Author Archives: 001NickHansman

Group Post – Maya Bone Skeleton Systems

Patrick Hayes, Ben Koontz, Dalton Witham, Bo Hubbard, Sam Joe Carl, Nick Hansman

When we first chose Maya Bone Skeleton System we had not the slightest clue of what it was or how it worked. We had been under the assumption that it possibly had something to do with the skeletal structure of a building. Though that initial idea was wrong, what we did find out about Maya Bone Skeleton Systems was so much more than we could have expected. We were able to find a real-world application of the program in the Academy Award winning short film The ChubbChubbs! and an instruction manual that related to the movie as well. Using the manual, we were able to learn more about Maya Bone Skeleton Systems and constructed our own character from the short film. (below is a YouTube link to the animated short film)

Maya Bone Skeleton Systems is a tool used by animators to help prepare geometries created in Maya for movements and animation. The skeletons built in the program provide a framework and structure that will regulate the movement of a character or geometry. However, Maya Bone Skeleton Systems is less about actually moving around and animating geometry than it is about creating a structure in order to control and create logical and appropriate movements later in the animation process. Without the skeleton system, the character or geometries would be useless to the animator.

Maya Skeletons are made by drawing a series of joints to form a skeleton chain, also referred to as a joint hierarchy. These chains create a continuous hierarchy of joint nodes that are parented to the join before them. The geometry or character that will be moving using the skeleton system is generally created/built first. Once the character is built, the placement of the joints become easier. The first join that is placed in a joint chain is known as the Root Joint or the Parent Joint. This Parent joint is the top joint in the chain hierarchy. Each subsequent joint in the chain is then considered a child joint to the parent and moves as the parent joint is moved or rotated. In most cases, many different joint hierarchies are created within a geometry for maximum control of the character later in animation. For example, a characters two legs would be considered a different joint chain. Despite being different chains, the legs are part of a complete skeleton and are thus joined together  by the hip joint. The hip is the parent to both the left and right leg joint chain hierarchies. This method of parenting multiple chains is called Parenting Skeletons.

Most of the animation of joints is done using rotation because that is the appropriate and natural movement of joints. Each joint has its own axis and the most desirable orientation of each joint is critical in order for animations to move correctly later in the animation process. Joints whose rotation axis, in both single hierarchies and multiple chain hierarchies, face the same direction will all rotate appropriately and logically according to one another. The most basic type of movement is called Forward Kinematics and it was already briefly described above, but to reiterate, the parent joints control the child joints and any movement that the parent joints make the child joints follow.

However, Forward Kinematics creates a problem for animators when they are attempting to generate a more complicated movement sequence. The problem stems from the principle that child joints have to move and follow parent joints as they move. For example, if you are animating a bipedal character and this bipedal character is walking, when the character plants its foot on the ground it should logically stay there until it is lifted up again to take another step. However, when using strictly Forward Kinematics, any movement that occurs in the hips or legs of this character (joints that are higher up in the joint hierarchy) will cause the planted foot to move along with and follow its parent joints. Inverse Kinematics is the solution to the problems that are posed by Forward Kinematics. With the use of an Inverse Kinematic Handle (IK handle), a child joint can be allowed to move or stay put, and the IK handle will calculate the movement of the parent joint and adjust the child joints according to what has already been assigned to them.

Forward Kinematics is useful for basic movements such as the swinging of a person’s arms while walking. Inverse Kinematics are useful in more complex movements like picking things up, jumping and planting a foot on the ground. Because of their different uses, both processes are used when animating any character and this is called IK/FK Blending. In most animation processes many IK handles will be used (and then blended with FK handles) and built upon a skeleton system in order to give the animator more logical control over how a geometry will move. These handles can be prioritized within Maya and can create a hierarchy of potential movements for joints and joint chains when rotated or translated.

