In this video, learn the production elements to watch for when you design a puppet made of photos. Create animated puppets of toys, vehicles, props, or anything else you can photograph.
- I love to sculpt, and being able to bring my sculpture to life using Character Animator is absolutely incredible. Now you can use the same process of photographing any puppet or toy, and turning it into an animated character. (Latin hip hop music) So when you're sculpting a model to turn into a puppet, sculpt it in separate layers rather than trying to put it together and separating it layered. It's going to be much easier if you have all the separate elements already put together.
I love using multi-color clay, especially Sculpey, 'cause then Sculpey you can bake to a hardness and it's much easier to use, although I often don't harden it in the oven. I like it when it's soft and malleable, it makes it much easier to move things around and make fixes as I'm working. So if you take a look at some of these pictures here, when I was doing the mouths, I actually made the entire area of the face like the unshaven area of a man's face, and I sculpted the mouths onto it.
Now, because all of these are separate, in order to keep them similar in size and shape, I actually drew a template underneath a piece of plexi that I was working on, and so I made the disk shape of the face all the exact same size, and that helped me with making the mouths so that they look better once they get animated. Now when you're photographing all of the elements, a longer lens is better. A real short lens, like a really wide-angle lens, has a very narrow depth of field, so what ends up happening is, if you've got something that extends out towards the camera, the thing closest to camera could be in focus, and everything behind it could be out of focus.
So a long lens, just back up the camera if you want, and use a longer lens, 35 or 50 millimeter, or longer. Once you set up your camera for photographing all the elements, keep it at the same distance. Mount it onto a tripod, track how far it is from the elements, because if it's always the exact same distance from what you're shooting, when you pull the elements in and separate them in Photoshop and layer them together, they're all going to be the proper size, and your model will come together exactly the way you sculpted it.
Make sure that you turn off the auto aperture and auto focus on your camera, set everything to manual settings and then track it, so if you need to go back and photograph something else, you know exactly how to set it up. If you don't, your color, focus, and brightness is likely to change from image to image, which is going to totally screw you up when you try to composite it together. I often like using a photo tent for shooting models and props, it gives really nice, even lighting all the way around. I make sure I track where my lights are, what their settings are, and how many I have, so that, again, if I need to re-light it, I can match it.
You can also just simply put your elements on the floor. There are times I'll just throw on some green poster board on the floor, and put my props on top of that and shoot it. Again, the green helps me to very quickly pull the props off of the background in Photoshop. Now, on this character, the mouth sits onto a curved surface, so even though I sculpted it on a flat surface, I need to make sure that I'm photographing it on a curved surface. So one of the things that I did is I made a black little form about the same shape and curvature of the bottom of the face.
And this served two purposes. One, when I put the mouths on it and pushed it down to match the curvature, the lighting and the shadow drop-off on the mouth of the puppet looks natural, and it'll fit into my puppet much better. And two, being black, I just left an open hole when the mouth was open, so when I put the mouth on top of the black, the black allows it, gives it the shadow inside the mouth, and gives me the look that I want. Now you can lay the elements down onto the floor, or onto a piece of green screen or whatever it is that you've got to photograph it.
Or, if you've got something that you want to be able to see all the way around and rotate it, you can stick it on a toothpick, or onto some wire form so that you can rotate it around. Again, just make sure it always stays the same distance from the camera. And you'll see there are times, since I have all the elements, I may lay all the elements down side by side, and in one picture, I get almost everything that I need, rather than taking a separate photo for each one. Everything is the exact same distance, and it just speeds things up, and I have to take less photos.
I also kept the hair as all separate pieces, all separate assets on this puppet, so I can have each of them affected by the physics behavior called dangle. So as I move my head around, notice that each piece of hair bends and flexes just a little bit. It gives the character a lot of life, and I like having things like that, so look for elements on a puppet that can move and dangle, whether it's earrings, or long hair, long mustache, string hanging from the collar, anything that you can, if you've got something you can add a dangle to it, that'll really help your character.
And then, once you bring everything into Photoshop, and you separate all the elements, and build your character back together, once everything is named, the way we talked about in one of the earlier videos, your puppet will come together really quickly, and rigging will be that much easier. And when you photograph all your elements separately, and maintain a consistent size, brightness, and color, you can quickly bring your sculptures to life in Character Animator. (Latin hip hop music)
- Creating a list of production needs
- How the varied styles of animation impact production
- Creating usable digital puppets
- Working with drawn characters, objects, and CG characters
- Adding value to the look of your production
- Exploring various audio recording options
- Organizing files for production, backup, and transport
- Using animation cycles
- Building and editing a scene
- Troubleshooting issues
- Tricks for enhancing your production
- Post-production and delivery