Parent joint: The joint which controls another selection of joints that it is attached to.
Child joint: The joints that can be controlled all at once by the parent joint or on their own
Creating a skeleton hierarchy: In order to create an effective parent system on your character’s skeleton, you must name each joint accordingly, so right-arm for the right arm, left-arm for the left arm, etc. A basic skeleton/rig will include most of the necessary joints and bones that you would find in a real human skeleton, like spine joints, knees and elbows.
If a good hierarchy system is not created, the character will not animate in a realistic way and will simply look wrong when moving.
Controllers: Because a human’s joints can only move so far in a direction, a lock will need to be put on each part of the hierarchy, and these will also be necessary to move the skeleton/rig with more control, with controls such as raise, lower and rotate.
This will also give you the opportunity to use reverse kinematics if you wish, including a master, or main controller, where one joint controls a large selection of other joints at once.
Animating a rig:
After importing a 3D model, I used a ‘Quick rig’ to create an automatic rig for the model created by Maya, by selecting ‘Auto-rig’ in the pop-up box. In order to make selecting each joint easier, I used the drop-down display on the right side of the screen.
To make keyframes for the joints easier, simply use the shortcut S each time you want to create a new frame for a joint.
To complete part of our assignment, we each created a character model based on our own facial features using Adobe Fuse.
In order to re-create my face, I took an image of my actual face on photo-booth ( a head-on and a side-on one), and used it as a reference point for the model’s head. To mould the face, I used the sliders in the customise menu to bulge and re-size parts of the face, such as the cheek-bones, the nose and eyes and eyebrows.
To create the rest of the body, I selected the appropriate limbs and torso, to fit my body. In the clothing menu, I chose the type of shirt for my torso and the trousers I needed for the legs.
Editing was more of a challenge as it was difficult to find the write kind of letter K and to successfully create a convincing fire-breathing effect for the Dragon.
In after-effects, I begin making the fireball by first making an orange solid composition to create an orange template for the fireball.
Then in “effects and presets” I input “CC particle world” and dropped it into the composition to create an orange particle effect. Then, in “effect controls” I changed the particle type to “bubble” to change the shape of the particles, then changed “animation” to “directional axis” to have the particles shooting right. I turned down “inherent velocity” and “resistance” to condense the particles into a more flame-like formation.
In “comp 1” I added a motion blur effect to make the fire seem more believable, then in “effects and presets” I searched for “gaussian blur” and added that into the composition, going into “effect controls” and turning up “blurriness” to add realism to the fireball.
Back in the effect controls for particle world, I made the “birth colour” a light yellow and made the “death colour” a dark red, to add a colour gradient to the fire, after which I then played around with the different effects and composition settings until I had the “fire-breath” effect I wanted.
2: putting it all together
In After-effects, I imported all of the frames of my animation that I had received from the camera I used, put them all in a composition and imported my fire-breath effect.
To create the backgrounds for my animation, I used Photoshop to draw what it looks like up in a tree, and for the Dove’s home.
In order to add an interesting look to the Dove, I added shades of pink to it’s colour scheme and used shades of yellow to colour the beak.
To create the background art, I used different Photoshop brushes such as a downloaded sun-8 brush to achieve an internal moonlight effect to convey the impression of a night-time scene.
I also used a brush called “scattered maple leaves” to achieve a leafy effect for the foreground of the scene, and for the nest, I used a “hard round” brush to convey an image of wood and twigs. I also used the same brush for the large tree branch in the centre of the image.
To achieve the vibrant and dappled look of the background leaves on the tree, I used a “chalk 44” brush for the look of the background leaves, then for sunlight, I applied “cloud effect” from the filter bar on that layer using a mask, then used the “scattered maple leaves” brush with a subtle colour change to further connote the inside of a tree. I then erased a few patches of leaves for sunlight to appear through.
For my moonlit scene, I downloaded a custom made Photoshop brush and used it on the tree interior layer, placing each brush-stroke so it looked like the moonlight was shining through the gaps in the leaves. The end result was, in my opinion, a well drawn background.
In order to get a better idea of how Cel animations are created, we were asked to analyse 2 existing 2D animations and how they were made for inspiration and for information on methods of 2D animation. For my examples, I have chosen the 1994 Disney film, the Lion King, and comparing it with their 2002 animated release, Treasure planet.
Storyboards: The directors ( Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff) began by planning their film out using storyboards describing each scene or significant frame of animation using rough sketches of the scene and the dialogue used in the scene written beneath the picture. They then displayed the storyboards to a meeting of artists and animators acting out each storyboarded scene to convey the sequence.
Voice-acting: Different actors were then brought into the Disney studio to record the dialogue for their respective characters. Each actor had to fit the voice the directors wanted for each character, and after being shown the storyboards for the film, they would record their voices for their character using a microphone and a script in front of them. Often, the artist for a particular character would use the actor’s facial expressions as inspiration for the character’s design. For example, actor Jeremy Iron’s face was the implemented in the design of the face of his character, Scar.
Art and design: In order to get inspiration for their drawings and paintings and to ensure that the background and natural elements were as faithful to the setting as possible, each artist working on the film travelled to the African Savannah and observed the wildlife and scenery, drawing elements like a sunset, different trees and the rocky terrain. They would then take these paintings and drawings and show them to the directors so they could get an idea of what was perfect for what the film needed and what aspects needed to be re-drawn.
