So I decided to join the 11 Second Club this month! For those who have never heard of the 11 Second Club, it’s a really cool web site that hosts a monthly character animation competition. Anyone can enter, and contestants are all given the same audio clip to animate to. It’s an insanely complex challenge for an animation noob such as myself, but I decided what better way to learn than to jump in feet first! (This will be my first time entering, by the way.)
Here’s the transcript for November:
Voice One: “I was adorable once… and now, look at me! I’m this short, fat, insecure, middle-aged thing!”
Voice Two: “I made you short?”
Voice One: “Aaaaah!!”
My wife and I bounced some ideas back and forth, and quickly came up with the idea of having voice one be a short, stubby pencil, and voice two be a pencil sharpener.
Now, everyone strongly recommends using one of the various free character rigs, especially if you’re a beginner. But I say, where’s the fun in that? After about a week or so of experimentation, I had a pretty slick method for animating a hole cutout on a NURBS surface. This is the technique I used for the characters’ mouths and eyelids, rather than trying to model and rig a complex edgeloop model. You can get a huge variety of mouth shapes this way, just by pulling eight CVs around.
Plus, I created a cool little Mel script to auto-generate a shelf button to store a mouth pose, complete with an auto-rendered icon to show the resulting pose. This made it really easy to set my mouth keys for lip sync, and vary them to convey emotion. Here’s a screen shot of some of my shelf icons:
Given that I didn’t even start until the 11th, the past few weeks have been pretty nutty. I’m somehow surviving on three to four hours’ sleep each night, for many days in a row, while simultaneously holding down a day job, raising two young kids, and supervising a home renovation project.
My maybe-final version is rendering while I write this. Wish me luck!