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Hash, Inc. Forums > Technical Direction and Development (Learning Animation:Master) > The Art of Animation:Master (TaoA:M) < New Users Start Here! > Calling all Pedagogs
robcat2075
A few versions ago Distortion Boxes seemed to be rather unpredictable in the Chor and I avoided exploring them but now that appears to be fixed and they look quite powerful. Quite a bit could be done with these in making stretchy characters that would be impractical with bone effects alone.

Click to view attachment Click to view attachment


Although the bones get left behind, their influence isn't broken so, for example, I can still rotate the eye bones to pose the eyes even though the eye isn't where the eye bone is.
Walter Baker
Now that is sweet, lots if ideas there
mouseman
I've never used distortion boxes. It always seemed like they might be powerful, but I never played with it to find out how they work.
John Bigboote
DON'T be intimidated by this powerful feature... it is EXTREMELY easy to use and customize in model, action and poses. The only thing I wish it had was the ability to undo once you have distorted something... so save often while using distortion boxes. Great example Rob!
robcat2075
QUOTE(John Bigboote @ Aug 29 2011, 11:34 PM) *
The only thing I wish it had was the ability to undo once you have distorted something... so save often while using distortion boxes.


Undo worked fine in my example above where I was using a D-box as an action object on a model in a chor, but I just tried undo while using a D-box in modeling mode and that got a very odd result. Time for an AMReport!
Gerry
Yep, distortion boxes are extremely handy though I haven't used them much other than for simple modeling tweaks. Knowing they work in a chor is big news.
Rodney
QUOTE
The only thing I wish it had was the ability to undo once you have distorted something...


To build your ultimate Undo with Distortion Cages animate them in an Action or Chor.
The you can dial back to anywhere along the timeline of your distortion.

Models can also deform as they move through static Distortion Cages (think those crazy circus mirror rooms). This could be useful in some situations to add a sense of anticipation or squash and stretch to an otherwise unmodified model. In order to build these static Deformation/Distortion Cages I believe they have to be assigned to a Bone. When I first started messing around with this aspect it was in an attempt to create a mechanism for simulating surface friction.
John Bigboote
QUOTE(Rodney @ Aug 31 2011, 03:28 AM) *
Models can also deform as they move through static Distortion Cages (think those crazy circus mirror rooms). This could be useful in some situations to add a sense of anticipation or squash and stretch to an otherwise unmodified model. In order to build these static Deformation/Distortion Cages I believe they have to be assigned to a Bone.




Now- this is interesting... I was just yesterday watching a 'new features' clip from Maxxon's C4DR12 and they have a feature like this, however it is 2D grid based... if this works like you say it does (must experiment!) then this is yet another powerful feature lurking in the shadows of A:M!!! Squash and stretch ... facial contortions... the uses could be MANY!

I am off to experiment... darned you, Rodney! Uh, could you elaborate on 'I believe they have to be assigned to a bone...'
John Bigboote
Yeah--- that is the question...how do you assign a distortion box to a bone?
NancyGormezano
QUOTE(John Bigboote @ Aug 31 2011, 11:28 AM) *
Yeah--- that is the question...how do you assign a distortion box to a bone?


The only way I see is to create an action with your model, go into muscle mode, right click in action window, new/ distort. The distortion cage becomes an action object, click on the Distort1 action object, and change the target to the bone in the model.

tis a bit obtuse, it seems.


robcat2075
First! yay.gif
markw
QUOTE(NancyGormezano @ Aug 31 2011, 08:46 PM) *
QUOTE(John Bigboote @ Aug 31 2011, 11:28 AM) *
Yeah--- that is the question...how do you assign a distortion box to a bone?


The only way I see is to create an action with your model, go into muscle mode, right click in action window, new/ distort. The distortion cage becomes an action object, click on the Distort1 action object, and change the target to the bone in the model.

tis a bit obtuse, it seems.

