render layers are pretty easy to set up, I don’t even have to make any overrides to render settings, just render foreground objects separately from the background.

And just so to keep FogLog up-to-date, here are some other issues that we’ve been having. Mainly, we realized that Howard’s hands are a bit short and tried extending them by scaling up the arm bones in X, but alas! That messes up the rig, and the geometry scales up all weird. Obviously, FBIK is not meant to be used for squashy and stretchy characters, or perhaps I’m missing some juicy bit of info that would help me make this work. At first I believed FBIK is the greatest automatic rig there is, since it comes from the acclaimed Motion Builder, and I must admit it was quite easy to set up and to move around. However, when Joice started creating animatic, there were quite many issues that came up, such as effector’s getting out of place (which doesn’t affect the skeleton, just looks really weird), until one of them is moved a tiny bit – then they snap back into the position. Maya documentation states that it is a normal FBIK behavior, so we had to get used to it. I also tried animating Howard to see if there’s something with FBIK that I could fix on my end, and here is the result – nothing much, just fairly random animation of Howard and his master transform circle, the parent of all the rig controls. Then there were some other issues, mainly related to referenced characters with FBIK. I updated Maya to 7.0.1, and in the release document, there are many items that refer to file referencing issues that have been fixed in this update, so I hope that will take care of some of the problems we had with referenced files.

That’s about it for this update; I’ll post again when there’s a significant progress to show.


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