Here’s my June entry for the 11 Second Club, using the CG Cookie rig with some custom added texturing. I did a bit better with this one, 77th out of 190, I’m pretty happy with that. As usual though, I’d have liked more time on this to smooth a few problems out and give their faces a bit more expression. I’m still trying to figure out a good workflow with Blender as far as character animation goes. I’ve read various methods from different animators, so I’m just trying to settle on one that I’m comfortable with and is the most efficient. It’s very easy to get lost in keyframes for all the body parts early on so you need to use your time wisely.
This time round I worked up a rough 2D version in DigiCel’s Flipbook first. This helped when I started the blocking phase in Blender, and also helped me to iron out a few parts where I wasn’t sure how the body was going to move and what timing it would take, it was a very big help in the breakdown phase too.
My May entry for the 11 second club. I actually managed to enter this one, but only placed about 120th out of about 240 entries. Tried to concentrate on the lip sync on this one and keep it simple. A bit more time would have been nice to polish it up more.
Blender 2.66 with a slightly modified Cookie rig.
Picard goes on on well-earned shore leave, but is extremely disappointed when he see’s what’s waiting for him.
This was my final render of the April’s 11 Second Club challenge. Unfortunately I didn’t get this finished in time to enter, but I thought I’d finish it anyway, saying as I’d already got so far with it. It’s far from perfect, but I’m starting to get the hang of more complex animation in Blender now. I got my hands on the CGCookie’s Blender Animation Toolkit recently, highly recommended if you’ve just started to work on character animation in Blender and you want to move it up a step.
All done in Blender 2.6 with the CGCookie Cookie Rig.
Here’s a commercial I produced last year for a local DIY event, based on a concept and storyboard by Stephen McCreight over at GraphicsGarage. The tape measure was built and rendered in Blender 2.5. The logo was comped and the commercial was finished in After Effects. I still know After Effects too well to be finishing commercials in Blender. I’ll maybe get to the stage where I’ll become proficient enough with the video sequencer and nodes, but in the meantime, I’ve been using After Effects for about 15 years now so I’m way more confident with it.
It was quite tricky to get the animated shape of the tape measure. From what I can remember I modelled a straight length of the tape then used a curve modifier on it. I then used the Rotobezier plugin to animate the curve into the shapes of the house and the pound signs, while the mesh moved along the length of the curve. It was pretty fiddly in places, the transition of the curve from shape to shape almost had to be keyframed every frame to make it move the way I wanted it to. But once I got the hang of the Rotobezier it got a little easier.
I recently bought a copy of ‘Stop Staring – Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right’ by Jason Osipa. For anyone wanting to perfect their character animation and acting, this book is a must. A couple of things though, firstly, the book is mostly geared towards using Maya. However a lot of the basic principles can be translated to many other software packages with a bit of tweaking, which brings me to the second point. In my opinion you would need to have a good intermediate knowledge of your chosen 3d program to be able to work with the book if your not using Maya. All that aside, there is an amazing amount to be gleaned from the book, from lipsync, the main principles of mouth shapes or ‘visemes’ and how to control them, all the way through to the correct topology when building a head. Well worth the money.
So I’ve been trying to translate the principles of using one bone in the armature to control Shape keys with IPO drivers in Blender to get some basic lipsync working on a rig. I haven’t gone into any of the eye controls or expressions yet, but that will just be an extension of what I’ve created here. I’ve only used three shape keys here, the X location of the bone controls the narrowness of the mouth and the Z location controls the openness. Just a basic setup to make sure I know how it all works before I take it onto a proper rig.