Christmas Card 2020.2

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Finis
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Christmas Card 2020.2

Post by Finis »

This thread is for my animated Christmas card project.

The goal is a short film not a CG object representing a paper Christmas card. Some parts of the videos will be customized for each recipient. I hope I'm not overly ambitious and can finish this before Christmas.

The theme is toys come to life. A toy train carrying presents winds through the scene. Two action figure toys oppose each other as one tries to stop the train and the other to ensure its arrival.

I'm studying Blender's NLA editor. Its user interface is even worse than the rest of pre-2.8 Blender and has not been improved for 2.8.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84ALxrtBkps

Since I'll use a lot of time learning and animating I'll kit bash items from many of my old projects. I'll also sign up at BlendSwap.

More when I've achieved anything to report.
Last edited by Finis on 30 Dec 2019, 16:44, edited 3 times in total.
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RAYMAN
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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by RAYMAN »

This is what you want to look into!
https://youtu.be/HsOSDYTsG7o

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Re: Christmas Card 2019

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@Rayman Yes! I'll make the train track and train motion curved based. Played with curves months ago for a roller coaster and curves are cool.

Still much work for my job so mostly learning, planning, and experimenting now. The grass will be dormant soon and I'll have more free time.

I re-installed trueSpace! I want to kitbash several old CG items and many of them are only in TS format. I tried using Bryce as a converter since it can read TS files and write many formats but it triangulates the models. OK for some use but I want to modify some or continue the old projects in Blender. Triangulation makes some of that difficult. Guess what?! Exporting directly from TS with the luuv plug-in has a no-triangulate option. That saves much time versus remaking them in Blender ... although that is good for improving my Blender modeling skills.

I have a story in mind but attempts to fill in the details, to make a script (actions, no dialog) ... well I'm not really a writer. I'm reading about screenwriting, screenplays, and it is interesting. Also the structure of that is helping me make an animate-able story. A true artist in writing/storytelling would find that restrictive. Structures, rules, formal formats are harmful to artistic freedom and so damage creativity, innovation, etc. Everything takes on a boring sameness. (A "black pill" note for aspiring pros about Hollywood reality on one of the screenwriting sites: sure you are the artist, use any structure you want, but no one will produce your film if you don't use this one.) But, I'm not an arteeest in writing so it helps me to get a semi-decent story at all.

In case this is too ambitious to finish by Christmas I have a fallback plan to make a simpler story using the setting and the train but no animated characters. In that case the main project can be next year's Christmas video.
Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. -- Voltaire

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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by Finis »

Successes and mistakes. Images follow in the next post.

In 2000 I started a project in trueSpace to create a library building. I was never satisfied with the architecture so I didn't finish it. Although that building is a bit grand for a home, I decided to use its style and elements from it for the home in this Christmas project. Converting or importing it from the old .obj or TS files proved challenging. Too challenging. This was a strategic mistake. It took too much time. I should have made a simpler quicker setting and focused on animation and story.

Some pathways from TS to Blender proved useful for general kitbashing where little editing of the object is needed. The bay window needed to be rebuilt in Blender 2.8. I succeeded in doing that using the imported old model as a guide. I also improved my poor Blender modeling skills and learned much.

I'll finish the setting first because a toy train or truck moving through it is the fall back plan if the animated characters prove too ambitious. I'll need the main room, some shelves, a writing or work nook, furniture, a Christmas tree and presents. Special objects on the shelves and work nook provide customization of the video for each recipient while localizing the custom things so they don't appear in other shots or views. That way only some frames have to be re-rendered for each video.

Toys will mostly be kitbashed from my past CG projects and free models perhaps from https://www.blendswap.com. A set of toy blocks will spell a custom message at the end. I learned interesting things while making blocks for this month's challenge.

The story has improved but I still need to work on the villain. Since the good guy is a Jedi with telekinetic power and a working light saber (after magically animating) the bad guy needs to be special too. Instead of the barbarian I planned he will be a super villain with powers. The bad guy's powers must not enable him to attack the Jedi but should be useful in avoiding the Jedi and sabotaging the train. An invisibility device would save me from animating him so much, be a device like the Jedi's sword, and allow a timer or such to show that the power is time limited. Night vision could be his innate power. He could shut of the room's light for advantage vs the Jedi or to escape.

