Jumper Series

•May 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Facial animation!!

•March 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Facial animation is actually quite easy if you break it down. I follow a similar approach to Jason Osipa (get his book “Stop Staring”), I first block out the open/closed positions. I do this by resting my chin on a desk and saying the dialogue at full speed, feeling exactly when my mouth opens and closes.

Once I’ve got the open/closed done, I then focus on the wide-narrow keys. I look into a mirror or just put my hands on my lips and say the dialogue at full speed.

Note: It is important to say the dialogue at full speed when you are getting the timing down. Saying it slow may allow you to enunciate and make more mouth shapes that you would have time for at full speed. When dealing with the timing of the mouth poses, always say the dialogue at full speed with your audio clip playing in your headphones. Later, when you are getting good mouth shapes, you can slow down and really look at the shapes your mouth makes.

Once you have the open/closed and wide/narrow done, your dialogue should look pretty darn good! Now its time to add some personality!

Next I like to focus on the eyes for a little bit. I’ll add in some basic emotion in the eyebrows and with squinting and blinking. I’ll try and get my eye direction and gaze to have some life in it too. Nothing detailed just yet, mainly broad strokes.

Next I’ll look at the entire face again and start to really push the expressions here. I’ll add in the smiles and the frowns, the winks and the squints. What is it that makes this character who he is? Add it in now. What mood are they feeling? You should have already expressed this clearly through the body, but now it the time to accentuate it with the face.

Now the animation is really nice! It’s time to polish it.

Start adding keyframes and breakdowns to cushion or add weight to various bits of the face. Maybe you want the mouth to open in an arc, or a smile to be crooked. This is the time to really push it into realism and uber-expression! Maybe you think it would be nice for the eyebrows and lids to cushion a head accent, do it!

It’s usually at this stage that I realize I need to add some more head movements in. Follow this instinct! This is where real character starts to develop. Emphasizing a facial expression with a head gesture is something that can only really be done at this stage, unless you’re a thumbnail ninja!

Well, I hope that helps!
If there’s anything I didn’t cover or you need more tips on another aspect of facial animation, please let me know!

-DJ

 

Defining a Character

•March 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Characters are predominantly defined by the decisions they make. The story-telling community tends to agree with this statement. It would follow that more interesting decisions make for more interesting characters. The major implication here is that an interesting character does not exist in a vacuum- the ability to create complex characters rests with the ability to create complex dilemmas.

Cake or Death

The biggest problem with many films is that the dilemmas are decidedly one sided and easy to approach. It is a waste of screen time to show a character making an easy decision. Say we put ten characters into a room, all with various character traits, religious backgrounds, political inclinations and personal histories and gave them a dilemma.  The most revealing and interesting dilemma would be one in which all ten characters would choose differently- so the viewer would learn the various differences. The least revealing dilemma would be one in which all ten would choose the identical path; like “Live or Die”. Comedian Eddie Izzard has a great take on the concept:

We can think of it like questions one would ask a prospective date. If we are trying to learn about them, why ask “Cake or Death?” (other than to be coy). As filmmakers, we only have the length of the movie to connect our audience to our characters, don’t waste time with easy dilemmas. So how does one go about making complex dilemmas? Here is a method:

Good vs. Good

The fastest way to create a flaccid dilemma is by making one choice “good” and another choice “evil.” It’s “Cake or Death” all over again. Instead, try putting values in conflict. For instance, it is hard to argue HONESTY is undesirable (It’s good!). Similarly, who wouldn’t want KINDNESS (Also good, but different). Once we place these values in conflict, we can start to think of complex dilemmas. Some small examples:

HONESTY vs. KINDNESS

Your best friend, a passionate musician, is gathering signatures for a petition to allow students to practice instruments in your college dorm. You do not enjoy the music your friend plays. She asks you to sign the petition…

The man who has replaced you at your dream job is at the center of media and press coverage for his success. You know the man (though qualified) lied on a part of his resume- you also know he has a family to support. A reporter asks about his resume, do you tell the truth?

Your daughter enters a talent competition and was decidedly outperformed. In a moment of sheer awe, you cast your vote for a child who does spectacular human beatboxing. Your daughter returns from the competition downtrodden with loss. She looks up and asks you if you voted for her…

Thoughtful people will disagree on the answers to these dilemmas. Your own answer will tell you if you value kindness or honesty more. Such decisions are more revealing of character: In what contexts will the character be independent or cooperative? curious or comfortable? free or secure? practical or imaginative? social or diligent? Value conflicts come in an unending palette.

You can probably improve upon my examples, feel free to do so.

Happy reading,

-Tom

 

HOP#Animation#Maya#ClickHD:)

•December 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

DialogueTest#Animation#Maya

•October 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Mamma-Mia!

•June 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

gorilla#maya2013#modeling#ambient occlusion#render

•December 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment