View Full Version : CanBot (WIP)

04 April 2009, 03:46 AM
Hello everyone,

I'm currently working on a short movie (about 10-15min long) dubbed CanBot:{subtitle wip}. It has been in production for about a month so far and is based on a flash animation i had to do for an exam project in high school a few years ago, it will be an almost accurate remake of it in 3d, just not as corny or short.

The plan is to spend about a year or 2 working on it, since it is a very complex project for me, and everything is being done from scratch, so i will keep updating as i progress. My aim here is photorealism visuals, but keeping the style cartoony enough to make it entertaining to the viewers as well, needless to say, its not going to be as easy as i had originally thought.

What is CanBot you ask? Canbot is a highly advanced, state of the art, spy robot contained entirely within a tin can, its arms, legs and head are entirely collapsable within themselves allowing it to transform directly into a robot and back into the tin can (think transformers but without losing the original shape of the car [or can in this case]).
I am trying to make it as belivable as possible so a lot of the design has to be constantly redone since i have no engineering background. So far most of my concepts have failed since a lot of it kept intersecting making it physically unaccurate and everything had to be remodeled/repositioned etc etc... so i've decided to cheat and create the 3d version of it first and then go back to the concept art.

I'll have some shots of CanBot's can body up next week. But for now, i have one of its legs.

W.I.P Progress

There are still a few issues i have with it, which i will take care off next week. This is a very rough animation, for testing purposes (was having issues with constraints) It's not much, but its enough to get this thread started. I'll have more interesting work up soon.
Video Link: First Leg rig finally completed (

04/23/2009 (Nudity)
Sorry, no clothing yet. More updates later. ( ( (
Progress on head. Optimizing, optimizing, realism can be a real b****. At this pace its going to take 8 months to render (

All C&C are welcomed :wavey:, enjoy.

04 April 2009, 05:02 AM
I'm pretty amazed by what you have going on so far!

Honestly, when you said a transforming robot in a tin can I was picturing something pretty basic lol

If that's just the leg, I wonder what the rest of the body will look like, can't wait to see it.

I can't offer too much advice as I'm definitely not at your level yet lol But what I can say is so far it's looking good, you have some nice movement going on, it's not too "robotic" and it's got just the right amount of fluidity in the movement. I also like the subtle movements you've got going on with the wiring on it, that's great.

Good luck on this project, I'm betting the end result will be pretty insane!

04 April 2009, 05:02 PM
Yeah i really wanted it to feel realistic and believable for more than just the visuals. I was supposed to have the robot done a few weeks ago but rigging turned out to be a lot harder than i had anticipated so i only have the head, torso and legs done so far. I just realized u can see the lower half of the torso in the leg video.

Thanks for your input vengeful.

04 April 2009, 05:53 AM
Update for 04/23/2009
Canbot is limited to no more, than the sounds of air passing through its pneumatic cylinders and the several dozen mechanical parts whirling about within. It cannot express emotion. Therefore i have added the new Canbot Emotion Light Indication System(ELIS). This will allow Canbot to silently but effectively express its mood to the audience as the movie progresses.

04 April 2009, 05:54 AM
UPDATE FOR 04/26/2009
Video: ELIS(Emotion Light Indication System) ( finally complete and working flawlessly. The more LED's that are lit up within the 360, the stronger the emotion is. The colors represent the emotion: Green=happy, Orange=curious/cautious, Red=Angry. There are no lights involved, only materials and 2 sliders. The first slider controls the progression of the LED's with fixed noise applied to it and the second slider toggles the color of the LED's between green, orange and red.

It may not look like much, but considering the effort and countless hours of hair pulling frustration(literally) I've put into it for the last few days.Getting it to actually work the way i imagined, is very rewarding.
This is why i love 3d animation in general; each new idea takes so long and so much work to perfect that even the smallest accomplishments are more rewarding and keep you going towards the completion of any project, never a dull moment.
I wonder how many people working in the industry think im naive for saying this right now ;)

04 April 2009, 12:01 AM
That's pretty awesome.

What exactly are you controlling with the LED progression? Are those actual lights or are you illuminating polygons?

I completely agree with you on what you said about 3D Animation in general. My first Animation teacher, the guy who got me into 3D Animation to begin with, he told me that 3D Animation is probably the most problem solving based art form around. We're constantly having to solve things, you know what I mean? And when you get something just right, oh man is it rewarding. I feel like that all the time when I work on stuff cause I'm so passionate about this and that's what I think it's all about. Being able take pride in even accomplishing this small task, it's awesome. But for someone to accuse you of being naive, I would say that person just does not share your level of passion.

Anyway, can't wait to see your next update!

04 April 2009, 12:56 AM
Hah, your teacher is a smart man. It's not often you find something you can devote your time to and find it rewarding. Usually its the end result you always find rewarding, in this case its progressing towards the end result that i find rewarding.

