Monday, November 27, 2006

Nick Park and Aardman Animation on the Southbank Show

Last night, Melvyn Bragg interviewed Nick Park, with the introduction animated by Nick.

For those of you who missed it, it can be seen on the ITV website.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Making Faces

Image Metrics WarriorI have been known to make faces at myself before but since my last ventures into facial animation with the currently on-hold Captain Correct project it would appear that things have changed. Image Metrics are giving CGI faces some feeling and bringing back actors from the grave. Their warrior character (left) is impressive static but when you see see it talk you are left wondering if they are cheating and using a real person... They are "headed" up by scientists from Manchester who scan the human face and map it onto the computer model without the need for motion capture dots. Their effects will be seen in the next Harry Potter film.

Reading down their list of advisors there's a man who should be no stranger to the tedious processes people historically used. Peter Gabriel and Aardman won awards for their animated music video back in 1987 which involved Peter being covered in clay and pixilated. Aardman are also in the news, they've made a cracking profit this year and are up for an award.

Animating Facial Features and ExpressionsHowever for those of us without the budget of Dreamworks or Disney we are going to have to stick with some simpler techiques. The book Animating Facial Features and Expressions by Bill Flemming and Darris Dobbs is an excellent reference and explains how muscles move the face and is stacked with examples.

My old favourite lipsync tools Magpie and Mimic are also going to come in handy.

E-Frontier is soon to release Poser 7 which contains a new tool called the Talk Designer which sounds quite similar to Mimic's functionality, perhaps we will see a drop in the price of Mimic with the release of Poser?

"With Talk Designer, you have the power to control the type and level of emotion, enunciation, and head and eye movement including the figure's blink rate. Import a sound file and Poser 7 will automatically animate your figure's lip, eye and head movements to match!"

E-Frontier also say:

"Third party content creators will be able to provide configuration files that make any viseme-equipped* figures Talk Designer compatible! * Visemes are the visual representations of phonemes"

Ring Master Mimic-edI'm a little sceptical about this as I've had a few problems with Mimic not correctly loading my Flea Circus Ring Master. The first issue was that there were additional materials in the poser file but I've not quite worked out what the other issues are.

More details when I have them....

Also new since my last entry:

Bryce has a new version with a raft of features too long to mention here. Also Pope JP gets his own animation but I expect he was animated the old fashioned way by hand...