Friday, 20 April 2012




Wednesday, 18 April 2012


During this stage of the planning process I found that I had a number of ideas that I wanted to use for a villain character. Having conducted and extract relevant research on villain characters I then became very fond of creating a character with a medieval appearance. This is mainly due to the fact that during my childhood many of my animated heroes where based in a medieval period, such as the Smurfs, Pinocchio and the movie – sword in the stone. Gathering the research based on current villain characters, assisted in the development of my character building greatly. It gave me ideas based on small details such as sword style, clothing styles, footwear etc. It was also important to document in this stage how these characters behaved in terms of body language that they used to express themselves and their use of facial expressions. Each of the characters had facial expressions that suited their personalities. This is important as it brings out the characters characteristics for the viewer much more strongly. Building the character Balthier and then planning his personality was difficult, it required much more research into the use of facial expressions and what facial expressions were commonly used to express different expressions such as happy, sad, anger and grumpy etc.  Developing a moodboard and using brainstorming techniques assisted greatly in the planning stages of my character providing me with a vast library of ideas that I could use.


Once I had an idea and had gathered enough research into the construction of my character, I could now move onto the storyboard development stage. In this stage of the planning I could now begin to build my character using my chosen storyline and developing my character with the use of facial expressions and body language in each of the scenes. I designed a number of storyboards within this stage. The first storyboard that was created was totally different from the storyline now. During this stage I had to resort back to the planning stage several times to start from scratch. This assisted with the learning skills of how to plan, design and build a character better as it provided me with better knowledge each time that I had to resort back step one.


This was the longest stage of developing my character. I used my research on villains and their environments to build a basic stage for my character. I chose to use a plain white background and a single tree as this way it would keep the viewer focused on the character and his actions. I encountered a few problems during the modelling stage, one of them being problems with the ‘link’ tool and getting the hand to attach to the sword during stationary movements. After some detailed research on links and constraints within 3DS Max I decided to use modelling techniques to make the hand appear attached to the sword as problems such as these could not be resolved.

Building the character was a challenged but it was an excellent learning process for the modelling development stage. During this stage I used many of the techniques that I had learnt in previous 3D modules to assist in the construction of Balthier. Using templates on planes enabled me to create better, more accurate models of the clothing such as jumpers, footwear and trousers etc. Once all of the body parts had been constructed I then applied the skills I had learnt during the lectures and tutorial to apply the biped and skin on to the character.

Each of the scenes was created individually, this assisted greatly in preparing each of the scenes and attempting to stick to the storyboard as close as possible. It also assisted in the rendering process and piecing all of the clips together when placed within Premiere Pro. Many techniques were used within this stage of animating such as the use of Morpher modifiers etc. Using the Morpher modifier was a unique and extremely beneficial tool when it came to animating facial expressions as these could not be produced via key frames and just basic hand tools or via the biped.

I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of the modelling process and I feel that my character represents very accurate characteristics of Balthier from the planning and storyboard stages. Much of the research gathered during the planning stage has been applied during the modelling stage and has proved extremely beneficial in creating accurate characteristics for Balthier in Facial expressions and developing body language.

Balthier’s characteristics that are displayed throughout the animation show his emotions clearly and are represented clearly through his facial expressions and use of clear body language. Throughout this modelling process I feel that there are more techniques that could have been applied to the animation that may have enhanced the characteristics of Balthier’s actions. Balthier’s facial features should have been designed with more detail; this may have benefited his expressions and use of emotions to express his thoughts when attempting to remove the sword from the stone.

Rendering and Finalising

During the final stages of production of the animation I used Adobe Premiere Pro to piece together the final animation. I used premiere pro as this software is what I’m most familiar with and accepts the uncompressed rendered formats from 3DS Max. I used 3DS Uncompressed rendering format to maintain maximum quality. During this stage I used video research such as Youtube to assist in the cutting and editing of the animated video clips and making the best from the video content that I had.

I rendered the final animated video in FLV and MOV formats. I used these particular formats because they maintain the highest levels of quality and are most compatible across both Windows and MAC’s.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Using Adobe Premiere Pro

To piece together all of the animation scenes it was necessary to use a software such as Adobe Premiere Pro. I chose this software as it was most compatible with reading Uncompressed AVI files and had the best editing functionalities.

I placed all of the rendered scenes into the workspace and began to cut them up and piece them together so that all of the shots worked in combination with the script and storyboard.

It was vital to get the timing of the close up shots correct and not to lose any of the animation.

To create the titles I found it easier to create these in Windows Movie Maker, render them in high definition and then import them into Adobe Premiere Pro and place them into the workspace.  

