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Metroid 3D Animation I made featuing game mixes :o


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This is a video I did for my Visual Effects course @ Full Sail. The idea of the project was to create a "Mouse trap" like scenario with perpetual motion using Maya dynamics. Think Mouse Trap the board game or the Incredible Machine.

AKA: This was done with physics simulation NOT traditional keyframe animation (although once a simulation worked, we baked it into keyframes on every frame since there's no garuntee a simulation will work the same everytime).

The whole thing was done in 1 week, so some of the shaders (textures), models, and lighting could be better, and it wasn't rendered at optimal settings to conserve time. We plan on re-doing of a few of the afore mentioned things sometime soon, but as it stood we had a deadline to meet.

(As it was we rendered 2300 frames at 30+ seconds per frame on 17 seperate PCs. This doesn't include the inital level intro, the opening and credits, and then the render from Final Cut after it was all spliced together. The render process alone took easily over 3 hours.

Music credits go to:

-Intro, Samus / Item Fanfares from Metroid Prime / Fusion OST

-(Full of Life) 'Brinstar 1' by Ari 'Protricity' Asulin for Relics of the Chozo - http://smproject.ocremix.org

-Metroid Prime Intro/Menu by Stemage for Metroid Metal - http://metroidmetal.com

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As it was we rendered 2300 frames at 30+ seconds per frame on 17 seperate PCs. This doesn't include the inital level intro, the opening and credits, and then the render from Final Cut after it was all spliced together. The render process alone took easily over 3 hours.

Haha! I wish I had a render farm! I have to just let my PC run overnight when I animate.

Pretty cool stuff. I've done some fooling around with the physics and soft-body engines in Blender, but I've never put together a substantial animation with them.

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I kinda like it. I'm doing 3D Animation too. My instructor doesn't like Fullsail, but I really don't care.

This critique is meant to help you by being honest, but take it with a grain of salt since we use 3DS Max at EWU (Even though we have Maya and Blender on our machines). So I'm not familiar with the capabilities of the software you're using, I just know what I would be thinking about. I am trying to be constructive, I am not trying to be an A-Hole or act like I'm on a high horse. I only have a tiny idea of what Full Sail's Visual Effects class Curriculum is, so I don't know what you've learned outside of the animation. Even though it's not my degree, EWU's 3D Animation Degree (shameless plug) features classes that force students to make a raytracer and quake levels in Java and Open GL (I don't remember which language is used for which). But, I'm not an animation guy, I'm a film guy. Ask me about animation techniques, I can't tell you much beyond basic theory. Ask me about the traditional Japanese Ideology of Princess Mononoke using the ideology writings of Robin Wood and Mamoru Iga and we'll really talk.

I'm just a fellow student calling it like I see it

My first concern is that your slate is longer than your animation. Slates should be in, out and on with life. I shouldn't have to wait for your animation to start.

Using reactive physics is a good idea, using perpetual motion is a good idea. But I do have issues with it that I'm not sure you can really fix.

1. Speed: If you're going to do Metroid it has to appear faster. which leads into my next point

2. Cinematography: Your camera's too far away, we lose track of the Samus ball. Get closer, with tighter shots and use a longer lens. Longer lens exaggerate motion, you always use them when you're capturing movement. Or at least, that's what my Production Prof tells me...

3. Make your tracks longer and copy/paste a few more tracks and just make the whole thing go faster. The motion is biggest compliant about it. Tweak the individual keyframes of the motion.

That's the constructive criticism I got, though I have no idea about the team you're working with or your deadlines or anyother practical concerns you need to worry about. I just call it like I see it.

Overall though, I like it. Good concept. I especially like the music selection.Stemage and MM rock!

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My experience with 3d is limited and not very recent, but I've learned to spot little flaws in cgi in movies and TV series.

I agree with Lano about the cinematography, it's stale. As a display of the level, it works, but it's not very exciting. Get closer, or zoom.

Also, the keyframe conversion doesn't really work as well as it should. It's a bit too smooth. Either it's because the Morph Ball doesn't have weight enough (and adding would probably screw something up), or it's because you didn't add enough keyframes so it's floating from one to another.

