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So unfortunately due to a myriad of events, no animation this week. Instead a slightly reflective post, my post before last; Talking heads, was actually submitted to the 11 second club October competition, I finished in the top 100, more specifically 56th, out of 183 entrants. Not bad?

I was most pleased with the comments and feedback received:

“Pretty good ~ These two cubes are alive.”

“Really nicely done! I really like how the cubes squash and stretch to convey that they are speaking!”

“I really like what you’ve managed to get out of these basic shapes by way of emotion and movement portraying that emotion. really well done.”

“Simple but solid!”

“Love the unique idea. ๐Ÿ™‚ Amazing the expressiveness you got out of two cubes without even any mouths. This gets my vote as a Top 20 entry.”

“Nice and simple but it would be better if there was a clear setup”

“Simple but actually quite nice.”

“Nice way to make such minimalistic characters so expressive!”

My original goal was to make Johnny express his words as effectively as possible given the limitations, so it was lovely to get some acknowledgement of that from the 11 second club animation community, the comments alone really made it for me.

The winner of October was by an Animator called Jed.B, check it out – certainly got my highest vote. Definitely entering the competition again at some point, my aim being to gain a top 50 spot.

So this ‘anthro tiger’ย rig caught my eye, originally I had intended to move onto another simple rig, but my curiosity got the better of me. Here’s my test anim with him:

So apparently his name is Lu, going off the original concept art of him. My idea behind this anim was for Lu to be a combat trainer of sorts, tightening his forearm wrap(s) then getting into position, to test out his opponents combat capabilities for the first time.ย  I’ve no doubt he would have knocked the living daylights out of his opponent.

It was a massive jump going from JohnnyTheBox to Lu, so many more moving parts to oversee in comparison, but by breaking everything down into manageable chunks and approaching them in a logical manner, animating Lu was in essence, the same as animating JohnnyTheBox, that was my take away from it – but I’m no expert at animation, far from it!

If not already apparent, I should point out that Lu has a tail, I made the choice to wrap his tail around his waist, as it seemed more appropriate since he would be fighting, rather than be at a potential disadvantage with a tail that could be grabbed at. Or perhaps it was my laziness to animate the tail..? You decide.

Amazingly fun rig created by Tre Vital, although I have to be honest and say there is another version of Lu out there, that offers much more in depth control over your animation, on this comment thread created by polycount forum member called ‘sand’. Unfortunately it suffers from some slight skinning issues (with the right hand if memory serves correct), my skinning knowledge is next to nothing so ultimately it led me back to Tre Vital’s version. Don’t get me wrong though – I’m not knocking Tre Vital’s version, it is more than adequate in my humble opinion! I’m looking forward to trying out some of his other rigs in future posts.

Original model that Tre rigged with created by Giles Ruscoe.

Rig created by the awesome Tre Vital.

So I quite enjoyed the exercise in my previous post, although a simple cube rig with no mouth, animating to a song was both challenging and fun, if anything it made me realise that I really should fit that bouncing ball exercise in somewhere, there’s a lot to be learnt from simple rigs.

With the next exercise, I wanted to continue with animating to audio, I was curious as to what Johnny would be like animating to talking rather than singing, here he is with his acquaintance Ronnie:

The sound clip you hear is currently being used in this months 11 second club competition, taken from the TV mini series ‘Good Omens’. The sound clip was perfect for what I needed, something short and manageable to practise with.

I think the biggest difference in doing this exercise compared to the previous was the speed of speech, I had to move the jaw at a faster rate, this in turn reflected on the main character motion too, so the characters generally feel more snappier.

Again another fun exercise to do, I’m looking forward to creating a lip synced animation with a more complex facial rig in a future post.

Rig created by Raveen Rajadorai.

So with this next animation, rather than have Johnny constrained to the laws of gravity, I decided to have him float, sing too, even though he has no mouth, so yeah you’ll need to turn your sound on for this one.

The purpose of this exercise was to see if I could convey a mouthless cube character sing with some emotion. Whilst limiting, the fact that Johnny was floating now, freed up his lower half, meaning I could use his lower half to act like a jaw, to give the impression he is singing.

When listening to the lines, the vibrato comes through with the sustained notes on the words ‘way’, ‘day’, ‘strong’, ‘mile’, ‘while’, ‘anywhere’ and ‘I’. I decided to mimic the vibrato with the jaw, if you think Whitney Houston and what she does with her jaw in her sustained notes: ‘I Will Always Love You’. By doing this, I felt it bolstered the idea that Johnny is singing.

The song used is ‘Go the Distance’, written by Alan Menken and David Zippel, sung by Roger Bart, from the album Hercules: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack.

Rig created by Raveen Rajadorai.

The ‘Bouncing Ball’ is perhaps THE exercise to start with if you are serious about learning 3d animation, this article certainly thinks so. For now, I’ll take cues from the exercise; I decided to make JohnnyTheBox jump on the spot, to convey some of those animation principles; weight, timing, squash and stretch:

Rig credits go to Raveen Rajadorai.

I had been searching for a simple animation rig to begin practising with, a simple ball like this one appear to be the go to rig for 3d animators to start out with. Of course I was after something different, so after some rummaging around I stumbled across JohnnyTheBox! It’s a cube, with eyes, here’s my quick animation test with him:

I had no plan, just simply made it up as I went a long, there was only a rough premise in my head; Johnny’s looking around and then he notices the viewer, that’s it! The purpose of this exercise was to see if I could inject a little life into this cube character, I believe I’ve achieved it to a certain degree, but you can be the judge of that ๐Ÿ™‚

Using this rig, I found that the eyes could have done with more manipulation options, like widening them and curving them to create more cartoony shapes, but having said that, I believe it beneficial to be a little constrained, to animate only with what you have been provided, as it can sometimes bring about creative solutions to issues/niggles you may have.

JohnnyTheBox is still an amazingly cube character to practise with, rigged by Raveen Rajadora, check out his demo of JohnnyTheBox, on his vimeo channel.