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JBarrett
02-13-2003, 02:45 PM
For those who aren't the A:M mailing list any longer...

I got started on this clip back in November for the 10 Second Club, but unfortunately didn't get it finished until just recently....

http://www.jb-av.com/anims/benefit.mpg
(1.7 megs)

Thanks to Locoman (Roberto Etcheverry) for adding mouth shapes to the Eggington female bug model. I made the puppet character mouth shapes, did some eye and hand rigging work on both models, and threw together some quick props. Enjoy!

Justin

Drakkheim
02-14-2003, 02:32 PM
Very Nicely done.
I really like the whole way the bug lady moves/performs.
Shaggy feels a little stiff tho.. maybe its just me.

JBarrett
02-14-2003, 02:54 PM
The stiffness is probably because Shaggy's back currently has has only one bone for the spine. I'm going to be tweaking the rig a bit to make the spine more flexible for future stuff.

JTalbotski
02-14-2003, 03:04 PM
I love the way the ant character really seems to be listening and understanding what shaggy is saying. Nice!

My Fault
02-14-2003, 10:33 PM
Yeah, outside of the slightly stiff spine, that was outstanding! You defiitely would've been in the top 5 if you had entered with that.

:beer:

JoeW
02-15-2003, 04:01 AM
Vurry vurry niiiizze. I really like the subtlety that you've managed to get in there - I had to watch it a few times to see it all. You've paid a lot of attention to the *eyes* of the (bug) character - something that gets overlooked (no pun intended) far too often. I like that her face is almost always in motion, and you've done a great job of emphasizing dialog with body movement - cool!

JoeW

jdates
02-15-2003, 06:05 AM
Looking Excellent Justin!

You really have improved alot in the last few years! Very impressive stuff!

You sure nailed the small subtle movements. Great work!

You should elaborate on how you approached this.
I for one would be interested.

Jdates

pequod
02-16-2003, 04:12 PM
You should elaborate on how you approached this.
I for one would be interested.

Jdates

Make that at least two people who would be interested!

-Stephen Millingen

JoeW
02-16-2003, 08:06 PM
Okay, make it three... :)

JoeW

My Fault
02-16-2003, 08:10 PM
If you take in to account my multiple personalities, make that 11 :insane:

JBarrett
02-17-2003, 02:15 PM
Thanks for the feedback, guys! I'm glad it's going over so well. :)

As for how I approached it, I don't really know where to begin. I don't think I did anything too special. I'll put some notes together and post them in a bit (I began to write them directly in here, but they're starting to get lengthy, and I gotta write them around my work schedule today).

More to come...

JBarrett
02-17-2003, 06:16 PM
After determining to have them sitting at a counter casually drinking shakes, I started by acting out each character while sitting at my desk with a glass in my hand, listening to the audio loop over and over. Some folks use thumbnails, but I prefer to act it out...it burns the performance into my brain better than drawing. I went over it many times to get the acting the way I wanted to, and to nail the character's personalities. I wanted to make the bug lady's personality a little more aloof. I haven't seen the film in ages, but from the audio I got the impression that she was challenging him a bit with her question, as if to say, "This is the attitude I get from you, and it's an attitude I'm not sure I agree with. You tell me if that's right, and your answer better be good." :) Harrison Ford, on the other hand, sounded very laid back, even slightly lazy, so that influenced what I chose for his posture and acting: hunched over his drink, not really holding the cup, keeping most of his movements very loose and in his upper body, only moving his hands when he really wanted to make a point, and even then it was minimal.

The lip-sync for each character was created in an action. I prefer to do it this way so that I can easily tweak the lip-sync after other animation is done without having to worry about following a moving head. In addition, listening to the audio over and over in the process of doing lip-sync helps me further understand the characters' attitudes before I start setting keys on the bodies.

With that in place, I dropped the characters and props into the chor, constrained the cup to the lady's hand, and set them in their initial poses. One note on the cup. I didn't pre-plan this well enough and made the cup and straw both part of the same model. This made it a little more difficult when it came to setting the constraints for the bug lady because she was holding each part in a different hand. For the puppet this worked well, but I should've made separate cup and straw models for her to use.

