Friday, November 11, 2016

Fall Updates!

HELLO~! It's a little unfortunate that I've only recently been able to find the time to update this blog ... but there's some great news!

Since mid - September, I've been enjoying an amazing 3D Animator internship at Zynga, off in San Francisco.

The city itself doesn't feel all that different from Orlando. Though, there's so much to do here! My favorite trip has been to the Walt Disney Family Museum, for obvious reasons. There's currently an exhibit at the museum on the makings of Pinocchio, featuring a LOT of original animation tests, animation cels, and other props. Some of Milt Khal's original tests for Pinocchio were there (loaned out by his family) and I got to flip through them. This comes after spending almost a year learning and studying these tests too! It was amazing and inspiring to see the original work of the animators that Jonathan was teaching us about. ♥

As for the internship itself ... FIEA did a tremendous job at simulating the gaming industry in its program. The transition was rather seamless. Coming off of the high - intensity pace and workload that was FIEA, the pace at Zynga feels moderate even when my workload is heavy. It's likely because I'm used to coming in before 9am in the morning and leaving by 10pm or 11pm at FIEA ... and still managing to get behind on one or two of my projects.

Nonetheless, I'm learning so much at Zynga! I'm more heavily involved in rigging, keyframe animation, and even VFX in the Unity Engine. I'm not sure about the lengths and details I can discuss about my internship at the moment, so I'll keep it general. :D There was a major learning curve at first ... and one where I constantly pestered other people to show me how to do a thing in the engine, but now I'm very comfortable with it! Granted, I feel like learning coding might definitely save me some headaches in the future, and keep me from having to rely as heavily on others for minor changes.

I've been working with some amazing people over at Zynga. The time's actually been passing ridiculously quickly ... a huge part of me is wishing that this internship was far longer than 12 weeks. ♥♥

I haven't had too much time to focus on my own personal portfolio .... but I've taken the time to tweak, render, and compile some of my already-existing animations! For rendering ... I didn't realize just HOW much of a difference AO maps made until I gave them a whirl this week. The AO maps definitely made everything pop out way more, and look far more detailed.  BUT here's the shot progression of these two animations! Hopefully, I'll be finishing my third very soon and be getting to working on cycles and another VFX.

And if you're curious at all ... this was the end result from Common Core a little while back! There's some things we would have liked to do to go back and polish it some more, but this is pretty great after spending the last few days collecting our efforts, revamping, and putting it all together. : D 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Updates Continue ...

Sooo ... now there's time for some updates on my personal work!

I've been working on some new animations during the Summer semester, along with trying to work out the kinks of old animations from last semester. Essentially, much of my time has been dedicated to correcting every one of my mistakes from before. Admittedly, I didn't begin to seriously animate until I began at FIEA in August.

 Though, when I look back to how terrible some of my earlier animations were, I see how far I have come during this entire experience! Because Cohort 12 only has three animators, we each got a lot of individualized attention from Jonathan on how we could strengthen our pieces. That, and we do our fair share of harassing during his office hours. Hehe. In between all of that, we do our best to help each other by giving one another feedback on our animations and showing each other new tools & tricks to help the process along.

When you're here at FIEA for so long, you can really start depending on your fellow artists to help you along and show you new skills, and vice versa. One of the most important things you can develop during this program is a solidarity among the members of your track. Having that support and openness is one of the most valuable things you can have, and it's great having that sense of security. 


You probably recognize this dude by now. It's likely that I'll never be done with him. LOL. His lip flaps are finalized now, and what I have left to do is to smooth out some of his actions & his graph editor. THEN HE'LL FINALLY BE COMPLETE.

Now that Ley Lines has reached their art freeze, I've been working a lot more on this animation in the last few days. This isn't the current version, but it's still a lot better than how it used to be. Likewise, the graph editor has to be cleaned further & her motions refined. That's currently in progress.

This animation is proving to me how WONDERFUL the Malcolm rig truly is and how the animation picker has already spoiled me. It's wonderful. omg. This is also one of my smoothest animations so far! Some areas are still blocked in, though, so it's a matter of finding the time to refine the existing movement and build on it some more.

For my demo reel, I needed a piece of dialogue where there was an obvious change of emotion. Originally, I wanted to do a line from Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax that had a shift between happy to annoyed, buuut ... Atlus' sound mixing isn't the best and I couldn't get rid of the BG music. So! I still kept to my inner weeb and did a line from Persona 4: The Animation. This is it in its blocked in phase, sO DON'T JUDGE ME.

