Time flies when you’re character animating! I don’t know where the day has gone. I am getting a lot quicker at using the Duik tools which have been essential. This is their 2017 Showreel for a bit of inspiration:
After a lot of prep work (on and off) I’ve finally got my hands dirty with some character rigging and animation! The best workflow option (and something that was recommended a few times) was using the Duik tools, a free rigging and animation plugin for After Effects. In a nutshell, it helps to easily rig elbow and knee joints with inverse kinematics (inbuilt geometry) allowing characters to move around in a more realistic and intuitive way – and with minimal keyframes! It’s amazing, I recommend it.
A massive thanks to Lee Daniels for the tutorials – they were very concise, understandable and super helpful! There are loads more great tutorials and short films over on Lee’s YouTube channel, check it out. This is the first in a series on character rigging:
It’s always worth re-watching The Complete Animade Lernz when you start any character animation …learn from the masters!
When it comes to setting up a scene that includes character animation, a lot of time goes into the preparation of artwork. Characters need to be organised so they overlap correctly and there isn’t any sections missing when they’re stretched around like a contortionist. This is even more time consuming when it’s someone else’s artwork (not that I’m complaining). This additional time is something I’ll need to factor in in the future but it’s always fun working with a variety of illustration styles. At some point, I think it would be a good idea to put together a rough guide for illustrators who want to take their work into animation.
I really like D&AD’s 3D animation tool ‘Start With A Mark’, developed in collaboration with Hato Studios. You can doodle a masterpiece in 3D space – and it could become part of the D&AD Festival’s 2018 identity!
The Duik tools keep cropping up when I’m looking into character animation techniques and it looks like a great option. There’s also a couple of courses that I might come back to at a later date as they look really fun!
Duik Tools (After Effects Plugin)
Online short courses:
School of Motion: www.schoolofmotion.com/rigging-academy
There’s a few different approaches to character animation in After Effects. Here’s a couple I’m looking into:
Puppet Pin Tool
The animation I’m working on has a couple of different styles – character animation with illustrations and a low-fi in camera section. I’ve produced a rough ‘Animatic’ to get a clear idea on timings etc.
“Simply put, animatic is an animated storyboard. Boards are brought into an editing program and are cut together with the correct timing and pace of the film. They include basic sound effects, dialogue recordings and scratch soundtrack.” Bloop Animation
Here’s a great example of an animatic sequence alongside the final film taken from Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.
The animation I’m working on features a handwritten logo so I thought it would be cool to quickly animate it in with a script handwriting effect. This tutorial was really helpful:
This example is slightly more complicated but uses shape morphing to get an amazing liquid text reveal effect.
Messed about with the modelling tools I’ve covered so far by making a unicorn – everyone loves a unicorn! One important tip when modelling – use the Extrude Inner option when extruding something like a limb as it adds an extra loop of anchor points to define the start of the shape.
Exploring moving image covers a board spectrum of techniques, and having studied Interaction Design and Machine Learning, I’m keen to develop my code based illustration and animation practice. With that in mind, I decided to have a play with a generative Processing sketch.
Here’s some quick references for the light and shadow options available in Cinema 4D:
None – Still has a very slight shadow.
Shadow Maps (Soft) – Soft with faster rendering time.
Raytraced (Hard) – Crisp but with longer rendering time.
Area – Most real (combining Hard and Soft) but the slowest to render.
Visible light (Light emitted in the scene or through a bust environment):
None – only renders light on surfaces.
Visible – Fast to render not affected by shadows.
Volumetric – Slower to render but is affected by shadows.
Inverse Volumetric – Slower to render and emits light within shadows.
To quickly preview the render, use:
Render View (current active view) – cmd + R
Render to Picture Viewer (opens a window for comparison) – shift + R
Real world lighting setups can be created in Cinema 4D, such as the 3-point arrangement – Key, Fill and Back lights.
Key light – use ‘Infinite’ light
This is the main source of light in a scene (Directional).
Suggested adjustment: Alter Colour and Shadow.
Fill light – use ‘Light’ (Omni light)
This brings light back into areas of shadow in front of a subject (placed behind the camera opposite to Key light).
Suggested adjustments: Alter Intensity and use the check boxes for;
- Ambient Illumination – Floods the entire scene with light
- Diffuse – isolates the light across surfaces (good for general use)
- Specular – isolates the highlights of a surface
Back light – use ‘Light’ (Omni light)
This separates objects from the background and is generally used to add a sliver of light along the edge of an object (placed behind the object).
Suggested adjustments: Lights can be assigned to objects using the Project tab in its attributes, then choosing to ‘Include’ or ‘Exclude’ objects.
A ‘Target’ Tag can be added to light to point at particular objects.
Lights can also exist within a scene, joined to an object (placed in its hierarchy and zero out its position) and even animated.
- (General Tab) Change colour, shadow, type.
- (Visible Tab) Change Inner and Outer size.
- (Details Tab) Set the Fall Off so the light dissipates.
I’ve got an animation commission! An illustrator friend of mine has asked me to help with an animation/video as part of the promotion to crowd fund the publishing of her book. It’s a great story themed around music so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some character animation – and maybe some Foley action!