Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 10

Skybox in Games

Skybox is a panoramic texture drawn behind all objects in games represent the background or great distance. E.G The sky.

Skybox helps sets the mood and atmosphere of the world you’ve built.

Understanding skyboxes

A skybox is split into six textures representing six directions visible along the main axes (up, down, forward, backward, left and right). The six directions offer a panoramic view. After skybox is generated, the texture images will fit together seamlessly at the edges to give a continuous surrounding image. This can be viewed from “inside” in any direction. The panorama is behind all other objects in the scene. It rotates to match orientation of the camera. A skybox is an easy way to add realism to a scene. It puts minimal load on the graphics hardware.


Skyboxes consist of six panels. They fold together and form a seamless scene in every direction. With skyboxes it is easy to just drag-and-drop simplicity. Here’s how easy it is to add to any game:

  1. Take the models (linked below) from the catalog
  2. In Studio, click Insert > My Models
  3. Select the skybox you want to apply and click it to improve the look of your game

Skybox in Unity

the Standard Assets package in unity comes with a number of high-quality skyboxes (menu: Assets > Import Package > Skyboxes).


The skybox is a material using one of the shaders from the RenderFX submenu. If you choose the Skybox shader, you will see an inspector like the following, with six samaplers for the textures:-


The Skybox Cubed shader requires the textures to be added to a cubemap asset (menu: Assets > Create > Cubemap).





Unity – Using Skyboxes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2016, from

These High-Res Skyboxes Make Games Beautiful — Fast. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2016, from


Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 9

MassFX for 3ds Max enables you to add realistic physics simulations to your project. This plug-in makes 3ds Max-specific workflows, using modifiers and helpers to annotate the simulation aspects of your scene.

MassFX uses rigid bodies: During the simulation these objects do not change shape. the rigid bodies can be one of three types:

  • Kinematic:Kinematic objects are animated using standard methodsThey can also be stationary objects. A Kinematic object cannot be affected by dynamic objects in the simulation but can affect them. A Kinematic object can switch over to Dynamic status during the simulation.
  • Dynamic:The motion of Dynamic objects is controlled by the simulation. They are subject to gravity and forces that result from being struck by other objects in the simulation.
  • Static:Static objects are like Kinematic objects but cannot be animated. However, they can be concave, unlike Dynamic and Kinematic objects.

MassFX additional features:

  • TheMassFX Visualizer displays simulation factors such as contact points and object velocities. This feature is key for debugging simulations.
  • MassFX Explorerworks with MassFX simulations. It is a special version of Scene Explorer.

Use constraints (Eg such as with a hinged door) to allow objects to restrict each other’s motion.



MassFX. (2016). Retrieved November 19, 2016, from

3ds Max Help. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2016, from

Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 8

Face Morphs:

Morphing but can be used to change the shape of any 3D model. It is also used for lip sync and facial expression on a 3D character. The modifier provides many channels for morph materials and targets.

Morpher modifier is used to change the shape of a patch, mesh, or NURBS model. You can morph World Space FFDs and shapes (splines). The Morpher modifier also supports material morphing.

Facial Animation

Create a character’s head in an “at rest” pose to achieve lip sync and facial animation. The head can be a patch, mesh, or NURBS model. Modify and Copy the head to create the facial-expression and lip-sync targets. Select the “at rest” head and apply the Morpher modifier.

Morph Targets for Speech animation

Speech animation uses nine mouth-shape targets. You might want to create extra morph targets to cover additional mouth shapes in case your character speaks an alien dialect.

Include cheek, nostril, and chin-jaw movement when creating mouth-position targets. Examine your own face in a mirror. You can also put a finger on your face while mouthing the phonemes to establish the direction and extent of cheek motion.

Expression: Morph Targets

For a character, create as many expression targets as necessary. Sadness, Joy, sadness, evil, surprise, can all have own targets. Depending on the personality of the character, like a happy target, may not be necessary.



Morpher Modifier. (2014). Retrieved November 9, 2016, from

Create funny face animations. Morph them ALL! (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2016, from

Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 7


CAT Rigs

CAT (Character Animation Toolkit) is a character-animation plug-in for 3ds Max. CAT facilitates character rigging, non-linear animation, layering animation, motion capture import, muscle simulation and more.

