Haven't been on BitLanders for a while now. I've been busy with my Uni exams and now that the hard days are over, I can finally dedicate some time to filmmaking. In this post, I'll detail the process of animating the opening scene of "Uyir" (as well as give you a preview of the first minute of the film!).
I still have some sets and some secondary characters to model but I've been itching to start animating and that's what I've been doing over the last 2 weeks. I guess Uyir has been waiting a little too long and it's finally time for him to start performing.
To prepare, I added my character to the room scene (modelling of the room explained here!). Just to briefly explain, I animated the first minute-and-a-half of the film. In this introductory scene, Uyir (our main character) is introduced to the audience. He is sitting on his bed and reflecting (probably on what an eventful life he's had). He then picks up his walking stick and makes his way to the table on the opposite side of the room. He struggles a bit as he walks up to the table and relies a bit on the walking stick. When he gets to the table, he picks up a photo frame which includes him and his granddaughter. He sees the photo and starts to feel a sense of nostalgia and reminisces on the times he spent with his beloved granddaughter. He then walks back to his bed and goes to sleep. He notices a strange sound and suddenly wakes up.
To animate this, I relied on the animatic. Luckily, I had this ready during the pre-production phase. Here is the animatic I referred to:
To create more realistic and more believable movements, I recorded myself using my trusty old camcorder. I would be an actor for a day and play the role of Uyir. I set my camera up to kinda, sorta be like the camera angles I'm looking for in the final film and then press the record button. I would then act out the scenes based on the description above. After that, I take all the raw video footage, and edit it using a video editor to fit in line with the animatic. Unfortunately, I can't show the video here because I realised how much of a horrible actor I really am, and don't want to make anyone cringe with the footage, lol. The great thing is I can record multiple times until I'm happy with the acting I have. The thing about animation is that you sometimes need to exaggerate your acting. You don't need to have the expressions of Jim Carrey, but something close enough as we still have control when we start posing our characters.
So with that video footage shot and edited, I then add it into the room scene directly. Blender has a feature where you can work with the 3D viewport as well as the video editor simultaneously. So with the video footage added, I then used the Grease Pencil feature to very quickly sketch out the main poses based on the video footage. The result is a stop-motion stick figure cartoon effect. Below is the sketch of the first scene with all the cameras setup according to the animatic:
There is background music in there as well, but I'm not able to show it as I haven't purchased the royalty-free licence yet. I'm just using the preview music and testing out different previews which go well with the film. The above sketch is quite bad. I didn't have access to my trusty Wacom Bamboo Pen at the time and had to resort to the default laptop touchpad. This was quite tedious to work with. For future scenes, I'll definitely be using the Wacom. It wasn't really important for the sketch to look as good as those Pixar ones, but I just wanted to jot down the main poses to get a sense of the general poses and more importantly, timing. The great thing about sketches, is they can be quickly erased and drawn again. If I wasn't happy with the pose, I would just erase and draw again. If I wasn't happy with the timing, I'd move the sketch keyframe further/closer as required.
I guess this post is dragging on a little too long. Hopefully, this post shows how to plan out and start a character animation shot.
Click here to go to the next post where I'll continue to go into detail into making the character come alive.
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BA blog: blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?343742-Uyir-Short-Film-WIP