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JoeW
04-12-2003, 04:52 AM
Well, we finally finished a little commercial for our upcoming game "Tak and the Power of Juju" for Nickelodeon and THQ - and we did almost all of it in AM. It looks like we'll be using AM for the cinematics, too - so we've been pounding on the renderer and Netrender, as well as speed issues and the like. Hopefully, everyone will gain from our pain and suffering... ;)

As with most things of this complexity (although it LOOKS simple) a good number of folks kicked in their expertise on it. The only thing Avalanche WON'T claim is the sound - which we all were pretty unhappy with - it was done by Nickelodeon's sound monkeys, and we didn't have any say (so don't hold that against us).

It was composited in AfterEffects, and the particle effects were done in Particle Illusion - the rest was done in AM.

It's supposed to air during the Kid's Choice Awards tomorrow night (the 12th of April).

You can download it from here:

ftp://ftp.hash.com/users/joewllms/Samples/Tak_&_Power_of_Juju.avi

(DIVX codec)

Joe W

My Fault
04-12-2003, 05:01 AM
Bout time you posted this! :p

Freakin gorgeous, very funny stuff... but I still wish that frog changed color. Great job JoeW and the Avalanche crew! :thumbsup:

Zaryin
04-12-2003, 06:29 AM
That is nice! Great job Avalanche!

antonyw
04-13-2003, 11:09 AM
Really Good Animation, I love it so much.

Specially Love all the Detail motions.

Sil3
04-13-2003, 02:47 PM
Sweetttttttttttttttt :love: :love: :love:

Sil3

My Fault
04-13-2003, 05:44 PM
Yeah, caught it on the last half of the Kid's Choice Awards last night. Looks even better on the big ol tv and to be honest it didn't sound all that bad.

Now get back to work and finish that game! :beer:

John Keates
04-13-2003, 08:23 PM
WOW!! My faith in AM is restored. That was beautiful.

Good to know that there are people on side with your expertise. I am pushing for a faster renderer myself but am not all that clued up on the topic. Hopefully good times are ahead.

Just one question (I could ask many), How did you get everything looking so smooth?

pequod
04-13-2003, 10:24 PM
It's great to see AM being used to produce such a professional piece and it's funny too. I think the music sounds fine, it certainly doesn't detract. Wouldn't Hash's new sprites have achieved the same fairy dust effect?

binder3d
04-14-2003, 12:22 AM
Im really glad to see AM used in production but Im still confused. When I read that someone is happy that AM has renewed the faith in AM (please this is not a flame bait!!!!) I take this that AM is not seen this way. If its not why use AM? I would have left and used another app like Max or something. I asked this before and I am not getting it-maybe my friends are right and I am slow. But if so many people dont beleive in AM why are people still using it or still posting about it?? Very confused. I know people say that AM is full of potential but after so many years people are still saying the same thing about AM? Maybe I just dont get it.

My Fault
04-14-2003, 01:15 AM
I think it's because Hash has got a few things really, really right. For instance, ask just about anyone with in depth knowledge of AM's animation and rigging tools and they will tell you it has been one of the best in these departments for many, many years. Literally leaps and bounds superior to the other major 3d tools out there.

Unfortunately while they have been way ahead in that, they have been behind in other things. Hash patches for instance. Years ago, they kicked the crap out of polygons, but with the rapid improvement in sub-d toolsets in the last few years, Hash patches just aren't the best solution. Yes, a Hash model tends to be lighter in size (kb wise) then a comparable poly model, but the ease in which you can build and add detail in say Wings3d.... just no comparison (IMHO that is)

Also take in to the fact that for years, AM was the only real moderately priced solution for 3d character animation. This attracted many people who came to love this quirky piece of software.

