Guess who’s tired?? ITS ME! Again! But boy am I feeling proud of my teammates and myself. We worked really hard on this project and came out with a wonderfully animated and designed short that the hospital is gonna love. So as usual, let’s get to the mass post describing the process!
We started out assigned to do a short regarding the hospital mascot Daisy the Cow. Daisy is a hospital safety mascot created by the hospital curator, who cares very deeply about the safety procedures at the hospital. There is a statue of Daisy inside the hospital, which Eding bought and painted herself.
We were given the task of creating short starring our pink cow alongside a blue character that had not been revealed as a specific animal yet. Not knowing anything other than this concept, Lauren, Glenn, Holly and I got to work digging around to see what we could find about the hospital and Daisy.
- The Royal Belfast Hospital for sick Children is the only hospital in Northern Ireland dedicated specifically to the care of children
- There are approximately 107 beds
- The emergency department treats approximately 33,000 children each year
- There is a school within the hospital for the children
- The hospital has been in existence since 1889
(courtesy of Holly’s blog)
There wasn’t much unfortunately other than the above listed, so we began looking at Daisy alone and thinking about who she was and how people saw her.
Personally I first imagined Daisy as sort of a maternal figure or a leader. I sketched a small doodle of her as a doctor, while Lauren saw her a more of a mother, and Glenn saw her as possibly a patient at the hospital.
Figuring we would learn more about Daisy as the project progressed, the four of us decided to toss around the more ambiguous task of our assignment: The Blue character. Who were they? What were they? And why were they so grumpy, as the hospital had specifically requested they be.
My initial thought process was that the character felt uncomfortable in the hospital. This was something I identified with as I’m rather squeamish regarding medical subjects. I figured the blue character would be a young child who didn’t feel safe or comfortable in the hospital and Daisy, once we figured out her role, would help them feel more comfortable.
Then the four of us approached the grumpier perspective. Perhaps the character simply didn’t like being there and chose to stew about it. This led to a few fun ideas with a rnage of animals
Eventually though, we settled on the idea that maybe the blue character should also be a cow! We parted ways shortly afterwards, and dug around a bit for inspiration in style and design. Personally I liked the idea of a massive, hulking character who was actually just a big softy, but first I needed to figure out how to actually draw cows
Finally I was ready to start. We had decided on two bovine characters, a brother and sister. During the sketches I settled on the name Bruce. It just seemed to suit him
The story essentially, was that Daisy existed to help maintain the hospital safety procedures in the hospital. She informs the audience of her role, and how there are some people at the hospital who don’t really understand or like her, but she’s certain they’ll warm up to her. She then spends the rest of the story helping Bruce relax in his room. One of the procedures that’s considered a safety aspect is making sure the patient is comfortable, which is why Daisy is visiting Bruce. The hospital does this neat thing where they give the child a “What Matters To Me” board, where they can list the things they would feel more comfortable with be it a toy, some books, or a certain song. This is what Daisy makes sure Bruce has.
It is true that some people didn’t much like or understand Daisy. They thought she was a little childish. Considering she’s like, eight, I’d say she’s doing a good job. The previs can be found here
Daisy’s design was easy, and very well received by my team and by Niall and Aeding, but Bruce was proving to be pretty difficult. Considering there was an age limit in the children’s hospital, the team wondered if Bruce should really be as massive as I was drawing him
Lauren requested I look at younger designs, as it would fit better with the mood of the narrative.
I didn’t like these as much if I’m being honest, however I did start to develop a personality for Bruce. I decided he was non-verbal autistic with a special interest in bugs. He broke his leg chasing beetles. He seemed grumpy not because he necessarily was, but because the hospital is outside of his routine, and he doesn’t like it. It’s difficult for him to process. His books help him sort through how he’s feeling and help him focus again. (Plus Daisy’s constant company became very regular and it helped him make a new schedule for his stay)
This was the final design chosen.
Now finally I could get to modelling. Glenn had already requested we let him model and rig Daisy, so while he was busy with that, I got started on Bruce.
I began with a cube in maya, and after about an hour of extruding and beveling and general sculpting nonsense, I finally had a shape I was happy with. Bruce’s main mesh is made from just the one cube, which I was super pleased with. I tossed him into zbrush the next day, and sculpted out his finer details like his hair and face
Now came a time of frustration. I was starting to also help Holly with some assets. We did initially have a fifth group member, but seeing as how she decided not to do any work, Holly was buried in the modelling Emma should have been doing. Lauren was busy modelling the hospital, but she stepped in as well to help and the two of us got some of the more pesky assets out of the way
While finishing that up, I also was getting through my rigging process. It wasn’t too different from the last time when I rigged Lenry, however this time I couldn’t use interactive bind, and also I did something called an IKFK switch for the arms.
The switch can be tricky, as I’m forgetful and sometimes don’t name everything I should in the outliner. Essentially, an IKFK switch is when ou basically duplicate the main skeleton arms and create IK handles on one set, and leave plain the other. After that you work on a series of orientations on the FK arm. You then double back to the real arm and constrain the orients you created from the FK. You then use the create a channel and assign the respective arms to the on and off switch.
It’s much more complicated than I explained, but it is a valuable trick to learn. I was very happy with my progress. I’d finished rigging, my blend shapes were done, and I was all set to skin
Then my computer crashed and I lost everything. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
So after screaming for a solid ten minutes I talked to Alec, informed him of the situation, and pulled an all nigher to fix everything. He had fewer faces than before, but at least I had something to show
Meanwhile, Holly and Lauren were cranking out some good work. The rooms were coming together really nicely and Lauren had some amazing textures going
At this point we were ready to animate. Glenn had brought us a nice looking character, though we did need to touch the rig up a bit, Bruce was finally back on track, Lauren’s side character was coming along, and Holly had competed all her assets!
(Test animations by me, model by Glenn)
We split up the work as evenly as we could. Glenn took over lip-syncing, I did the opening shot of her skipping, the shot of her walking down the hall, and the shot of her leaping happily into Bruce’s room. I also did all of Bruce’s animation. It was very simple since he doesn’t move a lot.
Now we’re simply waiting for things to render. We’re putting together a playblast to hand in that can be watched here. Hopefully by Wednesday, we should be able to have the full animation finished.
Many thanks to the hospital, Niall and Aeding specifically for trusting us with their character! This was one of the most exciting project I’ve worked on yet, and I’m really starting to feel very content modelling and rigging characters. I also got to try some great new assets this time around.
All in all I feel much more relaxed than I did on Double Denim. I wasn’t struggling to do everything at once, I didn’t feel excruciatingly rushed off my feet and angry the whole time. I feel more confident in my work, and my ability to recognize when I need to step back. I’m feeling more accomplished, and I actually feel like I’ll be able to get a decent placement.
One thing I’m definitely trying to do is include goofy shots from the progress, so here please enjoy these. The whole project was haunted
you enter the abandoned hospital…you swear you hear a distant ghostly mooing
Her main goal is to fill every hospital bed….no matter what…