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Jessica and Player Animation tools.

First post
Author
Dradis Aulmais
Serious Non-stop Espionage and Kidnapping
#1 - 2014-11-04 17:40:34 UTC
A carry over from CSM 9 minutes thread.


Access to Jessica and a player Usable eve animation engine is something that I would like to see. Player created movies and you tube clips will be a big boon to advertising and game play emersion.

Dradis Aulmais, Federal Attorney Number 54896

Free The Scope Three

Sugar Kyle
Middle Ground
#2 - 2014-11-06 03:41:15 UTC
Hey there,

Over in the comments for the CSM9 Summer Summit dev blog announcement, CCP Darwin discusses Jessica.

CCP Darwin wrote:
Dradis Aulmais wrote:
Access to "Jessica" would be awesome.


You don't want unfettered access to Jessica as it is now. Think of it like a combination of a Python shell and raw access to the internal Trinity graphics engine scene graph, down to the tiniest internal detail, plus a huge menu of every random Python script that anyone from the beginning of EVE ever thought might be a good idea.

Unlike a tool like the Starcraft 2 level editor (which is available to players and really awesome, by the way) Jessica exposes details almost all the way down to the metal on the graphics system that you'd never want to see as a player.

Turning Jessica into something suitable for what the community would like to use it for, or making a new tool for that purpose, is all possible, but it would be a major project.


He then further details with:

CCP Darwin wrote:
Dradis Aulmais wrote:
Jessica sounds like aNightmare to use but since we dropped the expansion videos, have a usable interface for customers to use would make sense. You have basically a program that reached is basic life expectancy now your remonatized it as a customer generated ad content machine. Boom. Customers are happy they can create videos outlining their love for this game and CCP has a cheap source of ad revenue.


A little explanation on why I said this would be a major project:

You're asking for an animation authoring tool, and Jessica is not designed to serve that purpose. It's for making EVE graphics assets. It just happens to provide a somewhat clunky way to do part, not all, of the animation authoring process for our cinematics team. Because of this, a player-suitable tool for authoring animations would require significant reworking.

By the way, we still have a cinematics team and they're still working on trailers. Our release cadence change means they may not be tied to an expansion release, but in the future there will still be EVE trailers. Which makes me happy.


Hope that helps.

Member of CSM9 and CSM10.

Hendrick Tallardar
SniggWaffe
WAFFLES.
#3 - 2014-11-15 05:42:58 UTC
I've asked a few CSMs, and spoke to a few CCP devs about tools and assets to help make producing videos and creative works easier.

CCP have the WebGL program, which the guy who does the Caldari Pony Club stuff through, that allows ships to be rendered etc.

There is also the TriExporter though CCP don't support that anymore and requires a lot of tweaking and modding to get working and looking right in programs such as Blendr, Adobe After Effects, etc. ideally, it'd be nice to have some sort of license sign up program to get permissions, it is copyrighted work after all, to have access to assets in various forms (.PNGs of ships, .objs etc.) but that also requires CCP to dedicate time, energy, and money towards which frankly wouldn't be much of a payoff short term, or even long term.
Rain6637
NulzSec
#4 - 2014-12-08 07:44:57 UTC
I'm a huge fan of machinima and EVE has of course crossed my mind. I'm curious to know what types of scenes or shots you're looking to do, that couldn't be accomplished on Singularity?

Another option is Source Filmmaker, which is purpose-driven for importing assets and animating them into movies. If CCP is willing to condone Caldari Prime Pony Club and other third-party 3D viewers of EVE ships, I think Source Filmmaker would be in the clear.

As for in-station or in-ship animations, building those environments in Source Filmmaker would be the biggest hurdle, but once that part is done, it would be the best option by far, for character animation.
Rain6637
NulzSec
#5 - 2015-01-05 11:12:54 UTC
Hey Dradis,

If you're looking for a program to learn that will meet your needs, it is Maya.

This isn't the greatest news, and it will take time to learn, but it's the best route, possibly the only route.

