Monday, November 29, 2010

Animation. Or thinking about aniamating, at least!

Animation is on my mind right now. Renderosity was having a sale (seems like everyone is having them) and I took a whole bunch of things out of the wishlist and dumped them in the cart ... not quite on a whim. The models were carefully chosen to either add to the NARC video I'm almost ready to work on, or the graphic novel which I'm working on daily --

Speaking of which, Abraxas is updated -- actually it was updated this morning. Here's the link to the beginning of the installment. Four pages today. Enjoy!

But as I began, animation is really on my mind, and I spent a little while at YouTube, looking for two things. One is the theatrical trailer for the movie which was done about 12 years ago now, Final Fantasy II - The Spirits Within. The state of the art in 1998 was already amazing. Check this out:

You notice what's kept to an absolute minimum? Human faces. The digitals were already perfect for machines, skies, landscapes, flame and explosion effects, But you might notice in the few shots of human faces, those faces are, with the exception of the girl at the heary of the story, not as expressive as real human faces.

I read somewhere, a loooong time ago, that a vast amount of the budget of the movie was spent on her hair! They also spent huge amounts of time, budget and processor power on the one character -- so much, in fact, that if they'd tried to give all the characters the same justice, the movie would probably have been in production till 2003!

So, wisely, they put their efforts into doing one character superbly and the lashing up the SPFX around her. Now, fast-forward ten years, and watch this:

...this is not the same as the Final Fantasy video I embedded a few weeks ago. This is a very different mix, with a different music track. The the whole thing pivots on the expressiveness of of the characters -- of whom the boy (is the name Tidus? I don't actually know the game) is by far the more expressive. Allow for the video compression, of course -- and then remind yourself ... this wasn't done for any major motion picture. These were the video clips done to accompany a game.

Phew. CG animation has come a long, long way in the last decade, and you have to wonder where it can, and will, go in the next decade. My personal hope is that there is a continual trickle-down of technology. Right now, the animation I hope to do is a mix of the "cunningly devious," the simple and the damn' hard work. It's all going to have to be keyframed, because that's what I have to work with. It'll also have to be within the rendering capacity of the two machines we have on the desktop. Ten years from now, what will we be able to do on the desktop? One lives in hopes...

And -- with somewhat baited breath! -- I'm just about to give it a shot and see what's doable.

Jade, 30 November
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