I also discovered during this process how poorly the thumbs on these models are rigged. I understand that Eggington was flying through them to get them done and online, so I don't fault them for not spending a lot of time on things like the thumbs, but I'll admit that the lack of proper thumb control strongly influenced the poses chosen for the characters' hands (and the camera angle). For the lady holding the cup, I couldn't get her holding it in a more delicate, feminine way like I wanted to because the thumb just wouldn't bend the way I needed, so to hide the thumb I made her hold the cup pretty tightly.

Speaking of the camera angle, you'd never know it by looking at this clip, but the bug lady model is much taller than the puppet. They look almost even here, but in reality she's a good head height above him at this position...maybe a little more. While her waist is at about the same position as his, her legs are way into the ground. Thankfully the camera angle and focal length chosen hide this discrepancy and make the scene work pretty well for these two disproportionate characters.

Anyway, with that all out of the way, I went through and did a rough posing pass on both characters for the entire clip. To set the keys, I set the key filter to Key Skeleton (or whatever it's called), posed the bones where I wanted them, then hit CTRL-C and CTRL-V to copy the entire body's position and make sure that keys were set on that frame for EVERY control in the skeleton. This pass let me establish the key poses for the two characters, as well as keep both characters from making moves at the same time. As I went, I changed all the keys to Linear interpolation so I could clearly see where the transitions began and ended. This is a habit I got into at work over the past couple years, and it works pretty well for me.

After I got key poses I liked, I went in and added breakdown keys for the transitions, then put finishing touches on the motion. I chose to do this on each character separately, so I started with the bug lady and did all her final animation first, then did the same on Shaggy. First I changed all key interpolation back to spline, then worked through the clip from beginning to end, jumping between body parts to add eases and moving holds, offset keys, add additional keys, etc. I worked in groups a lot, too...working on the torso, neck, and head for a while, then working on the left arm and hand, then the right arm and hand, etc.

For some of the more detailed motion, like stirring the straw in the cup, I added those keys directly in the channel editor. The same goes for Shaggy's head shakes. This, again, is a habit I got into at work, and I find it more effective than trying to mess with stuff that detailed -- especially w/ the stirring action where different channels have keys at different times -- in the blocking pass. With all the animation I have to crank out at work, I've come to know intuitively which channels will create the motion I want, so I just drop keys where I want them on the appropriate channels and slide them around until things look good. I end up doing a LOT of tweaking in the channel editor, and for those not used to it yet, I strongly recommend spending a lot of time in there learning how the curves translate into motion.

Facial details (eyes and brows) were animated last. For the bug lady, she didn't have any way to tell where she was looking with her original solid-red eyes, so I added an eyeball material. That wouldn't help me when animating in shaded mode, though, so I made some small black discs that were also controlled by her eye direction bones, and which sat just in front of the eyes. These allowed me to establish eye direction for animation, and for the final render, I just changed the group for the eye discs to be totally transparent.

After getting it all done, I showed it to the guys at work and got some feedback. It was that feedback that led to a lot of the extra details...the fingers contracting and expanding around the cup, Shaggy's movement of the cup at the beginning and end of the clip, even the bug lady's sideways glance. Most of those details were added through the channel editor.

Throughout the process I made little tweaks to the models here and there...


added eye targets (nulls) to make aiming the eyes easier.
added eyelid controls for Shaggy
added fine detail control to the bug lady's eyelids so she wouldn't always be in a perpetual frown (which is what you get if you just rotate her lids closed evenly)
added an IK in/out slider for the arms of both characters. "In" means the IK targets are children of the torso; "out" means the targets are outside the main skeleton. This allows Shaggy's hands to remain on the table while his upper body is moving all over the place. I borrowed this idea from the rigs I used on 3-2-1 Penguins!, as it's a lot easier than managing constraints when you want the hands to stick to something
removed the bug lady's mottled skin material because it drove me nuts. :)


That's about all I can think of. If there is something I haven't covered in this small novel (or have covered, but in not enough detail), let me know.

Cheers!

Justin

My Fault
02-17-2003, 06:33 PM
Awesome post, 47 thumbs up! :p

JoeW
02-17-2003, 10:22 PM
Thanks very much for going through all that, Justin - it's always nice to see how someone else works - especially when their results are as good as yours :)

JoeW

Grgeon
02-27-2003, 07:28 PM
That was great Justin,
I really appreciate you sharing your process. It really helps newbies like myself see how the pros do it. Great stuff!

God Bless,
George

Chart
03-01-2003, 04:12 PM
Justin,

Great post, first reply on CG-Talk I printed it out. :applause:

Chart

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