Web Animation Presentation

Presentation;

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1a8SRLbfArVrUC_ErW19jBFnYRVdhlOp7eqY-0Tw1Iqw/edit?usp=sharing

Notes;

Introduction – Web Animation

This is a short presentation about Web Animation. I’m going to briefly cover the history of animation, different animation types and the different softwares you can use.

The Uses of Animation

We’ve all seen animated adverts on sites, they pop up everywhere. It’s a really effective way of getting a viewers attention, especially if everything on that page is particularly static or still, it stands out really well.

It’s also an effective way of getting as much in that box as possible, as these types of ads tend to alternate between texts to give you more information.

Brief History of Animation – Pt.1

Even though this isn’t animation per-se, its the first example of an attempt to capture movement and motion. This was made in the Paleolithic era nearly 2.6 million ago. The real animation came with this Phenakistoscope, created by Joseph Plateau in 1832.

Brief History of Animation – Pt.2

This is where animation starts to become more familiar to ones we know today. Though these two animations look very different and were made nearly 60 years apart from each-other, they both rely on the exact same principles; repeated drawings layered onto static backgrounds. This was the only way to create animation until the advent of computer art/animation in the 60’s.

Brief History of Animation – Pt.3

If you think about it, every single animation up to this point, nearly one and a half centuries of animation had been 2D, so imagine the impact that 3D  had on the animation industry. This piece here is called The Adventures of André and Wally B, and was one of the first 3D animated films ever produced. It was created by a company called The Graphics Group, who would later rebrand themselves as Pixar. 

This other image is a still from a short film also from Pixar called Piper, which I personally think is the most beautifully rendered animation yet. This is 30 years of technological progress you can see here.

The computer age didn’t leave 2D animation behind in the slightest. This last image is of Adobe Flash, one of many different programs you can use to create digital 2D animation.

The Science of Animation 

All animation, whatever the format or medium relies on frames, and it’s only because of this mechanism in our brain that we are able to experience these seemingly fluid movements. The higher the frames-per-second of course the more fluid the movement looks. Here you can see what a Phenakistoscope looks like when it’s spinning, and when seen through it’s view port.

A frametate is the one thing that has been consistent throughout the entire history of animation.

The Uses of Web Animation – Entertainment 

Animation since it’s conception has been used for entertainment, and it’s only been broadened with the internet. Here you can see a page from an animated comic. Like the animated adverts we discussed earlier, animation and movement catches your attention and can really emphasise certain things. This makes it perfect for use in comics and graphic novels.

The one on the right here is an example of an interactive graphic novel. Like the last it has animated elements, but this one allows of the viewer to interact directly with the elements on the page, clicking buttons and dragging objects using animation and effects.

The Uses of Web Animation – Advertisements 

If graphic narratives can be interactive, so can adverts. Interactive ads, when moused over, allow the viewer to play a “mini game” of sorts, something normally related to the product. An example of this is this advert for World of Tanks, that allows the viewer to choose an ammo type and a package for a tank.

The icons light up when you mouse over them like you’d expect normally. What ends up happening of course when you select an icon it takes you to the World of Tanks website.

The Uses of Web Animation – Interface Elements

Animation with interfaces is everywhere, and chances are most of the time you don’t even notice it. There is a saying, and it goes “If a UI designer does their job well, its like they’ve done nothing at all” This is the same for UI animation. It’s normally really subtle, like a slight shadow or change of colour when you mouse over an icon, or the way that a dropdown menu animates.

All these little things provide that little bit of extra information and help the viewer understand the UI easier.

Animation Formats 

Nearly all animated adverts you’ll see on the internet will be Gifs, because they can be loaded quickly, provided they are compressed appropriately. Most interactive adverts use .FLA, which is from Adobe Flash, and requires a Flash-player installed on the machine to view.

Web Animation Software

These different softwares each serve different purposes and for different formats, but they each enable an animation of sorts for the web. Flash, as we’ve discussed is the most common format for creating animated and interactive graphics.

Quicktime is able to provide something called Quicktime VR, which allows the viewing of panoramic photography in the browser, letting the viewer to interactively pan around an image.

Realplayer, though somewhat obsolete and outmoded, has similar capabilities to Flash and Quicktime and is still used. Realplayer allows the playback of videos from websites, and was used by the BBC until recently, though most sites now favour either Flash or HTML5 for video.

 

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Copyright and Intellectual Property

Copyright

Copyright protects a piece of work from being plagiarised, stolen, or unlawfully reproduced. Copyright is an automatic right that occurs whenever someone creates something that qualifies as an original piece. Certain exceptions to this law can be applied to Names, Titles, Sentences/Phrases as these are too numerous/not unique enough and/or insubstantial to protect.