Ideas for villain powers?
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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by Finis »

Pictures of the library project from 2000 and the rebuilt Blender version of the bay window. See previous post for information.
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.
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Bay Window rebuilt in Blender 2.8
Bay Window rebuilt in Blender 2.8
Bay Window rebuilt in Blender 2.8
Bay Window rebuilt in Blender 2.8
Library Interior
Library Interior
Library Bookshelf
Library Bookshelf
Library Exterior
Library Exterior
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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by MikomDude »

I like the building. :geek: curious to see the end result of this animation.

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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by Finis »

Thanks Mikom. I never found a design that let the original building to "flow" to create a harmonious whole. That last one was promising though.

I'll post the story after some improvements. Thanks Dragneye for suggesting heavenly glows. Among other things the train will carry an angel decoration. When the train arrives at the Christmas tree the good guy will put it on the tree top and a golden glow will shine there. Hmm, the action figures are about one foot tall (approx. 0.3 meters). Too much animation to have him climb up the tree. Maybe some other toys, like a trampoline, can help.

Here are the features that I want from the library scene for the house in this project. Rebuilt in Blender 2.8. My Blender modeling skills have improved but this still took considerable time. Hopefully I can apply materials without too much trouble.
Rebuilt in Blender 2.80
Rebuilt in Blender 2.80
To save time I'll consider:
- not including a fireplace (it's Christmas warmth so I want one)
- reduce the number of customized scenes
- make only one animated humanoid and use a robot or such as the bad guy
- rendering in 1080p instead of 1440p
- a desk instead of a writing or work nook
- maybe use eevee to render (not the look I want but may be necessary)
- not animate Three Legs from my Star Wars picture
- if I can't do this in time I'll leave the animated characters out and just have the train travel among the presents, arrive at the tree, and toy blocks will spell the custom messages. Then I'd finish the full story later.

trueSpace 7.6 won't load the old TS scene with the main library. Exporting from TS to obj with luuv plugin was the best TS to Blender path I found. I used Bryce as a converter but the results were more troublesome. I think most of my kitbashing will be with later things made in Hexagon and free stuff.

Something I didn't think about is sound. I'll use some Christmas music for the beginning and end credits but the main part needs some Foley sounds and maybe background music. That would take time to find and apply.

The good guy Jedi's name is Tevu. In case that meant something inappropriate in some language I searched the web. It means "fathers" in ... I think it was Latvian.
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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by bitkar »

Finis wrote:
16 Nov 2019, 04:07
trueSpace 7.6 won't load the old TS scene with the main library.
what? how? Ive never experienced that. And I loaded even very old scenes from like tS3
Michal aka bitkar
tS freak since tS2 (1998) and forever (tS7.61 modeler)

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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by Draise »

Looks like a great project. I love the architecture so far.

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Re: Christmas Card 2019

Post by Finis »

Thanks Draise!

@Bitkar Maybe something is wrong with the scene file. It loaded one scene but with the main library scene it complained about missing textures (same for the loadable one) then crashed when I clicked OK or whatever on the last texture complaint screen. Bryce could load it but it triangulates everything. Those objects are redone in Blender now. I hope I can use other TS items without this trouble but I don't think I'll be using many of them.

UV's and materials. I found the tabs (shading, uv) in B2.8 helpful. They provide a set up good for each action with a click. Ctrl-L, is a good thing to copy materials and UV's to multiple objects. They must have the same mesh except for scale and rotate. The UV cube, unwraps, etc. work better if you Apply the rotation and scale of the objects first. You must have faces selected in edit mode to do UV's.

Building the room now. The ceiling is high. A vaulted, domed, or arched ceiling should work but that is part of the design trouble before. Have to move along so the room will be close to this. I'll make a closed interior door. That can fill wall space in a few places.

Blender has collections and parenting. You can use those to organize your objects and manipulate them as a group but the simplicity and effectiveness of TS's groups was better.

The door, bay window, and shelf have non-rendering objects for Boolean subtraction included. That cuts out the wall. Add a Boolean modifier to a wall using that object. That way I can move the door etc. where ever I want. The Boolean moves with it.
Attachments
room-exterior.jpg
RoomEevee.jpg
room-interior.jpg
Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. -- Voltaire

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