Kevin Sanderson
04-14-2003, 01:24 AM
People are still using A:M because for many things, especially animation, it still works well and most importantly to many it is very cost effective...it's more affordable than any other package out. And quite frankly, the positive buzz has been up, with the improved render engine in v10.5 alpha and, lately on the list, talk of hair guides being implemented solving problems some were having. Good examples of caustics working has some excited as well.

Now many folks have moved on to other programs, but many have stayed because of personal investment in time, learning the program and money (or lack of money) and some have come back just to see what is going on. Those posting (like me) seem to have a passion for what A:M can do and what it may be capable of doing.

Many of us don't give a hoot about whether it can work in a production environment. Many of us have no intention of working for any studio. Some think we can do something special with the software. But it is always cheering to hear news that it worked well when used in real production work when so many have said it can't cut it.

Hope that helps clarify it a bit for you, binder3D.

binder3d
04-14-2003, 01:51 AM
Sure did thanks for the reply! I just get bummed when I read some of the posts thats all. I really like AM and want it to succeed. I really dont read some posts on LW or C4d where they say something nice then something bad in the same post. Thanks again for you guys for posting!!!!
:)

pequod
04-14-2003, 02:02 AM
"if so many people dont beleive in AM why are people still using it or still posting about it??"

Speaking for myself, I'm unlikely to ever make anything as slick as this, and I don't mean 'slick' in a derogatory sense. The reason is I don't possess the necessary skills, talent or resources. I could be using Maya and still wouldn't come close. But guys like me need to be reminded of the potential the software has so we can dream. And we use AM, because it's cheap and great for character animation.
People have discussed at length the reason why more studios don't use AM. Undoubtedly, if more professionals did, the program would be more highly regarded, I don't really care. What would be of benefit to having more professionals using the software, is a more critical and vociferous AM community that would keep Hash responsive ..... just like this forum.

Ah, it's taken me so long to write this post, I see I'm repeating what other folks have already said.

JTalbotski
04-14-2003, 03:20 AM
Wow! Nice professional piece, JoeW!

Pequod, I KNOW you are capable of that level of work based on what I've seen you do already.

But I'd be curious to know, JoeW, how many people worked on the animation, including modeling, rigging, lighting and animating?

Maybe if we looked at a great animation example like this and understood all the effort that ALL the people involved, it wouldn't be discouraging, but encouraging to others.

Thanks for any info!

Jim

zandoria
04-14-2003, 04:45 AM
Very funny clip! It is very inspiring to see work like this, thanks for posting it:applause:

Manta
04-14-2003, 07:05 AM
Great piece of animation! :thumbsup:
Good work, man

Regards.

Eyemagic
04-14-2003, 07:56 AM
Wow!. Congratulations!!!!

The models and the animation are marvelous.

Very funny:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

John Keates
04-14-2003, 10:20 PM
Originally posted by binder3d
Im really glad to see AM used in production but Im still confused. When I read that someone is happy that AM has renewed the faith in AM (

People have already answered you very well but I would like to add a point about why I said what I said (no offence taken by the way):

My point was mostly that I like to see proffesionals using AM as we need people who know what they are talking about contacting hash and telling them what is needed in the program. In the origional post, it was hinted strongly that this is what is happening with the new renderer. There are many other very talented people using the program (some of whom have posted above), but with every studio that I see using AM, my confidence in the program grows. The danger is that if it is only upstarts like me using the program then they don't know what features to suggest. Hope this clears things up.

JoeW
04-14-2003, 11:47 PM
Hey guys, thanks so much for the praise! When you've watched something over and over about a billion times, all you tend to see is all the stuff that's *wrong* with it - it's nice to know that somebody else got a chuckle out of it :)

To answer some of the questions:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just one question (I could ask many), How did you get everything looking so smooth?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

