Sunday, August 7, 2016

Legends of Ley Lines: The Final Cut


Ashley Lawrynowicz 
Jasmine Troche

Katie Freeman
Samantha Mohr
Alex Papanicolaou
Jasmine Troche

Katie Freeman

Roselyn Troche (Golem)
Lauren Hart (Miria)
Alex Papanicolaou (Mantis)
Josh Frantz (Naga)

Roselyn Troche

Brian Kortbus (Golem & Mantis)
Samantha Mohr & Katie Freeman (Mantis)
Jasmine Troche (Miria)

Jasmine Troche & Samantha Mohr (Golem, Miria, Mantis)
Lauren Hart & Josh Frantz (Naga)

Claire Rice
KC Brady
Steffen Vala

Summan Mirza

 Ashley Lawrynowicz 

Jasmine Troche

Brian Kortbus

Annette "Troisynx" Sighn 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Overall Character Progress

So! For these past two weeks, we have been making a great deal of progress in character art. For the sake of quality in each of our four characters, we have made adjustments to our schedule to allow for more time, iteration, and troubleshooting of technical difficulties. So, let's peek at what's been done so far!


Miria's retopologized mesh has been completed! She clocks in at approximately 52,795 tris. Ultimately, the ponytail from her initial design was cut and replaced with a bun. This alleviated the additional technical considerations that comes with hair & the additional secondary animation ... along with the presumably long amount of time that would have taken to create hair in a portfolio-worthy quality. Along with Miria's mesh, her UVs have been laid out! And there was already some mesh alteration to reduce the polycount by almost half. She was imported into the UE4 engine to test her scale and how her mesh looked as well. With the mesh out of the way, now we can focus on the rigging process for both the body & the face, along with creating the crystaline texture of her skin.

For the Ley Lines game, we couldn't successfully get the PhysX plug-in to work all the way through. So we don't see it as a worthwhile investment to apply this to Miria for either her cloth or her body physics so we're going to be using bones upon bones for everything. Miria's body rig is a very standard humanIK set-up going on, along with some additional joints for her breasts and her stomach. This would help us to simulate "jiggle physics". As for her cloth ... this piece has its own set of bones. Animators will have a greater control of how it moves against her body, rather than relying on a simulation. After these bones are skinned & weighted to the mesh, Miria will be passed off to Summan so the racial rig process can begin.

There has been a lot of progress on Miria's body rig! She is about halfway completed. Take a peek at the video below to see.


As for the Mantis ... similarly to Miria, the retopology of this mesh has been almost completed! The current polycount clocks in at approximately 41,502 tris. Along with this, UVs have also been completed for the Mantis character, along with its Normal Maps and Ambient Occulusion maps. Once those maps were completed, the Mantis' mesh was imported into the UE4 engine and given those textures. This way, we were able to see for ourselves how this creature would look. It was determined that some of the most minor & finicky details would be painted out in normal texture maps.While the Mantis' engine-ready mesh was being finished, the rigging process began with laying out the rig bones & its hierarchy on a low-poly version of the mesh that kept all of the same proportions.   

What's next for the Mantis character? Crystals have yet to be integrated into the main mesh. This will be done in the coming week, attached to the body, UV'd, and properly mapped. After this, the current skeleton can be skinned to the Mantis and he can be fully prepared for animation! The step that will be taken during the rigging process would be to complete color maps for this character. This may take a certain long degree of time, because these maps will be extremely reliant on the target visual style and striving to match it.


The Golem's mesh was the first one out of the four that was completed. When the rigging process began, it was determined that the Golem's engine-ready mesh should undergo some iteration to allow for a greater range of movement for the rig. Because of this, the Golem's joints for his limbs are being reworked. Similarly to the Minion & Boss characters in the Ley Lines game, the Golem's joints will be balls of energy. This disconnection in the mesh would permit for the Golem to have a wider range of motion. Given that he's one of our main combative characters in the entire sequence, having the ability to further exaggerate his movements and make him far more dynamic than he would have been before is something great! And it was an added benefit to have that open communication with our riggers to determine what's exactly required of the mesh & how designs may undergo iteration to accommodate any animation needs.

So, what's next? The Golem is undergoing its mesh iterative process and will be finished within the next few days (estimated date is currently June 3). Then, UVs will be re-mapped, and maps rebaked. In the midst of this, some odd UV locking errors in Maya have been encountered that need a creative solution to work around. Once UVs are mapped, the rigging process can resume and be completed for the Golem. Then we will be able to move on to animation. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Storyboards & References

June 8 Update ]

So! Yet another round of storyboard iterations have gone by this week. With our last iteration, the feedback we received is that we had a lot of linear camera layouts going on. So, we just made some small-scale changes to the boards to break this up. That way, the linear camera angles we do use won't become too redundant.

For this go around with storyboards, there was some inspiration from some anime fight sequences. Naruto uses a lot of linear camera angles. At the same time, the artists manage to break up these linear layouts often enough so that this doesn't bore the eye.  This tends to be a common practice in many shonen anime series.

And here's our revised storyboard ... we have the same number of panels as our last iteration and will be keeping the same timing. This revision was solely for the sake of shifting angles & layouts.

