As I've progressed through the Illusion of Life Module I have gone through the basic principles of Animation such as Squash and Stretch, Exxageration e.t.c Using the basic knowledge of these principles combined with personal knowledge, I can begin looking at the peformance of the animated character. The key to this task is to delve into emotion within a performance and try visually portraying that. I had a choice of 6 audio clips in which I chose one to work with. A good point to start would be trying to feel the emotion of my clip and look at other performances as reference. One way of creating reference is to act it out myself and record it so I did just that and using Windows Movie Maker, I put the video clips with the audio clip to get a very vague understanding of the clip as something visual.
This will help me visualise the audio clip and give me a very slight look into emotion and performance... The first thing really however was to just write down the words in script form and try using words to describe both characters. I have done this in my sketchbook
and the quarter and three quarter profile...
Now that I had a script in front of me to see and the clip to listen to I could start putting some ideas to paper. I brainstormed a few ideas thinking about what my character(s) would be, what kind of background would work for this clip, I needed o think about performance in the character and how to animate that and the process of lip-syncing.
From the brainstorm I pretty much doodled a few ideas just to see if I could spark any ideas, I thought about things such as how I was going to draw the eyes and certain features I wanted the character to have. I also considered having the character as a mouse but my doodling eventually led me to a character that was a cross between a Kaminoan and Rayman.
I also thought it would be appropriate if the character had the 'beard of a professional' and a very wild hair style so I took Jim Carrey as inspiration for that leading me to a character that looked like a cross between a Kaminoan, Rayman and Jim Carrey with a very professional looking beard.
Urmmmm..... :S... Well anyway the character was created...
and the front and side profile of the character of which by this stage I ended up naming Jim after his/her beloved father...
and here is the quarter and three quarter profile...
The notes on acting which are at the top are covered in another post so I wont go into detail with them. I think this character works well as a boss/teacher and the way the elongated neck gives him the advantage of height which can be used to intimidate which will be needed at certain times. I also decided to only give him 2 fingers instead of 3 as a time saver so I could concentrate more on the performance and the lip-syncing.
Speaking about lip-syncing I wanted most of it to be lip synced so I had to go back to basics with that. Looking at the basic mouth sound shapes known as animation phonemes. My reference was taken from legendary animator Preston Blair's book 'Advanced Animation'
Preston Blair animated during what was known as the Golden Age of Animation (Mid 1930's - Mid 1940's). His style was very cartoony and surreal as he worked on the Looney Tunes. This is even seen in the way he animated speech as you can see he uses exxagerated squash and stretch for speech aswell however I decided to go with this style.
Gong back to what I had learnt about the 180 degree rule and the idea of the second character being the alter ego of the first one, I decided how that could be achieved and began to look at certain ways. I considered a character with 2 heads, the idea of the second character being in a mirror or continuos morphing from character to character. I looked at many references for this idea such as Fode and Beed from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
I thought this would be too complicated to animate and so I looked at other ideas such as the personality of Norman Osborn from Spiderman or the way a Hollow forms from Ichigo in Bleach.
Going with the morphing idea I decided how to make my character morph from Male to female so I decided to just draw the keyframes which in this case was the male character and the female character and draw the inbetweens. It ended up being 5 drawing which at the fp/s Im working in would mean it would take less then half a second to morph.
It was now time to move onto the technical planning stage of the animation process. This means constructing the storyboard and the use of the dope sheet.
The dope sheet and storyboard now covered in a different post it was ready to begin drawing the frames accordingly to the dope sheet with all mouth shapes, expressions and actions. Heres a test for the transition in the mirror from Jim to the mirror Jim.
The second test video is two seconds worth of animation with the sound also added just to see if the direction on the dope sheet was accurate.