Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A lift i did quickly last week for the fun of it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Keeping poses and thumbnails on target

Posted this on my facebook but felt it apropriate to post it here too!

"One thing I learned from one of my
mentors (Mark Behm) while at Animation Mentor was that you should always
write the emotions (or thoughts) out in words near your thumbnails
while you are deciding on poses and planning your scene. It is a
constant reminder of the goal of your posing."
Josh Riley
Quote from

There is a rely good example of this on the Documentary 'a pixar story' where one of the animators shows the blocking/thumbnails for his shot on finding nemo, he goes off on an unexpectedly deep explanation of what the symbolism of some of the actions are and the emotions behind them.here it is!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Gimbal Defeated!

Win! Gimbal has been put down thanks to maya and its epic controlls!

Here is the relatively finished rabbit sleep walk cycle. I hope your reading the relaxed swinging of the arms and light tilt of the head as a sleepwalk rather than a hunger/zombie walk, if i was to go for zombie the arms and head would be much more rigid and snappy and perhaps lunnging forwards now and then but maybe this isnt enough.

Gimbal Lock

Thought i might write a bit about how to get over it. for a handy video that explains what gimbal lock is check this out:


Basically gimbal is when your rotational controls overlap eachother preventing movement in a direction that would normally have a rotational controll. this happens because of the way that rotations are calculated, the problem is the order in which they are calculated Z, moves Y, moves X, so when you move Z axis, Y and X both move the same time, if you move Y axis, Z does not move but X does, and if you move X it moves independently. gimbal usually happens when you rotate the middle axis 90 degrees causing the other two to overlap. if you try to do movement in the direction lacking an axis the motion gets calculated across two directions and comes out weird. this causes a lot of problems in animation.

The first tip id give to avoid gimbal is when rotating always rotate in gimbal view over world or local, this way you are rotating in individual axis that shows up in your curve editor making editing easy opposed to animating in local or world where two axis counteract eachother making a mess. this also enables you to spot gimbal early on.

The brute force way to fix it would be to key every frame, while it can work it reduces your ability to edit curves easily can sometimes look sketchy and takes a while. id try to aviod this unless necessary

Another 'fix' (sort of) is to have two rotation controls, so if you do get gimbal you can animate using the other rotation controll although this requires the rig your using to actually have it built in or to build it in yourself.

The best solution ive found so far is to adjust the order in which the axis are calculated in, for example rather than XYZ you could go YZX. this changes the order meaning you gain more controll in which way your controlls face, the brilliant thing is that this is a keyable attribute. so if youre having problems in one part but not another you can just key the rotational change for that section. Genious!
this cam be found in
Window > General Editor > Channel Controll
then add 'Rotation order'
this will then appear in your attribute editor!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Zombeh bunny is dissapointed in your brainlessness!

Another few afternoons another cycle, i think its nice i can just go with things at the moment rather than ahdering to a specific vision. take this for instance, it started out as a vanilla fat walk to show some weight, i moved the arms up and forward so they didnt distract me while i was animating the core and abdomen... then a crazy thought hit me! 'hey that kinda looks like a zombie with his arms like that!' as its the season! a bit cliche but hey some times we like cliche!
The problem at the moment is im battling with two visions, is he walking like a zombie just cause hes a cliche zombie bunny, or is he walking like that because hes hungry and thinking about the food on the table hes walking towards (yes there is a difference!). while i feel its the intricacies in the arms and face that will ultimatly tell between these two stories god bless CG with its technicall difficulties the arms are awfully difficult to controll and thus difficult to portray the correct motion, yes, gimbal is back! (meaning there is no rotational controll for the directions i need the arms to rotate) sugar hunny ice tea...

total time on this cycle is aproximately 4 hours, of which at least an hour and a half has been battling and experimenting with the gimbal problem in the arms. I will find a solution cause theres no way in hell im letting the arms move like they are at the minte...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Flour Sack

Been out and about a lot recently living a little so to speak, as a result ive not been working as hard as i could be. Had some spare time to animate and did this though, took bout an hour n a half.

Friday, 1 October 2010

11sec sept 2010

So here it is! my animation for the 11 second club competition september, glad to have it done! Feedback please!

Confronting the Don from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

Something I’m curious about is what you 'the audience' is getting from it, this has rely just been my own expression of how I think the piece should look, I’ve not rely tailored it with the viewer in mind and have probably over indulged myself. I think the missing ingredient is what the big John L said in an interview years ago about what the secret formula to success after he wins several short student film awards. He says he thinks the secret ingredient is entertainment which I think this piece is missing, I think the cause is my drive, where some animators are inspired by the animation they saw as kids I get inspired by how the mind works, I rely find it fascinating how people think and how people like Darren brown or interrogators can read your mind via body language and behaviour, I like to explore these things in my animation to the point where I think here I’ve overlooked the pure entertainment value. What do you think?

Something for me to keep in mind in the future...
As for technique I think I still need to work on it, I struggled more than I should have to gain control over some of the limbs, so my technique does need refining.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

UDK Awesomeness!

