My name is Matthew Brown, Co-Founder and CTO of Pocket Pals, and an Animation & VFX graduate from Falmouth University. Since finishing University in 2018 I have mainly been working on Pocket Pals; which means I spend a lot of time modelling, texturing, rigging, animating and coding! This is the place where I can share the creative things that I am working on/have worked on.
Recently, in my spare time, I have been creating this 3D character. My main goal with this project is to improve on my character animation for games, and gain more experience using Unity’s animation system/blend trees. For the end result I want a small test scene where I can use inputs to move the character, for example: walk, run, jump, idle, and maybe try some combat animation.
So far I have been creating the character, from concept to fully textured 3D model. It started when I saw this video that explains how the Pokemon franchise designs new Pokemon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPFAApe8vvc&t. This isn’t how they definitely design new Pokemon, but an educated guess as to what their design guidelines could be. I then roughly followed these guidelines, which are: pick a creature or object (plant/plant pot), give it an element (I ignored this), give it facial features, finally, add 1-2 feature not usually seen on that object (I added these wooden arms and legs).
Next steps include rigging the character, animating the different actions, and finally implementing into Unity. I might also want to create/model a small environment for the character to run around in. However, that would be done after implementing it into Unity since it isn’t the original goal of the project - there is then the potential of making a small game.
We decided that we wanted to try portable/small AR targets which act as a fact-file on one side and an AR target on the other, allowing people to take the experience home with them. I had the idea of trying to mix AR with physics for a while and used this as an opportunity to try it.
We wanted the puffin to do more than just stand there so I quickly created/implemented this sliding feature. All I did was create a 3D sphere, apply a rigidbody to it, created a that the sphere was contained, then parented the collider to the AR target so it followed the same motion. I then hid the ball and wrote some code so that the puffin would follow the translation values of the ball. I got this idea after watching a YouTube video where someone explained that this technique is sometimes used in racing games to get smooth player movement.
I also designed the image target graphic for the postcard and I’m really please with the result. The puffin model, rig, and animation (not the texture) are all also created by me.
This is the fox animation I did for the ‘Pocket Pals Trail’ app. We want to make the interactions as immersive and entertaining as possible, so I created this animation to give the illusion that the fox is startled when it notices the user.
I didn’t create the fox, I only animated it. The animation took around a day and a half to make and this was done prior to showcasing the app at Bristol Nature Festival (the deadline was quite tight). Some things that I’d change about this animation include: making the trot slightly asymmetrical, making the ‘startled’ section more clean/clear/exaggerated, and polishing the first jump.
I’m really happy with the second jump onto the pillar. I feel I managed to capture the wave from the impact/energy transfer, which moves down the fox’s body, quite well. Also, the secondary action of the fox moving its back legs for balance is a nice little touch. I had some trouble trying to pose this rig and found that the model wasn’t made accurately enough to a real fox’s anatomy, so getting some of the poses (especially for the jumps) was quite tricky.
These are the steps involved with adding a new animal to our app. Since the kingfisher doesn't belong in a woodland, I needed to create a new pillar for it to sit on, as well as animating the kingfisher itself. I first modelled the separate elements for the pillar, textured them, created the rig, and finally animated both the pillar and animal (I didn’t create the kingfisher).
Like with most our animals the kingfisher needed to be implemented quickly and the deadline was short. This does mean that we sometimes sacrifice a bit of quality for a quick turn-over. The current animals and animations are for the events/showcase app, and for customers the animations will get polished. The transition between the wings out model and wings down model could easily be smoothed by playing with the wing positioning. Also, the flight animation could be improved upon; simply adding the figure of 8 motion that birds do with their wings would help quite a bit.
This is the dolphin animation I did for the ‘Pocket Pals Trail’ app. We want to make the interactions as immersive and entertaining as possible, so I created this animation to make it feel like the dolphin is swimming around the user. The AR sign for the dolphin doesn’t get hidden like the woodland pillar, instead, seaweed and shells appear (not shown in the video above) creating the illusion that the the user is underwater.
For the path of the dolphin I used a curve and with a motion path constraint. This allowed me to easily alter the path whilst working, and get smooth bending turns like how a real dolphin would move.
I didn’t create this asset, I only animated it, however I created a similar rig for our twait shad (a fish). For the dolphin we re-used and altered the design of that rig. It uses a combination of an IK spline and a sine wave deformer. This meant that the animation on the body of the dolphin was very easy yet effective, since it was just a matter of setting the amplitude, wavelength and frequency/period of the sine wave.
This is the first asset made specifically for the ‘Pocket Pals Trail’ app. The pillar will make it look as if a virtual chunk of earth is popping up from the ground (a different pillar will be made for each habitat). This will then cover the AR sign, making the experience slightly more immersive, and act as something for the animal to sit/stand on.
I created this asset from scratch, which included: modelling, texturing, rigging, and animating. When modelling I had to work in real-world scale since this is an AR asset. It had to be slightly taller than 0.5m to cover the sign, but not too high that kids wouldn’t be able to have a picture next to it. The rig was quite simple and fun; I used an IK spline for the main/earth section of the pillar. This allowed me to get that bendy/springy feel. The trees are skinned separately to the base so that they can scale separately, and this meant I had to think about my outliner hierarchy so that the trees behaved/followed the base correctly. Regarding the animation, I wanted it to feel as if the pillar was being forced up-and-out the ground, and I wanted the trees to have a stiff/springiness to them.
Overall I am very pleased with the result and I’m quite excited to create more for different habitats.
This was done a while back, and I unfortunately never finished it! I was quite happy with where it was going and looking back I'd like to start doing character animation again.
This short was done during the summer, after my first year of learning VFX (which was actually my 2nd year at Uni). I quickly found an interest in placing 3D objects into live action footage, and wanted to carry this on as a summer project.
Overall the project took a month or two, and this was because I used the project to teach myself rigging. During this summer, Pocket Pals was also starting to become a real project (previously it was just an idea which myself and Dani had brainstormed about), after I applied for a £10,000 grant from The Environment Now scheme. I therefore used my time to try out 3D modelling animals in a low-poly style, as well learning how to rig (more specially, how to rig quadrupeds).
I was quite happy with how the final product turned out: my first low poly animal model went well, the whole process of learning and completing the rig went great, and the VFX aspect turned out pretty decent. I’m not the best 2D/texture artist, so that definitely needs improving.