The CATRig is the hierarchy that defines the CAT skeletal animation system. It is a flexible character rig that is designed to let you create the characters you want without having to write scripts. It is also adds speed and sophistication to rigging.

The CATRig character keeps the structure as generic as possible. This is enabled by the CAT’s modular composition design. This a key feature that makes it flexible tool. It is this flexibility that allows users to add and remove different rig elements to get the exact skeleton you need for your character.

Each rig has its procedural walk-cycle system,own layered animation system, and pose/chip system. Each rig element also combines geometry with special capabilities specific to its function.


Animating with CATrig

CAT’s FK/IK rig-manipulation system lets you push and pull the rig parts into your desired pose, whether in IK or FK. Walk-cycle sequences, CATMotion allows you to create customized walk cycle and direct the character around the scene. No need to place individual footsteps.


Animation is created in CAT’s nonlinear animation (NLA) system. This is made possible by the Layer Manager. One of the key advantages of CAT’s NLA system is that you work directly in an animation layer. You do not need to to go back out and tweak the source animation elsewhere


3ds Max Help. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from

3ds Max Help. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from

Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 6

Hair and Fur  for Tangled and Brave and Zootopia

Pixar’s animators and their technological counterparts have looked ways to make the animated world look like real world. Pixar developed an entirely new hair stimulation software- known as Taz.used for  movies like Zooptopia, Tangled, Brave to name a few.

For Brave and Tangled; the hair required much greater hair-to-hair collision, which means it needed to look more flowy and full. Hair was modeled using series of mass and springs and to avoid tangling or stiffness of hair. With this new software, hairs would be dealt with as one group and the hair stimulation could be multi threaded. That’s in turn would solve the daunting task to make hair stimulation look real.


Dealing with fur was another challenging task for animators to create verisimilitude of an animal only body in the movie Zoopotia. The fur technology makes animals look realistic and believable. Disney’s team of engineer’s introduced- iGroom; which helps shape about 2.5 million hairs. It is a fur-controlling tool, which has never used before. This software gave animators tonnes of flexibility. They could play with the fur, give it texture, fluffiness- brush it, shape it and shade it. You can push fur around and find the form you want.



Brave New Hair. (2014). Retrieved October 30, 2016, from

Lalwani, M. (2016). Fur technology makes Zootopia’s bunnies believable. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from

Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 5

Color Scripts

There’s a science to choosing color schemes in a movie, to make the movie visually more attractive and to provide psychological assists, and how designers use complementary pairs in a movie’s art design.  Ralph Eggleston from Pixar was the person who introduced color scripts. He suggests that it provides a definite color palette for the movies. It defines the lighting, the color scheme for the Pixar movies.

Color script serves a functional purpose in animation. Its provides the director all clues he can get from start to finish of the movie on screen. Color script is an early attempt to map out the color, emotion and moods for the film.

Having a color script will not make or break your animation but it can definitely help the studio to evolve new ideas and figure out different approaches to early stages of story telling. The first attempt of any animator is to set the mood for the project.  Color script is not about making a pretty piece of art; it evolves throughout the early stages of the film, hand in hand with the story development.

It is often best to start from a traditional predefined color scheme. Analogous, Complimentary and monochromatic color schemes are just a few of the traditional color schemes available as a starting point for designers




Colour Script. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from

Creating a Color Script – Mike Cushny. (2011). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from

Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 4

We are now at the beginning of texturing our created assets. It is an exciting phase that we are all looking forward to. I did a little research on some tips & tricks to keep in mind while we texture & the top 3 were:

  1. Material definition – a good way to judge if a texture is working or not is to see if the material definition is clear or not. That means that one should be able to tell what kind of material it is just by looking at the texture even if it is not on the product. Example : A wooden texture vs plastic must have the difference noticeable just by looking at the amount of spec in the material.material-definition
  2. Base material can be re-used – If one is creating a set of props with similar materials, creating a base material texture well ensures it can be re-used & variations can be added. Eg: in our project we have multiple trees & also wooden baskets & barrels etc. So once we have the base wooden texture created we can re-use that & just create variations so as to fasten the workflow.
  3. Beauty is in the subtle details – the beauty of a texture is in the depth that can be added to it & one of the ways is to put subtle details into it. Eg: cracks in a wooden plank, moss on certain corners of a rock etc. These small subtle details that are not obvious in the 1st glance is what makes the texture more interestingsubtle-details



