Jul28
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: BooksGames

No matter how much experience you have with coding, there are some errors that will drive you insane and take many minutes if not hours to debug. While logical errors will allow a program to run but function oddly, syntactical errors will stop you dead in your tracks as the program will refuse to compile. The former requires a lot of play testing and code tracing to debug, the later just requires your own understanding of proper coding syntax. If your program will not compile here are the ten most likely common errors.

1. No semicolon at the end of a statement

If you leave a semicolon off the end of a statement, the compiler will consider the next line to be part of the same statement. This will cause compiler errors. Errors will appear in the Console window and at the bottom of the Editor window with a red exclamation mark as shown in Figure 2.7.

When a semicolon is missing the error does not necessarily reflect the exact line where the semicolon is needed. You will need to inspect the code above and around the error to locate the missing statement end marker.

FIG 2.7 Errors in Unity

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Jul23
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: BooksGames

We are going to create a simple but elegant particle system in Unity. To do this, we will create a game object with a Particle System component attached, and then use Unity’s Shuriken editor interface to customise that particle system to our requirements. Specifically, we will create a trail of ‘magical dust’ – something that could come from a magic wand, or from a spell book, or from any similar spell-casting entity. Though the system itself will be ‘simple’ it will nonetheless use a wide range of Shuriken features, demonstrate the power of the editor and equip you with the crucial knowledge you need to build your own systems for your own projects. Like many issues in game development, there is no ‘single correct way’ to create and configure a particle system. For this reason, don’t be afraid to experiment and to deviate from what I am creating here, especially if you prefer your edits and amendments. The basis to work on is: if it looks right, then it is right. So let’s get started.

1) Create an empty Unity project and save it, naming the current scene. Details on how to do that can be found in Chapter 1. Following this humble beginning, let’s import some graphical assets that we can use for creating our particle system. To import these, select Assets > Import Package > Particles from the main application menu. From the Import Dialog, accept the default values and click the button Import to add the assets to the current project in the Standard Assets folder, viewable from the Project panel. It should be noted that these imported assets are not essentials or prerequisites for creating particle systems generally – particle systems can be created without them. Nonetheless, the imported assets do feature a range of convenient pre-made textures and materials that we will use here for creating our particle system.

2) Create a new Particle System object in the scene. This can be achieved in at least two main ways. The first method (the one-step method) is to select GameObject > Create Other > Particle System from the application menu. The alternative two-step method is to first create an empty game object with GameObject > Create Empty, and then to add a Particle System component to the object with Component > Effects > Particle System. Either of these two methods achieves the desired end result of creating an object in the scene with a Particle System component attached. (more…)

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Jul21
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimationBooks

The number one goal should be to create an environment that can be multipurposed. This I learned from a stop-motion animator who created a film that takes place in a hospital. The character runs through what seems like endless hallways, but in reality the animator had created just a single hallway with a turn at the end. When the animator needed a turn in the other direction, he just flipped the frame when he was done shooting. When he got to the end of the hallway in a shot, he would just cut to a new angle and move the camera and character back to the corner to give himself plenty of room to shoot. And he would control the set dressings (plants, doors, chairs, lights) meticulously so that each stretch of hallway felt unique. I thought it was brilliant and it inspired me to do the same thing.

To really take advantage of the modular middle, you must also try to maximize your environment design. Your middle is not truly modular if you have to create a custom environment for each shot. Props, on the other hand, are fi ne to create on a per-shot basis.

FIG 4.11 Here is my environment design. Yep, that’s all of it. When you are planning on a modular set, all you need is one section to be done and you are finished. Imagine the time saving over having a large number of detailed sets.

