"Love is in the air" Deconstructed ( music video )

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  02 February 2005
"Love is in the air" Deconstructed ( music video )

Bonjour everyone !

This post is about my music video "love is in the air"; during the (long) time I spended with this personnal project I encountered several problems ( that I had to fix of course).
So to avoid you the same troubles, and to make you benefit of my experience, I will try to cover as much as possible here.
It is mostly Maya specific, but some workflows can apply to any programs.

I will cover a little bit of everything , ( i will assume that you already know maya and 3D in general), scenes management, modeling,dynamics, lighting, rendering.
Because i cannot go thougt everything that happened to me during these 2 years, I will cover a "shot by shot" analysis ( well selected shots actually )

If you haven't and don't want to spoil the fun of it, go see it !

(if you want of course...)

***A little disclaimers ... The way I did my animation is not necessarely the best one, and i know that there are many other way to do things. This post is just about how I did it. If you know better ways I ll be happy to learn about them, and share the experiences, keep an open heart !***

Well I assume you've seen it by now...

I will cover these shots because there are the most representative :

-The first shot
-The bees
-The jump in the water
-The underwater bubbles
-The underwater sequences
-The water fall 1
-The water fall 2
-The sunset kiss
-The pier run
-The pier final

If you have anyquestions on other shots or anything, i invite you to tell be what where, and I will add to this post.

So some little numbers first :

The animation is 1mn37 (without the credits)
Animated on 30fps ( more work yes... )
Total frames 2906.
Rendering time per frames is between 17sec (!!!) to 5mn

All the animation is contained in one Maya file. (34Mo for the final file)
I saved a lot... final scenes was named LIITA_D032.
Starting a _000 then _999 , _A000...,_A999... etc... you got the picture

The folder is around 12Go. (rendering included)
I started in Aug2003, but because i had a LOT of classes in G. i couldn t work on it sometimg for +6 month. so it is hard to say how long this project took me.
Finished Feb 2005

*Getting started, scenes management and organisation*
After choosing the music, I edited it (shorter) to make this project doable.
Original sond is 3mn25
I wish I had more time because I started with doing it all, I had to :"cut" as much as possible, otherwise I would still me in the middle of it.

Once the music is edited and the character "shaped" I imported everyting in Maya (as wave sound) and started Key posing and animating the camera.
This was a very long part because it is the time where everything takes shape :
Story, composition, rythme.
Durind that time i builded very very basic backgrounds, no skys, no textures, no lights.

The good thing is that you can playblast the hole thing with sound and AA (anti aliasing)
AA is enabled in your video drivers before starting Maya.
Pretty nice...

Yes, one file, one camera. WHY ?
-first for continuity :
when you change shots ( or camera position ) and you wnat your character to have the same pose, it allow you to make ONE change one the pose.

Like that you don t have to open the shot file, edit the pose, save, open the other shot edit the pose to match and save.
Everything flows. and you don t end with X#scenes*#of shots (which is a lot)

I used just one camera and to move it between shots i used "stepped" animation so the camera move instantly from one frame to the next.

So here is the Global view showing everything, all the backgrounds.

So this the path that the animation uses, each shot geometry is grouped and each shot reveals a new group to save on rendering time.
In the same shot there are also sub groups, if the camera moves.

So once i did all this and was happy with the story, it was time to make the backgrounds, the lights, the special effects and dynamics.

so now is the time for a shot by shot deconstruction...

***The first shot***

-Modeling :
Game style modeling, very few polys, and for the grass uses of simple polygones with alpha (for tranparency) to create the illution of grass.
These apre placed where there is a geometry behinf it to add to the illusion of grass.
( in fron of the feet, the rocks, the tree, and all the "visible edges")

-texturing :
Multi texturing, layered shader... you have it all...
The grass is layered shader with 2 types of grass, and a mud texture.

To reveal one or the other i painted roughly a "transparency" map (to have the geometries positions ) with paint effect and refined it in photoshop.
The grass polugones are basicaly the same with different shapes and scales but only 2 textures of small size ( 256 )

The water is a simple texture with bump, and the UV are animated ( keying texture placement in UV node)

The sky is a huge shere ( the same for the all the shots )

The tree is simple geometry and the leaves are 2 "sphere" with Alpha transparency.

To make the lights more manageable I gouped them in 2 groups for all the shots.
*One with the main lights (spots, directionals ).
This group is repositioned at each shot to be able to have them in from of the camera for simple repositioning.
*The second one is called "random lites" and is the lights i used for composition. ( to darken or lighten some area. they are Point lights and they sometime moves from one shot to another with different intensity and colors. ( to avoid having 200 lights at the end )
To fake the sun going through the tree leaves i uses a spotlight(animated) with textured intensity.

I only have one light the cast shadow for the hole animation.

***Shot 2 -the bees-***

As you can see i used a lot of "grass polygones" on the edges. It was a "close up" shot.
The tree are all the sames with just different scales and rotaions.

The bees are instanced.
Point emiter
And they are mainly directed by a Newton field.
Each beed is a radial field to avoid "colision" ( i didn t wanted the bees to mate while buzzing. enough love in the air...)
The sames bees are used for the following shots.
It was tricky to change their shape in one frame.
So I sometime had to move the geometry around and keyframe the particule "conserve" attribute. (to 00)

I used a neagtive light to darken the inside of the tree. and the secondary trees behind.

***Jump in the water***

This shot was the more time consuming, there are many things happening here.

Simple water grass geomerty (256 texture with alpha)
The "water stick" are low poly single map and duplicated with differente scales and rotation
The water is a dense nurb surface (100*100 spans)

The vegetation is laticed and the latice point are clusterised ( I guess i am inventing verbs here...)
It allow to fake winds blowing in the grass without using dynamics
( look at the lowe image )
The cluster have the same animation but delayed of a few frames.
So animating is made very fast, so you just have to move the curves in time to create a wind effect.
I know it is an effect that is not very visible in the final animation but it at a little "imperseptible" life to the shot.

That was the big part.
The water is nurbs, hi density, turned into a soft body.
A colition sphere ( low poly - look at to image in the legs of the robot) is used to create the ripple effect.
Of course to have ripples you nees "springs".

The nenuphar are polygones and they are "riveted" to the nurb water with locators.
( a cool script does locator riveting -www.highend3d.com- )
The nenuphar are constrained to the locators.

The water splash is particules emited from a curve ( a circle )
It is animated in scales to fake the splash getting bigger and smaller.
To make the water particules go up very fast I used ( look at lower image ) an inverted radial field and an air field to propulse them high up in the air.
To make them goes down i used... grafity of course.

In mid air the particule emit particule themselves to fake the droplet dividing.
These ahve their own gravty field ( lighter )

The water is renderend as Blobbies that scales down in time. same for their transparency.


Time for me to do a break and secure the posting of this post.
... to be continued
So much to do... so little time...
  02 February 2006
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