July 2004 Archives

DMA: Day 5

So yesterday was the last day of the 3D Studio Max I DMA course. We didn't get into anything new, the day was mostly just for wrapping up stuff we've been working on during the week. Jonathan, the instructor, mostly went around answering questions the kids had about their projects. For the entire day I just messed around with Max trying out new thinks like Reactor which will do physics with objects and solid object interactions. Jonathan showed me some really cool things with Reactor. After messing with that for a while I played around with depth of field. Toward the end of the day I had to leave class for about 45 mins to attend our weekly Team Leaders meeting at work, which was right upstairs. That was a rather disorienting experience, as I haven't had much sleep all week, I haven't been upstairs much all week, and now I'm in a meeting talking about topics that came up at work during the week which I haven't been around for. It was weird to say the least. After the meeting I went back to the class and messed with depth of field. At the end of the day we had all of our files burned to cd so we can keep them. Then all the kids' parents came by to pick up their kids and popped into the class to see what it was like. They asked a million questions to Jonathan about how to get their kid into the industry. So that was pretty much how the day ended. Afterward I went home and played Rallisport all night online with Minh. Next week is the Max II course, and my manager says I can attend some days, but I don't know which. Either way, I look forward to next week. The scary thing is we only have something like 2 weeks left of summer before school starts. Yikes.

DMA: Day 4

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Holy crap I'm TIRED. All this waking up early and going to bed late craziness has caught up to me big time. I don't know how I'm gonna make it through tomorrow, but I'm sure I'll manage. Today wasn't another uneventful day. Today was one of the most interesting and informative days I've had all week. We're finally getting into topics that I know little or nothing about, so I made sure to pay close attention. We covered a ton of topics, many of which I forgot already, but the bulk of what we did today centered around animation. We learned how to create bones for our models in order to make them move. I animated my raptor looking down as if it was eating something and then slowly pick up its head to look directly at the camera as if it had noticed you. Unfortunately I forgot to render it out, so I can't show it off, but it wasn't anything spectacular anyway. We also learned about morphing objects and how to animate facial expressions. Then we went on to IK systems and animating human/bipedal movement. He mainly covered IK because I specifically asked him to talk about it. It's pretty obvious the rest of the class didn't grasp the concept too well, but he was mainly explaining it to just me. After that he showed me some cool tricks with FFD (Free Form Deformation), but it's too complicated and awesome to explain here. He then talked for a while about some of the work he's done, such as for movies, tv, and video games. Most of his videos were a little crude, but they weren't meant to be production renders, just demos. They were quite impressive regardless. Apparently he used to work at Acclaim, which I guess I should have guessed since he mentioned working on Turok 3. After that he discussed texturing in Photoshop and how to do tricks with texture maps in Max. All of that was nothing new to me, so I worked a little on my raptor. He now has fingers, woohoo! I still have a ways to go on the hands and I need to flesh out the feet, but little by little he is taking shape. Below is a quick screencap of what I had by the end of class. I hardly spent any time working on it today. Most of the day was spent just listening to the instructor.

yay polygons! Now with crude fingers!

As you can see, the hands are a little oversized. That is all intentional though so I can more easily work with them to model them. The hands were about all I worked on today, except for the brief head movement animation. I was gonna animate his mouth opening and closing, but ran out of time at the end. Oh yeah I forgot to mention this yesterday but last time in class we covered particle effects. That's always fun but old news to me.

During one of our breaks I went upstairs to talk to my manager about the class, since he had been wondering how it's been going. I told him how it was kinda slow for me and not quite as advanced as I had hoped. Because of that, he said I may be able to attend the Max II class next week, but probably not for the whole 5 days, just some of it. That will be so cool since next week is when they really get into the hardcore topics I have been waiting for. The instructor (his name is Jonathan, btw) has been asking me all week if I was gonna be at next week's class. I didn't think I would, so I have been telling him no and he always seemed kinda sad that I wasn't. Today I told him how my manager said he might let me come some days next week and Johnathan seemed pretty happy to hear that. Plus he's gonna be doing some extra instruction at nights during lab time. That is especially cool because I'll be working those lab times next week, so it works out perfectly. Anyway, tomorrow we're supposed to do some kind of group activity where we'll be in teams and each team will contribute one part of a whole scene. So apparently one group will focus on models, another on texturing, another on animation, and so on and at the end we'll put all the pieces together to do a nice animation or scene or whatever. It sounds kinda lame, but oh well.

DMA: Day 3

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Man, yesterday when I got home I immediately fell asleep and woke up at 9:30pm to eat dinner. I really shouldn't have done that because last night when I tried to sleep, I couldn't. I tossed and turned until about 3:30am when I finally passed out. So at 7am when it came time to get up I absolutely couldn't and ended up getting up at 8am. I had to floor it all the way to work to make it in time (although that's no different than any other morning) but I was still about 5 mins late. Luckily I didn't miss anything in class so I didn't feel too bad about being late. I'm ahead of that class anyway.