A piece may be sold to another company, and the new owners would receive copyright protection over the piece.

Intellectual Property

IP (Intellectual Property) is something that you create that is covered by copyright law. An Intellectual has to be a tangible thing, as mental ideas are not subject to copyright law.

 

Pacific Steel – Evaluation

Planning and Preparation

The planning and pre-production  segment went smoothly as usual, and with each piece of work I found myself becoming more and more clear about the direction I wanted the project to go in. It was going to be smooth, simple and clean-cut, just like my first 3D environment. Nothing too fancy and nothing that would cause me any problems when the actual production came along. (the opposite ended up being the case)

I found it quite exciting exploring the possibilities with the planning stages and initial concepts, and designing it for a mobile-platform gave me a great excuse to continue to practice the low-polygon style I’ve been developing.

a6m2-hud

Early mock-ups like this with my models reflect the style I was initially trying to go for.

pacific-steel-hud

At first I thought this is what I wanted, but these first renders couldn’t be further from the final look of the animation.

Modelling and Texturing

The modelling also went very well initially. Using various historical drawings and blueprints I was able to produce the models accurately and far more quickly then I had anticipated. First up were the aircraft.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-13-06-20

The techniques used to make these are incredibly simple, and nothing I didn’t use to create my battleships, of which there is a video later on.

These went by fairly quickly, and I was pleased with the results. These were also my very first experience with UV texturing using C4D Bodypaint, of which I had varying degrees of sucess with.

tfw textures

Sometimes Bodypaint worked very well, such as this;

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 11.26.01.png

Other times Bodypaint refused to work entirley… I found the process so aggrovating that I opted to only use Bodypaint for the aircraft. UV painting an entire battleship would have been hell.

The warships were main focal point in the animation, so I really had to pay extra attention to those. As a result however, a stupidly inordinate ammount of time was spent on them. I originally planned to model 6 warships; North Carolina, Lexington, Atlanta, Zuiho, Nagato and Minekaze, but foolishly ended up buidling a 7th ship that didn’t even make it into the animation, Yamato.

Spending so much time modelling would ultimatley prove to be a very poor descision.

Here is the building process of the first version of Nagato. Note the reference image in the background, which helped immensley with both the ships and the aircraft.

You might have noticed I said “first version”, that’s because during the modelling process I found my 3D skills improve at a truly unexpected rate. As great as that may be, as I started to build with these new skills it left my older models looking incredibly outdated and out of place. My next biggest mistake would be taking precious time to either upgrade them, or rebuild them completley.

Examples of this;

An Anti-Aircraft gun. The one on the right is the one I modeled initially (and I thought was great), and the left is the one I modeled after realising how awful the last one looked.

AA Comp 1.png

AA comp 2.png

Here is also the before and after after spending some time upgrading and refitting Nagato

Spec Nagato Old.png

Spec Nagato.png

On a far more ludicrous scale, here is the difference between the first time I modeled North Carolina, and the final version. Please bear in mind that the first version was never completed, but you can still see the difference in modelling quality.

Spec Carolina Old.png

Spec Carolina.png

The improvement is very clear to see, but it set me back a substantial ammount of time. Time I could have used to render and edit my animation.

The textures are incredibly simple, as they were made when I still had the “smooth,simple and clean-cut” style in mind. Here are a few examples;

Bump mapping became very important for my models near the end, as such I had to go back through my models again to add extra texture details there were lacking beforehand.

The bumpmap system in Cinema 4D is very simple, dark creates depressions, and the light creates elevations. Using this simple method I added bumps to various textures.

Carolinabump.png

The linings across the hull were created using this simple texture made in Paint.NET

Ribbed Plate Bump

Yamato4.png

Ditto, with the Imperial Seal of Japan on Yamato.

Crest_Bump.png

Lexingtonbump.png

Ditto, with the flightdeck of Lexington.

Stack Bump

Yamato5.png

Ditto, with the windows on Yamato.

Windows Bump

US_3_0152.png

Ditto, still from the animation. A shot of an Avenger torpedo bomber. As the textures are UV, I simply traced over the panelling I’d drawn on and applied them. To acheive the blurred propeller effect, I simply applied a texture to a circle plane.

TBF_Wings.pngTBF_Wing Bump.pngEnvironment, Lighting and Shading

The enviroment of my animation doesn’t look very complicatedbut it caused me a great deal of pain during production.The basic premise of the two enviroments is that they mirror eachother; (Japan vs US, Red vs Blue), so that meant making two seperate enviroments with their own effects and lighting.

