Pirates Gold: Rigging, Scene Assembly & Animation

Moving on from Texturing, I now have to ‘rig’ the chest to make it easier to animate.  By setting up hierarchies and pivot points properly I can then use the controllers to manipulate the model however I need to.  The chest is a fairly simple model therefore there wasn’t much rigging involved.  I started by linking the Chest Base and Chest Lid together making the Base the parent.  Then after making a controller out of a rectangular box I linked the pair to the Controller and then froze the Chest and Lids layer.  By doing this I can manipulate the chest and lid simply by altering the controller anyway I want.  Freezing the layers prevent me from accidentally selecting and moving the chest or lid instead of the controller.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.10.33 Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.10.57 Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.12.10 Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.12.46 Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.13.44

After this, I created a controller for the lid by creating a shape over a cylinder I had converted to an editable poly.  After moving the controller into place I had to move it’s pivot point so that the lid would rotate on the proper point.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.10.33  Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.10.57

After ‘linking’ the lid to the controller the rigging was complete.  I tidied up the hierarchies and layers list to keep everything neat.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.12.46  Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.13.44

With rigging complete the Treasure Chest is finished.  I now had to import all of the project files into the scene so I can begin animating, but I encountered a few small issues.  The project files were built-in 3DS Max 2014, so after importing and merging the files into Max 2015 I was a bit shocked to see they had no textures.  Completely blank models.  This turned out to not be a big deal, but as this is my first project I was a bit concerned.  Took me about twenty minutes to figure out to simply drag and drop the textures directly onto the models in the scene.  The sky dome was a bit problematic as it also had an opacity map and up till this point I had only ever touched diffuse maps.  I had to fidget around with the maps as it didn’t work first go around.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.33.43  Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.34.10  Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.34.27

After importing all the assets I then created copies of various models rescaling them to give some variation to the scene and make it not as uniform and bland.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.34.45  Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.34.57  Screenshot 2015-07-30 15.36.08

Animating the scene was a lot of fun.  I decided to create a little crab family that was playing, oblivious to the board.  There was a lot to learn, and there is still so much to learn.  I used a mix of different animation methods for the various elements int he scene.  The crabs had an idle animation that looped constantly using the curve editor.  Some of the camera shots I rigged to a ‘Path Constraint’ as I wanted to achieve a smooth pan effect that kept the camera stable as it moved.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.27.25  Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.27.42

The biggest thing I learned about animating was how vital timing seems to be.  It’s not just important to keep track of how your scene is progressing but it also makes a large difference in the quality of each characters animations and how believable they are.  Throwing in an extra second or two to an animation can make it look completely different, at least in effect.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.28.26  Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.28.43

I must admit, I was overly ambitious with the animations.  I haven’t quite achieved the quality I wanted to, but not for lack of trying.  It just comes down to experience and learning the tools.  My animations for the most part feel clunky and devoid of life.  Some of the things I need to improve upon is firstly timing and also expanding my knowledge of the tools Max has to offer.  I feel confident with my abilities to animate an object well, it’s just the lack of knowledge with the tools Max has to offer that I need to improve.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.28.45

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