As for your question, the progression slider makes all the LED's light up one after the other as the value of the slider increases(its actually 12 element objects within 1 object with a material) The slider controls the red/green HUE of the material, making it change from black to red/green as the value increases. I added a Noise Float controller after that to give it a flickering loading/computing) feel, to show that its capable of thinking, kinda like the HDD light on the front of your computer tower.
The second slider controls the color transition between the red and green sub materials within a blend material. This slider has a scripted expression that prevents it from showing the mix color transition, it will only show the specific red/orange and green colors, so that they can change on the fly. You can see it here
You wont see the color change because it wont change in the viewport due to the blend material's inability to show mix transition in the viewport

04 April 2009, 05:47 AM
UPDATE FOR 04/28/2009
Each section rotates as the eye expands out.
Once again, noise added for randomness, this time with a slider to control the noise strength as well.
Video 1: Control Board (
Video 2: Rendered (

04 April 2009, 09:49 PM
Yeah, I enjoy doing this stuff beginning to end. I like digital art in general but the main one for me is Animation. I feel really grateful to have found this stuff in the middle of high school so when I was out, I was already working on something. A lot of other people that I know don't even have a passion in their lives yet and I'm already working on building my own dreams.

Thanks for explaining what you did with the LED's, that's some cool stuff. Breaking down complex systems into simple controllers is always great. It makes everything a lot more manageable and reduces the workload later on which is especially awesome lol

That telescoping eye looks wonderful. The movement combined with your LED system is really giving it a sense of life. I like how you have it adjusting the lens as if it's unsure of what it's looking at similar to a person squinting. Great job.

04 April 2009, 10:21 PM
The movement combined with your LED system is really giving it a sense of life. I like how you have it adjusting the lens as if it's unsure of what it's looking at similar to a person squinting. Great job.

That's pretty much the intention, i'm glad its obvious. Its focusing on the object just like humans do when they squint.

05 May 2009, 04:23 AM
UPDATE FOR 05/03/2009
Been working on some weapons/tools that Canbot will use on its adventure. So far I am looking at a circular saw blade, an automatic nail gun (picture a machine gun that fires nails), a mini-flame thrower and a grappling hook gun.
So far the grappling hook gun has progressed the most. It still needs quite a bit of work but im happy with the way its starting to turn out.I also have some shots of the flamethrower :)
Pics: (
Wireframe Split (
Flamethrower Progress

Video 1: Grappling hook gun (

05 May 2009, 04:26 AM
Those tool ideas sound really great, can't wait to see those.

As for the flamethrower, it looks really nice. Love that blue flame on the render test.

On the grappling hook gun video, I can't view it as it's set to private or something, you should check that out.

05 May 2009, 04:28 AM
On the grappling hook gun video, I can't view it as it's set to private or something, you should check that out.
omfg im about ready to ditch vimeo and move on to something link fixed

05 May 2009, 04:53 AM
Sounds like an ongoing problem. I only recently got into Vimeo so I wouldn't know. So far I've had good experience with my postings. Definitely made that my first choice over Youtube since the only audience there consists of people either flaming you or each other and people concerned about being the first to comment on your video lol

But anyway, that test run of the grappling hook looks great! How did you go about doing the cracks in the wall?

05 May 2009, 05:17 AM
Vimeo seems like a more professional place for people making videos worth watching, but for some reason it refuses to keep the settings I save on the first try.
As for the effect I used Vray displacement mapping on a small plane around each hook. The material has the same texture applied to the its opacity as the planes did on displacement, therefore keeping the texture of the wall behind it. The diffuse was the same texture as the wall.

I kinda used the same concept they use in video games for decals, except with a displacement map. Worked great but its got its flaws (not noticeable in a low res video)
I threw it together very quickly to fake the effect. It definitely will not be used in the movie since the displacement can be seen floating over the legs at some angles because of the opacity.

05 May 2009, 08:57 AM
It's definitely a cool rig karn! Can't wait to see some animation done with it :)

05 May 2009, 03:35 PM
It's definitely a cool rig karn! Can't wait to see some animation done with it :)

Thank you, I cant wait to get there either. It's just taking too long with Canbot's complex design and my lack of knowledge. Plus its getting harder and harder to make the transformation believable at this point.

I'm in way over my head with this project :sad:

05 May 2009, 04:23 AM
Update For 05/05/2009
Not much of an update for today, i've been struggling with a lot of the design. But i have the cleaner version of a few tests vie been running on animating the nail gun.The video is running at 5fps ( i got lazy) so that you can see how it works. There are still 2 more steps to go, the first being the ammo belt cycling through and the second being the mechanism that retracts the spring loaded, self propelling nail. You can see a clear shot of this nail to the left of the gun muzzle.
Video 1: Auto Nail Gun Test1 (

I FINALLY figured out how to realistically transform the arms out as well, took about 2 weeks but its a relief. Updates on that as soon as all the weapons are ready.