To help better visualise the process, here are the enviroment itterations from first to finished, each one an improvement on the last.

nagaalmostfinal3nagatest-1nagalinenagato-final-4

After so many attempts and experiments and it still not looking how I wanted, I decided to rebuild the enviroment from scratch and take a diffrent approach. I threw away the ugly C4D physical sky presets I’d been using up until that point and make my own. The result is this;

Portsetting.png

Using the fog settings, a new animated water texture and a custom sky texture, I was ableto get exactly what I wanted.

Pinky Sky Fog 1.png

This sky HDRI was simply applied to the sky object in C4D. I added an orange gradient at the bottom to help ease the fog effect. The reason why the texture looks darker here is becasue I applied a glow effect to it, which creates the subtle aura around the ships and makes the sky brigher.

JP_9_0112-1

Using these settings, I was able to have the glow only effect objects at a certain distance. In this case, the sky object itself.

Glowsettings.png

For the lighting itself I used 3 lights. The light that comes with the physical sky, a primary sun light with the lense flare, and a secondary backing light which prevents the dark side of the ship beccoming too dark.

For the second enviroment I simply changed the fog and light colours.

Portsetting2

Animation

The majority of the animation was very simple, such as the turret movement and aircraft wings, it was just keyframing position and rotation.

To get the propeller to spin around indefinatley, I had to do some trickery. To get the rotation to repeat smoothly, I had to right click on the plane, and open the tracks window.

Trackwindow.png

Then I had to turn off the animation easing effect C4D has on by deafult, so that the animation repeats fluidly.

Trackwindow2.png

Then finally, set the animation to repeat 100 times after it’s first rotation.

Trackwindow3.png

The result is this;

To have the ships rock forwads and back in the water, instead of keyframing each angle I used a vibrate tag that had a parameter for angles that occilates indefinatley. I also used this for the camera on occasion.

Vibratetag.png

Animation of the characters wasn’t as complex as I thought it would be. I used this template and posed my character and keyframes accordingly. The resulting animation is a little flamboyant, but I wasn’t to concerned too much with how it looked as the people were so small anyway.

Walkcycle.pngWalk1.pngWalk2.png

Result;

It works. I have 3 other animations for the sailors which you can spot on the “cinematic”.

Conclusion

I am no animator. I am also terrible at managing my time.

Those are the two main things I learned from this project. I set out to construct a cinematic sequence with my models, and the sequence isn’t finished. I had to just hastily throw what I had together to get it finished on time. Not only that, but the time frames/speeds on the scenes themselves are all over the place; most are way too quick, and others are too slow.

I enjoyed the modelling and texturing alot, but spent far too much time on them and not even half the time I needed rendering and editing. The result is this, born from a series of very poor descisions. Luckily for me the breif doesn’t say anything about cinematics, only models and animation… so I think I might be okay.

 

Effects, Models and Key Theorists Notes

Main theorists from the Frankfurt school in Germany:

Max Horkheimer

Theodor Adorno

Herbert Marcuse

The Stanford experiment:

The Stanford experiment was a controversial test designed to observe human behavioural changes when “good” people are placed in an “evil” environment. Subjects were assigned the roles of individuals in a make-believe prison, the guards and the prisoners themselves.

The experiment was planned over a 2 week period but concluded early after 5 days, after the physiologist, Professor Zimbardo, came to realise the ethical nature of the experiment.

The subjects ended up reacting in unforeseen ways, some becoming deranged, power mad and insane.

 

SWOT Analysis Retrospective

Original SWOT analysis can be found here

Essentially, nothing has changed. One could say that my organisational skills have improved somewhat, though I still find myself panicking come deadlines.

My knowledge of texturing objects have improved slightly. I still really, really hate the entire process though.

I found out however that my “Working knowledge of game engines and technical possibilities/limitations” isn’t as sound as once thought. I learned and grew my knowledge of game engines with Source engine, an engine released in 2004, so I found that my knowledge was very dated. I kept referring to and using a style of texturing that isn’t even used by modern developers anymore, but was common place with Source.

Graphic Narrative – Evaluation and Processes

My comic book was uploaded and it received some pretty nice feedback, mostly about the graphics, but honestly the graphics are the only generally engaging feature anyway.

General Personal Consensus


Graphics

The graphics were certainly the strongest part without a doubt. Like the vast majority of my work, I put a disproportionate amount of effort in when it comes to making things look visually appealing, and it’s nice to see that people noticed and appreciated that with the feedback I got. Someone even said “As soon as I saw the cover, it reminded me of the old Marvel comics I used to read as a kid”. That’s not exactly the vibe I was going for but I’ll happily take it.

Narrative

By far, the weakest part of the product. There’s no human characters, no dialogue and no emotion. I would have really liked to include a real human element into the comic, but various things stopped me from doing that. Partly me wanting to keep the age rating down, and mostly me being completely incompetent at drawing human characters.

