30-31.1.17: Creating assets

We presented our concept and work yesterday to the class. It went okay. I don’t think we were able to portray all the research we did (and we did a lot), and we didn’t have much to show for the animation assets because we were so focused on the research. But at least concept-wise we’ve developed since our last class on Friday, and even after the presentation we’ve progressed into an even more established concept.

Our feedback from Chris:

(Wolstenholme, L. 2017)

At this stage we really just need to work on building up our assets in MotionBuilder, Soft Image, and possibly Maya (for Helen and I). Although we’re finding it difficult transitioning from concept to design in such an abstract setting, I’m hoping that looking at our past research can inform our ideas by picking out specific elements and designing ideas and images around that. So that’s what I started with today (31.1.17). I have both MotionBuilder and Maya at home (as well as other animation programs) at home so I just stayed home to work on everything rather than wasting 2 hours on transport.


I created this text-image mood board to keep me on track while designing and animating assets, especially as we’re on a deadline and running a little behind schedule. It had the basic ideas and research that I liked (from my and some of the others’ research) that I thought I could create imagery from. It helped me a lot to have starting points all laid out in front of me so if I got confused or muddled, there was a life ring buoy I could grab onto.

(Nour, G. 2017) (Clark, J. Getty Images) (See ’25-26.2.17: MotionBuilder, preliminary research’ post for photograph citations)

While designing we had conversations about the direction we could go in terms of our concept aligning with designs, taking into account the feedback Chris and Holger gave us yesterday. Lou and I had an interesting conversation about our progress (on slack.com, our messaging platform of choice that Helen suggested) that I thought really helped strengthen our message and give us a clear direction (and luckily was already in line with what I was designing!):

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.46.08 pm.png

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.54.09 pm.png


“Rage against the machine”, based on the vending machine rage where men would kick vending machine that would in turn fall on them and injure or even kill them.

"Notoriously, however, people sometimes get angry when they are frustrated by inanimate objects, which presumably cannot act wrongfully… In 1988, the Journal of the American Medical Associationpublished an article on “vending machine rage”: fifteen injuries, three of them fatal, as a result of angry men kicking or rocking machines that had taken their money without dispensing the drink. (The fatal injuries were caused by machines falling over on the men and crushing them.)"

- Popova, M. 2016
(Nour, G. 2017)

Oil and water – this idea originated in the research that I conducted during the weekend. I was reading about a study where people were given a series of numbers to remember and then offered a piece of cake or fruit. The study showed that to a great degree, those with more numbers took the cake, and those with only two, were about to use their rational mind in determining that the fruit was the better choice. In turn I thought about how this is like procrastination, and how I’ve pretty much worked out the secret to overcoming it now. This dichotomy between reason/emotion taking over the mind I thought resembled how oil and water can exist together but not blend. Each have their own unique role. And each can move the other liquid around.

I purposely made these images very cartoony. I thought it could make a nice contrast to the abstract void, having bold, cartoony elements to give more of a narrative feel.

I looked at images of oil and water and remembered an experimental video I saw last year, ‘Odyssey’. That was fantastic for exploring how I could visualise the dynamic between oil and water. Tomorrow Helen and I are going to film this effect using glycerin, water, glitter, and colour dye (though tbh it’ll probably just end up being food dye because that’s all I have haha).

(Khasanov, R. 2015)

This also links in well with the story of the untainted seawater and the idea of the bubble that Lou mentioned:

"The work is structured by an allegory of the mythical freshwater river Alpha, which coursed through the saltwater sea and emerged wholly untainted on the other shore. The sea represents =the realm of science (technology), letters, and language. In contrast, the tenacious undercurrent - “some kind of rebellious or perverse instinct” - represents Caillois’s latent lyricism or unmediated contact with the world, a “meager and personal existence, whose haunting memory I had preserved against currents and tides.”"

- Caillois, R. 2003
“a gigantic parenthesis, also a bubble, brackets off his absorption in the saltwater sea tot let him focus, in a literary epoch, on the essential origin and conclusion of his life.”

- Caillois, R. 2003

Lou linked me to her pinterest which had some cool images that related to our concept too.

(data immersion 2017, Pinterest)

I really like the bottom two. The left reminds me of the ECG of blank seizures image that I found for Friday’s conceptual collaging workshop (can be seen in the mood board above). And the right image I thought was a great way to express the change in mind from emotional to rational (or vice versa). Only problem is that I have no idea how I’d create this as a visual effect. It’d have to be a repeater effect…but doing it manually via After Effects would take an age. I might have to ask a 3D friend.

Maya and MotionBuilder:

I tried to create the idea of the oil/water effect in Maya by following a particle tutorial. I couldn’t find anything with the buoyancy and size of oil drops (rarely are they tiny because of their gravitation towards like matter), but I figured I could just adjust the gravity and size myself.

Texture used in the black particles; (Nour, G. 2017)

The above texture is taken from a section I’d painted in Friday’s conceptual collage workshop. I used it for the particles in the black swarm above to try and convey the arthropod-esque rididness within a moving force. However they didn’t show up as large as I would have liked, and any attempts at scaling them were fruitless.

As for adjusting the size and gravity of the whole particle effect myself, obviously it didn’t work out that way. But the effects I came up with I still really liked. I tried importing to MotionBuilder as an .fbx file but every time I tried to bring it into the siphonophores_actor scene it would replace the mocap data, which was frustrating. I then tried to emulate the effect in MotionBuilder but it wouldn’t work at all. It felt like everything I tried just looked exactly like it did the first few lessons we learned MotionBuilder. I’m finding it hard to achieve variation in my tests.

These are stills from 10:1 tests that Helen and Jack made while they were at uni today. I kept in contact with them the whole day but I know they were struggling a fair bit trying to keep up and work with the systems (as was I).


(Chun, H. 2017)

Lou worked on some panoramas:


(Wolstenholme, L. 2017)

I like the idea of the bubbles within her panoramas, how they express the shattering of reality when one’s emotional or rationality mind is too much in control.

The second one has a nice contrast between the arthropod and siphonophore movements within our concept.


Honestly, we just didn’t get around to sound today. We were too focused on trying to actually create enough for Wednesday’s tests in the data arena but we’re all finding it really hard. We can’t seem to get the imagery we want in Motion Builder and Helen and I focused on 2D rather than 3D during our animation course, so we’re not super familiar with it. Being an intensive course, it feels like there’s not really any time to make mistakes. Like the first go should really be the final go. But everything is taking so much longer to work out (as is typical in animation), and we’re remaining in the same position despite spending hours trying to work it out.

Helen and I were talking about it and think our mistake was in all of us doing research last weekend. It probably would have been better if she and I worked on animation assets (as we’re both animators) and Jack and Lou worked on the research. There were probably too many people working on research at the same time. In saying that though, I personally found doing so much research helpful in visualising ideas today. It’s just I wasn’t actually able to visualise all the ideas the way I wanted to. But we probably should have split each project element up and worked on animation assets so that we didn’t end up where we are now – a little overwhelmed and panicked, desperately hoping we’ll get back on track and create animations we enjoy tomorrow, but worried we won’t.

No one got around to making any still assets like montages, collages, or textures either.

Plans for tomorrow:
  • 2D animate (play to my strengths!) fluid stretching out (figurative) tentacles to create a suffocating web of fluidity when loaded into MotionBuilder as a particle coming from some of the Mocap data points/joints (emphasising the danger of thinking purely emotionally).
  • Helen and I will film the oil/water/glitter/dye conglomerates and take it into After Effects to act as another contrast between the emotional/rational mind. I think it’ll look pretty cool when seen as a whole – it’ll fit really nicely within the idea of ‘estuary’ as well, in terms of disconnection within a flow/current.
  • Ask Holger how to import the Maya particles I made today into a _plot scene of MotionBuilder.

I think that’s it for the list. Don’t want to have so much to do that I won’t be able to do any of it! Lists are great. They make you feel like you’re in control when previously you were feeling more the contrary.



Caillois, R. 2003, Frank, C., The Edge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois’s

Reader, Duke University Press, accessed January 29 2017.

Khasanov, R. 2015, Odyssey, Vimeo, viewed 30 January 2017, <https://vimeo.com/127468772 >.

Popova, M. 2016, ‘Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on Anger, Forgiveness, the Emotional Machiery of Trust, and the Only Fruitful Response to Betrayal in Intimate Relationships’, brainpickings, weblog, viewed 27 January 2017, <https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/05/03/martha-nussbaum-anger-and-forgiveness/&gt;.

Oil in water, Joseph Clark, Getty Images, viewed 28 January 2017, <https://www.reference.com/science/don-t-oil-water-mix-5fa85ae059405d10 >.

data immersion 2017, posted by L. Wolstenholme, Pinterest, viewed 30 January 2017, <https://au.pinterest.com/louwolst/data-immersion-concept-inspiration/ >.

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