/ by Bassam
We finally have the dialog recorded for our movie! It took one five hour session last Thursday at Earforce with Tygo Gernandt as Proog and Cas Jansen as Emo. We couldn’t have better voices for our characters. Both actors spent considerable time and effort understanding the characters and the story, aided by the animatic and by verbal descriptions from Ton and myself. The result? I can’t imagine Proog or Emo sounding like anything else- the performances are that good.
Above and beyond the sound, the video of the session is a goldmine of reference for our animations. We watched it compulsively, at normal speed and also slowing it down and freezing it at key frames, picking out expressions and gestures that could really fit the characters.
One side-effect of this is that we began to feel that the original facial setup for the characters wasn’t up to the quality of their voices- and it would take some time and tweaking to match the performance.
Both Proog’s and Emo’s original facial setups had some flaws I had previously deemed acceptable. Emo specifically had issues- The default pose was with a mouth slightly open (don’t do this!) The bone-only approach I had taken for the mouth open shape wasn’t working out ( on either character), the teeth were too high, and some of the shapes were blending really poorly.
Of course this is not acceptable! I decided to get the basics fixed as quickly as possible, so I could then get to the refinement as the project continues. This weekend I spent some time revisiting Emo’s facial setups (Proog’s will come later this week) and laying down a stronger foundation of shapes and controllers for acting purposes. The resulting setup has more controls with less “automation” but gives the animator a better range for expressing emotion, and also keeps the work in the same 3D view.
Well, after a couple of days work, I can safely say we’ve got a nice foundation. I’ll still put in time tweaking the weight paint and shapes ( There are at least 4 more shapes I still plan to add ), and of course, I’ll still add extra shapes and controls whenever scenes demand it. But here’s a few teaser quick poses from the current setup:
[Edit] I suppose I should explain a little bit what you see here, since it relies on some features that are so far only in the orange branch:
1st: the setup relies on shape keys and controllers, similar to this post
2nd: the drivers aren’t made up of separate objects; it’s just bones in the same armature.
3rd: bones in orange branch can display as arbitrary object with a nice little “object” button in the bone panel in pose mode.
4th: armatures have layers: you can have a layer for general posing, a layer for hand poses, a layer for IK arms, etc…. and of course, a layer for the facial controlers.