I decided not to use sound as a background or to create an audio track to go alongside the animation. I did however, trial creating an audio track with my own voice and using objects to create sound effects but these trials didn’t turn out well so it was decided that no audio would be used only in the ending credits.

The final render of the animation project was rendered into the format of an .FLV 1080 x 720p resolution.

I felt that this format maintained the highest standard on quality and could be played back on most computers without buffering.

Animating Balthier

The Scene
Firstly I had to begin by creating my scene. The scene is a very simple scene as I felt that it was necessary to spend more of my time on the animating than on the modelling of the scene itself.

The scene is made up of a tree that I created in one of my other modules and that I have imported into this animation, the sword and the stone.   

The background to all of the animations was white. I chose white because I felt that it would bring out more detail within each of the animations and allow the view to see more detail on the facial expressions.  

Creating Key frames for animation

To begin animating my character I had to create individual movements and key frames.

For each of the scenes I followed the storyboard and printed off all of my research and screen shots of the videos that I had analysed in order to gain better knowledge and a clearer understanding of how the body functions when performing actions.

For each of the movements that I had to create in each of the scenes, I had to adjust each of the biped parts manually. Ensuring that I was always using the ‘autokey’ ensured that for every movement that I made on the character a new key frame was generated.

Using the Autokey tool:

Moving biped parts to create animation:

This was a lengthy process to ensure that my character behaved in the way that I wanted him to and to ensure that each of the biped parts moved in correspondence to my research.  

To make the animating process easier I used the ‘hide’ tool on the skin so that the biped elements were more exposed. This would make it easier to select the biped parts and move them to create different animation techniques.

Using the Morpher modifier

Once all scenes had been created and all of the body movements within the scene were correct it was now necessary to animate the facial expressions that would go with the actions of my animated character.

To begin with I had to create a number of copies of the master head onto the scene. I made ten copies of the heads for each of the scenes.

On each of the heads, I adjusted the polygons to create separate facial expressions. My character does perform any talking and so only requires the use of facial expressions to expel his feelings and actions to the viewer.

To turn these different facial expressions on individual heads into one animating face I had to apply a ‘morpher’ modifier onto the master head. (The master head was the head connected to the biped model).

Once the morpher modifier was applied I could now pick the individual heads with facial expressions in the scene and apply them to the morpher modifier.

Once all the heads were selected I could now begin to perform animation of the facial expressions. This was done in a very similar way as to animating the body actions. For each change of facial expression I adjusted the settings within the morpher modifier and using the ‘autokey’ this would create individual key frames for the changes.  

Once I had created facial expressions at necessary points along the timeline and in conjunction with the body animations and script, I was now ready to begin to render each of the scenes.
Rendering was performed in the following format:
1080 x 720 Uncompressed AVI (Maximum quality for use later in Adobe Premiere Pro)

The facial expressions that I commonly used within each of the scenes can be seen below:

Cheeky Smile


Closed Eyes


Left Eyebrow Up








Rigging the Biped and Character Model

In order to turn Balthier into an animating character it was necessary to fix a biped structure inside of Balthier, turning the model of Balthier into a skin for the biped skeleton.

To begin this process I first begun by placing a biped structure onto the scene, this biped structure is the standard one found within 3d studio max. Due to the design of my character it wasn’t necessary to create or use an alternative biped.

Once the biped had been placed onto the scene I then imported my character. I had to ensure that the biped was the same size and scale as the model of my character. This would make the rigging process much simpler and ensure that when animating my character that no polygons would be left behind.

Once the models were of the same size I could now move the biped into the model of my character. With all elements of my character selected and using the ‘physique’ tool I could now attach the biped to my model, turning my model into the skin of the biped. This process is known as skinning or rigging.

Applying the Physique modifier and rigging

To ensure that all of the polygons of the skin were being picked up by the biped, I had to adjust the envelope settings. This process adjusted the settings for which part of the biped would be responsible for selective polygons on the skin of my model.

This process can often be time consuming ensuring that all of the biped skin is being controlled by the correct part of the biped structure.
Once this process was completed my model of Balthier can now move like a human being and will now have any of the movements that a human can perform.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Video Analysis of Kicking the Sword and Removal

I trialled myself in this video to see how on my first attempt, I would attempt to kick a sword out of a rock. I used a garden pitch fork in the grass as an example. What I performed I this video is what I would have done if this situation was real from first instincts and not from a plan or script.

To begin, I approach the sword standing on both feet. I then lift up my left leg and raise it off the ground. I then draw back my foot so that I can aim and build up power. Of course, in this example I can’t kick the fork too hard otherwise it would have come straight out of the ground. My hands are not used but they do however, react slightly to the power that I give in my foot when I’ m kicking the sword. I slightly raise them up and on each kick slowly drawing back my foot for the next attempt at kicking.