I recently learned from another player how to extract the 3D assets from the game files, and with them you can place them and animate them in Maya.

I have some ideas for a short machinima to make myself, I'll keep you posted.
AlleyKat
The Unwanted.
#6 - 2015-01-21 11:03:44 UTC  |  Edited by: AlleyKat
Rain6637 wrote:
Hey Dradis,

If you're looking for a program to learn that will meet your needs, it is Maya.

This isn't the greatest news, and it will take time to learn, but it's the best route, possibly the only route.



I had some time off in RL and thought I'd see how this never-ending discussion is going. Then I saw the above post and knew I had to resub in order to reply. You read that right, it has cost me 1 months subscription to reply to this.

To ask or even suggest to someone they should purchase Maya and then learn it (something which takes years to do effectively) is just so wrong on so many counts - and then to imply this will solve the problem is misinformation on a grand scale.

It won't solve anything and will not meet anyone's needs who wish to have an animated system in order to create their own machinima content.

The problem is this:

The process of creating something as simple as a model in EVE is massive and long-winded. The first step is the basic polygon mesh. From there an artist creates textures, these textures are normal maps, ambient occlusion maps, diffuse maps and so on and so forth. Additionally, depending on whether you are using Physically Based Rendering or not can cause discombobulation. You then have to map out and build any potential animation with 'bones' and build this into your model output files so when you import it into Trinity you can assign the appropriate beginning and end states for movement. Some of the process is called 'baking'.

Once you have these files, you then have to import the whole lot into Trinity and hope that Trinity understands everything you have provided it. But that's just the beginning. From there you have to map out everything inside of Trinity, including DirectX shader language to each graphical element, and apportion the right location of the gun turret hardpoints so when a player adds a turret it doesn't place it on the engine exhaust, for example.

It doesn't stop there though. There is further graphical work required in the multiple shader language programming to cover things like reflection and environment maps for each of the cube maps for each solar system type and designation. This is so that when you are in a system like Jita, you got a blueish tint to your ship. All the way through this process a tonne of things can go wrong it terms of the look and feel of the ship and also with any graphical conflicts with any of the other hundreds of potential encounters you may see on screen when playing the game. Each element not only has it's own shader coding required which can run into hundreds of lines of shader language, but every single other piece of language needs updating in case it comes into contact with this new element you are adding to the system.

Then, there are the physics, like the size of the bounding sphere so stuff 'bumps' correctly - and of course do not forget the engine trails, and any number of particle systems the ship has to use or interact with. Something so simple as firing a weapon can and does cause Trinity to 'crash' on the first attempt. By that I do not mean explode in some sort of pyrotechnical display of computer fail, but simply ceasing to do what it is meant to.

With me so far?; (I'm skimming a lot of information here) then lets go back to what you are suggesting...

What I'm driving at is this: you are suggesting that simply extracting a polygon mesh into Maya and plugging in all of the elements together will solve the problem - it won't, because the state in which you receive EVE is a compiled state of DirectX shaders each working to an extremely intricate and detailed plan, coupled to an animation system which cannot be extracted.

Basically, it's a bunch of worms in an infinite garden that have buried themselves deep underground and you are asking someone to pick all of them up and put them back into the can without any of them dying of thirst or hunger before the task is complete.

It cannot be done, you can't reverse engineer DirectX code for one model when the interacting and symbiosis nature of what you extract is dependant on so many other factors it boggles the mind, and causes many sleepless nights for CCP staff.

I see a few options:

(1) CCP release the pre-trinity/Jessica files, which although would not give you an visibly accurate portrayal of what the game looks like and most certainly would not give you any particle effects like engine trails, it would allow for screenshots...but that's a meh solution and not really even a solution.

(2) CCP develop a cinematic tool that is public ready. Now, this is really unlikely as they have been using a close-knit team of people for cinematic sequences involving many disciplines and levels of expertise - if they wanted to have a cinematic tool they would have had it by now. They don't and won't.

