Identified Role: Character Animation
Creative industries in the UK are worth £71 billion a year with an employee rate of 1.5 million. According to the WWW.GOV.UK the Animation industry generates £300m annually. This is animation made for: film, TV, commercial, websites, mobile phones and computer games. The demand for different content for animation is always expanding.
If we branch a little more into the animation industry now we can get an understanding of what it is like at this present time in reality. I looked on creative skillset which has really beautifully diagrams and illustrations. Something that interested me was the gender gap with 60% of men being in industry. This is a good rise for females hopefully this number will continue to rise.
To survive in such roles the below characteristics is important in character animation.
- have a feel for movement and timing
- possess creative and artistic qualities, along with the appropriate technical skills
- have observational skills and acting talent, for character work
- have good communication skills
- have good team-working skills
- have good organisational skills
- pay close attention to detail
- be able to take direction “
The two ideas I defined are below
Facial Animating/ emotive animating
“Performance animation focusses on facial/emotive/narrative animation. Push yourself to construct a strong performing piece, perhaps using existing dialogue/sound, multiple emotions with the same dialogue, different output performances (styles or performance).”
For this I hoped to create a performance piece focusing on facial animation, understanding what to ask riggers for when it comes to facial animation, how to create smooth animation with the face, work on lip sync, how to change emotion or emphasis with one piece of dialogue. Be playful. But understand how to utilise the graph editor in depth. Be able to push myself to make a strong piece. So maybe a really strong piece of music or dialogue as suggested in the brief.
Tutorials I identified:
Above is a tutorial I found on line which broke down the facial rigging, it actually shows the workflow for this also. I think if I did this project understanding facial rigging should really be mentioned. If I understand what to ask riggers when it comes to doing my character animation then I will be able to determine terms and the rigging lingo – which luckily we have already began to work on during the workshops.
I really love this scene from Tangled which uses facial animation to create that intimate moment between Flynn and Rapunzal. There is a real sense of emotion and you loose yourself in the beautiful animation which is seamlessly done. I like the idea of having conflicting emotions or a really hard emotion to convey. For instance when I was researching last term and identifying some nice references some of people’s work which focused on crying seemed hard to translate. Crying seems like a hard emotion.
Above you can see a facial animation which tested out a rigged face, I love this animation as I feel it could be really interesting to look in to create a series of faces for one character. I could develop a character or use an existing character or figure for instance lets say choosing someone like Boudica and creating a character facial tests. I think this could also help me further develop my character development skills which is important as a character animator. I also do like the aspect of facial rigging as well which could be another pathway for this topic if I chose this R & D project.
Looking at 2D and 3D
– Looking at how to make 3d look 2d, or give a certain look. My second idea is looking at 2D and 3D and how to utilise 3d. I hope to animate a very short scene about 1 or 2 seconds long and develop how to create a 2D appearance.
Produced by N9ve and directed by its founder, Alessandro Novelli,
“1. THE PIPELINE AND WORKFLOW
In the main scene, for example, there are 110 objects just on the table, and each one, as well as the characters and the rest of the assets, were digitally hand-painted, one by one.
The film has close to 50 shots. Since there was no client (in the traditional sense), there were no limitations or a client’s final ok, so as time went by, we came up with new ideas — and that meant changes to the film — and these affected the workflow.”
First, we animated to the Mad Hatter in 3D, because we have him rigged from the tea time 3D scenes. We also did a 3D particle simulation of the books (the ravens), and of course we animated the camera movements in 3D.
After this process, we drew up each frame with a 2D illustration style to integrate the Mad Hatter more into to the aesthetics of the world, where big eyes, books and 2D brushes live all together in a single scene.”
I have identified some animations which have inspired me for this piece. So the above is an animation short from a scene from Alice in Wonderland. There was a huge process behind it and a really useful interview. I tried to copy here some of the breakdown of the workflow. What I really admire is how the animation is all done in 3D and then has to go through a 2D workflow also. Also not just once but 2 times with different software. I think this could be a really nice way to work on this unit, looking at the diverse ways of creating this look which creates a way of manipulate the style of the output of the piece.