This animation was created and rendered in 10.5 alpha, so we took advantage of the new surface sampling that Martin put in plus used porcelain with varying amounts of "Normal Weight". Martin upped the surface tesselation to 4x4 in this iteration, and it makes a huge difference in how smooth, yet detailed a surface can look. Although I don't love the idea of a material controlling the surfacing smoothness (seems clumsy to me), one thing that I think IS cool about porcelain is that you can put it on individual groups and vary the amount of "smoothing" you get from it by using the Normal Weight settings - kind of slick once you get used to it.... I think it would be nice if porcelain was just a setting under the Group attributes....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wouldn't Hash's new sprites have achieved the same fairy dust effect?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, they *might* have, but the last time I messed with them (a long time ago) the spriticle's alpha didn't make it into the image alpha, so you had a bunch of "squares" flying around. The other advantage of using post particles is the *control* I have over all aspects of how they appear - if they were incorporated into the image, and the art director said, "Hmmmm - I wonder if those particles shouldn't be more blue.....?" - I'd have to go back and re-render the scene. Since it's done post (particles on their own layer), I can make the adjustments right there and answer his question. I'm a HUGE believer in doing as many things post as I possibly can - this "simple" animation had over 50 layers.

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But if so many people dont beleive in AM why are people still using it or still posting about it??
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ah - it's a total love/hate relationship. I know that other's will have their reasons, but for me, AM is STILL the easiest package for rigging and animating - so much so that I almost can't stand using anything else. It's still pretty much my favorite for modeling and texturing, too, but LW is a close second (except for texturing - yech!). We have Maya, XSI, Max, LW and even Mirai here, but I'd rather animate in AM over any of them. Even after all this time, none of the other packages have managed to even come close to AM's forgiving, simple workflow and tremendous ease-of-use... which is an amazing testament to how *unaware* the other developers are....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
But I'd be curious to know, JoeW, how many people worked on the animation, including modeling, rigging, lighting and animating?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a good point - if you count *everybody* that had a finger in it, you're looking at around 10 people. I'd say 5 of us worked on it full-time for about 2 weeks from concept to completion. Most people contributed to at least a few tasks (except the animators who pretty much just *animated*). I did the lighting, sufacing adjustments, effects, compositing, as well as some smaller animations (leaves) and modeling (I built and rigged the butterfly and some of the set parts - I know, "whoohooo" :). Most of the modeling and rigging was handled by 3 people. We had 4 people working on different aspects of the animations - some working on overall body movements, while others worked on facial animations and things like Tak's hair (yes, it was animated by hand - eeek!).

I think that an individual *could* do something like this, but it would take them a lot longer (obviously). Another reason this took us SO long is that in addition to working through rendering problems and that fun stuff, we were constantly working on subtle changes here and there in the animation - tweaking hand positions, blinks, eye movements, expressions, etc. I think we went through about 6 iterations before we found something we were pretty happy with, and if it hadn't been for the deadline we were under, we probably could have tweaked on it for another week.

The one fact that was driven home for me was how great it is to have a team working on something like this - even if we did argue like crazy about much of it :)

Sorry this reply was so late - we go Alpha on the game tomorrow, so we've been working some pretty crazy hours.... it's lookin' really good though.... :)

JoeW

kinsman
04-15-2003, 02:05 AM
I searched around the net for information about the game, and found some alpha screenshots of the game.

I wonder if you could talk a bit about how you moved the AM patch models to the Playstation poly models. Did you just export them to DXF or similar? Did you decipher the MDL and ACT (or PLY and MOT) files? How did you preserve texturing, decals, information like specular shine?

-Sean Givan

Edited:
http://media.psx2.com/images/games/tak/tak-13.jpg

Hey.. where have I seen that sheep before? ;)

JoeW
04-15-2003, 05:47 AM
I searched around the net for information about the game, and found some alpha screenshots of the game.

I wonder if you could talk a bit about how you moved the AM patch models to the Playstation poly models. Did you just export them to DXF or similar? Did you decipher the MDL and ACT (or PLY and MOT) files? How did you preserve texturing, decals, information like specular shine?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm thinking there should be more screenshots coming up - we're getting really close to final on some levels, and the art is looking a LOT better..... we've had a little trouble keeping the marketing machine happy, though - they want a constant stream of hi-res renders....

