This project started as a question: What is it that makes ducks funny? Moreover, I wanted to know if there was a code behind the movement of a funny duck. Rather than attempting to understand everything at once, I chose a simple behaviour, walking, and investigated its “funny” potential. Since emotions are also seen among laughing people, they were chosen as nuances for the walking behaviour.
Procedural animation was used on a duck rig prototype to create a palette of stylized walk cycles. People were then asked to name the emotions they thought each duck walk expressed and also if they found them funny. This work is part of the Character Essences project, which focuses on recreating believable actions using procedural animation.
What inspires you when you design your own characters and stories? Sometimes I like to think of a few things I love and start from there. A bumblebee queen in a grand crinoline is floating on the sea, in her oak leaf boat. She is on a quest to find the Book of Wisdom, to learn how to become human. Little does she know that Grey Rabbit has stolen the book and hidden it in ol’ man Barrel’s cherry orchard. It’s a start…
Mark is self-isolating. In the silence of his home his mind becomes abstract, as thoughts soar for a brighter future. Mark feels empty. Pieces of himself vanish day by day. Light will soon shine through the emptiness he once knew and loneliness will become a distant memory.
Abstract Mark started as an experiment with basic tools in Houdini. Elements like extracting the wireframe from edges and voxelization allowed the creation of a cage-like structure for the geometry. Mark’s 3D head model was created in Maya through edge modelling techniques.
Spacey is a character modelled by following Justin Marshall’s tutorial on Modelling Your First Character on Pluralsight. In his shiny boots and colourful suit, Spacey is ready for a new adventure. He’s just arrived on Mr. Alec’s planet, actually. The green, blobby alien greets him with a big toothy smile! Spacey is just a bit confused…
On a lonely summer’s day, my thoughts took me back to Romania. Marioara’s character burst out on paper as a reflection of my childhood memories. Here are some initial sketches of her. I hope to give her more colour in the future.
A new animation research project begins, Character Essences! It will combine theatre techniques of character creation with traditional and procedural animation. Drawing on character archetypes from Commedia dell’arte and the physical theatre methods of Jacque le Coque and Rudolf Laban, the main focus is to find movement parameters (constants and variables) that define well established characters.
Cazani is an aspiring cactus juggler, although it hurts! He also IS one, a cactus that is! His baggy eyes tell of his nightly practice rounds. He’s worried that his parents won’t approve of his career choice of running away with the circus.
His only hope is that one day he can prove to them he is good enough, because the world loves his act. Cazani loves the magenta flowers that pop on his forehead from time to time, but worries that they make him look less manly. Will he ever learn to let go of other people’s judgements and just be himself?
Tippy is a tap dancer and is moving to the big city of Shuffelsville for his studies. You can follow his story in the storyboards section of my animation site here. Now we’re working on modelling, rigging and animating a few of his moves in Maya. Here he is taking his first steps, with his controllers on top.