Above is another video which I came across when I was looking at Facial animating/Rigging. I really love the final output of this piece, the creator didn’t let out any secrets to how the style was created other than saying he was interested in creating the illusions. You can see in the comments how desired the look is. My guest is a shader with an outline shader. I want to try and work out how this look could be recreated.
Paper man is critically acclaimed for its beauty! As well as being ascetically beautiful to gaze upon it, it is the only Disney animation ever to win an oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 85th Academy awards. As well as winning an oscar it won for Best animated short at the Annie awards. I believe it was the technical style that really gained it the fan based. Above is a really nice breakdown video where the creators discuss how they went about creating the look. It is really interesting to see how they breakdown the process.
John Kahrs states that “those drawings were something I didn’t want to leave behind when we went into the final product of the computer animation. I thought, ‘Isn’t there a way we could bring drawings back into the final frames of animation?'” He wanted an extension of the preproduction drawings in the final creation.
The pipeline of Paperman used Meander a hybrid based drawing and animation system which artist were able to interact with.
(This website explain the pipeline perfectly)
“CG animation> Motion fields > Silhouette ribbons > Motion paper > Final lines and paint > Motion pasting > Motion betweening
“Final lines and paint – using Meander, final line artists drew key drawings on top of the CG renders, relying on two techniques to then compute the non-key drawings but preserve the temporal coherence of the final-line stage.”
The process again talks about drawing on top of the 3D animation.Below you can see the different layers of lines beginning with clocking out the main features, illustrating features, hair shading and hair lines.
Meander is a hybrid vector/raster-based drawing and animation system that gives artists an interactive way to craft the film, not just toon-shaded renders. “We didn’t want to do something where you send it off and the computer does something to it and the next morning it comes back and it’s done – we wanted something that spoke back to the artists,” notes Kahrs.
. “It leaves all the artistic decisions very much up to the hand-drawn animators. They are the ones that really finalize the expressive quality of the image.”
Above you can see another video which demonstrates combining 2D and 3D this is a really nice breakdown video. It shows how the creator, Pasa Mustafa created the animation in Maya, then the 2D in Flash and then proceeded by compositing into Nuke. I think what is really interesting is you can extend the animation further in the 2D workflow. I could create further overlap or extend emotion. This is something I am really considering doing.
I have decided to look into 2D and 3D animation. I will learn how to work 2d and 3d animation to create a more appealing animation. I will research further, choose a short animated clip I have created previously/animate a short 2 second clip. I will then develop tests to see the most appealing outcome. I want to explore merging 3D and hand-drawn animation.
This was a query another person had on a forum i liked the answer.
So what would work is rendering the animation in a certain way then drawing key points in the animation with vector lines then applying the in betweens. It would be tricky but it could work.
Here is what the process may be like in a nutshell, Render the animation with a color render+ vector blur, then do the line work (in AE or toon boom) then apply an Alpha Cut out render from the CG animation to keep a clean silhouette.
My problem is that I am rather new to the 3D world and I understand complex theories, but I have trouble executing them. So could anyone maybe explain to me how this could be done? I know that you can render an animation several times with multiple render styles and add them together for a combo effect, but again, I have trouble with the know how.. Is this called baking, or multipassing? See, I don’t know?
I can animate fine, I just need to get a better grip on 3D. Dont get me wrong, I know a decent amount and I can work my way around the programs, I just need help with specific things like this..
If anyone could guide me the right way and forgive my lack of common knowledge in the 3D world, I would be very thankful!
Thanks in advance!
Cel shading is certainly nothing new, and you can look into some of Maya’s non-photorealistic shaders (i.e. Toon shaders) and PaintEffects stroke techniques for an idea of how to achieve some out-of-the-box solutions. But these will certainly be primitive compared to Paperman. As the video you posted shows, they go far beyond simple cel-style shading and work with simulated paper textures, including texture displacement based on motion vectors, special smart line tweening, and so on. This moves beyond the realm of simply rendering and into analyzing and applying sophisticated processing to the shot in aid of rendering. All of that stuff is way beyond anything you’re likely to find in an off-the-shelf package… yet!”
