Class photo of the Animators of 2009 - please email me label corrections and additions
3D modelling in Maya is a wonderful challenge for student animators. It is also an exciting software technical exercise to, it seems, endure and survive.
All students take to the task like ducks to water. Some students are floaty feathery ducks, others find they may be a sculpted sandstone duck that needs a bit of encouragement to stay afloat. I remember being a stone duck at this task as a student because I wanted to know the technical detail of every mouse click. That slowed the flow of my modelling down to a crawl.
The students who sculpt in 3D like they sculpt in modelling clay, looking for flow lines and massaging things into shape, usually settle down with their iPods plugged into their ears and get down to business. As a teacher I listen for the noises of mashing on the keyboard as students grind the "Ctrl+Z" buttons and that is where I know I am needed.
It is a lovely surprise to see that some of the adamant (that's not Adam Ant from the 8o's new romantic rock band, by the way)... adamant 2D animators are graceful swans at 3D modelling.
As a lead-in exercise for the second year class, animators were asked to design a simple bean shaped character on paper in a front and side view. That model sheet would be used in Maya as a reference to build the 3D model. Yup, I did say simple. Ah, well...
Animation Tool; Model Sheet: The rough model sheets were planned using pencil and paper. There also was an option to create a model sheet using Flash software (see next image). The animators were asked to post their preferred model sheet up on their animation student blog in a class task to assess abilities to follow a written design brief. It also meant I could have a chance to match the model to the animator in the class photo (above). When all the model sheets are posted a final labelled image can be posted here and made available for the end of year graduation programme.
Animation Tool; Modelling Clay: A final step before we fired up Maya was to do some 3D modelling. Based on the drawn character design, the animators sculpted their characters using modelling clay to have as another form of reference.
In the process they rotate the model in their hands (Alt+LeftMouse in Maya), sculpting the clay to make appealing shapes. They added eyes (combining polygons) and carved out mouths (deleting or extruding polygon faces).
In feature film studios there is a department where the characters are sculpted in clay and these reference sculptures are used by the animators to keep a check on shapes and mass as they animate. The sculptures also look cool on shelves in those dreaded 'making of' extras on the DVDs.
I reckon the sculptures made by the second year animators look really cool in the studio at SBIT. And it's nice to see them sitting on the desk next to their creators being asked for advice on how to use the modelling tools in Maya. Those little inanimate creatures must be giving pretty good advice as none have been seriously assaulted as yet.