This week, I worked on a bit of the thesis project. During testing and recording a demo, I discovered some bugs with the attention grabber, and if the character goes from active to idle – the sentence would not return to 0 (the intro audio). I also know I need to add a breathing animation for the character as he is too static while interacting. So that is in the process for this coming week. I might be adventurous and try to do a few animations and import them. For only 2 weeks left, I might shy away so I don’t break anything and rather only add in keywords to help the interaction.
The stuff I worked on this week: Character creation, Thesis project, and personal project.
Character Creation, I messed with textures and made sure the hi res was done. Here is an image:
I fixed some bugs during test. I am still polishing but also working on the audio and lipsync. I realize how difficult it is to blend the sound to make it feel right. I am still not sure of my voice with it but I think it adds to the piece.
I worked on a Winchester Rifle for fun. I was hoping to finish most of it in a weekend but I had to put it on the side for a bit. I returned to it and did a quick texture test and bake. There are some issues still but its not bad! As it stands, it is about 3,600k polys. I will come back to it and finish it up once I get time. Most likely after graduation.
This week I worked on the character creation class. I am at the point of finishing up the detail work in zbrush and bringing it into substance Painter. As for the project, I fell behind and did not get the audio recorded yet but all the code is working. Just need to add in the content. On top of it, I finished the family canvas image and added into the project. One less thing done. Here are some of the weeks work screenshots:
Quick testing: more to come –
This week I finished up the character retopo and uving. I made sure I brought it into zBrush and re projected. I am looking forward to texturing the creature.
For my thesis project, the major struggle to finish the code is now done. The only real test left for it is to use the kinect and see if there are any bugs. I am guessing the only thing that could would be the switch when it check if a person is present or not. The rest should work pretty good. I’m actually excited to move on and start doing the audio and animations. My mind is burnt from this rewrite… Here is all the functions that are required to make the magic happen.
I made a lot of way on re-coding the way the program runs. I schedule some time this week to finish it and do a full test to make sure its 100% working.
Character Creation Pipeline:
The character is getting there. Slowly but surely. I am retopoing the creature before I add the fine details. Here is a screenshot so far in Blender:
This week I worked on re-working the story and the character responder script. The main reason for the change was the complexity and scope of the project. Now, the project is easier to work on without the fear of fall too fear behind. Here is the algorithm: I made for the AI.
I am about 50%-65% done. All of isIdle is true is done. On the false side, I got the main run with random sentence selecting working. I have a plan to combine everything which should speed up the workflow to finish this. Hopefully next week, I can finish the code up and move on to the next part which would be recording the audio.
This week I have worked on fixing some locking bugs. I got lipsync, audio, and animation to work with the storyID. I have a method developed and now have to implement it into the project. I am expecting a couple of hours to work it out. The major issue right now is locking the system so it does not loop but rather wait until it is finished animating.
I worked on the base mesh. I am pretty happy with the overall character. I need to rework the torso and armor shapes but it is going in the right direction.
Me this weekend with Houdini:
Over the past few days, I have been hard at work finishing up my car generator. With the crashes with Houdini and Unreal, it was frustrating to say the least. Luckily, I swap over to Unity, and fix some code which saved time as it was not crashing as much. Besides the craziness, I believe the experience was worth it. I finished the project and got to learn Houdini in the process. Here are some Screenshots and Video:
I have been working on my procedural course final. I decided to go with creating a procedural generated car. As I dug deep into the nodes and more complex everything got, the more the crashes. I ended up re-working some of the networks. It seemed to help but I still got some crashes. Along with those issues, I noticed the rand() method is weird. It always gave me the same number even though I generated another number from that rand. It seemed to be pulling one number and not re generating a new number. The work around I found was to re-write the code using python. Using python’s random, it was randomly generating new numbers every time and worked for my needs.
In studio, we are progressing nicely. Although the end of the semester is coming, we are finishing up a few things before we have to stop and record for presentations. There is still a lot that needs to be done – art, adding content, and messing more with the Kinect. I do believe the hard part of creating all the methods for the dictations and keywords are done. I am looking forward to break and finally get back into modeling all the parts I need for the project.
Lipsync and eye controller added. All blendshapes are done. I wish to add wrinkle maps but currently that has been put on the back burner. Head turns, eyes blink, and lipsync shapes is about 50% done
Working on a procedural car generator. Although I will be reworking the concept to incorporate multiple curves and use sweep or rails.
Theme parks are places where families go to let loose and be entertained. They are full of creative art pieces from the overall themes to the attractions themselves. Many artists, designers, and engineers has spent years working on designs to immerse audiences. A great an example is at Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure. There is an area that is dedicated to the Harry Potter universe. As soon as you walk through the entrance, you are immediately immersed. Everything from the ground, the buildings, the shops, sounds and the rides are designed in a way to mimic the books and movies. Places like this can ignite and spark creativity. For me, was the place that inspired my project.
Anyone who has visited any amusement park or resort will agree waiting in line is part of the experience. Knowing this, creatives who build the attractions, design sets that try to distract you from the wait time. One environment that stood out to me was in the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Orlando. As you make your way through Hogwarts Castle, you come to a room with a tall ceiling. Within this room are paintings that are assorted on walls above the visitors. If one stood and observed, they would notice these portraits are not ordinary paintings but are animated. They move and talk among themselves. Fooling the visitors into believe they are alive. Seeing this I was amazed. Not only by the presentation and immersion but how people, including myself, were reacting. Visitors were standing around watching and interested in the character, but as they returned, they already knew what to expect. They have lived the experienced. The immersion fell apart because of the repetitions and limited interactions. This problem led me down a tunnel of questions. What would take this concept to another level? What if the paintings saw a person? Or if they responded back to the visitors? What if they would drove a story so each person would have a unique experience every time they visited? How would the audience react? Would they feel for the character? These questions brought my project to life.
Designing my project, I knew I desired to have a painting that could interact with the audience. I wanted a character that would be able to seek and determine the presentence of a person and try to communicate with that person. My curiously lead me to see if I could develop an interaction that could allow individuals to emotionally connect with an artificial being. This was a challenge considering the scope of the programming requirements needed and the limitations of the hardware, but I knew it was possible. As I progressed with the project, I started to see something interesting that happened. Each element of the character became more like me. Visually, the character is an old man, but his personality, intentions, expressions and message are mirror of myself. This discovery encouraged me. It gave me the freedom to communicate a message that could directly affect a person emotionally. As well as giving an individual a unique experience with this character. Although I was startled how much of me is within the piece, I have accepted the result. It brought my own mentality and personality to my attention. In turn, allowing myself to design an experience were the audience can create their own thoughts about the character without knowing they actually met a part of myself.