Monday, 23 April 2012

Blend Shaping for Alex

I am still working on the walking to piano shot, but I can say that it is nearly done and ready to be sent to Arpit and Valentino; I just need to smoothen one or two hip tangents and also feminise the walk a little more (probably with the aid of a Digital Tutors tutorial).  Towards the beginning of this process, I was chronically stressed over it, but as it has gone on, I have become more relaxed; mainly because I feel as though I have been reacquainted with the Graph Editor and I have remembered what I useful tool it is and that it I can become easily confident just with continuous practice.  The animation for this has taken a while to perfect primarily because the animation must look realistic and natural, as opposed the the exaggerated cartoon effect that we have done several times in the past few years.

In the mean time, Arpit and Valentino have asked me to do some blend shapes for Alex's face.  I have created separate sets of blend shapes for the eyebrows, eyes and mouth.  The eyebrows can be raised or lowered separately or together, the eyes can blink and can also be creased, which is particularly useful for creating a realistic and convincing smile.  In order for her eyebrows to raise, I set the drivers that control her brow blend shapes to also drive the eyebrows that have been modelled in either direction.

Her mouth can be widened or narrowed and her upper and lower lips can be raised.  I have also set the drivers that control the movement of the lips to also drive the Translate Y axis of the jaws in the relevant directions.  I have also created a special driver and respective set of blend shapes called "Mood", which if the user sets in the +20 direction, she smiles whereas if the user sets it in the -20 direction, she frowns.  This mood driver can bring the smile or frown pretty far and exaggerated, so I suggest keeping the Mood to a minimum on either side of the scale for more subtle and natural results.  Doing the smile and frown blend shapes took me the longest to perfect until I could make convincing smile and frown shapes without making her look like The Joker.

Here is a video demonstrating the range of expressions that Alex can now convey.

video

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