Thursday, 3 December 2015

Narrative Project: The Reacher

  The development of the scales yesterday has given me enthusiasms for the technical side of Maya. The task I looked into today was making the coral/organism that would chase after our fish. Originally the plan was to use coral, but there were a few scenes that involved the coral reaching out. I looked up some source material and found some similarity to the tendrils of sea anemones. Which were a lot more flexible. But the stuff on the storyboard was still distinctly coral.

  First tests however resulted in a few errors that I managed to fix with later models that stemmed from the orientation of the joints. Turns out the joints were orienting themselves differently on occasion due to not being entirely vertical from the last.

  Initial attempts at a cleaner model involved joints at every lateral edge, but I discarded this as a control group would have 30 different joints to manage.

  To cut down the number of joints, instead of one joint per lateral edge I looked into one joint for every two lateral edges, which halved the original number. Still quite a few but now much more manageable.

  Each joint has three controls: X, Y and Twist. One bends the joint forwards, another sideways and the twist helps with curling. It is very flexible with little deformation. Hopefully it is simple enough to be used en masse. And it should also be useful for wrapping around things.

  The final parameter I added was a length control. Unlike the others, this one control affects the entire skeleton, which could really help with any scenes of the construct launching itself at our hapless fish. 

  I didn't forget the coral though, and looked into methods of construction. I've had ideas about making a model like this before and although I had a more advanced version that is now missing, I have developed a fairly sound method of reproduction. My plan is to work in a blendshape that will have the coral branches growing from a point of origin. I might simplify the geometry as the shapes get smaller, but right now the current shape is a hexagon which might make things a little tricky.

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