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Jul16
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

Before the finished animation is undertaken, there is yet another stage that assists in scene composition, blocking out the animation. Blocking is a term taken from theatrical stage direction and refers to a process where the positioning and movement of characters are planned and rehearsed well in advance of the actual performance of the play in order to create a coherent piece. Bringing together all the different elements, the actor’s position within the environment, the position of props, the lighting sources, and sound cues are very much like the choreography of dancers. The stage direction for this process is the responsibility of the director or perhaps the animation director or lead animator. It is important for the composition of the scene that the characters are positioned throughout the shot in such a manner that the audience is directed toward those aspects of the action and the elements of the shot the director deems to be of importance and that they are seen clearly without any distraction, and the shot is read by the audience with little ambiguity, or perhaps it would be truer to say with no unintended ambiguity. Blocking offers the opportunity to gain an insight into the dramatic effect of the performance before the animator has undertaken the final thing.

In its simplest form, blocking entails placing the character at particular places within the environment at various points on the timeline. Used in conjunction with any camera moves, it is then possible to ascertain almost exactly what the final outcome will be. It is particularly useful to see the blocked-out animation alongside the dialogue. This will help with the creation of body sync, the eye contact between characters, and the line of sight for the audience. This is very important at this stage to synchronize the movement of the characters to one another and to the movement of the camera and any lighting effects that you have in mind. The last thing you want is to create movement that obscures from the sight of your audience any element of the shot that is important. The movement of a number of characters in shot at the same time may, if not handled well, be very distracting. (more…)

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Jul14
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

The term squash and stretch describes the action of an object put under certain pressures. Push down on a rubber ball and it will squash; pull a sheet of rubber and it will stretch. However, squash and stretch does not simply apply to rubber balls or rubber sheets; it can apply to everything, or almost everything.

Most things in life possess a certain degree of flexibility. Certainly living flesh has a great deal of flexibility, no matter how bony the underpinning structure. The use of squash and stretch in animation allows for a degree of flexibility in all animated objects and figures. When a person smiles broadly, it isn’t just the mouth that moves—the whole face animates and demonstrates a high degree of flexibility. Everything from flexing an arm as it lifts a heavy object to a figure running or jumping will express varying levels of squash and stretch.

Let’s consider the movement of a very heavy character such as a giant ogre as he takes a stride. The entire figure may squash down slightly on impact, making him look heavy and cumbersome. Lighter characters, such as fairies, may need to demonstrate less squash, since they are infinitely lighter than giants.

FIG 3.9 Squash and stretch is evident in the cheeks and chin of the figure. The use of squash and stretch can also help generate the illusion of weight.

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Jul09
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: BooksGames

When in need of a writer, most developers turn to the small community of game writers who started as designers, or have worked at studios and understand the processes, the language, of game making. Others call contacts in agencies’ digital media or interactive departments. If they’re looking for writers who already have game experience, digital/interactive agents may already have the perfect person—or be able to find them.

Photo by Drew Coffman

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Jul07
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

“It’s not the size of the dog, but the size of the dog’s fight.” —Mark Twain

A character’s scale can vary from sequence to sequence. If you are designing “Jack and the Beanstalk,” your hero will have two size relationships. The first one will be to the objects in his home, and the second to objects in the Giant’s castle. Scale is established by designing the props with the character, but insufficient information can cause confusion.

Figure 7-1

[Fig. 7-1] Jack and two chairs. The scale is ambiguous in (b). (more…)

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Jul02
2014

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksInspiration

Working Traditionally “We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.” —Walt Stanchfield

When my interest in making art became serious and I knew that I wanted to turn it into a future career, the only option available was to pick up a pencil and a sheet of paper and draw. This might seem old fashioned to many young artists these days, but to others of the “Digital Creation Generation,” drawing traditionally has developed an exotic allure that I find both encouraging and ironic. In an age where using a computer to draw is the norm, those who choose to use a pencil and paper are sometimes seen as “forward thinkers”!

There is something special about working with a pencil. The tip will blunt at different speeds and in different ways depending on how you use it, and at what angle you hold your hand. These variables and the everevolving shape of the tip offer an almost endless variety of textures, line shapes, and finishing effects that are always surprising—and all of the above can be changed again depending on what paper or art board you work on. For sheer expressivity and breadth of varied application and technique, it has no equal, at least for me, and every project I undertake begins as a pencil drawing in a sketchbook. It is possible of course to recreate many of the exercises in this book using a stylus and tablet, but it is my hope, if you haven’t already, that you’ll invest in a set of pencils and discover for yourself how versatile and rewarding working traditionally can be. There is simply nothing to compare with it.

One of the common criticisms I’ve heard about traditional methods is that they can be messy. I can’t deny that, and barely a day goes by that I don’t have to clean up after a nasty case of “drawer’s hand.” (This is where the action of moving your hand over a paper covered in pencil creates a smudgy mess between your outer wrist and little finger.) That said, the messiness is an essential part of how you interact with your art, and besides, I’ve made numerous random serendipitous technical discoveries due to the messy nature of working traditionally. This simply isn’t possible when using a computer. When working with soft pencils, crayons, chalks, and pastels, you have the option of using your fingers or a cloth to adjust textures and create effects, and excess smudging can be removed or worked into using a variety of erasing techniques. From a purely gratifying perspective, finding your desk covered in bits of eraser, pencil shavings, and other detritus, as well as dirt under your nails and even on your face after an artistic session is an indicator of a day well spent. It’s a tangible sign that you’ve really connected physically with your work, and this engenders a state of mind that is invaluable in relation to how you approach future design problems.

ABOVE This sci-fi character design was drawn using a blue Col-Erase pencil over a printed digital template.

ABOVE This penciled panel from a comic clearly shows how messy traditional working methods can be.

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Jun30
2014

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooks

This video tutorial is brought to you by Animate to Harmony. Author, Adam Phillips, provides an introduction to particles effects in Toon Boom Harmony. With the click of a button, begin creating realistic water droplets, steam, sparks, — you name it!

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Jun25
2014

By: admin                Categories: Animation

Running is a gait that is undertaken once walking is no longer an effective or efficient mode of locomotion and can no longer provide the required speed of motion. A running gait has similarities with the walk cycle, sharing some of the distinctive phases and, in the same manner as a walk cycle, a running action can be broken into separate phases for ease of analysis.

Although the run cycle includes the passing position, the stride is replaced by a phase that distinguishes the running gait from a walk cycle. This is the suspended phase. This phase is the point in the run cycle at which the figure has both feet off the ground and is no longer supported by either foot making contact with the ground. The walk cycle is classified as having at any given point within the action at least one of the feet making contact with the ground. Once both feet are no longer in contact with the ground and the figure is in a state of suspension, the gait is classified as a run.

In addition to the passing position and the suspension phases, I include four other phases in the run cycle, breaking down the action into six distinctive parts in total. These are:

-        The push

-        The suspended phase

-        First contact

-        Squash

-        The passing position

-        The extending phase

The role the arms play in the run remains a secondary action to what they do in a walking gait, though the contribution they make to locomotion is perhaps considerably greater in a running action. This is most evident in sprinters, particularly during that period when they first leave the starting blocks. Movement in the arms is far less extreme during a prolonged running action or a jogging action. The arm action makes a contribution to the overall action, but it is perfectly possible to run while keeping the arms at one’s side, though it is rather unnatural. The use of the arms in a run may vary throughout the action and, as already been mentioned, sprinters that accelerate quickly at the beginning of a run demonstrate a greater degree of motion in the arms than they do once they are into their stride.

The rising and falling of a figure during a running action is much more pronounced than in a walk cycle. The rise during the suspension phase is higher, and the squash results in more compression of the leg due to a bend at the knee, locating the figure slightly lower than in a walk.

As with the walk cycle, the nature of the run determines the speed at which the figure is moving. Furthermore, as with the walk cycle, the speed of the run will change with the varying length and frequency of the strides.

To aid our analysis of a running action, I have broken the movement into the key points in the cycle. For our purposes I have limited the keyframes in the illustration to four, though in the phased sequence that follows, where I provide a detailed written description of the actions at the various points of the cycle, I have included two additional phases.

FIG 5.48 Four key positions of a run cycle.

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