You might want to check out Holmes's tutorials for his introductory one on modelling and animating with Distortion Boxes here:
http://www.hash.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=29730
Is there not a way his collection of tutorials could be given a higher profile?. It seems to me this collection often goes unnoticed.
Rodney
QUOTE
Is there not a way his collection of tutorials could be given a higher profile?. It seems to me this collection often goes unnoticed.


I'm open to suggestions here.
Holme's tutorials were once under the TaoA:M or Newbies forum but no one seemed to be able to find them there.
Right now all of Holmes tutorials are collected under the forum called: "Featured Tutorials".
The word 'featured' is used for a reason. To me that means "If you are looking for useful information, go through these first".
Holmes tutorial forum is also subtitled (whereas others are not) with: "Ideal Tutorials for New Users of A:M".
If an A:M User hasn't gone through Holmes Bryant's tutorials and they are still struggling with A:M's features... no wonder they are lost. wink.gif

The absolute best way I can think to give any subject a higher profile in the forum is to have everyone finding them useful talk them up and refer to them as often as possible.

We are currently embarking on a new version of TaoA:M so now might be a really good time to reorganize the Tutorials Forum so we can benefit more from understanding the (collective) knowledge we've already got. Anyone interested in taking on that task just say the word. When it comes to A:M, there will likely be no other more educational job. smile.gif
MJL
As TaoA:M II is being compiled, there could be a listing at the end of every chapter there could be a "link"s list of suggested additional tutorials on that particular subject.

Robcat's tutorial: XXXXXXX
Homeslice tutorial: XXXXXXX
Rodney
QUOTE
As TaoA:M II is being compiled, there could be a listing at the end of every chapter there could be a "link"s list of suggested additional tutorials on that particular subject.

Robcat's tutorial: XXXXXXX
Homeslice tutorial: XXXXXXX


I'll defer to Robert and the powers that be on that one.
While credits are important I find the primary text in the middle of a book to be best written from third person (team?) perspective.
It is important to give credit where credit is due of course but often these tutorials are rewrites and updates of older tutorials. Do we track down everyone who may have been involved or contributed or just credit the current author? Not sure. Attribution is a tough nut to crack.

Another thought to rearranging the Tutorials forum might be to align it more along the lines of A:M's interface. I'm not quite sure how to approach that short of just making sure each major option/feature has a forum area of it's own where people can explore further.

I don't particularly like the idea of splitting up Holmes's tutorials into their various topics but that is an option. Listings by authors could then be formulated and maintained elsewhere.


Added:
A brand new Tutorials Forum for 2012 might simply consist of embedded links to A:M Films tutorials (tied in with the new ToaA:M where ever and when ever possible. smile.gif
robcat2075
QUOTE(MJL @ Aug 31 2011, 04:13 PM) *
As TaoA:M II is being compiled, there could be a listing at the end of every chapter there could be a "link"s list of suggested additional tutorials on that particular subject.

Robcat's tutorial: XXXXXXX
Homeslice tutorial: XXXXXXX


There will definitely be a "for further study" or "For more practice" list after every tut that points to relevant tutorials on the same subject.
markw
QUOTE(Rodney @ Aug 31 2011, 10:28 PM) *
QUOTE
Is there not a way his collection of tutorials could be given a higher profile?. It seems to me this collection often goes unnoticed.


I'm open to suggestions here.
Holme's tutorials were once under the TaoA:M or Newbies forum but no one seemed to be able to find them there.
Right now all of Holmes tutorials are collected under the forum called: "Featured Tutorials".
The word 'featured' is used for a reason. To me that means "If you are looking for useful information, go through these first".
Holmes tutorial forum is also subtitled (whereas others are not) with: "Ideal Tutorials for New Users of A:M".
If an A:M User hasn't gone through Holmes Bryant's tutorials and they are still struggling with A:M's features... no wonder they are lost. wink.gif

The absolute best way I can think to give any subject a higher profile in the forum is to have everyone finding them useful talk them up and refer to them as often as possible.