The Top Ten Tips of Texturing | CGSociety. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2016, from

@. (2015). 3D Texturing Tips | Tips to Push Your Textures to the Next Level. Retrieved October 14, 2016, from



Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 3

Another week’s gone by & it was an ok week. We had a few successes in terms of modelling but more of redo work to correct mistakes & bring the quality further up to what is expected. It gave me some time to explore & read about some of the tools & technologies that interest me.

This week I was reading about “Holoportation”. This is a fairly new technology that was introduced by Microsoft earlier this. This is a new way of 3D capturing that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted anywhere in the world in real time. When combined with mixed reality displays such as HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset & a special camera rig setup, it allows users to see, hear, and interact with remote participants in 3D as if they are actually present in the same physical space. The sense of smell & touch cannot be transmitted & with the current technological development, the hologram of the person appears only within the field of view. Hence, the person being holoported could actually appear to be standing inside a couch or a table or even floating in air based.

Technically, the camera setup captures very high quality details from every angle & the custom software stiches them together to generate a fully formed 3D model. This is then transmitted/holoported to anywhere in the world. However, this process generates a huge load of data & currently most video streaming codecs are not 3D friendly. Hence, compressing gigabytes into megabytes of data for fast transfer is a big part of making this technology a success.

Currently the spatial problems are something that still needs to be worked on, but we are fast getting there.

Microsft hopes to eventually make this a consumer product. It could change the way of 2D video calls to something a lot more tangible & real. They also hope to make using this technology to communicate and interact with remote users become a natural face-to-face communication that could bring down expensive business travels down significantly.

Star Wars’ holoportation may not be a far fetched reality now.



  1. Holoportation – Microsoft Research. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2016, from
  2. (2016). Microsoft introduces the world to ‘holoportation’ Retrieved October 07, 2016, from–1317809
  3. How Microsoft Conjured Up Real-Life Star Wars Holograms. (n.d.). Retrieved October 07, 2016, from


Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 2

With another week gone by, we’ve made some progress. The week began with us beginning to model some of the assets needed. We began exploring unity & realized the magnitude of the learning curve there to get this right. Mid week due to loosing some more team members in the other team the 2 teams were merged into our project. We suddenly became a huge team. More team dynamics & some increase in scope to utilize all the team members well. We finally managed to finally assign work to all team members & today the 1st round of client outgoings in terms of base mesh modelling is going out. Fingers crossed. 🙂

This week I have been researching a bit about game character modelling. Some of the tips I gathered along the way:

  1. Know your restrictions:

It is imperative to know not just the polycount & texture page limits but also the environment settings & how the character will be used in those settings. In other words what details will be seen etc. Our character has a hood but that does fall off hence making the hair is important. We also have close ups of her face & hands & hence those details are also important to get right. Also getting the Units & scales right are important to make sure all measurements are correct.


  1. Research:

Get as much research & references in place before starting work so that one is clear on the look & design aspects expected.


  1. Start simple & add detail to only where it is needed:

It is very easy to model with no restrictions but if a body part is not being seen up close or not being used in any kind of animation & hence doesn’t need to be deformed, or it is going to be such a miniscule part of the overall scene, it makes no sense to put in all that effort & use up the polycount budget.


  1. Be economical:

To optimize the poly count it is best to delete all unseen geometry. Eg: under the clothes. Anything that doesn’t add to the shape of an object or to how it deforms should not be there.


  1. Follow natural muscle lines:

While building the model, try to remember the way the model is going to be animated. The poses the model needs to take etc. Try to keep the topology in the same flow so that the deformations looks natural to those poses.


  1. Retain a seamless model

A character with a lot of different clothing elements, armour etc can become a nightmare to rig & animate if they are in different pieces. Ideally they should be combined & make into one piece so that animating them becomes easier & one doesn’t face issues of the meshes below popping out from underneath for certain deformations.


  1. Take advantage of normal maps:

Normal maps are a great tool to fake extra details without making the mesh too dense. It should be utilized to the maximum wherever required.