Got word that there may be an animator job going but UDK experience was needed.
Once again i dropped everything for a couple of days and went on a UDK TRAINING SPREE! must have watched about 15+ hours worth of tutorials at a comical X2 speed to save time, defo learned a lot but the most valuble thing i think is how much my mind exploded with posibilities. i used the metaphore that "all this time ive been learning how to make bullets but not having anything to do with them, now with UDK i have something to shoot with!"
Everything i know will finally come together! :D

Will return to completing Animation now but expect some crazy UDK stuff to apear in the future!

Unreal Development Kit is a free download! Get it here!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Draft Skin

This is the rough test of the muscles and deformation. The purpose has been to identify parts of the mesh that looked okay visually but didnt work when the model was moved. From this ive Identified several points where the mesh needs changing, underneath the armpits becomes messy when the arm and clavical rise up and there are potentially problems in the knee also. A major problem ive discoverd is the twist bones, whilst i have modeled a twist into the gemetry its not nearly enough, this has cuased a massive tear in the geometry for what should be normal movement.
Knowing this i can now go back into modeling and restructure weaknesses on top of that having a semi working rig means i can test deformation on the fly too.

For now though this piece of work is going temorarily on hold while i work on 11 second club for september although i may dabble as temptation grabs me.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Max modelling/rigging progress

Progress so far... all done in max atm n i must say im getting quite into it! ive indulged a lot of time so far, aproximately spent 19hrs although i guess i have been faffing about with typology and adding detail at a stage where it isnt nessisary else i may heve been quicker. id say about %30 of the detail is in there atm so ive still got a long way to go before the model is finnished. Rather than complete it though im going to add a basic rig and skin to test how the deforms work with the typology as it is. after all i dont want to spend another 10 hours on it and find twas all for nought and have to redo.


Thursday, 12 August 2010

Ive been wanting to rig muscles for a while now but as i need a model to do that i started modeling human anatomy. spend about 4 hours on this so far with detail needing to be added to the face hands and feet still. i was pleased with how the torso came out considering its been over a year since i did any proper modeling. not sure weather i want to take this into z brush or keep it in max yet although when it comes to rigging if i need to make alterations to skin deformation it would be easier if i kept it in max.

11 Second Club July, only spent a total of about 6 days on this which is a shame cause i was realy getting into it, come the final day i came to accept that it wasnt going to get completed in time. :(

got my breakdowns done, moved to curves and fixed them but never realy got to do a full animation pass. once again facial expressions are missing, its something im weak at so ill be giving some facial animation a go.

work created for an internship at Little Old Lady Games for an undisclosed project in development for PC,iPhone, iPad and PSPgo.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

So the last 3 months have been quite intense, although looking back now the hurdles look so much smaller than they did back then...

To summarise i now have a nice showreel but the crowning jewel was definatley mannaging to complete our little bug VFX sequence. feels like a child or something come to life all frankenstein style.

Spider Attack - Final Cinema Render from Sean Rowlands on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bug previs, will have live action doubles in certain scenes on final animation.

Creature Previs from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Trex in Atrium

As part of collaborative project ive been working on a compositing film/project where a Trex smashes into our uni and proceeds to cause inconveinence to the working day with extreme hunger. Ive been thrilled to work on the project working rather closely as a team created a nice working environment, im glad to have learned more about weight and streamlining my pipeline too, overall a great experience.

SH_16 from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

SH_19 from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Rigging Creature

Spent this week learning how to Rig, and as i knew next to nothing about it before this im quite chuffed with myself, going to spend tomorrow iorning out bugs but heres the current rig state.

Deform test 2 from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

deform test 1 from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

Blocking monkey

1 of 7 Animations im doing for my end of year showreel, did this in a week from scratch as i completely changed my original pre production work, whops. it was worth it seems this rig has more appeal and im more psyched about working on it as it was what i was least looking forward to. Still not totally finnished the blocking but if i can find another solid week to work on it ill have it finnished and lookin shiney.

Blocking - Monkey Animation from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

For one of my showreel animations i thought it would be cool to spend some time creating a weird and funkey creature, this gave me the chance to do some more painting and design work which i enjoyed, ultimately when we get this guy built i'll be animating him jumping around roaring and smashing stuff, im going to be treating the project like were creating assets to go into a game engine, although for now itl just be a video demo of the guy.

Had a dabble in Zbrush for the first time last summer, a 2 day attempt got this result. would have been better if id used more reference and knew how to use Zbrush proerly... and not picked something thats fury! Not my best work again but when it comes to model properly ill know what im doing.

During the summer last year i decided to start speedpainting, im certainly not proud of these images but its a start and its certainly something i want to practice more.

Friday, 8 January 2010


Mini Reel Dec 09 Mark N from Mark Nicholas on Vimeo.

Yay Mini Reel! sliced together some stuff from the last month or two so i have something to show. Still working on more animation but hopefully will have some other stuff up here too.