Sound and music: Composer Hans Zimmer created the music for the film by combining western instruments, such as trumpets and violins, with instruments found in Africa, such as Marimbas and African drums, in order to make the music fit well with the film and it’s setting.
Animation: For each character, a separate animator observed the way the animal that their respective character was based on moved and emulated it in their drawings and computer animation. For example, for the lion characters a real-life lion was brought into the art studio so the animator for Mufasa, for instance, could gain an understanding of how his character moved and what a lion’s mannerisms are like.
Storyboards similarly to the Lion King, creating this animation began with pitching previously established and drawn storyboards outlining each significant scene and the dialogue that accompanied the scene. Since the film was revolutionising Disney studios by combining 2D and 3D animation, each storyboard also included details of what each shot of the film would look like, describing the cinematography of each scene described in the storyboard panels
Art and design: In order to combine 2D and 3D animation, art director Andy Gaskill invented the 70/30 rule for the film’s design, which means that each aspect of the aesthetics of the film would be 70% traditionally designed and 30% sci-fi influenced design. In order to achieve traditional design elements, artists would draw inspiration from the classic book Treasure Island’s illustrator, N.C.Wyeth, specifically, a painting titled “one more step, Mr. Hands”, used because of the painting’s warm colour palate and classic “storybook” feel to it. When creating the 3D sets and characters for the film, the animators used a piece of technology they called “deep canvas” initially used for a previous film Tarzan, which allowed them to create sets in a 360 digital space. They then animated these against characters drawn in a traditional 2D style to create a depth of field effect.
Sound design: The 70/30 rule was also used for the audio of the film, with sound designers using old wind-up mechanisms to avoid making the sounds of the film too “slick or sci-fi”. For the film’s music, composer James Newton Howard utilised both orchestral, modern music and Celtic music provided by Scottish musician Alasdair Fraser.
Hope is a term that is subjective to different people and one that changes with religion, background and lifestyle.
For example, hope can be expecting life to improve and change for the better e.g. achieving what you want you have been aspiring to be in life like a dream job or lifestyle
Or, hope can be a feeling of nostalgia or treasured memory that makes you feel more positive e.g. seeing the family home after a long time living in your own house or doing an activity that you haven’t done in a long time.
But generally, hope is expecting something to happen, mostly in a positive way or hoping for something that’s about to happen or a statement to be true.
Hope in films
The aptly named Star Wars: A new hope, features a farm boy on a quest to rescue a princess, under a request from an old Jedi, from an evil Empire and become the “new hope” for a galaxy under oppression. During which, each character goes through an arch that changes them for the better.
As you may have guessed the prime theme for Star Wars is, of course, having it’s main characters find hope again and achieve a better life for themselves.
For the character of Luke Skywalker, finding hope is about finding his way in life after tragedy hits his family and becoming the Jedi he is destined to be, under the guidance of the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Han Solo’s character was just a cocky smuggler trying to pay off his debts before meeting the two main characters, and reluctantly travelling with them. During the quest the characters go on, he learns to value other people and not just himself.
In Kung-Fu Panda, the main character Po is trying to achieve his dreams of becoming a Kung-Fu master along with his childhood heroes. The story tells about how Po is trying to prove himself to his teacher and new friends after accidently being selected as a chosen one, while an enemy of his Sensei, master Shifu escapes from prison during which time Po has to learn to become a Kung-Fu master before the enemy arrives.
The theme of hope runs through the fact that Po is trying to achieve his dreams and expectations despite all of the problems the situation causes for him, while trying to prove himself to his new friends and the people of the city he lives in. The side-characters must also, reluctantly, put their hope in Po after he is announced as a chosen one and help him defeat the enemy arriving in their city.
Hope is also used in a way that makes the hero more relatable, as throughout the film he is trying to achieve what he has wanted his whole life, which makes the audience connect with him. The different side characters are also relatable in the fact that they feel like they have been cheated out of what they were expecting to gain, which gives us something to connect with.
For our new assignment for the next couple of weeks, we have been asked to create a 90 minute animation based on the feeling of Hope. I have started by brainstorming a few ideas of my own as well as bouncing off ideas with classmates.
Animation plot ideas
My first idea was having a character go through life and achieving his dreams as his/her life improves e.g. they start the animation as poor and leading a homeless lifestyle, but as the animation continues, and he/she begins to achieve their hopes and dreams, the animation and backgrounds begin to brighten and get more colourful as their life improves.
For my second idea, I decided to use an animal allegory and utilise the Dove, the universal symbol of hope, and have it go through the ups and downs of a birds life, for example, discovering a good nesting place for the first time or come close to losing one of her eggs. The animation will take place mainly on a tree and have
My initial idea as to how I can present my animation was to have a 2D stop motion with a Lego or clay person walking through his life as his surroundings move and change behind and around him. For this, I can create a stop-motion animation at home, using my camera and tripod, a built Lego set and the character created as a Lego figure.
However, stop-motion animation takes up a lot of time and this assignment’s deadline may not allow me to spend as time on the animation as I would like, so I may have to use another animation method.
So another method I thought of was using Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to draw my character and background, and then transferring them to Character animator using Adobe Bridge. I can then use Character animator to create the character and background’s animation, while using After-effects to improve and edit any effects I might want to include in the animation. It may be more technical and complicated, but using this method will take less time than a stop-motion.
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