I was aiming for a more artful approach if you will, trying to convey a story from just still images with zero speech what so ever, but because of that I felt that nothing that occurs in the comic has any particular weight or depth. It’s a shallow story, and it’s made even worse because of these faults.

Conclusion

Pacific Steel: Moonlit Wings is a success. At face value. What it lacks in depth, emotion, story telling ability, length and general setting it hopefully makes up for with the visual aspect.

I’m starting to see that’s a re-occurring theme with my work. Pretty graphics but no more than a hollow shell beneath.

Production Process


This module wasn’t without it’s difficulties. I’m really not a fan of drawing. So much not a fan of drawing that I decided to simply write my storyboard out with some descriptive writing, so at the very beginning I found the production process very difficult. It was hindered further by the fact that I decided to use Paint.NET, a program that I was very familiar with, and a program that isn’t available for me to use at college.

Concept and Planning 

The nature of Moonlit Wings was directly tied to my animation concept for Pacific Steel. And if really wish I hadn’t come up with an concept with such a mundane setting.

I really love history, but a lot of people really couldn’t care less, and it would be extremely hard to convince people through my work that history is engaging and exciting without disregarding historical facts. A benefit of using a historical setting however is that all the visual designs for characters, objects and vehicles have already been made for me. T

Production

To save myself from the absolute torture that is drawing, I took a slightly sleazy but ultimately effective route. After contact with my tutor to confirm that this was okay to do, I decided to trace over 3D models. Some ripped from other games and some created by myself. This spared me a boatload of time, time that was rather limited.

I was able to manipulate these objects into suitable poses, perspectives and lighting conditions, and then simply trace over them in Paint.NET. For the ship and the aircraft I used models ported into a game called Garry’s Mod, and for the ship interior I modelled that myself with Cinema 4D.

20161029120941_1

The initial picture of a the model, ported from World of Warships

erie1

Final image created in Paint.NET

iribruj

3D model of the bridge created with C4D

eriebridge1

Final 3D Render

eriebridge

Ditto, final product

zeroprocess

The simple technique of using layers to slowly draw and build up the image. The final results in around 5 or 6 layers for each object

Zero.png

I experimented with a few different graphic styles before settling with my chosen style. A more in-depth look at that can be found here. 

The style was easy to produce and visually effective.

The rest is simply various techniques in Paint.NET, then compiling the individual assets into the comic book panels that come together and compose Moonlit Wings.

Constraints/Problems 

The main issue (other than time and lack of talent) was inexperience. I’m not a writer nor have I ever produced anything like this before. The whole time I was just throwing things around to see what stuck, I didn’t really know what I wanted it to be up to the very end when I was started composing everything together,and by then it can be considered too late to change anything.

Creating the narrative was also very difficult. My initial idea was for Moonlit Wings was more in-depth, with human characters with interactions, dialogue, and personal motivations. After realising I couldn’t draw people, I couldn’t 3D model people, and couldn’t write a convincing conversation between two people I gave up on the idea.

Technical issues only came with Paint.NET’s limitations, mostly over having to create the art at a ridiculously high resolution so it wouldn’t look rough and blocky when displayed at normal resolutions.

Regarding time, to my surprise I actually finished 2 days early. In an ideal world that would have given me 2 days to fine-tine and add more stuff but that wouldn’t be the case. I couldn’t think of anything to improve on as I’d created it to the best of my ability.

Feedback

The general feedback for Moonlit Wings was very good. I scored 5 across the board from 18 individuals for the most part, and tied for the lead as the highest rated product in the room. A few individuals just looked at the first page and instantly gave me a 5 star rating, which was flattering, though very strange.

From these results once could assume that the product would be commercially viable. Though the pool of people for the feedback was quite small, and generally all share similar likes and dislikes when it comes to media. A more in-depth collection of feedback can be found here. Unfortunately, at the time I created that survey I was too deep in development to make any changes based on the feedback I gathered.

I’ve heard from someone, and I totally agree with this, is that it’s very generic. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done in one form or another before, and I’ve been really struggling to find ways of making it unique, original and ultimately more interesting. I refer back to my previous statement; “I really love history, but a lot of people really couldn’t care less, and it would be extremely hard to convince people through my work that history is engaging and exciting without disregarding historical facts”

Others say (again I totally agree) that the scenes jump too far forward, and often too fast to create a cohesive narrative. I should have added interim panels to help ease the visual flow, and given more time I certainly would have.

Conclusion 

Through this ordeal though, I have found various new skills with Paint.NET and Cinema 4D, and learned that I can avoid drawing anything if I try hard enough. In the end I’ll have to say that, though I am disappointed in a few areas, I surprised myself and achieved my intentions.