Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Robot Arm

click to play video. Available in 720p quality

Robot arm animation I made in first semester as a part of my 3D course. We have very strict requirements to use very simple textures (no image files), simple camera and light, no sound or music and the duration of a scene must be 30 seconds. Because there were no limitation about the environment, I decided to spend some extra hours and create a factory environment.

For this 3D Artistry assessment we required to design, model, texture and animate the robot arm interacting with the box. The arm should investigate and decide to move the box and then relocate the box.

Pixar LUXO JR - 1986
To make my project unique I decided not to model an ordinary robot arm and a box, but to show to the viewers a futuristic toy factory. The duties of my arm is to overseer the rubik cube conveyor line and to fix or get rid of the defective cubes. Inspired by famous Pixar character Luxo Jr. – the living lamp, I decided to give my arm personality and to animate it in a similar way so it will look alive. I also decided to give the whole scene a cartoony look, so I used simple but shiny textures with lots of reflections.

I thought that my robot arm design should be inspired by real world industrial robot arms in terms of shape, color and texture. That mean the arm should be fixed based, painted in glossy yellowish/orange color and do not have scratches or any other visible damage marks. For the color scheme I decided to use only three colors: orange, silver and gunmetal grey.


As you can see on the picture above my arm have thick steel base, lots of silver colored screws and most of the arm details are painted in glossy orange color. To make my arm more cartoony I decided not to model sharp edges and use lots of smooth and cylindrical elements.
I have strong intention to make my arm look alive and give it personality. And because of that I designed the palm to resemble head of a snake or some kind of insect. Furthermore the palm can use its fingers like mandibles or an animal mouth to show the emotions. The element of comedy is that arm design was inspired by industrial arms that normally work with big objects, but in this video the robot  interacts with small toys and can perform very precise actions with its fingers like solving the cube. To give the arm even more personality, I decided that the arm will perform lots of  movements that ordinary industrial arms normally don’t do.


With my factory design I was inspired by Quake 4 and Doom 3 corridors. As you can see on the picture above and below my toy factory have a conveyor line for rubic cubes with green lights, that indicates the conveyor is moving. The arm oversees the conveyor and have a table near it for faulty cubes. The room have two main light sources above the conveyor and several small light sources at the bottom of the walls (actually these were made using ramp texture and ambient light texture attribute). Because this is automated factory and also to focus viewers attention on the arm and cubes, the rest of the room is quite dark and have simple reflective textures.

The plot of my animation is that the arm should oversee the cubes and find unsolved one. It should stop the conveyour line (the lights will become red) and look closer to a cube. Then it should express its dissatisfaction by using its movements and then take the cube and put it on a table. Then the arm should solve the cube, return it to the conveyor line and activate the line. At the end the arm should use its palm movements to say “good buy” to a cube.

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