As for Common Core ... soon, I'll be able to get to work on that too. We had to revamp the project and seriously decrease on scope. It was more of a matter of what was feasible for each of us to work on in the time we had left. Capstone clearly was the most important thing for us to dedicate the majority of our time to, then Specialization, so we had to just be realistic with the amount of hours we had to work with. We promise, though, it's going to be great! We're gonna aim for something that's pretty close to the opening credits of Deadpool, where the poses are freeze-framed/slow-motion and the camera's dynamic as heckie. With all the talented artists we have on our team, it's gonna look nothing short of awesome. :3c

For this project, did Miria's body rig! Here's one of the earlier version of her. She was updated a little while ago, so I'll show that video off another time.

Aaaand that's it, for now. : D 

WOWIE. Summer Updates!

... because this term has been so busy that there honestly hasn't been the time to regularly update.

Summertime has been a testament of trying to balance Capstone and my specialization. Clearly, Capstone's important because it's ... well, Capstone. It's the biggest project that anyone will be working on during the FIEA program and accounts for the majority of your experience developing a full-scale game. As an artist, your specialty is also important because it accounts for the majority of your portfolio pieces. There comes the difficulty of having to devote equal amounts of time to both of these things, and trying to squeeze in work for Common Core Art because that requires an almost equal amount of love.

Some weeks, Capstone had to be the focus and my Animation tests suffered - and vice versa. About halfway into the semester, I found this balance in spending my Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday exclusively for Capstone work, and the other four days divided up between Specialization and Common Core (usually Specialization gets almost all the attention, though ...). In any case! There's a lot of things to update on! This post is going to be about the majority of my Capstone work, and another post will be about my Specialization & Common Core. Hehe.

All of my animation for the Ley Ls game (save for one or two last - minute assets) have been completed for Capstone! Vala, the Minion (we call her "Morty"), and the Boss (we named her "Brittney", lol) are done for the game! Implementation is still going on for Brittney ... along with some tweaking with her programatically - animated body (it's really cool!). Overall, though, things are done for these characters right now.

Along with being the 3D animator for the Ley Lines game, I've also become one of the 2D artists for the game. In an effort to add in more context / story into our game, I drew the bookend cinematics for Ley Lines. They were written & voiced by our Project Lead, Matt. The overall wording for this is subject to be tweaked within the next week or two, but the images aren't going to change!

Since we wanted to avoid the previous hell of implementing video into the Unreal engine, I ended up rigging up up separate planes for each section of the cinematic and animating these sections in Maya. This results in a Motion Graphic that is more cost - effective and saves us any headaches with implementation. The only cost is the absence of nifty transitions between the images.

I've also been in charge of much of the UI for Ley Lines. I've been working on each of the needed screens for the game, and some minor elements for the in-game display.

Along with all of this, I've been working on some of our promotional materials. That mostly included building our website & making business cards to pass out at play testing. :B

The good news of this all? During this whole process, Ley Lines has been greenlit on Steam! We're hoping to release the game once we get our legal ducks in order. ♥ PLZ PLAY OUR GAME. OKAY.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

what do you know about caring

Since the middle of April, the animators have been working on some dialogue tests! 

Going into this assignment, my only real objectives were to animate a man and to do something that was more tame, given that my natural inclination is to head for things that're more lively and energetic. That also happens to be part of the reason why I change my mind on what I'm going to be doing at least two times before or during the assignment. 

My initial choice was to do a line from I Love Lucy or The Golden Girls but then that wouldn't have given me the opportunity to work with male characters. In wanting to do something more vintage, lines from Psycho were eventually chosen. Little did I realize how difficult that would be. The thing with Norman Bates is that he's so reserved. His delivery of his dialogue is stiff, deadpan, and calm. Even when angry, his voice barely raises in volume. So this results in an animation that's dependent on the subtitles of behavior and more reserved motions, all while trying to keep this remotely interesting to watch. 

A little while back, Kelly introduced me to Flipbook. For this assignment, I finally got around to using it so I could storyboard out everything I intended to do! Until this semester, I was extremely guilty of not giving much thought into layouts & blocking in my poses. I just sort of winged it and it showed. This was the opportunity to knock myself out of those bad habits and put the effort into making something better than before! Storyboarding this animation really helped me this go around by keeping me from changing my mind 20 times into the process, getting a better hang of timing, and considering what the layout may look like. So, here's a look into the very early stages! 

After I storyboarded everything, I brought this video into Maya (which was something I got to learn how to do just for this, it was really helpful) and blocked in every  key pose. Theeeeen it was decided that I had to scale back some of the actions because they were far too expressive & hammy in juxtaposition to the audio. 

As things went on, I took the advice to mute some of the poses and work more on my transitions. I also took the opportunity to focus more on staging than I did before, I found some free-to-use furniture models on various 3D sites, slapped them into the scene, and added some mood lighting. It really helped to sell the entire thing.

In the middle of this all, I realized that I had to take some  time to look into a very important part of the assignment: the lip flaps. Yeah. I didn't give that all that much consideration since I was way more preoccupied with how the body moved around. Luckily enough, I found a great tutorial on how to do them! Though, like anything else, I just need a lot of practice to be able to refine this. I'm working on it though!

