Sunday, October 13, 2013

3D for Everyone

From live action to animation, CG animation has become a big part of both film, and now, TV. Where software capable of CG animation once was reserved for large studios, today anyone can give it a try. One of the most popular open-source 3D modeling and animation programs is blender.
One of my favorite examples of blender animation and modeling is Ryan Dorin's "Ratboy Genius" series. (Though to be fair what makes the series stand out is the fantastic music.) 

Another popular CG modeling and animation software is Maya.

Maya is arguably more professional than blender, and is considered industry standard. This doesn't stop it from being used for web content as well though. 
(Keep in mind that Max Gilardi, the animator of the video above is a professional animator, no doubt adding to the fact that his video certainly looks better than Ryan Dorin's.)

I myself have been learning Maya to create my own animations and models. At the moment, I've mostly modeled assets for video games. The last game I was on was made last semester, and I sculpted levels using both Maya and Unity. 
The Hell level from "Animo"

The school level from "Animo"

The game I'm currently on utilizes the Xbox Kinect to help people to physical therapy. The models that work with the Kinect were made in Maya, as are all the assets I've been creating from the game. One of the challenges has been designing characters that looked decent, that I could also model quickly.
This is the character design for an NPC. I wanted a "muppet" style look for the character. Once I had a design that both I and the programmer I was working with liked, I began modeling. 
The blue boxes around the body are what I modeled. The parts inside them are what those parts look like smoothed. It is much faster to work with non-smoothed parts, and when it comes to games, speed is important! Before I rig the model, I get rid of the blue boxes, so that only the smoothed parts remain. Rigging is the next big step for this guy. 

Rigging a character is like giving it a skeleton. By assigning bones and joints to the model, you can move and animate it better. 
This isn't something I did, but it's a good example. 

Rigging takes a long time though. Due to the short and limited animations my character will be doing, it isn't the best idea to spend the time rigging him very extensively. 

That's a look into the modeling I've been up to. I encourage everyone to give one of the two programs I listed above a try. It takes a lot of time and patience, but it's incredibly fun! There are few things that can compare to making your own gifs of flying ham, or whatever else you can come up with. With all the fantastic creative tools at the public's disposal, I'm eager to see what gets created! 

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