Digital Media Design


Computer Graphics for Animation and Film – 3D Animation – Sweetboy Goes Swimming UPDATED!

This is the updated version of Sweetboy

3D Animation – idea development

I’ve been experimenting with 3D characters created in Maya and exported them using a green background (Which I set in the Cameras environment settings) and then adding this as a new layer into other live action videos. For example I added the Sweetboy 3D Character to a Sports Video and a Natural History Video just to see how it would look. Interestingly it looks exactly like the small characters you sometimes see at the bottom of your TV screen which broadcast companies sometimes use to highlight the next program or a program coming soon, anyway I digress. I did have an idea of filming a road near to a pedestrian

crossing and then using the Sweetboy character to actually appear to walk across a real road and seemingly to dodge cars and get squashed at the last moment by a cars wheel. Then run the animation again but this time with Sweetboy using the Pedestrian crossing to cross the road safely, which of course could be used to deliver a road safety message to children.

One of the characters I developed was of a Sun with a face (Saw this on a children program recently) and I thought it would be a useful experiment to see how a separate 3D character would work in the same scene and so I added this to the Sweetboy animation. This turned out to be a relatively simple if time consuming operation and leads me to think that other characters with their own individual characteristics  could also be added, for example some rabbits and frogs hopping around the bottom of the animation just to give a greater visual appeal.




Computer Graphics for Animation and Film – Animation Storyboard

Animation Storyboard Update

Monday 6th December 2010

2nd Edit and New Animation Storyboard


Having completed the first edit for the 3D Animation I looked at how it could be improved.

I’ve already mentioned that I felt it needed a water splashing effect as the character falls into the water and so I’ve added this into the modified Storyboard.

I also realised that I needed to redo some of the animation sequences that I’d exported from Maya, in particular the sequence where the character turns to face the audience just before falling into the water. Also the animation sequence involving new water splashing effects, making changes to the arm movements and the bobbing of the character up and down in sync with the splashing water movement.

As I mentioned in a previous blog I filmed actual objects dropping into water to use for the water splashing scene but decided to go with the water effect created in After Effects as it suited the design better.


Animation Storyboard

Animation Storyboard


Maya 3D Animation – Post Production

Maya 3D Animation – Thursday 2nd December 2010

Maya 3D Animation – Post Production – First Edit and Conclusions

Having an idea roughly Storyboarded now, I began to put together the small 3D sequences exported from Maya into longer sequences against a background image which I had already prepared in Photoshop.

Again I was amazed at how much time is required in order to make such a short 30 second film. Some of the applications I used created their own problems particularly in exporting the animated sequences from Maya. On many occasion previewed sequences in Maya became corrupted during the export process either losing opacity or the actual speed of the animation changed. However experimenting with the CODEC’s and Export options finally delivered an acceptable if compromised sequence.

I suspect the time required to produce the animation could have been considerably shortened if the applications and hardware worked as they should have done.

After what seems to be days (it was days) I now have a 30 second Maya 3D Animation that just required a soundtrack and a few more images from Photoshop.

Using Photoshop I added a No Swimming sign to the animation which adds to the 3D effect.



One of the key points of the assignment brief was to be able to deliver a message to children under the age of 6. My safety message was about the dangers of swimming in ponds/lakes etc.

Using a standard computer microphone I recorded my voice directly into Audacity – whilst trying to match the sequence playing on screen – which turned out to be somewhat difficult. Finally after making some modifications to the speed of delivery and the narrative itself I managed to record a short soundtrack to match the action on screen. Then using the effects in Audacity in particular starting with the noise removal effect I removed the sound produced by the computers fan and then set about modifying the pitch and speed of the recorded sound to seem more child like.

I then recorded another short sequence for the second part of the animation this time decreasing pitch to give a more adult sounding voice but still not recognisably my own.

My final addition to the soundtrack was to add some classical music (Brahms) at a very low level and set it running throughout the sequence which helps add to the continuity of the whole animation.

Final Tweaking

Although the animation works and it is my first animation using Maya and in 3D I’m not 100% happy with the quality of the animation and so I plan to use some of the time over the holidays to see if this can be improved upon. I made one immediate change by adding  another layer to the background image so that the 3D character appears to be walking in the grass rather than floating upon it.

Sweetboy Goes Swimming



Maya Animation – Sweetman

Sunday 28th November 2010
Having designed the 3D character I set about keying in some basic animation sequences, walking, hand and head movements etc. and then rendered the sequences from different camera angles. This gave me a range of short animation sequences that could be edited together to form a story. The brief calls for a short animation of approx. 30 seconds delivering a message to children. Having considered a number of possibilities I’ve decided to deliver a safety message.