I did a 30min dialogue pass using this tutorial's methods with another piece of dialogue from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, specifically from the character Sho because he's so ridiculously expressive in his voice that it made things much easier to play with.

After messing with this, I found that I had to work a lot more on my timing & exaggerating the mouth shapes. The mouth motions for the phonemes end up coming out a little late in the playblast and it throws everything else off. Even so, if I exaggerated the mouth shapes a little more, you'd still be able to read the character's lips and guess what they were saying!

After that test a few days ago, I've spent a lot of my time trying to refine this dialogue test. It's not there yet, but it's already come a long way from what it used to be just a few weeks ago. I'm hoping to get this finished during the course of Summer Break so it'll be something nifty to place on the demo reel. 

As for other things? On Friday, there was a visit to the upstairs Character Animation program from Walt Disney Feature Animation. Who visited us? The Director of Talent & Outreach, a Visual Developer, a Look Developer, and a Producer. We got a look into the inside of the Disney Feature pipeline! That was especially exciting. They went over the process of concept art, animation, technical considerations, visual effects, and management. Each of the speakers there covered their own journeys that led them to the Disney company and the work they have done there! We got to see a lot of their contributions to Zootopia and Big Hero 6. With those two being some of my favorite Disney films, that was especially exciting. They were even awesome enough to show us some of the demo reels & current projects from their interns and apprentices (while filling us in about some details about that program :3c). We got to see the level of quality we have to compete with in regards to animation, layout, concept art, and rigging. I left that talk feeling super inspired and geared to apply for next year's apprenticeships. ♥♥ And also there was a desire to explore the world of layouts & storyboarding much more than I have been. It's apparently an under-considered career, but something that I could use my animation knowledge along with 2D & 3D skills. It's something to think about!

Sooo, that day ... I wasn't all that productive. So, I decided to finally draw a little thing for me after over a month of not doing that. :3c And I wanted to draw some Hispanic women in traditional dancing costumes.~ So the first three on that last were from Mexico (Jalisco dancing), Colombia (Cumbia dancing), and Puerto Rico (Bomba dancing). When there's time, I'd like to either refine these or add in some more from other countries. 

Until next time. :3c


We had our last Game Lab class just this past Thursday! The entirety of Cohort 12 debuted so many well thought-out and well-executed educational games. Given how difficult it was for everyone to juggle yet another project during this semester, it was amazing to see just how intricate some of these games were! It was extremely gratifying to see everyone's hard work come through and receive the spotlight it deserved.

I'm happy to say that Dinopedia was a resounding success! I really enjoyed working with everyone on my team. It was a pretty neat, relaxed, and fun atmosphere to be in despite all the stresses of Capstone happening around us. Working on this game was always pretty fun and a nice breakaway from everything else. Also dinosaurs. That makes everything better. SO. If you ever want to check out Dinopedia, the entire playthrough is up above!  For anything else (including a download link where you can play the game!), you can check out the link below.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Applications at the Speed of Light

It's been a little challenging updating this blog on a regular basis! A lot of things have been happening in the last few weeks!

Last week in particular was especially busy. Electronic Arts opened up an animation internship for the Fall that was previously only available for the Summer. It's been quite the venture trying to get together a demo reel to showcase everything I wanted to show them. Normally, my process is just to shove everything I can (that I still like) into a portfolio and call it a day. For both of my reels, I've been adhering to Jonathan's advice to begin and end with some of your strongest works. My primary goal was to show that I can conduct a Motion Capture session, clean the data, integrate that data into Motion Builder, and clean the animations before I finally bring them into engine. Motion Capture is becoming more and more of a passion of mine and something that I wish to keep exploring during my time at FIEA. In the Summer semester, I'll definitely be trying to do some more MoCap projects! In any case, here's the final demo reel that's being sent off to EA:

Fortunately, I was able to get some feedback from Jonathan about my reel and apply that just in time for the final version. It was definitely an awesome way to get a lot of animations for Ley Lines almost completed while simultaneously learning more about the entire application process for an artist. Another good thing about this whole process was that it enabled me to speed up tremendously with Motionbuilder! That, in itself, is pretty darn neat. I think that I'm finally beginning to overcome this gigantic learning curve to the whole program.

I was able to whip together a video that gives you guys a peek into the MoCap process! We had some brief snippets of our Project Lead Matt whacking our actress Taylor with a plastic sword to simulate being hit in-game by Shellek. It's pretty nifty! The data's been coming out pretty well. 

There's some other animations I've been working on lately! For instance, there was a pendulum animation, we're currently working on some dialogue, and I'm still doing Vala's animations! This week, I also hope to get more into rigging. Stay tuned for my posts all about that. ♥

As for other things? In Common Core Art, I've mostly been working on storyboarding. I personally want to get some more experience with that. As animators, we need to know how to set the scene and make dynamic poses. Fortunately, I've had the joy of getting to work with some other artists in this venture!