We have acknowledged the very real possibility that camera angles & layouts are subject to change the moment we begin working in a 3D space. Once we have our proxy 3D environment laid out,  we will start the process of doing very rough block-ins for animation. Having a visual 3D representation of our sequence will help us solidify our camera angles and what is needed from the environment. Knowing these details will help us make the most out of both our animators and our environment artists.  

SPEAKING OF ANIMATION. With the completion of our four characters' engine-ready meshes, it's time for us to move on to rigging and preparing for upcoming animation. A

A rough 3D layout pass has also been created in Maya, in accordance to our storyboards.


Taking these videos into consideration, this is the current state of Miria's body rig:

The bones for Miria's rig are currently laid out! She will also be having a face rig implemented, and we can now begin the process on that. Her model clocks in at 52, 795 tris. We'll be moving on to researching crystal textures for her skin.







Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wheels in Motion

Since our last update on the Ley Lines sequence, we had our nearly two-week long semester break. We decided to use this time interval in our schedule to make profound amounts of headway in creating the models for our four characters. Our goal is to begin the rigging process for each of these characters by next week. This way, there will be enough time for our artists to get better acquainted with the finer details about rigging, learn some skills, and truly explore the technical topics they want to learn.


One of the things we accomplished over break was the finalized animatics for the sequence. Earlier in the process, we did something of a "live animatic" by acting out the actions that would have occurred in the sequence. This enabled us to try out different actions, angles, and the like without having to redraw storyboards over and over. After this live rendition was edited out so the events would be properly timed, we went on to make our storyboard images.


As mentioned earlier, we spent the break making a lot of headway into our characters! Before modeling began, we made the decision to base our cinematic art off of Joffrey Ferrandes's Fireboy piece. This is because Fireboy is a more refined & detailed rendition of the Gigantic art style, which is still a major inspiration behind the world of Ley Lines and its sequence. This will enable our character artists to have more legroom adding in smaller and refined details, something that's absent in Gigantic's art.

 Here's a look into some of that progress:

Josh has put in a lot of time and detail into our villainous naga, the embodiment of corruption. The sculpt is finished now! Retopologizing the naga is already underway. 

Roselyn is in a similar spot with her golem monster! His sculpt is finished, and he's nearly halfway finished being retopologized.

Alex has made a lot of progress on her sculpt for the mantis monster! The large and the medium detail's complete and she has since moved on to the smaller detail. After that, retopology will begin.

Finally, we have the progress for Miria! Most of the work has gone into her body, and trying to capture all of the skin & muscle detail that goes into her plump body.


These characters will be completed in the next week for the rigging process to begin. Until then, our technical artists have been researching each of the technical details that will go into the Sequence.

There was a lot of research done on god rays. Tutorials were gathered as references for the Technical Artists to use on how to implement these god rays using meshes, along with the benefits of god rays using mesh made rays VS using fog & harsh sun and sky lighting. It was found that "fog rays" will be good for the background lighting, ambiance, and the environment rafters (the fog will help to imply the height of the entire environment). Mesh rays would be beneficial for close-up dramatic lighting. 

Summan has taken charge and learned the basics of the Faceware pipeline. Over this time interval, she has been busy with:
  1. Setting up her own rig in Maya with Retargeter. Through this, she learned what level of articulation is needed for the Miria face rig.
  2. Captured and analyzed a facial performance in Analyzer. She used auto-target for this, so there is still a need to learn how to fine tweak this.
  3. Imported the facial performance into Maya with Retargeter. She will be learning how to manipulate the Motion Capture data now. She will be working with the animators, who have experience in manipulating MoCap data of bodily performances.

There has been a first pass at importing cameras from Maya to UE4. This requires consideration from both the Maya and UE4 sides, as camera settings don't always import into Matinee correctly. We will hopefully have this technical obstacle figured out in the next  couple of weeks and, if not, we will find a different route to take.


 There has been some work done on the environment side as well! We have reconsidered the size chart we previously presented for the cinematic. Having three monumental monsters and one tiny Miria simply didn't make sense, essentially. The temple would have been built specifically for Miria's size, as it was meant for her. Taking this into consideration, having three monumental monsters would mean that almost the entirety of said temple would be demolished by the end of our sequence. That situation wasn't entirely ideal or sensible. So, we decided that Miria, the Golem, and the Mantis will be roughly the same size (around 6-8 feet). The Naga will be our largest creature, but not by as huge of a margin as before.

Basic asset lists for the environment have already been crafted.  While this list may appear small, our artists are aware that each asset includes its own concept art, 3D game-res model, normal map, and texture maps. What we have currently is:
  1. TEMPLE ROOF - stained glass, architecture
  2. TEMPLE STRUCTURE - archways, supports
  3. TEMPLE EXTRAS - braziers, seats, ribbons, flags
  4. MIRIA'S GARDEN - rocks, plants, dirt, crystals
Our artists have already discussed the technical considerations of the environment with Ashley. For instance: how will the braziers glow? What about the idea of procedural crystals to minimize time modeling each individual unique crystal cluster? What about ribbons and cloth moving along with the breeze? These are all questions already communicated to the technical side and are being addressed. The temple's layout will be inspired particularly by Pantheons, pictured below. 

 With all of these considerations and plans addressed, our artists have also begun concepting modular objects, the general environment, and how lighting may appear. Katie has also begun work on some color key samples, which will help to influence the environment and its lighting as well.  What's next for environment? Begin on proxy art so we can craft our Temple's layout in engine!