In regards to moving AM models into the PS2, we spent about a year and a half creating what we call a "filter chain" - it's basically a set of applications which allow us to get objects into our engine from a number of different applications. The idea was to *not* tie the artists to one particular package for content creation. Even though we have this freedom, most people create objects either in AM or Maya - with AM being used for characters and world "objects" and Maya typically being used for levels. Now, when I say "Maya" what I'm really referring to is a set of tools that we've created to run inside of Maya - we don't really use the "off the shelf" version (does anybody?).

Animations are exported from AM via a format called KFM. KFM's are clumsy and don't carry over a lot of things that we'd like - they tend to mess up some of the subtlety of the animations and they don't carry over smartskinning - so for the future, we're looking into some other ideas.

There are some exporters out there for AM that *will* allow you to bring UV information out of AM and into anything that can read that information - mostly, I'm referring to OBJ exporters that also export an MTL file. I've brought objects into Maya and LW with very little problem in the OBJ format - about all the work you have to do is reset the texture paths and you're golden.

JoeW

Squeakypics
04-15-2003, 11:24 AM
Thank you for posting this. The community and Hash needs more of this kind of stuff. Thank you too for taking the time to explain how you did the job.
My opinion about AM is slowly starting to rise.

John Keates
04-15-2003, 09:18 PM
Originally posted by JoeW
This animation was created and rendered in 10.5 alpha, so we took advantage of the new surface sampling that Martin put in plus used porcelain with varying amounts of "Normal Weight". Martin upped the surface tesselation to 4x4 in this iteration, and it makes a huge difference in how smooth, yet detailed a surface can look.
JoeW

I have been playing around with 10.5 and so I kind of know what you are talking about here, but what is the "surface sampling"? Is it a net render thing?

---------------------------------------------------------------
one thing that I think IS cool about porcelain is that you can put it on individual groups and vary the amount of "smoothing" you get from it by using the Normal Weight settings
----------------------------------------------------------------------

I have found that the normal weight setting does nothing in the latest versions of 10.5. Are you using an older version? What is happening to this feature.

Thanks in advance for any answers. Oh, I like the movement on those leaves by the way. It was actually one of the first things that I noticed.

JoeW
04-15-2003, 10:18 PM
I have been playing around with 10.5 and so I kind of know what you are talking about here, but what is the "surface sampling"? Is it a net render thing?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the way I was describing it - the actual idea here is "normal sampling". The way that the original porcelain worked was that it would divide the patch into a 2X2 (4 quads) division, then use the normals of this division to calculate the shading across the surfaces. The problem with this was that it would positively KILL any detail you had - it would kind of smooth over ALL creasing - including modeled in details. We asked Martin to increase the number of samples to a 4X4 grid (16 polys per patch) - and this made a pretty big difference. The one thing that I can tell you is that the "old" settings for Porcelain are no longer valid - you may have to crank up your values to see an appreciable difference.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have found that the normal weight setting does nothing in the latest versions of 10.5. Are you using an older version? What is happening to this feature.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is strange - make sure that you are getting a value to show up under both the Material's Attribute (in the actual Material) and also something under the Attribute under the shortcut on your group or model. I just tested Porcelain before I wrote this, and it seems to be working fine - but then again, I'm all too familiar with problems that show up on one machine but not on others when using AM (so I'm NOT calling you a liar :). I have noticed that the "old" stacking of materials doesn't seem to work dependably in V10.5 (where the materials are applied in the order - top to bottom - that they appear in the PWS) - so before you give up on porcelain you might just strip everything off of your model except porcelain and make sure that there isn't something overriding it.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks in advance for any answers. Oh, I like the movement on those leaves by the way. It was actually one of the first things that I noticed.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for the compliment! I guess I'm kind of a lazy animator in some ways - all of the leaves were animated by manipulating one control bone. Each leaf had bones with constraints looking at the control bone with differing amounts of "Orient Like" and "Lag" applied - then I just "waggled" the control bone, and everything else followed....

