New IRTC anim topic (round ending 4/2006): Special Effects

General discussion about JPatch

New IRTC anim topic (round ending 4/2006): Special Effects

Postby sascha » Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:02 pm

The new IRTC animation topic for the round ending on April 15 2006 is Special Effects.

The IRTC site wrote:Two main meanings: traditional special effects (SFX), or any sort of special, unusual, or visually striking effect you can achieve using your animation programs and/or processes. Use as inspiration a scene from your favorite "special-effects movie", or show an effect you invented yourself.


I expect that many entrants will create animations that show a lot of special effects. I don't have any concrete ideas right now, but since I'd like to focus on character animation and JPatch by itself currently doesn't offer any special effects at all, I thought that the script should be about special effects, but not contain any of them 8)
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Postby dphamhi » Thu Jan 19, 2006 2:53 pm

Just my 2 cents,

follow up on your idea that it's about special effects, not containing special effects, what about one of these Escher-like themes where the drawing of a and that bootstraps itself into a real hand that later on erases itself (or spill some real ink on it )

I 'm not sure it's never ever been illustrated by 2D animations à la cartoon, but maybe never been made out of a CGI 3D .

Or a couple of angels drawing lensflare in the sky ... :?
~ dphamhi ~
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Postby sascha » Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:19 pm

Ok, here's a vague idea:

Title: "The greatest special effect of all time".

The scene is indoor in some kind of "office" - outside the window it's pich black and the clock shows something like 3 am in the moring. The place is a mess, it's filled with tons of cumputer equippement (with a lot of blinkenlights), empty cola cans, empty and half empty pizza boxes, perhaps a full ashtray, a coffee can, CDs, some weird posters on the walls, etc. - in short the standard cliché of a computer hacker's place.

After some pan shots over the bizarre setting we see a guy in front of a large computer monitor - he's obviously working on a computer animation (the screen shows some wirteframe 3D models, perhaps screenshots of JPatch's GUI :wink: ). He works with his mouse and from time to time types something into the keyboard.

Finally we see a closeup of the motitor, zoomed so that the individual RGB pixels are visible. We see the shape of a "Play" button, the mouse pointer moves over it and presses the button - screen goes black.

After that we see the guy in front-view, only lit by the flickering of the monitor - we hear a soundtrack with some cool sounds of spacecrafts, lasers and explosions, and the expressions on the guy's face shows that he's really pleased with the special-effect he's just created...
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Postby animohn » Thu Jan 19, 2006 4:47 pm

I like the idea. It doesn’t sound to ambitious to complete. My only suggestion is instead of all the pan shots and clutter which will time take time to create, why not just keep it very simple, up close and personal so you can really work on some real character animation to put jpatch through its paces in that area with the bones and morphs.

One other suggestion for down the road, An attempt or two at the http://10secondclub.net/ would be a great way to put jpatch through it’s paces to see what working and what isn’t in making jpatch character animation friendly.
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Postby sascha » Thu Jan 19, 2006 5:56 pm

One other suggestion for down the road, An attempt or two at the http://10secondclub.net/ would be a great way to put jpatch through it’s paces to see what working and what isn’t in making jpatch character animation friendly.

Agreed. I was aware of the 10 Second Club, but the competition there is very tough (and everybody seems to be using high end professional software like Maya). Once the FK and timeline tools are working I'll check if JPatch (and I) are ready for such a competition. I'm pretty sure that most of the participants are professional animators or at least do freelance work in the animation industry from time to time. So it can't be compared with the IRTC - they're playing in a different league. I wouldn't say that JPatch will never be playing in that league too, but right now I think it's too early. I won't enter the 10 Second Club until I'm not convinced that I can create a competitive entry with JPatch - it's not about winning, but the avarage quality is quite high, and I don't want to make a fool of myself :wink:.
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Postby animohn » Thu Jan 19, 2006 6:12 pm

Certainly the winners are top quality and are usually using maya, but I suspect those professionals could make the animation look great with any tool, it might take longer and be harder to do without all the bells and whistles of maya but would still look great. I suspect after watching the bulk of them for a while ( and trying my hand at it once) most of the animations seem to be more student level. But I respect the attitude you want to represent yourself well before entering.

Let me make one other suggestion for jpatch, it would be useful I think for the development, publicizing and learning of jpatch if there was a sort of a Generi like character for jpatch. (For those who are not familiar with Generi it’s a free maya rig used to learn maya and practice animation http://andrewsilke.com/generi_rig/generi_rig.html ) If we had this and I shall call him Jeneri. It would allow new users to jump in and try out jpatch, follow tutorials made for jpatch using the character, be a recognizable character that publicizes jpatch and I suspect would be a good test bed as you add new features and for us to test out your beta releases.
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Postby sascha » Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:57 pm

I didn't know that Maya had this "Generi" character, but I knew of "Thom" from Animation:Master.
I agree that it's a good idea to have some "standard" character for JPatch - it should be completely rigged so people could start animating withough having to model and rig a character first.

Torf has made a nice puppet, once rigged this could be such a "demo" model (provided that Torf agrees to share it). It's got no face, but Thom too doesn't - but it would be great to test or learn working with bones.

A mascot for JPatch would be nice too (completely rigged and with a full set of facial expressions) - but I think it's too early. Once JPatch is really ready I'll maybe start a mascot competition :)
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Postby dcuny » Fri Jan 20, 2006 4:03 am

Bah, what a terrible topic for JPatch!. :?

I had a number of (not very funny) ideas, but I'll save you the time of reading through them.

