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Home ? General Discussion ? Why Realistic Motion & Design Doesn't Work

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14/02/2011 06:49:17

PinguinoStudios
PinguinoStudios
Posts: 13
Hi all, sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but I write a blog about Machinima, real-time animation and digital puppetry (it's all the same thing really) called Machin-X: Digital Puppetry. My most recent post was commenting on an interview character designer Shannon Tindle did with Salon.com that discussed why so many animated movies today have unappealing characters. I took this a bit further and pointed out that one of the things holding back real-time animation (and I would say Muvizu either falls in that category or comes close) is that much of it relies on realistic design and realistic motion.

I thought of Muvizu when I was writing this because the more I play around with it the more I appreciate the fact that it deliberately doesn't try to be realistic and is much more cartoon-y, which I think audiences respond to much better when it comes to animation.

Anyways, I thought would throw that out there for anyone who's interested. I'd also love to hear what other people think about this.
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14/02/2011 10:00:18

freakmoomin
freakmoomin
Posts: 272
yep!
spot on really......this was one of the major factors in how we went about designing muvizu.... this is probebly the number one reason why we have cartoony chars and animation

we thought the audience responds much better to actual cartoons rather than 'the sims' type model....

fingers crossed that we are right
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14/02/2011 10:08:17

toonaramaMuvizu mogulExperimental user
toonarama
Posts: 661
Pinguino
Some excellent points there.

I'm not sure that the modern animated characters are unappealing; it's just that they are often - especially in the case of machinima - characterless.

I'm no animator but it's quite clear that machinima with it's stock moves and often computerised voices takes away the vey essence of what is required to make a character engaging.

Muvizu clearly has some advantages here:

a) can use a proper soundtrack
b) is using cartoon - and properly animated -motions which are brilliantly combined by the software and as you say the cartoon approach is much more acceptable on the eye.

I think Muvizu's concept of using moods to determine a persons actions is a clever and sensible way to go and works well up to a point.

I think the challenge now is for Muvizu to

a) allow the stock animations to be adjusted/amended (IK/FK?) to allow users to really develop characters
b) more character types or the ability to manipulate body/head shapes more (this has been mentioned before and I know that this is a problem because it messes up the stock animations)
c) and keep it all simple at the same time!

Great blog by the way

Toonarama
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14/02/2011 10:29:49

DreekoMuvizu mogulExperimental user
Dreeko
Posts: 1258
When it comes to customising animations and characters the new version of crazy talk now includes full body animation and is worth checking out. They have put some very nice features in there to speed up the animation process.
I know it's a 2d animation package but I'm sure some of the methods would be a handy addition to our beloved Muvizu

See below for an example


Cheers
D
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14/02/2011 10:38:52

toonaramaMuvizu mogulExperimental user
toonarama
Posts: 661
I actually bought Crazytalk Animator at Christmas and I also own Reallusion's other main product (Iclone) and agree that it does have some interesting features but I have yet to see any impressive output from the software.
I think the best point about Reallusion software in general is the way in which you can manually control the movements; but the worst point is that for additional assets they charge way over the top.
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14/02/2011 13:36:38

PinguinoStudios
PinguinoStudios
Posts: 13
I haven't played around with CrazyTalk Animator, but I have heard some good things about it. It seems like it basically does what AE's Puppet Tool does only it's cheaper than buying AE.

And to be fair to iClone, I think you could get some really good "toon" animation out of it (beyond the cartoon motion pack they sell), but it would take some work and you really need a lot of animation experience and once people get beyond a certain level I think they would just learn 3DS Max, Maya or Blender.

I do like the facial puppeteering tool in iClone. That would be a neat feature to eventually bring in to Muvizu. I especially like the way it supports multiple devices (I tried a hack that let me puppeteer a face with a Wiimote...it would work with the Kinect too, I just don't have one).
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14/02/2011 14:02:04

barrys
barrys
Posts: 102
Hi

When we were coming up with the idea of Muvizu there were certain arguments about digital puppetry that I had to win. In particular I remember being in the staff kitchen trying to convince someone of the merits of 'animating in passes'.

There were lots of these discussions in the early days. One of the things I NEVER had to argue about was the art/animation style. The Art Team were all of the same opinion: let's avoid photorealism at all costs. We did this because of a number of reasons:

- Business: it would separate us from the competition who all embraced realism
- Money: Motion capture is expensive
- Boredom: making realistic animations and objects is dull for an art team
- Users: working with realistic 'uncanny' looking models is creepy. The videos are not watchable
- Physics: as soon as you strive for realism then you're making a rod for everyone's back. Realistic models demand realistic animations, realistic physics, realistic behaviors. Gravity, collisions and interactions all have to be spot-on or the visual success unhinges itself.
- Hands: Motion capture doesn't grab finger movement and that's where a lot of expression comes from.
- Time: we were quicker getting non-realistic assets out there.

Personally speaking I think we were right to go down the toon route. I just think it's a quicker and less cluttered approach to story-telling. Our users can get a story on the web without having to worry about skin-translucency or anisotropic hair rendering, blah blah.

One of these days I'll upload some of the animation tests and puppetry concepts we explored. I have a few videos kicking around...

Barry
Art Manager
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14/02/2011 14:52:36

DreekoMuvizu mogulExperimental user
Dreeko
Posts: 1258
Barry I think everyone here is in agreement with you for all the reasons you outlined, but the ability to customise animations be it limb by limb or a full body walk designer like the one shown in the clip is something that I think most users would like to have if only to create quick fixes to missing animations (answering a phone for instance)
Now I believe that at some point we will be able to control the speed of an animation and possibly pause the animation to create poses and if added to that we could also control the joints of the shoulders hips and possiblly wrists in a way similar to the head then the individual cartoony Muvizu animation style would remain but be expanded for the individual and the Muvizu community once saving/sharing character animation becomes as much a part of Muvizu as object sharing is about to be
Cheers
D
PS: gotta say though a walk designer would be damn nice too!
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14/02/2011 15:38:09

PinguinoStudios
PinguinoStudios
Posts: 13
Barry I for one would be very interested in seeing those tests and to know what sorts of approaches you explored and considered!

I am sure you guys are overwhelmed with work, but I do think the poser idea is a good one (and I'm sure you guys have already considered it). I don't think there's really a need for a "walk designer" in software like this; really it would be fantastic to be able to import original characters (which I know is on the list of future features) and the ability to import .fbx files so custom animations are possible. Anyone who wants to go to the trouble of creating a walk cycle can do it just as easily in Blender or Maya.
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