BTW - There is a higher resolution QT movie here:

ftp://ftp.hash.com/users/joewllms/Samples/Tak_&_Power_of_Juju.mov

JoeW

amsmf
04-16-2003, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by JoeW
I guess I'm kind of a lazy animator in some ways - all of the leaves were animated by manipulating one control bone. Each leaf had bones with constraints looking at the control bone with differing amounts of "Orient Like" and "Lag" applied - then I just "waggled" the control bone, and everything else followed....


JoeW

That is not a "lazy animator." That is a highly efficient animator. Well done, and a great tip!

My Fault
04-16-2003, 05:01 PM
Originally posted by amsmf
That is not a "lazy animator." That is a highly efficient animator. Well done, and a great tip!

I don't know, have you seen Joe animate? Crashed out in his Power Puff Girls bean bag chair watching old "Kung Fu" episodes on tv. Calls every body "grasshopper" and keeps telling them "when you can grab this keyframe from my hand, it is time for you to leave." I think the 100 hour workweeks are starting to get to him :p

PJC
04-16-2003, 11:47 PM
Joe,

Just showed this short to one of my new artists who is a total Max-head. After watching it a bunch of times (Frame by Frame!)She said she's gonna learn AM REAL fast now.

Excellent work as always. Avalanche has always been at the top of any animation pyramid, I sure wish you needed an Art guy here in So. Cal. ;)

Thanks for sharing, and the game looks VERY interesting as I am a total game head!

- patrick j. clarke

JoeW
04-20-2003, 12:26 AM
I don't know, have you seen Joe animate? Crashed out in his Power Puff Girls bean bag chair watching old "Kung Fu" episodes on tv. Calls every body "grasshopper" and keeps telling them "when you can grab this keyframe from my hand, it is time for you to leave." I think the 100 hour workweeks are starting to get to him
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hey Nicco! You weren't supposed to tell anyone!... and here I had everyone thinking I was a hard workin' guy ;)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just showed this short to one of my new artists who is a total Max-head. After watching it a bunch of times (Frame by Frame!)She said she's gonna learn AM REAL fast now.

Excellent work as always. Avalanche has always been at the top of any animation pyramid, I sure wish you needed an Art guy here in So. Cal.

Thanks for sharing, and the game looks VERY interesting as I am a total game head!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hey Patrick,

Heh - I can only imagine. We have a couple of Max-heads at Avalanche - and they all use AM in some capacity. Many of them start their sub-d models in AM and take them into MAX. The ones who HAVE animated in AM really hate going back to MAX....

Thanks for the compliments about Avalanche - we are pretty hard on each other (critically) when we create things. We used to kind of gather around some new piece that was done (whether it be painting, model, animation - whatever) and do some pretty - uh - "blunt" critiques. It was very much a learning process - and you knew that if the guys said it was good - you could believe them. Unfortunately, as we've grown, we're finding less and less time to do this kind of thing.....

If we ever need an Art guy in SoCal, I'll definitely keep you in mind :)

JoeW

hoochoochoochoo
04-23-2003, 11:50 AM
great piece! I'm interested that our requests about material settings have taken root in AM, work like this should convince Martin that we will use real enhancements in AM.

The other advantage of using post particles is the *control* I have over all aspects of how they appear - if they were incorporated into the image, and the art director said, "Hmmmm - I wonder if those particles shouldn't be more blue.....?" - I'd have to go back and re-render the scene.