(3) CCP permit a licence to a third party to develop a cinematic tool using an engine which CCP are familiar with and can code with, which uses the same tech they using now (PBR) and this would be something like UE4. UE4 is interesting as it has a lot of what CCP need like flight/submarine physics, particle effects, machinima NLE tools etc etc etc.

(3a) The community gather forces, through crowd sourcing and in combination with points 1, 2, 3 develop their own cinematic tool under strict licence with CCP with the understanding it would be chargeable.

Taking that last point further - how much would a player pay to have a fully armed and operational cinematic tool? $10? $100? $1,000? It's an interesting question, isn't it?

The more interesting question is how much CCP would save in producing cinematic content?

This space for rent.

Rain6637
NulzSec
#7 - 2015-02-02 20:40:23 UTC  |  Edited by: Rain6637
https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5456007#post5456007 EVE Probe as a Machinima tool \o/

Wow, I had no idea it was my post you resubbed to reply. Maya is free as a student version, so as long as you're not making money with it, it's all in the name of building skills.

Also, as part of my disagreement with your assessment of Maya, a quote by CCP Darwin https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5457605#post5457605

CCP Darwin wrote:
Jon Dekker wrote:
The ability to manually control a camera and the scene, modifying the camera path or slowing the scene down or speeding it up.


Trust me, once you get the hang of it you'd rather be doing this in Maya or Blender. Also, I suspect some clever folks will probably sooner or later come up with a nice smooth workflow you can follow.


I could explain who CCP Darwin is, and his background, but he's retracted this info from EVE-O so all I will say is he's formidable. I'm relieved to hear this comment from CCP Darwin, because I was pretty sure this was the case.
AlleyKat
The Unwanted.
#8 - 2015-02-07 11:58:17 UTC
Rain6637 wrote:
https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5456007#post5456007 EVE Probe as a Machinima tool \o/

Wow, I had no idea it was my post you resubbed to reply. Maya is free as a student version, so as long as you're not making money with it, it's all in the name of building skills.

Also, as part of my disagreement with your assessment of Maya, a quote by CCP Darwin https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5457605#post5457605

CCP Darwin wrote:
Jon Dekker wrote:
The ability to manually control a camera and the scene, modifying the camera path or slowing the scene down or speeding it up.


Trust me, once you get the hang of it you'd rather be doing this in Maya or Blender. Also, I suspect some clever folks will probably sooner or later come up with a nice smooth workflow you can follow.


I could explain who CCP Darwin is, and his background, but he's retracted this info from EVE-O so all I will say is he's formidable. I'm relieved to hear this comment from CCP Darwin, because I was pretty sure this was the case.


Yah,

What they are saying is the animation tools using Collada and whatever 3D asset management export can be saved and then run inside of EVE Probe.

This is pretty much how Jessica works, minus a great deal of debug/testing tools

What one would need to do is have all of the assets with the correct nomenclature inside of something like Blender (free) or a paid app like C4D/ Maya and create a scene. Probe then uses the Trinity engine to recreate this scene.

This (probe) is a step in the right direction, and perhaps explains why it takes a team of animators and video production guys to create a trailer.

There is a long, long way to go in getting a drag and drop NLE system up and running but does support my point regarding not being able to uncook the DirectX compiled state we find Trinity in.

As this does not require a subscription to use, I shall continue monitoring this in the background.

Respect for the reply.

AK

This space for rent.

Rain6637
NulzSec
#9 - 2015-02-21 13:21:09 UTC
I'd love to make Maya work as part of a pipeline for producing a nice sequence (to prove you wrong), but I see enough of spaceships to be interested in it. I wouldn't come up with anything new. I do however have a personal RP project in mind that will be mostly in a station environment, but will have short sequences with ships. I plan to make use of game files that can be retrieved. I don't plan to use EVE Probe. I'm confident a satisfactory look can be achieved in Maya, at a minimum... though of course I'm hoping for something visually stellar.

btw, Maya is free with a student license that is valid as long as you don't attempt to earn money using it. It has no restrictions.