  1. Check the silhouette:

Sometimes while working on a model for long, it becomes difficult to look at it with fresh eyes. Seeing just the silhouette make a difference. Just add a plan shader on a contrast background & see if it reads well.


  1. Make the character distinctive:

Find innovative ways to make the character distinctive by exaggerating some parts, in terms of colours used or by giving it a personality.


  1. Leave the scene clean:

Since normally projects involve working in large teams, it is a good practice to use correct naming conventions & leave the last version of file worked on as clean as possible so as to reduce confusions.




  1. (n.d.). Loonygames’ Thinking Outside the Box. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from
  2. (2015). 20 top character design tips. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from
  3. (2011). How to create character models for games: 18 top tips. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from
  4. The Division – Best Character Builds. (n.d.). Retrieved October 01, 2016, from

Studio 1 – Project Journey – Week 1

My animation journey continues & the beginning of trimest3 has been a roller coaster ride so far.

It began with us being divided into a group comprising of a mixed bag of personalities from trimester 3& 4. We were assigned designated roles & responsibilities based on what the professors thought we would handle best given our past experiences. Being a team lead it was crucial for me to know my team members, understand how they function best, what are their key interests so I could align them better with the tasks & roles assigned to them. Most importantly I wanted them to know how I function & what I envisioned for us as a team to achieve at the end of the trimester. Setting boundaries so as to avoid conflicts & misunderstandings was also important. We had our share of a few minor personality conflicts but nothing that couldn’t be resolved. As of last evening I could see the team becoming comfortable with each other, cracking jokes while working tirelessly to meet the day’s deadlines. I could sense them finally getting excited about the project as they could see all the hard work from the last 5 days coming to life & the project beginning to be a promising one.

Apart from all the above personally for me this week has been a huge learning curve. I have always shied away from doing storyboards as I am not very good at drawing in perspectives. I can visualize the scene in my head but find it to be a challenge to put it down on paper convincingly. Unfortunately we lost a team member to the pressures of deadlines & I had to step into the task. It was quite uncomfortable in the beginning & I realized if I want to get over this mental block of not being able to draw convincingly, I would have to take the bull by it’s horns. Not that I really had much of a choice in the matter  ;).

A few essentials for making an effect storyboard that I learnt were:

  1. Ensure that the story is tight & all three acts are in place.
  2. There should be no element / scene that shouldn’t be progressing the story further or adding value to it.
  3. It is crucial to identify the key scenes in the story, since the storyboard is only to give a gist of how the viewer will be engaged in the story.
  4. 1st block out the elements in each scene to see if it is working. The rules of composing a good scene should always be kept in mind such as effective camera angles, rule of thirds, the kind of shot it is (wide angle, close-up, over the shoulder, tracking shot) etc.
  5. Once the story flow seems to be working well the amount of detailing we want to put in should be decided. One can make it as detailed as one wants but the idea is not to create a pretty picture but to have all elements in play be put in. E.g.: for us the lining of the trees, the bend of the road, the placement of the braches, the subtle rays of sunshine penetrating the forest etc was crucial to show in one of the scenes. In another where the focus was on a clsh between the 2 characters, drawing in the background in great detail was not really relevant.
  6. To further explain the scene the jotting of a dialogue or sound is beneficial. Adding numbers to each panel also makes the board clearer & easy to follow.
  7. Further details explaining a shot can be added in a short description below each panel.
  8. Once we are happy with the overall storyboard we can refine the pictures better.
  9. Adding a pop of colour to emphasize the character / crucial element of the shot is a great way to understand the viewer’s experience through the journey & also make sure our crucial scene element is emphasized enough.
  10. Last but not the least, get constant feedback from people around you. It only helps to get a fresh perspective on it as sometimes we are so over engaged with a project that we miss the very obvious mistakes.


  1. By using Opposing Poses like in some of the examples shown below, you can have characters curved or directed on an arc, other characters have straighter poses, but still aimed on an angle. This kind of dynamic posing sure beats the hell out of characters standing straight up and down all the time. (n.d.). Terminology. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from
  2. The making of: Storyboarding Tips & Tricks – eyewantcandy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from
  3. Karen J Lloyd’s Storyboard Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from