So. Storyboards. I did 1/3 of the ones you see above! I got to work with Ashley and Alex on these for our original cinematic pitch. This narrative was going to display Vala's final struggle with the Grand Centipede  with her, of course, reigning victorious over this creature. In this iteration, however, her fate is left ambiguous and up to interpretation for the viewer.

But then a restructuring to the entire narrative process happened - which turned out to be for the better! Now, we're changing up what exactly we're going to do so everyone a part of our team will be able to focus on their specialized interests, along with any skills they hope to develop along the way.  I, myself, will have the opportunity to learn rigging from our awesome team of Technical Artists (and maybe the faculty along the way :B). One of my goals leaving FIEA is to graduate as a "technical animator". I've learned how to set-up and handle a Motion Capture shoot, operate Vicon Blade, edit in Motion Builder, and how to integrate my animations in Unreal and Unity (along with learning the many, many pitfalls that could happen along the way ...). What's primarily left for me is to learn rigging far more intimately! I'm looking forward to this happening in the coming weeks. ♥

I got to work with Ashley and Samantha on the roughed out storyboard for the new sequence! We currently have everything almost mapped out like it should be. As we speak, Ashley and Katie are working together and utilizing some of the feedback we received from Ryo today to make these boards more readable and include some of the "beats" we were missing. Our character artists have brought in their concepts for their creatures too, and we have taken scale into consideration. For the next set of storyboards (moving on to the animatic phase), we will be able to make something far more refined and capture every beat we're hoping to! All the while, we're hoping to showcase every artists' hard work for the end project. With how this set currently stands? We're aiming for a length around 30 seconds.

Stay tuned for other updates on animations & game lab!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

anamershun iz mah pashun

It's safe to say that the week of our return to school was essentially the week filled with meetings upon meetings so the Ley Lines team could achieve a speedy and efficient trajectory towards our end goal of shipping by early June. Essentially, this means that "art freeze" should occur sometime in the middle of May. This task seems daunting in and of itself. With that deadline in mind, that's precisely why we have scaled back on a few enemies (now we only have the main boss and one extra Shellek), our master asset list, and we are simplifying our art style to match something closer to Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Necropolis. The heart of our visual style is still there, it will just be present in the game in a more ... simplified manner. And it gives us the opportunity to make some more tweaks to the design after a large chunk of the non-art faculty wasn't really feeling it. It's small set-back at the current moment, since we were unable to start on actual asset production ... but it's something that will speed everything else in the long run, and make our end goal that much more feasible. 

In any case, these were some of my passes at Vala! I was messing with some different simplified art styles and some costume changes while keeping to the heart of her initial design. Also the polygon lasso tool is so much fun for concepting. :B 

We had our first MoCap session towards the end of GDC week and will be having our second one this coming Tuesday. We recorded most of Vala's actions to get our actress used to the entire process. Afterwards, I took it upon myself to clean the data in Vicon Blade, then  begin the editing process in MotionBuilder. In the latter program, I was able to successfully loop each animation with the Story editor and fix a large chunk of the imperfections present in the data transfer. Animating the fingers will be done in Maya - along with parenting Vala's bow to the rig when we get to the point of having our own character mesh, rather than the filler one I'm using now.

Anyway. Here's some animations that I was able to work on between everything else we were working on this week.

An idle cycle.

A walk cycle.

The walk cycle was the first animation that I finished a first pass for, so I chucked that in the unreal engine to see if it worked properly. Good news? It does! YAY.

As for homework on the animation front ... I've almost finished the chair animation. Thank. This assignment has been particularly difficult for me simply because I don't like looking at it. If I had the time to start over and try something else (which is probably what I should have done weeeeeeeks ago) then I'd feel much more positively about it. It's not as bad as I'm making it out to be but, hey, you're your own worst critic. :3

Things to do? Still, clean up transitions, fix poses, and end at the beginning pose so it can loop.


Our new assignment is one that focuses on overlap (something I need a lot more work on!). For this homework, we're using a pendulum - BUT DON'T BE FOOLED, this assignment deceives you by APPEARING easy when it's hardly that! You have to be very mindful about overlap, physics, and what to push so it looks good rather than purely go for realism. This go around, I aimed for something a lot more simplistic so I can focus on the topic itself. I didn't want to make something long and purposely difficult just for the sake of it when uh ... I've been in desperate need of bettering my overlap. Like a lot. I need to get away from that "mechanical" feel that's BEEN PLAGUING ME FOR A WHILE.

 In any case, this is my first pass at this assignment! The base of the motions are there. For my next pass, I'll be able to add in some finer details to pull it all together. :3c

That's it for this week~