I also spotted the Companion Cube, nice touch adding it. :D

I liked it, but the intro is way too long, the animation feels a bit weightless, and the cinematrography probably works better on TV or some other larger screen, doesn't quite work this small. Zoom or move in. Summed up, tho, I like it.

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Main points here are:

As far as key frames and timing go, once you bake a simulation, you have a key frame on every frame (the time slider is like a solid red line), so tweeking the curves isn't particularly an option given the amount of time we had left to finish the whole thing. Idealy we would've had time to delete some of the keys but, the simulation took almost all our time (right up to probably three or four AM the last night) so at that point we really had to just make a quick enviroment, light setup, and camera cuts. The best we could do was estimate how long we thought it SHOULD be, scale down all the keys, and do a playblast. The whole thing started @ 3500 frames, we were doing playblasting on different computers, and even THOSE were taking forever IN wireframe. So as soon as we got one that looked decent, we ran with it.

I personally would've done the camera cuts differently (they're not even in stepped, if you look carefully you can see the screen flash because the camera is making a really quick move to the next position) and I didn't have time to edit that in post because by that time I was out of open lab and IN class.

Like I said, I wanna go back and fix a lot of things. Ideally I want to put reflections on a few things and raytrace, fix the flashing glow (I know how to, but we didn't know it was going to until after the render, and by that time we didn't really have time to re-render the whole video), I want to redo some of the textures (my friend INSISTS on making things flat color, see Samus and the ship, rather than giving her any real texture like a brushed metal or something), ALL the lighting needs to have actual time put into it rather than just the 5 second setup I put into it, AND lastly I need to redo the whole thing with mental ray. right now the whole thing is rendered in Maya software because mental ray didn't like the version of TIF my friend used.

The real problem for most of the things mentioned is that my friend, more or less, thinks he's amazing, and really doesn't like to hear otherwise from other people. And he IS kind of good, but not nearly as good as he puts off...I didn't feel like (didn't have time to) trying to have to fight him over this stuff. After 2 days of no sleep, I wanted to just get it done.

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I have nothing constructive to say about the video, and since it sounds like you already know what to fix, it would be moot anyway. However, seeing how you credited the music in the video only highlighted that you didn't credit the awesome painting that worked as your title screen. It's not mine or any such thing, I just think the world can do with more people who appreciate transfuse's work.

Good luck with the fixing.

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I have nothing constructive to say about the video, and since it sounds like you already know what to fix, it would be moot anyway. However, seeing how you credited the music in the video only highlighted that you didn't credit the awesome painting that worked as your title screen. It's not mine or any such thing, I just think the world can do with more people who appreciate transfuse's work.

Good luck with the fixing.

yea, I was looking around on google who to credit it to, but I couldn't find any actual SOURCE for it, thanks.

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Hmm...what's impressive to me is that you did this in a week. I work in Maya for 8 hours a day, every weekday, but all I do is animate by hand. I know pretty much nothing about simulation, so, :nicework: there.

It seems you're already aware that this looks less than stellar, so I'll just get to what really gets me: camera work. I know you only had a week, but there are a couple...fundamental rules, let's call them, that I think will help you a great deal right off the bat. AND THEY ARE:

1. The 180-degree rule (the Line-of-Action rule)

How this applies to your project: When the ball is leaving the screen to the left, it should enter the screen from the right, and vice-versa. Youtube's got some videos that are worth checking out for a crash course on the subject. Just search for 180-degree rule.

2. The Rule of Thirds

Basically, this rule helps make just about any picture look better, somehow (though, I use "just about any" pretty loosely). I'm not sure why this is, but it is. Don't use it for everything, though, because centered shots have their uses, too.

3. Storyboarding (you might know about this already)

This is more about planning than camera-work, but if you work out all your shots in thumbnails (and, if you want to get crazy, an animatic), it makes the actual shooting a TON easier. You do not have to be a great artist to do this. If you don't believe me, check out the storyboards for Spongebob Squarepants.

This would be good reference for your project, as well (starts about half-way in). You should be able to spot each of these rules numerous times throughout this sequence.

