Animation Mentor

I recently took an Advanced Body Mechanics through Animation Mentor. What I ended up with was this sequence. The first shot was featured on the Animation Mentor facebook page which was quite an honor considering the amount of quality work that the students at the school output. Check it out below.

an03_sequence from Dan Augsburger on Vimeo.

Hypertension CDC

This is a spot I helped out on during the summer.

I was responsible for the set modeling and animation at the end of the spot.

Demo Reel

 

Badcock Walk

Chattering Teeth

teeth animation from Dan Augsburger on Vimeo.

The objective was to match a CG object to a Live Action object. Through this process I had to set up a camera, light rig, shadows, and reflections to try to make this object seem convincingly real. Through this process I have learned a few ways in which to deal with real-life lighting scenarios. I will go through my process and go through the things that worked and that didn’t work.

First off, I had to decide on an object. One of the requirements of this assignment is that the object has to move. As an animator, I felt this would be an opportunity to play. I thought of the different types of wind up toys, and the different complexities that it would bring in the modeling aspect. Chattering teeth was what I came up with. I had modeled teeth for characters before, so I felt that it would be a good option. The other challenge was trying to find chattering teeth in town, and luckily a great vintage toy shop downtown had some.

Next came choosing an environment for the teeth to be in. The idea I had going into this was that I wanted the lighting to feel natural and not staged. At the same time I wanted the photograph to be composed well with nice shadows. I ended up going back to the toy store for a photo shoot. What stuck out was a gray shelf that had posed action figures on it. What I liked about this photo was the shadows being cast by the florescent lights in the store. I made sure to leave the foreground of the shelf in so I would have a good angle to match the camera.

For the shader on the teeth I had used a ramp shader developed by a former SCAD student Eric Kurzmack (http://erickurzmack.com)
The shader, influenced by a videogame called Team Fortress 2, was something I was using for my cartoony characters in my thesis project. When the basic blinn wasn’t giving me the look I wanted, I tried using Eric’s shader and was pleased with the results. The specular wasn’t quite as good, but it was something that could be fixed by using this shader for the diffuse pass, and using another shader with a better specular for the specular pass.

Finding a good focal length in maya was difficult, but after much back and forth I ended up staying with a 35mm lens. Once my camera was set, I had to figure out a solution for the diffuse, specular, and the shadow. Three spotlights were great for the shadows, but having the diffuse on all three lights was hard to control.

To fix this, I needed to be more strategic with my lights. I ended up making an area light. Making the area light stretched out to the length of a florescent light gave a more even light on the teeth. I also made sure to turn the diffuse off on 2 of the spotlights, leaving one as a fill light. Along with the addition of the area light, I added another fill light below the teeth to soften the self shadow the teeth were casting on the legs.

Not bad, but now I had to figure out how to get the specular highlights back. I also had to worry about the darkness of the shadows. So decided the make render passes for each each and the self-shadowing to see if I could solve these problems in compositing.

Nuke allowed me to address some of the shadow problems I was having, but not all of them. I had done a render pass for just self-shadows, allowing me to take down the intensity of the shadow. I also did the same for the three shadows being cast on the ground. I had included an ambient pass for the shadows below the feet, but overall the contact shadows need more spread. I used a transparent blinn for the feet, but the feeling of light being absorbed into it still wasn’t coming across. It had been suggested that I try using a SSS shader so I can get a better effect of light passing through the object.

One of the other things that needs work is the knob that makes the teeth move. That object also has some translucence to it, so i may try using a SSS shader on that as well.

Facial Rigging

Demo Reel 2011 from Dan Augsburger on Vimeo.

Apple

Apple from Dan Augsburger on Vimeo.

Apple is a stop-motion animation of an apple falling from a tree.

Spontel

The one pill you’ll ever need, The one video to prove it!