I'm afraid the above doesn't happen in animation only... nearly every area of visual or creative art has a director or leader who is prone to saying...
hmmm, I wonder if... (without quite realising the cost or manpower necessary)

JoeW
04-23-2003, 08:35 PM
Originally posted by hoochoochoochoo
great piece! I'm interested that our requests about material settings have taken root in AM, work like this should convince Martin that we will use real enhancements in AM.

Well, there has been a big improvement in how older materials come over into the new versions - V9 and V9.5 pretty much thrashed what you'd created in V8.5 (in regards to materials). Of course (and unfortunately) custom shaders don't come in worth a damn. I use the IFW Enhance AM shaders quite a bit, and I've had to rebuild my library a little at a time - it's a pain in the butt...


I'm afraid the above doesn't happen in animation only... nearly every area of visual or creative art has a director or leader who is prone to saying...
hmmm, I wonder if... (without quite realising the cost or manpower necessary).

You've got that right... if I could only recover the, oh, half-million hours I've spend re-doing something because some "art director" wanted to "do a little experiment just to see how it would look".... One of the things I can't stand is wasting time.....

JoeW

fxgogo
04-24-2003, 04:05 PM
very nice stuff.

PJC
04-24-2003, 07:05 PM
Originally posted by JoeW
I use the IFW Enhance AM shaders quite a bit, and I've had to rebuild my library a little at a time - it's a pain in the butt..
JoeW

Yeah, my AMSimbiont and toonnation stuff were all totally thrashed when I moved my comic stuff to v9 and v10. I would love to do my renders in v10.5 for my comic stuff, but AMSimbiont isn't working with it..hopefully that's going to be fixed...

and don't hate me...I'm an Art Dictator, er Director, and my guys love it when I suggest changes... ;)

:D

Just think, even worse is the guy with an MBA making art direction "suggestions"....YIKES!

- pjc

hoochoochoochoo
04-25-2003, 01:40 PM
and don't hate me...I'm an Art Dictator it's on the tip of my tongue PJ...;)

Just think, even worse is the guy with an MBA making art direction "suggestions"....YIKES! I once had an English Literature PHD as my Art Dictator. What was your major PJ??
:beer: :beer: :beer:

Bugle
04-25-2003, 07:32 PM
toonation materials don't work?

That is disturbing. I was tempted by the porcelain thing and a possible end to creases, but losing my toonation materials would suck.

Is there a replacement for most of this stuff?

Kevin Sanderson
04-25-2003, 07:43 PM
It usually takes some time. Since v10.5 looks to be a winner, I would speculate that many will be updated after it's officially released. It's been that way over the years, where the folks working on plug-ins usually wait til things are pretty much set with A:M.

Kevin Sanderson
Farmington Hills, MI
USA
http://www.ksanderson.com
Voice Over Talent - Voice Overs
Animation:Master tips at
http://www.ksanderson.com/amtips.html

John Keates
04-25-2003, 09:20 PM
I think I remember Victor Navone reassuring people that those toon-nation shaders are in the works as we speek. In the mean-time, 10.5 can handle nice big speculars and comes with lambert and anisotropic shaders so it isn't all that bad I suppose.

binder3d
04-26-2003, 04:19 AM
What are lambert and anisotropic shaders? Whats the main reason that AM can handle nice big speculars?
Thanks.

PJC
04-26-2003, 05:49 AM
Originally posted by hoochoochoochoo
I once had an English Literature PHD as my Art Dictator. What was your major PJ??
:beer: :beer: :beer:

My favorite boss that was totally unqualified to direct us had a degree in zoology...wait, maybe he was perfectly educated for wrangling artists :D

I have a BFA with specialization in Computer Art, minor in Art History.


Lambert and Anisotropic are different shading methods, kinda like Phong and Blinn.

I sure hope Andy gets to update the shaders! They are AWESOME!!

- pjc

Pablo
04-26-2003, 11:21 AM
. I think it would be nice if porcelain was just a setting under the Group attributes....

I think this is really a very great idea, do you agree that we should ask Hash about this?

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