Progress update

Each 3D sequence is between 2 and 3 seconds long. I had already changed the background in Maya to be the brightest Green available from the colour pallet as this would make keying out the background later much easier. I then exported each sequence as an AVI video to be imported into Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 for editing. It was at this point that a problem was identified. Maya has the means to export AVI files which it says is uncompressed but Premiere was unable to play these files. I suspected the problem was with CODECs and looked at alternatives, With the right CODECs installed the files were viewable again, but the quality of the image changed depending on which CODEC was used to compress the video.
Using the Chroma Key setting in Premiere I removed the backgrounds from the 3D images and then dropped them onto a video track to make up a longer sequence. Then using the Motion option I keyed in locations against a fixed background until the 3D character seemed to have walked from one side of the screen to the other. From a time estimate I worked out that each second of animation took just over an hour.
Although I added to my workload by taking time to produce Green Scene footage it does mean that I can change the video background for anything including moving video/live footage which means my Maya produced 3D character could interact with live images.
The next stage is to produce more 3D images using the character I designed and then adding them to the sequence. Then I need to work on a voiceover soundtrack to get my safety message across.
One thing that I have really learnt from all this work with Maya is that 3D Animation is not a career choice to be made lightly. You need to be enthusiastic about this subject with the patience of a saint to spend hours/days to produce just a few seconds of video.


3D Animation – Character development

3D Animation

Wednesday 10th November 2010

Mr Sweetman (Changed to Sweetboy) – 3D Animation

Worked on the character ideas that I’d had for the 3D Animation during the morning session, while we were looking at a summary of previous tutorials on basic principles of Maya design and animation techniques.

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots

3D Animation Maya Screenshots


After experimenting with a number of designs from basic walking cones to a 3 legged alien like crab I finally decided on a particular design. As we are developing an animation for children I decided my  character would be based on sweets and in this case I chose Liquorice Allsorts which I thought could be easily produced in Maya using the default Polygon shapes such as the Cube, Cylinder and Sphere.

Although new to Maya it was relatively easy to quickly design the character using these shapes and by the end of the session I had a basic character ready to add joints to ready for animation. Of course the design was very basic and I suspect a lot more work would still be required for say adding features, eye etc  and possibly textures to the individual components that make up the character. Also of course there are the designs of the backgrounds, although I feel that an image would make a better background rather than constructing basic surfaces and then adding textures.

How Narrative Effects the Design – 3D Animation

I’ve already got in mind a basic narrative for the animation which involves either the character losing it’s component parts as it walks, or it gets eaten bit by bit as it berates whoever is eating it, leaving the head and a shaking fist until the last word is spoken. I also have another idea where the character is used to deliver a safety message of some kind, a narrative would be required and almost certainly some voiceover.

This is the reason in regard to my first idea that if you look carefully the component parts of the character are actually not joined, they have been designed to have a ve
ry small gap between each of the components. This is to allow each component to be removed without effecting any of the other components allowing the basic shape of these individual components to remain intact. But as I would later learn that by not building the character, that is the design from a single Polygon, when it comes to adding movement the individual components of the character may not move in exactly the way I’d expected. For example I’d already had to separate the skeletons spine from the characters body as when I moved the character the body distorted like a paper sack and applying different weights did not totally remove this unwanted effect.


Maya – Creating a basic 3D Image

Friday 29th October 2010

Todays lecture covered the process for developing a basic 3D image using Maya.

The idea is to create a image using Polygons and then by using the Extrude function create a basic 3D image/characterisation which could then be used in an animation process to produce a film sequence.

I first downloaded from the internet an image which I would use as a guide/template and imported this into Maya. I then created a cube which I placed centrally on the grid. This was then sub divided to give more faces, I then selected the faces to the left of the Y axis line and deleted these effectively cutting the cube in half. Then in turn selecting faces, vertices etc. I used the extrude function to extend my original cube polygon to produce one side of a figure that is a head, body an arm and a leg. Once I had these i then used the Mirror Geometry function using the –X option to Mirror the side I had created and this had the effect of creating a complete 3D character now with two arms and two legs.

This all sounds very simple but there are many stages and clicks required even to produce such a simple design. There was also a problem initially using the Mirror function this did not appear to work correctly until the History was deleted first before applying the Mirror, without doing this the Mirror appeared to begin from the last action made which in my case was the extrusion used to create the foot.


Computer Graphics for Animation and Film – Maya Introduction

Friday 15th October 2010

Introduction to Maya 3D Animation

Flying through the Wormhole

Had our first look at the Maya application and its workspace, the creation of basic objects, shading and keying for animation. Then a quick look at creating a camera and lighting effects.

In the latter half of the day the group were split into two and given the opportunity to explore and create their own design and produce an animation.

I had the idea to create a sequence representing space travel through a wormhole – not an original idea as this has been explored many times in sci-fi movies and TV productions.

How I did it

Using Polygons I created a Torus and a Sphere. I manipulated the Torus to create a cylindrical shape and then positioned the Sphere at one end of the cylinder. I then rendered these using the Lambert option. Following another session where we were introduced to adding a file and applying it to rendering I added a JPEG file of the earth and mapped this onto the Sphere giving the effect of the Earth spinning in space.

I then created a Camera which I then planned to animate so that it effectively flew through the cylinder and passed close to the orbit of the Sphere (Spinning Earth).

I keyed the first position of the camera to be right of the centre of the cylinder and the next to be central to the cylinders opening and the final key to be just passing the rotating Sphere.

To add to the final animation I used the paintbrush and the Galaxy selection to add stars in front off and behind the cylinder (Wormhole) and keyed in the rotation of the Sphere.

Finally I edited the exported AVI animation from Maya in Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, added a copyright free sound file some basic titles and uploaded the finished animation to YouTube.

%d bloggers like this: