Animation Update #6 – “The most unaccountable of machinery.”


I’ve been given the first iteration of the Submarine base mesh from Dan our mechanical artist today, it looks GREAT! And I can’t wait to see the final piece, which he shall be sharing himself. Interestingly enough it turns out Daniel is quite the engineer, as every moving piece in the model works perfectly and looks totally realistic when he’s never even tested it before!

I used a CAT rig in FK mode to block out each of the arm pivots, they each have a unique way of moving within the constraints of lateral or vertical rotation. The pistons were really interesting to do, I created two dummy objects for each end; one linked to the main bone, the other a look-at constraint for the other end of the piston. When moved to extremes they tend to rotate awkwardly out of socket but within their constraints they look wonderful.

I managed to convince Dan to let us play with his robotic arms so we’ve had a chance to rig then create some animation tests, each member of the animation team has had a go on the rig and this is what we produced in 30 minutes:

In this First video I made the arm feel like a real rust-bucket by off-setting some movements, working from the base up to the end of the arm, this one probably wastes the most energy because it rotates the entire arm around and then back again. It has a lot of bounce to it, as if the mechanics weren’t designed to hold the weight, it also doesn’t account for the water resistance. However it does have a lot of charm, and could be used if the submarine was being attacked by a monster or being winched around by a crane on top of a research ship.

This Second video shows a linear pose to pose movement with spline interpolation, this one is the easiest to pull off in the software. It accounts for how a computer would move to the next position most efficiently, rotating every joint at once with an aim of getting from point A to point B with a smooth ease in and ease out.

This Third shows how my team member David Sarkisjan interpreted the movement, first he defines the weight of the rotary blade and engine in the lift, then focuses on the pure mechanics with some simple offset and overlap added in for good measure. Note how every component reaches it’s end position at the same time, the controllers closest to the body move at a constant rate whereby the controllers further away from the body feel the weight and strain of the system. Overall it feels more fluid and futuristic, it has that sense of weight from the water resistance and this is the style I would like to develop further and portray in the final animation.

Virginia Woolf
My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?