Today's class was another uneventful one, with mostly just Q&A about stuff we've covered. Today the instructor told us to think of an animal and model it. I couldn't think of anything, so I decided to model a velociraptor. The instructor said that may be a little difficult, but I went ahead and attempted it. After about half an hour I had a good base model to work with. The instructor seemed impressed as to how fast I was modeling. I was so incredibly sleepy though, so I couldn't really focus and even though I spent the entire day working on the raptor model, I didn't get very far. You can see in the image below that I still have a ways to go, particularly in the hands and feet and some of the tail. If I could find a decent texture from which to skin it from, I wouldn't have to model it in much detail, but there really weren't any good images I could find that I could use as a decent skin.

My raptor model! rawr! Where's Turok when you need him?

I found out today that the instructor did some cinematics for Turok 3 on the N64. I didn't even know they made a Turok 3, but the Turok series is one of my favs, so I was quite interested. When he saw me modeling the raptor, he started telling me about his work on Turok. It was pretty sweet.

Aside from the Q&A, he showed us some examples of texturing and how to create textures in Photoshop. Nothing new to me, but interesting to see how he does things. He also briefly showed us the website for his company, but since it's all Flash, I can't view it here (since I hate Flash and don't have it installed). I'll check it out tomorrow sometime I guess. Maybe they can give me a job or something. :D

After class he talked to me about my experience with Max and 3D modeling, since apparently I'm kind of advanced, at least in comparison to the rest of the kids in the class. He's a pretty cool guy and knows a lot about 3D modeling and digital art. I'm fortunate to be taking this class. He asked if I was going to be in the Max II class next week, but when I told him no I had to work, he seemed kinda disappointed. I really want to, but I don't think work will let me. Since I won't be around next week he's gonna try and give me some extra (more advanced) pointers before the week is up. Maybe I can talk my manager into letting me take Max II..

DMA: Day 2

Updates 3 days in a row? What is this world coming to?

Today's class was rather uneventful. Almost the entire time was spent doing review and Q&A of yesterday's class. As a result we didn't go over too much new stuff. We spent the day just working on our weapon models getting them to look nice. Toward the end the instructor went over UVW mapping so we could texture our models using the reference photos they were modeled from. He first showed us how to do a quick and dirty UVW map to get our texture onto our model. Then he showed us how to do a UVW unwrap to basically fine tune the texture so it fits properly on the model. My texture fit almost perfectly on my model, so I didn't really need to do an unwrap though. UVW mapping and unwrapping is kind of a tricky concept, so most of the kids didn't really get it. Because of that, he didn't really go into much detail about it as I had hoped he would. That pretty much sums up what we did today. I finished my model pretty fast, so I spent the rest of the time chatting on AIM and playing with radiosity. Below is a quick render I did of my RPG model with an area light to get the soft shadows (if you hadn't noticed already, I'm all about soft, subtle shadows).

My RPG model, w00t! Look what I made! :D

The instructor and his assistant work for a small game company and are currently making a first-person shooter. It's some kind of hunting game. They really liked my RPG model and asked if I'd like to donate it to their game. So who knows, I may have something in an actual game. If they do end up using my model, they said I'll get a free copy of the game and I'll be credited in it. Pretty cool for only a few hours of work. Seems like an exciting prospect. Maybe they'll let me model some other stuff for it. I kinda want to model a mini-gun. I think they'd like that, but I wouldn't be able to finish it in the next 3 days I don't think. I can't even find a good reference photo for it. Oh well. Tomorrow I believe we are going to delve into modeling more organic things, like people and plants, using skeletons, skins, and IK joints. I think the inverse kinematics part will be fun since that's one thing I've always wanted to learn but never got around to learning it myself. Skins and skeletons sounds kinda cool too, but I bet the kids won't be able to grasp the concepts, so I bet we don't go into it too deep. I can tell you this much though: all this waking up early is really messing me up.

DMA: Day 1

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Wow what a day. I'm exhausted. I had to get up at 6am this morning so I could be at the DMA by 8. Waking up early just isn't for me. As everyone was filing into the room, one thing struck me. Everyone in the class was late middle school to high school age with the exception of one woman who was well older than everyone. If there's one thing I can't stand is kids that age. On top of that, they were all boys aside from the woman and this one young girl. Once I noticed everyone's age (or lack thereof) I knew this class was gonna be jacked. I had originally expected the class to be full of people who already had a fair amount of experience doing 3D stuff, but I guess I was way off. So day 1 basically consisted of a speedy introduction to 3D Studio Max and 3D modeling. All in all it was painfully slow as they really didn't cover anything I didn't already know. At the very least I learned a few shortcuts, but nothing new. We spent most of the time learning the interface and then doing a little box modeling of a face. After that the instructor told us to pick our favorite firearm and try to model it in Max using a reference photo. I had a little trouble finding reference pics, but I found a great pic of a shoulder-fired RPG, so I began modeling that but ran out of time so I'm guessing we'll pick it up tomorrow. All in all it was an interesting day. The only thing that bugged me were the kids. Being in a room full of immature, impatient, whiny adolescent boys just drove me nuts. They couldn't follow directions most of the time and would bug the instructor for help a lot, which is the main reason for our slow pace. The girl next to me couldn't do a single thing right, so every couple minutes she'd call the instructor over for help. Argh. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more fun. All this waking up early is gonna kill me though.