Unfortunately, the amount of time it takes to build custom geometries and characters just to be used by the Bone Skeleton Systems makes it a tough tool for architects. It could be possible to use the program to generate a walk-through of a proposed building using different characters, but again there are other programs to do that much quicker. Maya Bone Skeleton Systems are a much better tool for digital designers, game developers, and movie animators.

Link to online video tutorial that we created for our presentation that failed to load for said presentation.

Individual Research Project Blog Post – Maya Bone Skeleton Systems

I signed up for the Maya Bone Skeleton System research topic because none of us had heard of this before and were interested in learning more. We had been learning and using the Maya modeling program in class for the installation project but I understood that we weren’t reaching the full extents of the software at hand and I wanted to delve into the more complicated parts of Maya. This research topic proved to be very interesting and exactly what I was looking for.

We first began to research what opportunities this software created for designers and weren’t disappointed. We found that the Comedy Central show South Park uses Maya Bone Skeleton systems for their animating. However, that show is primarily a 2D show that doesn’t incorporate very much 3D animation (if any at all) into each episode. Eventually we found an Academy Award winning short film that used Maya Bone Skeleton Systems to generate the entire short film. The film is The ChubbChubbs! and spawned a sequel as well, due to its success, titled The ChubbChubbs save Xmas! The film itself runs only 6 min long but showed us the true capabilities of the software we were researching.

Maya Bone Skeleton Systems allow designers to create realistic movements of human and other living things as they walk, run, and interact within the world around them. In order to accomplish something as intuitive as someone walking however, takes some patience and knowhow. The designer has to start at the hips to create a parent joint that will later control the rest of the legs. The left leg is generated first with another joint at the knee, another at the top of the foot, another in the middle of the foot where the toes begin, and then another 5 (one for each toe). When the parent join is moved, the child joints (knee, foot and toe joints) will move with it. If the knee is rotated, the parent joint of the hip stays in place, but the lower joints move accordingly to the knee’s movement. This occurs accordingly as one moves farther and farther down the joint chain. Normal movement is forward kinematics and those follow the rules that I’ve just described. However, these pose a problem with animating when creating more complex movements. When one is picking up something or walking, the child joints shouldn’t always move in accordance to the parent joint. To solve this problem Inverse Kinematics is used. For example, when a foot is planted and the hip moves to generate momentum for the next leg to take another step, Inverse Kinematics keeps the plant leg in place while the hip rotates and moves the other leg.

Maya Bone Skeleton Systems seemed to be extremely complex when we first began researching the process but we soon realized it is very intuitive and fairly straightforward once you know the software. The only problem we found with the software was that the average architect will have no use of this. Unless someone was going to create a walk-through of a building using animated characters, this software is practically useless to the architect, and much more valuable in a graphic design, video game animator or movie animator.

Cloud Installation: Light Reactive – Hansman, Diewald, Soria, Waters

Concept Proposal

Nick Hansman, Luke Diewald, Laura Soria, Becca Waters

Our design incorporates a cloud to be used as a sound dampener. The design is centered around the light and uses the light as the main parameter for the design. As of now, our idea involves an undulating waffle structure with a second, tessellated material on the face of the waffle structure to dampen the sound and allow different opportunities to play with the light.

p1_Nick Hansman_001

n|edg is an installation in Lyon, France by MARK FORNES & THEVERYMANY. It is an experiment in surface tensions and relaxations in order to provide and create natural structural stiffness. The surface was able to generate the best fit curvature as a response to fix hanging or support points located either on the floor, ceiling, or walls.
The advanced computer programs that we have today allowed the design team to re-understand the surface’s curvature as a series of points. Higher densities of points are relative to the degree of curvature, resulting in more points and eventually fabricated parts in areas with more curvature. The CNCed aluminum pieces were designed to vary from three to “n” number of edges depending on the complexity of the curvature that each piece is subjected to. Each polygonal part is similar, but not identical, and changes in size and proportion allows it to describe different radius of curvature. The installation consists of two surfaces that, due to their geometry, are structurally stable without any use of added support.