Alright! I can happily say the final animation is finally complete for the semester! Because of the lack of updates, I will mash everything in the production in this post. Apologies for the lengthy post. So let’s begin!
In the previous update, there was a bit of pinching and weird 3D topology around Quorri’s mouth so I went to fix it a bit. I noticed in the test renders that there were some polys that flip normal around her upper nose area. This was due to the morph targets being animated together so even more tweaking had to be done in the morpher panel. I animated all the morphs by keyframe, and followed the audio I imported into 3dsMAX. The audio is roughly 30 seconds long with brief exchanges with another character. I edited the audio to make it sound like Quorri is talking to another character via headphones and it worked really well to my surprise.
I noticed it was very difficult to animate Quorri because my file was lagging terribly. I updated, cleanout, defragged my computer to see if it would help, but nothing happened. After hours upon hours trying to figure out what was going on, I found out that the geometry of Quorri’s hair was the cause of the lag. Luckily, I had everything in layers so I just hid her visor and her hair. And ta-dah! No lag. After getting the phoneme animation of Quorri’s mouth complete, I started animating her eye brows. I received some helpful critique from a guest in class about her eyebrows and how they moved too much. I took the critique, fixed it, and the result came out great. Thank you Joon!
After the animating her eyebrows, I began animating her eyes were rigged individually by points and then parented to a dummy so they can be moved together. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure what Quorri was going to be doing in the final animation, but I animated them to where they were reflecting what she was saying. And her eyes could be edited afterwards once I animated head movements with her neck. Speaking of movements with her neck, once I did the animation for that, she came alive! I had to tweak the curve editor a bit, but once I did, I was very happy with the outcome.
After getting all of the animation complete on Quorri’s head, I noticed I forgot to apply controls onto her hand for finger movements and bending. I quickly applied three joint controls to the bones to each finger and it worked perfectly. To differentiate each finger control, I applied colors to each finger. ( Thumb = Orange / Index = Yellow / Middle = Green / Ring = Blue / Pinky = Purple ) Luckily Quorri only has one hand; I didn’t have to rig again. Haha!
I decided to animate Quorri walking for her body movements and also include arm and hand gestures to really bring out her character since the audio dialogue is really quirky and fun. So to start, I just placed her in an idle position and referenced back to 2D Animation principles and how to animate a walk cycle. I didn’t want some crazy, intricate walking so I went with something very basic because the main focus is the phonemes and her face, not so much her body. But of course that doesn’t stop me from giving my all in a project anyway. 🙂 I kept her hair and visor hidden because it still lagged my file and my computer. I also tried just have her hair visible with all other geometry and control hidden, and it still lagged. So her hair was definitely one of the challenges in animating.
For the walk cycle, I decided to put each keyframe every 30 frames.. It totally didn’t occur to me that each step/movement would take practically one second. So the final animation rendered really slow, almost like she is walking in slow motion. But for some reason it kind of works due to her robotic looks. After keyframing the walk cycle, I animated her hips to wear they would move in synchronization and of course give her some feminine appeal. Animating her arms were a little difficult due to the fact they had to be swinging in synchronization with her legs. I just animated the walk cycle of her arms, and then deleted the keyframes to where I was planning to animate arms and hand gestures. Afterwards, I adjusted the curve editor to where the arms and hands can smoothly roll into the next keyframe.
In the audio dialogue, I edited it as if Quorri were talking on the phone. I animated her headphone textures to where they blink in sync with the audio of the other character speaking. The picture above is a shot of the material editor and how I used the Falloff material and inverted the black and white to have the red geometry of her headphones blink. I had to keyframe each syllable spoken, but the outcome was really satisfying because it gave a sense of interaction with the characters even though the other character that is speaking on the phone does not exist physically.
After hours of animating Quorri, I finally completed the animation I was aiming for! The screen shot above shows the mass amount of keyframes from all animated controls, textures, and morphs. Even though the walking is really slow, it’s something I can fix easily, it’s just a matter of finding the time to render again. Which would probably be this summer. 🙂
And speaking of rendering..
The render process took a lot longer than I thought. I originally rendering in Scanline, but once I tried to render out her visor in Scanline, it practically took 10 minutes to render one frame. And that was definitely taking too long so I switched to the mental ray renderer, and one frame took a little bit less than two minutes. I noticed that there weren’t any believable shadows in my render so I decided to render out the animation in an ambient occlusion material. I also applied a motion blur to Quorri so that the animation would appear more believable when she quickly moved her arms or hands. And because I did, it easily doubled, maybe even tripled my render time because of the ambient occlusion. You can see the differences between each render in the picture above. I applied a multiply layer setting above the render which brings out the finer details of the animation. You can see the awesome results with the final render on the right.
TOTAL RENDER TIME: …I lost count, but it was definitely over 48+ hours for sure.
Oh! And just to mention, I edited the rendered files in After Effects.
So without further ado, here is Quorri’s Phoneme animation!
I decided to have the final animation play by itself first so the viewer can see what I have done. Immediately afterwards, I put together a split screen of the final animation and the animation of Quorri’s head for anyone who would like to further analyze the phonemes and animation. As I mentioned before, the walk cycle is slow. But I am very satisfied with the outcome of her phonemes, expressions, and her look. The translation of her concept art, all they to this final render is even more satisfying that I originally thought. I would like edit her a bit more to where she appears more.. painterly? But I think that deals with the texture and possible video editing in After Effects. I plan to take Quorri a little bit further and animate her in an animated short, but before then I would like draw more concept art of her environment setting and other characters she interacts with.
I am very happy with what I came up with this semester, it really did help me jump back into 3D Modeling and Animation which I easily forget how fun it is sometimes. I would like to try and keep up with blog with new content of Quorri and her story because I feel that she’ll go to waste if I don’t use her in some awesome way.
This semester has been great. Thank you Prof. Kitagawa for guiding everyone in the right direction and I love the animations that you have shared during class. Those have definitely inspired me to try new animation styles!