We are currently embarking on a new version of TaoA:M so now might be a really good time to reorganize the Tutorials Forum so we can benefit more from understanding the (collective) knowledge we've already got. Anyone interested in taking on that task just say the word. When it comes to A:M, there will likely be no other more educational job. smile.gif

One thought I have is as they are currently residing in "Technical Direction & Development (Advanced Topics)", maybe the term "Advanced Topics" puts people off or they think these are only for the more skilled, I don't know.
How about putting a few more links to them from other forum areas?
For example, if you go into "Newbies" currently you have 3 pinned subjects at the top but no mention of there being tutorials to do elsewhere. A link could be put in there, maybe with an eye catching banner, like the ones for the "Special Topics" section.
Rodney
QUOTE
For example, if you go into "Newbies" currently you have 3 pinned subjects at the top but no mention of there being tutorials to do elsewhere. A link could be put in there, maybe with an eye catching banner, like the ones for the "Special Topics" section.


This is a good suggestion and we'll definitely implement it.
The entirety of the Newbies and TaoA:M forum areas is currently in the (very) initial state of revision.

QUOTE
How about putting a few more links to them from other forum areas?


To which tutorials do you refer here when you say 'them'?
Are you referring only to Holmes' tutorials?

You might be surprised how many links there currently are around here to these resources (too many actually).
For instance, anyone visiting the current TaoA:M forum will see subforum links to Video Exercises and Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Tutorials (where they'll find Holmes tutorials).

Here though is a core problem... many (most?) A:M Users don't think they need to complete TaoA:M so they are less likely to visit the TaoA:M forum.
Similarly, many (most?) don't care to cast themselves as newbies, so they don't immediately think to visit the Newbies forum.
If they cannot find tutorials in a forum marked 'Tutorials' I'm not sure what more can be linked for them.
It's that old lead a horse to water thing: You can lead an aspiring animator to the tutorial but that doesn't mean they'll open it.

For a short time the Newbies and TaoA:M forums were merged (TaoA:M became a subforum of the newbies forum)
But it didn't take long before a few folks thought the TaoA:M forum wasn't in an obvious enough location.

If I had unlimited time I would smash a lot of the current tutorials together while archiving the originals for those that enjoy the process of ferreting out the gold in the hidden corners of the forum. One of the problems with some tutorials is that as webpages expire the creators tend to dissolve the resources (images, etc.) with them. Therefore some of the useful tutorials are not quite as useful as they once were. Those hosted by Hash Inc tend to have more longevity.

I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence nor do I want to scream RTFM!
But.. if all A:M Users would start with TaoA:M this process would be a whole lot easier.
Then we could really get this many wheeled contraption a' movin'.
That is one very good reason to support Robert's new TaoA:M.

As always, thanks for the feedback.
Keep posting your thoughts and we'll keep absorbing and adjusting to them! smile.gif


Added: You said:
QUOTE
One thought I have is as they are currently residing in "Technical Direction & Development (Advanced Topics)", maybe the term "Advanced Topics" puts people off or they think these are only for the more skilled, I don't know.


Interesting you should mention this. The title/subtitle has a multifold purpose:
1. To scare the begeebees out of newbies who aren't ready for the advanced topics so that as babes in computer animation they'll seek milk before strong meat (that strong stuff is known to kill them!)
2. Credit those who have worked to gain technical mastery while thanking them for the effort they put into answering the tougher questions fielded about computer animation.

The technical area is not for the timid or those who are just playing at this... it is for those who are committed to it. Personal and Professional Development is the future of Animation:Master and mastery requires the ability to search things out... or ask for them. There is no doubt that some of the tutorials on view in the technical area are not all that technical but the number of views on these tutorials suggests those with the interest do find them and IMO it beats having multiple Tutorial forums. Having said this, there is always room for improvement.
Zaryin
I love the distortion boxes. I use them all the time to morph and "sculpt" new faces and bodies from old ones.
robcat2075
QUOTE(Rodney @ Sep 1 2011, 07:28 AM) *
Similarly, many (most?) don't care to cast themselves as newbies, so they don't immediately think to visit the Newbies forum.


