TI’m First step was to create the ‘skeleton’ of the figure, this was a technique I had never come across before but it was very interesting to learn. Another step that was included placing the animation into the real life footage, however I had done this previously with my VR trailer. Even though my final major project is a live action short, I did want to attempt to bring in a few new techniques such as a 3D camera tracker and tilt shift. At this stage I now moved on to additional programmes such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as Autodesk Maya 2017.
Before creating my animation I decided to work on the intro sequence for my animation. I decided that a 3D tracker would catch the audience’s eye better than just an ordinary title sequence, this process was created in Adobe After Effects. My first step was to get my video footage, select it and then open Animation> Track Camera. This step was surprisingly easy, much easier than I expected. Once the Track Camera had finished analysing the shot, I then highlighted a few of the dots, right clicked on the and selected Create Solid and Camera. Once I had a shape I then reshaped the square, by using the tools located under the Transform tab, and then searching ‘grid’ in the Effects & Presets window. Following that I inserted text by right clicking in the composition tab and choosing New> Text. To ensure that the text was as stable as Track Solid 1, I copied the position coordinates from Track Solid 1 and then duplicated them onto the ‘LIFE’ position coordinates. I decided on the font Impact due to it being clear compared to the previous text I used for my animatic, Acier BAT. I believe that this technique would be very useful and eye catching if I was to make vlogs or montages in the future.
One thing that I could’ve done better would be make the text 3D, as the 2D text makes it appear that it is part of the picture frames, rather than it being a title. Having 3D text would make it appear that it was a part of the frames rather than just being over the top of the video file. On the other hand I believe the colours I used for text fitted well with the shot as I matched the ‘Life’ text with the blue of ‘SSGSS Vegeta Pop! Vinyl’ and I matched ‘Kingston College, Student Film’ with the colour of the ‘She-Hulk Pop! Vinyl’.
To create the ‘skeleton’ of the character I went to Windows> Animation Editors> HumanIK, which created a side window with the options to create the structure. Originally I selected Quick Rig> Auto Rig, however it created the skeleton incorrectly so I had to create it manually by selecting Create Skeleton and then doing it manually. The skeleton was far too large and didn’t match the structure of the figure. Due to the originally skeleton having too many joints/ bones, I did hold down the right mouse button and direct myself to Edit Joints> Remove. To attach the model to the skeleton I changed the Menu Set menu from Modelling to Rigging, then highlighted both of the object and then finalised it by selecting Skin> Bind Skin. This tool became very useful as moving the figure’s parts was no longer an option, I had to move the skeleton instead. This is a much easier process compared to my ‘3D Animation’ project where I had to more polygons individually. I ended up with one bone for each foot as I wouldn’t be moving the toes individually and the foot would act more like a block, like how the character appears. Unfortunately when I combined both the skeleton and figure, the eyelash details was removed, I attempted to add it back but it just didn’t end up working, this is definitely an issue I need to look up next time I create a 3D animation.
The animation process was originally trial and error as I attempted to use 3D Camera Tracker in Autodesk Maya and Autodesk MatchMover, however every time I added the two ma. files together I would lose the textures of the figure or the programme would crash, so instead I used a method that I was used to, setting Key Frames. Even though this method would mean positioning the character separately in After Effects, it would be more of a efficient way as the render waiting times would decrease dramatically and I am more familiar with this technique. By creating the skeleton, this also reduced time as I wouldn’t have to move the polygons individually. A shortcut key I used in order to set the key fame, was clicking the s button on the keyboard.
Even though I was used to animating within Autodesk Maya, I was unfamiliar to exporting the animation into Adobe After Effects as I had only done this once before. A feature of 3D animation that I had to look into was lighting, in order to do this I selected the Auto Light Tool located just above the view port, in the same row as they Camera Tool. To help figure it out I found a guide online to assist me with exporting the iff. files. As my first shot was a simple one I didn’t have to do much animating, however I did have to use several different tools in After Effects in order for the character to appear that it was interacting with the environment. I decided that exporting all the frames as iff. files would be best as they produce a transparent background, rather than me removing it by hand, like I did previously with the ‘VR Trailer’. Once I had all the iff. files in the a sequence by selecting File> Import> File and then selected all the frames, I then ticked the small box in the file window that said IFF Sequence. Some movements such as walking were repeated in several shots, especially in scene 2 sounds instead of creating several different walk cycles, I set up a camera with a different angle and exported that, this saved me a lot of time. As I set the Maya animation to be 60 frames per second, the IFF Sequence imported as 60 fps (frames per second).
After I had the sequence, I then imported the video file and scaled the Maya animation accordingly. In the video file I tap the head of a figure, with a coat hanger (used to poke the bobble head and dog toy), to indicate the figure interacting with the environment and in order to remove the coat hanger I used a tool I was very familiar with, the Pen Tool. I had previously used this tool before for my ‘Green Screen Practice’ blog, this is also why I was familiar putting two videos on top of one another. During the process the coat hanger was slightly visible so in order to remove that I selected Mask Path, under the Mask Tab, and moved it slightly, this fixed my problem. In order to have the video background I imported the same video file but placed it behind the cropped one. An additional feature I added was giving the character the ability to blink, I did this by taking a screenshot of the animation, opening it in Photoshop and used the Stamp and Erase Tool to make it appear that the figure had blinked. Finally I noticed that the figure was slightly orange, however to make it appear that it belongs in the scene I used several tools in the Colour Correction tab located on the right of After Effects. I had to do this with most of the IFF Sequences as I wanted the figure to match.
The easiest shots to make was the shots where the figure was falling down the stairs as rather than creating a new animation sequence, I just rendered the shot from a different angle each time. However as the staircase varied in shade I did have to use Key Frames with the Exposure Tool to make it appear that the character matched the appropriate lighting.
In the first animated shot I did initially have a problem with the lighting, when the character turned around to face the already existing figure, the side of the head became very over exposed and I wasn’t able to reduce it down with the Colour Correction Tools, however I was able to avoid that in future frames. Additionally with this shot I believe I could’ve made the character walk slightly towards the figure, rather than sliding it in After Effects, as it doesn’t appear to be natural movement, especially if you compare it to the animations of ‘Charlie Grubel’ and ‘Official Funko’.
The last step was adding all the files that I created in Adobe After Effects into Adobe Premiere Pro. As I am quite used to using Adobe Premiere Pro this process was very easy for me. To ensure I didn’t get complicated with all the video files I had, I edited each scene individually; introduction sequence, main animation and then human meeting figure. Tools that I mainly used for this process was Speed/ Duration and Key Frames. The key frames were used to make a dramatic impact on still shot, this included the introduction shot of the figure and the figure shaking as the dog came towards her. Some animation was created with a slow moving pace so then each movement could be captured at a higher fps (frames per second), so this is why I had to speed up certain parts in Premiere Pro. To collect the background sound (white noise) I used a microphone from an iPhone 6 and the sounds were created by tapping pre-made Pop! Vinyls on the objects around me such as stairs, chairs, desks and even my hand.
The only struggle I had with this process was that Premiere Pro had an update where features had been moved around so I was unable to access New Title, instead I had to go to Windows> Essential Graphics. A window then popped up with several different title folders but the one I selected had the name Title. This option came up with several animated options that I could choose from, I thought these would be ideal as my FMP was an animation. Rather than double clicking on the area with the current text on to change the message, I had to go to the small tab between the media files and timeline and select the letter T. I was then able to change the text that would appear after my animation.