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Back Seat Driver
Here is the completed vid to the ox and chameleon animation that I was working on previously. I added an environment to make it feel a little bit more like a scene.
Using the Franklin character rig from Artella.com and some advice from The Animator's Survival Kit, in this exercise I attempted animating weight. There were certain considerations I was taking for this first attempt: anticipation, arc, timing. And then there were some more practical issues I needed to figure out, like creating multiple constraint configurations for the character to interact with a prop.
And the final video, with some temp sound. There are still some things I'd like to improve with this animation, but I'll have to get to it later on.
The students of Cogswell Polytechnical college have released a pair of human character rigs free of charge, that I used in one of my latest animations. After the problems with the August 11secondclub competition animation file, I decided to go back into the website's archive and find a different audio clip to animate. I picked a clip featuring two characters from the Netflix series, Master of None. Once I knew which rigs I was going to use, I looked around CGTrader.com and Turbosquid for a few props and constructed a bare-bones set piece. Then I went about creating poses and selection sets for both characters in Studio Library.
With those tasks completed, I tackled lip syncing, then animating the larger body actions, including working with some constraints to get one of the characters to adjust a video camera in the scene, as well as hold -and then set down- a pen.
And finally, the end result...
I intended to enter the 11sec Club character animation contest this month. I was making progress on a rather complicated sync to the audio of the popular Broadway play, Hamilton. The transcript went as follows:
Voice 1: See if you can spot him.
Voice 1: Another immigrant coming up from the bottom.
Voice 1: His enemies destroyed his rep, America forgot him, and me…
Voice 1: I’m the damn fool that shot him.
I decided to set the scene on a farm with the farmer sayingthe words, while a rabbit invaded his garden. The idea behind was a bit toned-down and more playful than its original meaning, but still I wanted to work in a statement by showing a mountain of rabbit turds that the rabbit had supplied as fresh fertilizer that the farmer would miss after he shot the creature (I was actually hoping to find a better example of the rabbit's contribution, but apparently rabbit turds are particularly good for soil, I've read, and it was enough to relay the idea that this "intruder" was helping out in a way the farmer hadn't even considered.)
I started rounding up assets: First the characters: Malcolm worked well- as one of his outfit options is that of a farmer. The only changes I made to his appearance were some of the materials of his wardrobe.
I had previously found a rabbit rig by Arman Musovic and Dalila Avdukic from the internet to use. (In fact from the very beginning I was browsing through my treasure trove of 3d assets, until I found two characters that would fit in to the theme of the audio clip.)
I found a keyboard piano with keys that I could animate. Then I started looking for environmental assets: the wooden house pictured above, with some dirt and grass textures. I imported three different types of plants, duplicated them, lined them up, rotated and scaled them individually -these assets were located where there is only grey now surrounding Malcolm in the image above, as I turned off their visibility to have better access to the character controls.
Perhaps the most challenging part of this project was working with the audio, which had music mixed in with it. I didn't have the visuals audio cues one would normally use to place mouth shapes, because an audio spike could be an instrument just as likely as spoken word. Adding to the challenge, I was animating the character actually playing the keyboard piano - again without any clear audio cues to look at.
I first started to animate the Malcolm character playing the keyboard. I wanted to represent this accurately so I found the sheet music for "Alexander Hamilton", the title of the song in which the excerpt is found (which also took a bit of research) and then looked up the chord positions and notes needed to play the music. After syncing up the piano-playing, I moved on to the lip sync. part-way in I was disappointed to find a problem with the "funnel" attribute on Malcolm's lip, where vertices from the upper lips were also influenced. After some investigation, I read from the Animschool site that they were fixing it for the next rig release and that I needed to use the individual controls until then - unfortunately these controls couldn't quite create the same mouth shape.
I roughed out all the phonemes and their timing, with some corresponding eye and eyebrow secondary animation and some body movements, when something went terribly wrong. The next time I went to open the Maya file, it stopped at 40 percent progress and just... froze. It wouldn't open. Maya stopped responding. I tried importing the scene into a new file. Didn't work. And just like that, all that work was lost :( This has only happened to me once or twice before, and not in a long time, but it reminded me of how bloody important it is to save incrementally. Lesson learned. Moving on...
Animating a Relationship
Just about done animating these two characters, then comes rendering and voice overs. Hoping to be done with a rough cut by tomorrow!
August 01st, 2017
My brain was going to mush watching hours and hours of tutorials, so I started a little project on refining my quadruped walk with this ox rig (both rigs found at https://gumroad.com/truongcgartist#), then I combined it with some lip syncing animation to create a bit of a narrative piece. More to go yet. Feeling more creative again:)
Working on/learning animation sometimes feels like I've entered a time warp - I open up Maya in the a.m. and suddenly it's the end of the day already. This tutorial, via Pluralsight, was a bit of a break for the intense stuff I've been doing lately, but cool to learn nonetheless. The animation was done by one of Pluralsight's people; my contribution was slowing down the global time, so that the action is better captured.
Now for the Quadrupeds
From bipeds to quadrupeds. True there's transferable knowledge to be had there, but quadrupeds offer their own unique challenges. These walk/run cycles are my first attempts. I followed Pluralsight tutorials for both, though I was less impressed by the walk cycle tutorial, and decided to go a bit "off-book" until I got something that looked a bit more natural than the example in the tutorial. The rig they offer was pretty good overall, but the foot roll didn't work on the back feet and that would have definitely helped with the movement.
June 01st, 2017
Practice Practice Practice! Still improvements to be made and certainly need to get faster as making these cycles. But it's a good opportunity to explore character appeal and account for differences in characters' physical attributes, i.e. weight, shape. I added a few animation layers in this cycle to make the rabbit turn and wave, some extra belly jiggle and such.
Richard Cunningham - IHM Founder