MIPJunior 2017 Live Animation invitation
We likes challenges! So during our MIPJunior preparation we challenged ourselves to make a whole animation video for inviting all the MIPJunior attendants to meet us there. What better way to demonstrate how effectively can Live Animation be?
The be honest, the whole process was done through a whole week, although we haven’t spent more than 24 hours in total (probably less), including character creation and voice recording. Here is how we did it.
Creating the character
Cliff is an old-style pilot that comes from the future. We used Daz3D for quickly create the character and clothes, which was done in about a couple of hours.
Daz is very useful for prototyping characters, as we can directly import most of its expressions and poses into our Live Animation environment. As this was not a commercial assignment, there was no sense (nor time) on building a new character from scratch, and we saved lot of time and could kept focused on the artistic side.
In a first concept, Cliff was surrounded by a futuristic environment, probably his own spaceship. But we love how he looks with the studio light, so we finally made a plain gray background with a classic beauty photography illumination.
Script and voice
We wrote an script for about 100 words and worked on it for a few minutes, probably not more than an hour in total, testing different formulas and trying to imagine Cliff’ voice. Then we used VoiceBunny to find someone that could fit our idea for his voice and the result was absolutely amazing and i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y fast. In just about an hour after our request we had a first recording. We expected a 24-48 hours response, so we had the voice file much earlier than expected!
Preparing the Live Animation environment
This is the most complex step, and where magic happens! We basically have to ensure the character can be rendered in real time with no performance issues, preparing and optimizing textures and materials. We also design the scene, including lights, cameras and assets, if any. As this case was for one use only, we didn’t spent too much time on this and focused all our efforts in the character.
And, finally, we brought live to Cliff. This part is a combination of AI, human-like response (like eyes movement), realtime lipsync, motion capture, and some predefined poses and animations that can be triggered during the final recording.
Action! Video capture
The process of animating the character is with no doubt the most exciting for us. No matter how much AI or latest technology you have, the most important is how we control the character’s expressivity. And for this, we have designed several devices (certainly “hardware” devices and touch screens) to interact with the character in real time, adjusting expressions and poses.
Voice is the central spine in Live Animation. Voice’s character is the story timeline, and everything else is mounted around the voice: poses, expressions, camera changes… So the first thing to do is to select the audio file where the voice is recorded and adjust its sensibility. Once this is done, the character can already talk, and his lips will correctly sync.
Two persons where required for the character recording, one controlling the face expressions and cameras, while the other controlled the body animations. Working this way, we recorded every paragraph in the script 2 or 3 times, so we had to choose when mounting the footage. The Live Animation environment provides a voice preview where user can select which part want to record and focus on the expressions during the recording. In approximately 2 hours we had all the shots we wanted and there was only a last step to do!
Every character and every project have different needs, so that’s why we carefully design the interaction interfaces exclusively for every project. In this case, we made something really simple in order make the video in time, but more powerful interfaces deliver obviously better quality animations.
Finally, we took all those video clips recorded, previewed them, and mounted in a video editor. We had to shot a couple of extra clips for the intro and added the credits.
And that’s it! Although the process was done in around 4 days, the whole time spent does not count 24 hours. Can you imagine what could we do with some preparation and some more time?
And if you are around during the MIPJunior, we’ll be happy to show you how it was done, in real time 🙂