05 May 2009, 03:17 AM
Update For 05/06/2009
Nail-gun Mechanism is complete, animation is still very rough and in slow motion.
Video 1: Nail Gun Test 2 (

05 May 2009, 11:43 PM
Update For 05/12/2009
It's been a while because I've had one hell of a struggle with this, but Nail-gun Rigging is complete.

Let me explain how this works
All the animated objects involved in the reloading are rigged to a slider using Reaction Manager with about 15 states spanning from 0% to 100% of the sliders value. That slider's percentage controller has an expression causing it to move to 100% then RESET back to 0% rather than continue beyond 100%(this would be flawed since you would have to create states for everything beyond 100% in reaction manager, which would be a real pain and very time consuming) and once it resets to 0%, it runs towards 100% again at the adjusted speed; which i can easily change by adjusting 1 value in the expression, this causes a constant loop.Now the main slider controls the on/off position of this slider.

The beauty of this is that i can turn it on and off at will and adjust the guns RPM by changing its value without having to keyframe anything but the on/off position of the main slider.
So if i decide to make it shoot 10,000 nails over a period of 3 minutes, it only needs a total of 4 key frames rather than making 40,000(on/off/reset per bullet x 10,000 bullets) manual or Out-of-Range Keyframes.
6 days spent on figuring this out with constant circular dependency errors but after seeing the outcome, it was well worth it.
Video1: Nail Gun Automated ( (video FINALLY working)

05 May 2009, 07:50 AM
hi, nice idea about the robot coming out of a can..
something similar to this:
nice progress anyways, keep it up.

05 May 2009, 03:43 PM
hi, nice idea about the robot coming out of a can..
something similar to this:
nice progress anyways, keep it up.

Thanks, I'm glad you posted your link.
What's funny is that i originally wanted my arms to pop out the way your legs did but then i decided to go against it, i guess there's only so many ways u can turn a can into a robot.

06 June 2009, 02:49 AM
Update For 06/9/2009

Been a while; although i spent way too much time figuring out the arms because it was just impossible to hold 2 weapons / swap between them and be capable of transforming out from within the upper arm. I have been busy, but I did manage to get the right hand rigged and set up for a proper transformation :) and post some updates today.

Video 1: Hand Transformation (
Video 2: Closeup of Nailgun firing and Circular saw being equipped and armed. ( Also, the bottom left corner shows accurate epicyclic gearing controlling the rotation of the nail gun as it is un-equipped.

The circular saw also works on the same system as the nailgun's automated reload system. The rotation controller(green) is linked as parent to the saw blade, and there is a custom slider that is scripted to enable/disable the rotation of the rotation controller. The script also controls the speed of the rotation. This perfectly simulates an on/off motor without the need of reactor and the great thing is, it only needs 4 keyframes to work in any situation.:lightbulb

06 June 2009, 02:32 PM
Man this is a really cool concept....I hope you have a lot of success with it.
I love the lens zooming in.

06 June 2009, 03:38 AM
Man this is a really cool concept....I hope you have a lot of success with it.
I love the lens zooming in.
Thanks, i'm glad to have all the support, comments and criticism I can get on this project:applause:. My progress has slowed down on this lately because I am occupied with some courses i need to finish before I start college in Jan. I do not plan to abandon this project at all since I'm learning so much from it.

To keep this going, I'll post a minor update of some of the steel braided wire looms, used on the arms. (

08 August 2009, 07:09 AM
Great shading, how did you do that? Otherwise - cool concept and interesting design, I'd love to see you push on with it :)

08 August 2009, 04:44 PM
Great shading, how did you do that? Otherwise - cool concept and interesting design, I'd love to see you push on with it :)

There's a 2048x2048 bump map and the same map overexposed as a reflection map which acts as a shadow map, faking the darker areas on the wires. It gave me the exact same results and much faster rendering time than using displacement with a 8192x8192 displacement map.

As for the project, I work on it constantly, I just don't update it here as much but I plan to have a huge update on it next month.

08 August 2009, 12:38 AM
Been a while, but since my exams are out of the way I have more time to get back to this, so here's an update.

Canbot's Robotic Hand
Don't ask what it's holding...I prefer not to know. ( (

Revamped Eye Lens
After some deliberation I realized that to keep true to my "realism" goal, it would be contradictory to canbot's stealthy nature by having a glowing night vision effect for the eye. So I decided to use real references and came up with something much more believable. The end result made me feel all warm and tingly inside.:bounce:

CanBot Controller Interface
This was the most time consuming of them all, because I had to go back to the basics of programming I had learned years ago, followed by learning and experimenting with maxscript. (

08 August 2009, 01:34 AM
That's looking awesome man.

02 February 2010, 01:40 PM
Amazing work. Can't wait to see more! :thumbsup:

02 February 2010, 03:37 PM
Pretty cool stuff man, keep it up...

CGTalk Moderation
02 February 2010, 03:37 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.