*** Update: Audio work on episode 7 is complete! (and animation has begun) ***
So, now that I’ve got the audio track for each character, in each scene… What happens to turn it into animation?
Well, the software I’m using is called Muvizu. It takes a different approach to animating.
Rather than controlling each motion of a character, it’s more like directing them.
But let’s start at the beginning of the process and work our way through:
Just like a movie, we start with locations and sets. The surroundings, walls, ceilings, flooring, furniture and props are all selected and placed for each scene. Backdrops may also be placed to simulate the sky or things outside windows and doors.
With the set in place, we now add lighting. This includes ambient lighting, spotlights, area lights and any special lighting depending on the desired effect.
One or more cameras are placed at locations on the set. During the animation rendering, the animator may choose to switch between cameras based on the action in the scene.
Now we add in our actors. Each character is based one of several base prototypes. They are then dressed, sized and other options such as coloring are selected.
Muvizu (the animation software) has a unique take on crafting the final animation. Instead of moving individual bits and pieces, it’s more like directing a play or movie. You play the scene from beginning to end, recording one thing at a time for each character. For example, if I’m animating Virgil Villain walking in a scene, I’d go to the start of the scene, press record, then move him around as the scene dialog plays. The process is repeated for each character and for a variety of actions. Once the direction is recorded, it’s placed on a master timeline where it can be moved or edited manually. Below are some of the things that are directed…
Movement dictates where a character walks or runs during the course of a scene.
Actions determine how the character reacts during the scene. It includes things like mood (happy, sad, angry, etc.), position (sitting, standing), and action (jumping, conversation, pointing, etc.).
Character: Head and Eyes
Head and Eye movement allows for the directing of… uh, Head and Eye movement! You can control where a character is looking, and also the eye size.
Many other things can be directed in a scene. These include if an object is visible, the color, lighting, camera position, special effects and more.
Rendering the Animation
The final step for the animation is to render it. This outputs the individual scene animation so that it can be imported into a video editor. I choose to use Targa files, a sequence of still images with an accompanying soundtrack.
Come back next time and we’ll get into the final phase of the project: Video Editing!