I repeat this procedure 2-3 times before giving up on the sword and realising that it’s not going to come out.

With disappointment, I then dropped to my knees and grabbed the top of the sword to rest my arms and hands on it so that I can drop my head in disappointment while shaking it.

Suddenly I realise that the sword has become loose and on hearing this I then slowly raise my head off of my arms. I then slowly look up towards the sword is confusion and then pull at the sword.

To my amazement the sword becomes free from the stone and I then hold it up in the air continuously looking at it. At this point I cannot see my face but I know that my first reaction after standing up was excitement.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sword in the Stone – Video Analysis

When the knight (Not King Arthur) attempts to remove the sword in the stone he first grabs the top of the sword with one hand and yanks the sword upwards. With his strong action and no movement from the sword the knight’s body judders back then forwards. His face immediately turns to a sudden surprised facial expression in response.

He then places his entire body action into the removal of the sword by placing his body underneath the sword and using an upwards body motion. His entire body tenses and he raises his head to look upwards. Both hands are on the swords handle.

With failure he changes position. He’s face is now all scrunched up as he has both hands on the sword and yanking at it from a side on action repeatedly.

He then changes again to pull the sword up from the stone from a higher position. He appears angry and frustrated at this stage and his friends then enter the scene to help. His head is leaning far back as his entire body weight in lent to one side in an attempt to pull the sword free.

 Video Clip:

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Fork in the Garden – Video Analysis

In this investigation a garden fork has been placed into a garden. A male and female have been asked to act out how they would remove the garden fork, as if they didn’t realise it was stuck in the ground. They have been asked to approach the garden fork as if it were the sword in the stone, after a few attempts the sword will become free from the stone. 

Female Video Analysis

On first approach she inspects the fork. Firstly walking around the fork, and then looking at how it is held into the garden. Her eyes are permanently on the garden fork and her facial expressions are bland.

She then grabs the fork in an attempt to pull the fork out of the ground expecting the fork to be in the ground very loosely. When she pulls on the fork for the first time it is only with one hand. On pulling the fork her nose scrunches up and her eyes close slightly as she puts effort into the pull. Her upper body rises also with the upward motion.

Once she figures out the fork is in the ground very tightly she then re-investigates the positioning of the fork, and then places both hands onto the fork in another attempt to pull the fork free. She places both hands on the fork as in this attempt it is clear she will use more force.  Her facial expressions remain the same as the first but slightly more scrunched up with a strong smile as she puts in all her effort.

She then re-investigates and takes another attempt to pull the fork from the ground. She uses the same motions and facial expressions as before but for a much longer duration. After her third attempt she smiles and gives a slight laugh as the situation it hard to believe.

She then takes her final pull on the fork, her body rises high, and her face scrunches up, but with a smile as she pulls as hard as she can. As the fork becomes free from the ground she stumbles back with laughter and a large smile.

Video Clip:

Male Video Analysis

On first approach the male inspects the garden fork with an intrigued look on his face. He places his hand onto his face and holds his chin. His eyes are permanently on the garden fork as he spends a few seconds thoroughly inspecting the fork before stepping closer to it.

On his first attempt at pulling out the fork she stands behind it with both hands placed on the fork. Like with the female, his faces scrunches up, his upper body rises, but his eyes close as he pulls at the fork. His shoulders also become very broad.

As he realises that the fork is in the ground is extremely tight he steps away, with an exhausted facial expression, blowing out a blast of breath.

He then grabs his breath and steps back up to the fork in another attempt to withdraw the fork from the garden.

In this attempt he quickly inspects the fork and then quickly dives in to take his second attempt to pull the fork free. His facial expressions are just like before but much stronger as he puts in all his effort into the removal of the fork. He pulls so strongly that he rises onto his tiptoes. His smile forms into a teeth grinding look as he realises that the fork is still not coming free from the ground.

With another blow of exhaustion he takes another step back from the fork, with a puzzled look on his face. He then shakes his head before inspecting the fork from a further distance away. Standing back, as if to realise the fork is defeating him.
He then steps forward to take another attempt. His whole body rises as he firmly places both hands onto the top of the fork and he pulls with all his strength. His facial expressions clearly showing that he is using as much force as possible. His face is all scrunched up, his eyes tightly closed and his teeth grinding together with a rich smile.

The duration of his third pull is much longer than the first or second and he then steps back to realise that once again he has been defeated by the fork.  His facial expressions are identical to the second failure.

On his fourth attempt his facial expressions are identical to the third but slightly angrier. He quickly dives in like before and with another blast of energy the fork becomes free. His facial expressions immediately change to a huge pleased smile, his eyes wide open as he laughs with excitement as he withdraws the fork from the ground.

Video Clip: