Hey everyone - first things first: I’ve decided to slightly reduce the frequency of these posts, as I want to provide you all with a more varied selection of content, and I want to have enough time to do these posts proper justice. So for now I will only post one WIPT a month. In return, you’re getting regular Dev-Vlogs and some other goodies we’re thinking up right now. I also realized I constantly drop names and job titles of people without explaining what exactly they do. So let’s change that!
For this episode of Work-in-Progress-Thursday I talked to Ljubica, our Technical Artist. Originally she worked as an architect, but at Klang she’s responsible for much more than just static structures.
I asked her to sum up what she does: “Currently - I'm writing tools for our animators and animation pipeline: tools that speed up the process, or make the work more fun. Either I spot that some tedious process can be automatized, or the animators themselves suggest (read: complain about for six months) an option for automation. And then I’ll make that happen!”
She also said that she might make something useful for our 3D artists at some point, but currently they insist they’re fine. I’m thinking they just don’t know yet how Ljubica could make their life a little easier.
Ljubica also takes great pride in making her work look a bit nicer than it strictly speaking has to be - grey standard buttons? I don’t think so. A pretty UI is important to her. So, the buttons are blue.
“Someone once said I’m the bridge between the artists and the engineers. Personally I’d sometimes phrase it as being their divorce lawyer [laughs].”
Right now she’s working on something very useful - internally we’re calling it the “Barbie dress-up tool”. It’s a tool for our animators to use with Autodesk Maya. Ljubica finds great pleasure in creating something that will make the animation team’s lives easier, knowing that it will be easier to follow their inspirations.
The problem she’s trying to solve with this tool is the following: without it, animators would have to work with a very bare bones scene - no clothes or hair would be shown on the base character models, which makes it very difficult to know what an animation will actually look like while you’re working on it.
If the scene feels more alive and fleshed out, that’s very helpful for the animator working on it.
Currently we have four different types of outfits, corresponding to different roles: a default look, scientists, defense force and utility workers. Being able to add the suitable outfit to the animation, as well as the tools, weapons or furniture involved, enables you to make more accurate animations of all the various interactions. It’s a pain in the butt having to go back and forth between creating and checking if it fits into a scene!
So, Ljubica’s tool takes all the needed assets from their folders, and creates a button that quickly imports the asset - for example hair - if clicked. The asset also gets attached to the Seedling right away. These imported meshes will also follow the blend shapes and animations - and now the animator is ready to do their magic. And even though a magican famously never shares their tricks, I’ll attempt to find out what that looks like at Klang in the next installment of this series.