Maybe it should be "New Users" instead of "Newbies".
Rodney
QUOTE
Maybe it should be "New Users" instead of "Newbies".


That'd be an easy change. smile.gif
markw
QUOTE(Rodney @ Sep 1 2011, 02:28 PM) *
To which tutorials do you refer here when you say 'them'?
Are you referring only to Holmes' tutorials?

I suppose I was thinking more in terms of Holmes' tutorials, not just because they'r favourites of mine, but because of the way they are presented I found them a natural progression from the printed TAoAM.

QUOTE
Here though is a core problem... many (most?) A:M Users don't think they need to complete TaoA:M so they are less likely to visit the TaoA:M forum.
Similarly, many (most?) don't care to cast themselves as newbies, so they don't immediately think to visit the Newbies forum.
If they cannot find tutorials in a forum marked 'Tutorials' I'm not sure what more can be linked for them.
It's that old lead a horse to water thing: You can lead an aspiring animator to the tutorial but that doesn't mean they'll open it.

You are right in your analysis I think. In some ways (and this might be a bad analogy) TAoAM tutorials and Holmes' for me are the A:M equivalent of practicing scales on an instrument. The more you do them or variations on them the better you are able to play. But there will always be those who dislike practising I suppose and then wonder why playing a solo concert is so hard!

QUOTE
One of the problems with some tutorials is that as webpages expire the creators tend to dissolve the resources (images, etc.) with them. Therefore some of the useful tutorials are not quite as useful as they once were. Those hosted by Hash Inc tend to have more longevity.

Well here's another thought then.
How about a Lost & Found section? If someone encounters a tutorial with missing assets they could ask there if someone else has copies of them.
We all collect stuff on our hard drives for future reference, so there's a good chance that someone, somewhere, will have saved these missing bits.

QUOTE
That is one very good reason to support Robert's new TaoA:M.

Well I for one am eagerly anticipating the new TAoAM smile.gif
Rodney
Thanks for the clarification.

QUOTE
How about a Lost & Found section? If someone encounters a tutorial with missing assets they could ask there if someone else has copies of them.
We all collect stuff on our hard drives for future reference, so there's a good chance that someone, somewhere, will have saved these missing bits.


I'm not sure we a whole new section for that. That would certainly be a lot of moving of topics back and forth (and trying to figure out where they came from when the resources were all found again)
Perhaps the person discovering the missing resource could simply identify that matter in a new post and then those with that resource can add it back in?
There are a few topics that probably should be archived via PDF for posterity.

Note: By the time most read this 'New Users' will be a defacto forum title.

itsjustme
QUOTE(Rodney @ Sep 1 2011, 12:57 PM) *
Thanks for the clarification.

QUOTE
How about a Lost & Found section? If someone encounters a tutorial with missing assets they could ask there if someone else has copies of them.
We all collect stuff on our hard drives for future reference, so there's a good chance that someone, somewhere, will have saved these missing bits.


I'm not sure we a whole new section for that. That would certainly be a lot of moving of topics back and forth (and trying to figure out where they came from when the resources were all found again)
Perhaps the person discovering the missing resource could simply identify that matter in a new post and then those with that resource can add it back in?
There are a few topics that probably should be archived via PDF for posterity.

Note: By the time most read this 'New Users' will be a defacto forum title.


I think I'm straying from this thread's original subject, but, I'll add a couple of under utilized available tools.

Holmes pointed out to me earlier this year that I should add my video tutorials to A:M Films...if everyone did that, it would be a good central location for them. Of course, any files that would accompany them would have to be linked to, but the videos themselves would be easy to find.

Also, recently Chris Dailey pointed out that the Hash Wiki could be used to document settings, processes, etc. It could also have images added, like I did on Chris' document about how to make a white render...here.

If both of these were used more often, I think it would be very beneficial. I'm going to try to remember to add things to both now.
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