To get the illusion of a 2D look I took some time to analyse 2D work. I love the hair overlap here. Especially because you can see the artist’s strokes. To achieve the look of 2D I want to really work hand craft the hair.
I wanted to explore lots of different ways of going about this, looking first at the tools that Maya offers. I had to change the textures, as I wanted the rig to look flate I changed all textures to surface shaders. I then worked with toon outline and shader to give it an outline.
Creating the final animation
So I have carried out several tests and really tried to dig in with the research, there is not many people who say how they did it so I need to work it out for myself.
I begun the workflow with animation. The role I chose for this unit was character animation therefore I took my time animating the face. As I am working with 2D and 3D I did a simple animation so I could spend a long time on the workflow. I began animating in stepped and edited the tangents after. The animation is 2 seconds and a half.
The way I thought the workflow could be would be geometry>Maya vector>Outline render>Motion vector> Composite>Clean up> Illustrate.
I wasn’t sure how I should go about doing the motion vector, I experimented with using a 2D vector pass.
However I was having some problems of trying to link up the paper texture. Why am I doing this? I don’t want to just dump some texture on top as it looks poorly done and just like there is a texture on top. I wanted the texture to be attached to the silhouette. This is something they did in Paperman but they used vector passes.
I tried to think around this problem, I came up with quickly texturing the rig and having an image plane of the texture so it blends.
As well as rendering out the paper textures I rendered out a Maya vector, paper texture and a bump map version of the paper just to experiment.
Fixing the texturing problem, so as I said above the paper texture isn’t working. Below you can see how the surface shader with the texture works perfectly. The problem I had however was when I tried to apply the texture to the arms it didn’t work, It dosen’t matter too much as when it is composited in It shouldn’t be obvious.
Here is how this ended up, it looks weird without any outlines but if you look closely it works so much better than my first attempt!
Another look at Toon outlines.
Now I have worked out how I will render out texture and fill I want to look at different ways to use an outline. I could use maya vector to render out outlines however when I did that the mesh of the face also were outline and no matter what I tried it didn’t go away. More than that the vector lines are really straight and look to perfect to be hand drawn that is why I wanted to take a look at toon outlines in Maya. You can see the different effects of maya vector below. There are several fill and outline properties in the render settings.
Using toon outline. I added the outline to my shape but in toon in Maya you can go a step further and choose a brush style. I scribbled out several lines to see what one could work the best. The cool thing about toon is you can learn these lines into geometry and later use them in the scene.
Below are some options for the brush styles, there are a range of different brushes from watercolour and pencils. However doing several tests there were only a couple which I felt worked okay.
Changing the outline is simple you select the outline > Paint effects tab > Choose brush > Decide the one for you and click assign brush for outline selected.
Below are several of the Gifs I made from some of the brushes.
Marker Outline has a nice rough look.
Surface shader and the outline
The dark pencil was one of my favourites of the choices, I wanted to test how it could look with my rig so I rendered out motion texture again below.
Here it is with two different outlines, I like the pencil the best so I will now take it onto my animated rig.
Applying colour and outline with paper texture.
I want to render out outline and fill colour separately so I used a used background on the whole body so only the outlines are viewable.
You can see above how the brushes do look a little clumsy I turned the global scale down after seeing this.
Below you cans see the Maya Vector> Motion Texture > Toon pencil outlines and geometry merged.I love the output of this. HOWEVER when I render out the toon pencil outlines it is messy and animated a random geometry piece in. I decided to try to clean it up in Photoshop.
Above is a final gif, I am sad I didn’t get time to finish this but I really wanted to experiment and work things out for my self so I did lots of test. Hand animating frame by frame takes up quite a lot of time but the end result can be very beautiful.