The ball sequence from Robots

If you know all of this already, sorry for bringing it down on you, but hopefully it's all still useful either way. Of course, this isn't all there is to it, but it's a good start. Hell, finishing a project in a week bodes well in itself.

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I'm not much of an animator or rigging man myself. I'd rather use real physics and bake in the frames. It takes quite a lot from your CPU, however.

Like Chumblespuzz, I'm impressed at how little time you put through to do this. But knowing Full Sail, they probably make you break your neck under tight deadlines. For me this would be like a final project. None of the final works in my 3D animation class look this polished. My class only had 7 students, and I believe it would've been a lot better if the teacher let us collaborate on a big project so we would have something nicer to present.

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The 3 things at Full Sail they throw down your throat everyday:

A) Professionalism. When you present (pitch) your idea to lab monitors (studio artists) or instructors, a lot of the time they expect you to dress nice as if you were trying to sell your services. You get GRADED on that kind of stuff. How well you present it, how confident you sound in your job, blah blah blah. We also have an entirely other grading thing aside from our actual letter grade called the "Global Professionalism Points" for similiar things.

B) Group work. I can't even remember the last thing I had to work on by myself. Everything we do is group work so that we get used to working in teams, having a specific job within a team working toward a common goal. Working together, compromising, blah dee blah blah blah.

C) Deadlines. Deadlines deadlines deadlines. Talk about mastering time management. That's pretty much ALL Full Sail IS is deadlines. Usually it's 2 weeks of tutorials and learning little parts of a bigger picture, and then spending the last 2 weeks putting all that together for 1 big project....sometimes it's 1 whole month of just that project, sometimes it's multiple little projects every week, but the last week of EVERY month is serious "sleeping in open lab" deal. All of this is to ready us for the BUSINESS WORLD, but sometimes I think Full Sail is a bit more intense than the REAL WORLD (kind of like when you went into high school from middle school how they always told you "it's not gonna be easy anymore," and when you went from high school to college.)

Either way, I can't say I'm not enjoying myself. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't :o

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Sounds like a pretty solid curriculum to me, and it's awesome that you're enjoying it. That's something of a rare thing, I've found. Though, I wouldn't go as far as to say that the real world is less intense than college--not in all facets, at least. After college, you don't have homework, so that is a huge relief, but crunch times can be murder (more so, I might say, then what you've experienced thus far). Also, the daily 9-5 (or 10-6) grind can become tiresome, but then, that also depends on where you're working and what the project is. At my last job, the game was so far behind in development, the Studio Head threatened (albeit half-jokingly, I detected) to take away Christmas vacation if the designers didn't make something fun (or come up with something that could be fun). Talk about incentive.

They didn't stress the business-like aspects of professionalism at the AiS. But that depends on what field your getting into. It's probably a good idea to dress up a bit when you pitch your concept, but when I interviewed at Sucker Punch, I wore a t-shirt, hoodie, jeans, and sneakers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a preview of the FINAL PROJECT for the same class. This one took the remainder of the 2 weeks (actually less than that since most class time was filled doing tutorials -____-. We pulled 8-14 hour days both weekends, but I don't at all regret that based on our results. Additionally, most of that was just setup and rendering so we basically sat around and played Smash Bros. and Soul Calibur during that time anyway.)

This time the project focus was all other visual effects, and each scene showcases either:

-Hair/Fur (Sonic)

-Particles (Dust)

-Fluids (Puddle)

-Soft bodies (Plants)

The hair/fur segment and the dust are FINAL. The box in the fluid is being fixed, and the soft body plants are getting a little more work. I also need to add credits.

We had a lot more time for pre-pro on this project (we actually have 2 big black boards with all our story boards and frames and timing) and we took a lot of the camera work criticism from the first project into consideration for this project.

It's so short because this stuff takes FOREVER to render. The fur alone takes 2 hours per second, and everything was done in seperate passes (Enviroment, dust, splash, Sonic).

Also please note: YouTube does this project no justice. You can't really see the hair/fur movement too good. Or the dust density. Or the bump/normal/spec/shadows in the still shots, but hey...compression.

I'll try to get a less compressed version up when it goes final.

ALSO: I know hedgehogs don't have hair or fur IRL...but we had requirements to fill =P.

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