How about going with the idea of recreating some famous scene with special effects? The actor(s) would be acting against a bluescreen or something, and every now and then ask the director about missing elements - the scenery, the monster, etc. He'd keep reassuring them that all that would be added later, using "digital effects". One of the actors says that's a good thing, because they'd look pretty silly without the FX.

Feh... I can tell it'll be a while before I get any good ideas. You should be thankful I decided not to post the even less funny ideas I had before that. :roll:
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Postby pndragon » Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:21 am

How about going with the idea of recreating some famous scene with special effects? The actor(s) would be acting against a bluescreen or something, and every now and then ask the director about missing elements - the scenery, the monster, etc. He'd keep reassuring them that all that would be added later, using "digital effects". One of the actors says that's a good thing, because they'd look pretty silly without the FX.

Sort of like Whose Line Is It Anyway? except for SFX? Whose FX Are they Anyway? "...and the explosions don't matter." :) A SFX game show... hmmm...

--- Jim
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Postby Torf » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:15 am

sascha wrote:Torf has made a nice puppet, once rigged this could be such a "demo" model (provided that Torf agrees to share it). It's got no face, but Thom too doesn't - but it would be great to test or learn working with bones.

Ehm, the puppet was made for exactly that reason - to allow me to learn how to use bones. It's not fully rigged, though, I plan to do this this weekend. I'd be honoured to have it included with JPatch, of course :D
I'm giving the rigging a go tomorrow and post what I'll come up with.
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Postby sascha » Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:51 am

The actor(s) would be acting against a bluescreen or something, and every now and then ask the director about missing elements

I like it, but it sounds hard to do.

Here's another idea: It's a "split screen" with a director and a special effects guy on the phone. The scene takes place in the near future, and the SFX guy talks to the director about a new idea for a special effect: It would involve a computer-generated blue character. In postprocessing this blue character would be replaced by a real human actor...

I like my first idea (with the animator who creates the special effect) better, but of course both would require some reworking to make them more funny. In addition, the first script has the advantage of not relying on lip-syncing (I've become lazy) :)
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Postby pndragon » Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:20 pm

Title: "The greatest special effect of all time".

The scene is indoor in some kind of "office" - outside the window it's pich black and the clock shows something like 3 am in the moring. The place is a mess, it's filled with tons of cumputer equippement (with a lot of blinkenlights), empty cola cans, empty and half empty pizza boxes, perhaps a full ashtray, a coffee can, CDs, some weird posters on the walls, etc. - in short the standard cliché of a computer hacker's place.

After some pan shots over the bizarre setting we see a guy in front of a large computer monitor - he's obviously working on a computer animation (the screen shows some wirteframe 3D models, perhaps screenshots of JPatch's GUI Wink ). He works with his mouse and from time to time types something into the keyboard.

Finally we see a closeup of the motitor, zoomed so that the individual RGB pixels are visible. We see the shape of a "Play" button, the mouse pointer moves over it and presses the button - screen goes black.

After that, the camera pans back out, and the room is perfectly clean and organized... It all depends on what you think of as a really great effect....

--- Jim
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Postby dcuny » Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:36 pm

I was thinking you could have two characters walking around inside a computer environment, and one would show the other various effects - reflection, refraction, environment mapping... The other would be entirely unimpressed, until they came across a low resolution Lara Croft-endowed character, to which the other would reply "Now that's a special effect!". :roll:
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Postby pndragon » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:01 pm

a low resolution Lara Croft-endowed character,

Weird Science....

--- Jim
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Postby dcuny » Sat Jan 21, 2006 9:53 am

It's a bit hard to get my head wrapped around this topic, because computer animation is a "special effect". :roll:

Ironically, perhaps the most effective special effect I can think of is also the simplest: it's the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy steps out of her monochrome house into the multi-colored Munchkin land. Brilliant stuff.

Inyo supports steregraphic rendering, which is sort of a special effect. It would make an irritating video if you didn't have glasses, though. I like this fake subsurface scattering effect that Inyo can do (or used to, assuming I haven't broken the code):

Image

It would be even more cool if I could show bones within the character. :D At least I could see it being used in the context of a story, along with a glare/bloom filter and lens flare.

Probably a better idea: I was watching Pearlmageddon the other day. It's basically a cross between the movies Pearl Harbor and Armageddon. If you haven't seen it, download it now. Be sure to play it all the way through - it's got a great theme song during the end credits. :P Also, be sure to check out the Visual FX section under the Extra heading - it's a hoot. Although the film was shot in three days, the visual FX took about three months to finish... :?

Anyway, perhaps a satire on megablockbuster films would work - maybe a movie preview? You could do a sort of retro-futuristic sort of thing, with a Buck Rogers sort of rocket:

Image

Of course, you'll need cool Edgar Rice Burroughs style Martians (ooops... Barsoomians):

Image

The problem is that none of the renderers that JPatch supports really handles effects stuff like smoke and fire. I guess we're supposed to ignore the fact that most people add stuff like sparkles and smoke in post production, not with the renderer itself... :?

Anyhoo, one of the gags of this "megablockbuster" would be that all the effects would be really, really bad. Ships hanging by strings, puppets for monsters, etc. I'm thinking of the point in Toy Story II where they're watching Woody's Roundup, and the "little critters" in the scene are cutout animals dangling by strings.

So one of the characters would scream "Watch out!" and the next scene would be a badly animated monster in a set that someone's left pliers lying around (so you can tell the scale of the puppet), or have where the sparkles fall down, so you can tell the rocket is a cheap model.

Naturally, it'll be a lot more work to make something intentionally look bad. :P
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