This week we’ve made a bunch of things in 3ds Max during teaching hours. And as a positive twist from the usual lectures, we had labs with skype calls! It was really really good to be able to ask questions live while actually DOING stuff ourselves. Sure I felt stupid when I couldn’t keep up to pace, and had to keep asking questions, but I learnt far more in those few hours, than I would do just watching a tutorial like that in my own time.

Monday we made a flame, using a spherical meshes in a particle system. The material used colours and noise filters. When we put a glow effect on it and rendered it looked pretty convincingly like a flame! Each still image in the animation looked pretty weird on its own though. a_fla

The whole ordeal inspired me to try something similar in UnrealEngine. Going by the idea that some big spherical particles in the right colour shades could be used together to look like a flame. And it turns out that despite each individual particle, and their component sprites looked nothing like flames, the overall fire animation was reasonably convincing! I don’t have any video or stills of those, though I may use them in the Show-Reel.

On Tuesday we made a hologram of a landscape, which we worked more on on Friday.

Wednesday we made an ocean from a blue plane, using noise and smoke maps as displacements, and using those some maps to emit particles near the peaks of the waves. It was a fun experiment, but I couldn’t quite get the particles to line up with the waves, and the ocean material could certainly have been improved.  All in all, I think my result was a bit disappointing, but I am sure if I started from scratch and spent some more time on it I could get some pretty cool-looking waves out of it.


Most of Thursday went away to studio, which was actually also working on some Procedural animation, but I’ve left that to be covered in a Studio post.

What I made on Friday; animated inside-out cube that reacts to the waves in a .wav
I made it all pink ‘n black to match with the wubs in the soundfile. I think it turned out pretty neat, but I would like to make the reactions a bit more interesting by adjusting which parts of the cube reacts. So I want some parts to reacts to the wubs, some to the highs, some to the mids. More like your general music visualiser thingy.

We also made a hologram each, it was supposed to have a orange burning look at the border that fades in, but I went with a checker map variant. I wanted to get a look that was a bit like pixels coming in and lining themselves up. And I wanted to revers the direction and make a variant where the pixels were shredded out of the hologram, in a violent degradation. A bit like what you get when stream buffers and you end up with 7*10 pixels in stead of 720*1080.

I picked up a few videos here and there while looking for stuff to do, and these are the two that stood out. I recon building a day/night cycle in Unreal counts as Procedural Animation, there’s blueprinting involved, and not a single keyframe was touched. I made myself a pretty sweet day/night system that I’m going to use in Studio, but I think it might come in handy for the show-reel we’re supposed to be making at the end of Procedural too.

Video I actually used for my Day/Night
Unreal Engine 4: Day night cycle using Blueprint. by Roflemuffin

 I also found this, but haven’t had time to sit down and watch it yet, too many short breaks, loud noises and familiar distractions. 1# Video to Watch Next.

 All in all this has been a busy week. We’ve had a lot of 3ds Max tutorials, and I can’t even begin to describe how many thing I’ve learnt that I didn’t even know were a viable possibility. It’s certainly opened my eyes to a few ideas to try out in the next few weeks. I’m hoping that we get our assignments on Monday so we can start planning our Show-Reel, I find it horrific to be waiting on the fence like this, with no idea of what is required of me. This week has been great, but I’m exhausted. Not only exhausted, but confused. I don’t know which of the things I learnt this week will be the most useful to remember, sure I can re-learn them now I know that it’s possible, but that’s going to take me extra time I could be spending now on solidifying the most useful knowledge.

I’m still a bit upset, sad, tired, bored of, and miffed about the fact that it got to the point where me and some of the other students sent in a formal complaint. I wish I didn’t have to. We had a talk to Principal Ernst over Skype yesterday, and I’m hoping that they sort everything out. It’s just so disappointing to be taking part in a course like this, about a subject I find utterly fascinating, but without the proper structure and teaching staff. Being done with week 4/7 and having only covered MAYBE 2/7 learning objectives is not a good place to be. I find myself pessimistic and skeptical about whether and how they intend to deliver the rest of the course to us. I have hope though. The talk with Ernst left me with the knowledge that he is aware of the situation, and motivated to fix it. Let’s hope it’s not too little too late.

I think for my next post I will look into some more, and write about, the usage of Procedural Animation in current big companies, like Valve, and Pixar. Starting with THIS article.