Friday, December 02, 2005

Animation, Anyone?

One of my minor obsessions is motion. I love things that move, and how they affect the brain.

Therefore, I keep my eye out for exceedingly good examples of animation or motion modeling. It probably weighs my opinion that The Incredibles is the best movie ever more than it should, although since I can find no weakness in any other arena, I don't feel too bad.

It's also a large part of the reason I like No One Lives Forever 2.

The thing is, when you've watched enough movement, it becomes easy to see good and bad animation. This extends in large part to filmography as a whole: awkward cuts and angles, for example. But the actual animation is what I love.

Remember that banner ad for Puzzle Pirates? You probably don't. It had a sword-swinging pirate and two pirates with beer mugs, and the animation was superb. Every time I saw it, I thought, "Damn, they must have spent a fortune!"

That's what I always think when I see stellar animation.

Now, to go across and circle back...

One of the comics I occasionally read is Ctrl+Alt+Del. It's not a spectacular comic, by my book. Some of the comics are hilarious, some are dull, very few have that whip-crack snap you get from exquisite timing.

And the graphics are painfully unpolished, to my eye. That counts a lot for me: graphics don't have to be good, but they have to be polished.

So, back to the point at hand:

I was surprised to run across this.

The animation is... really good!

To say the least, I was a bit floored. How the hell can he be so good at animation but so mediocre at stills? This is one guy, right?

it turns out, no, it's not. The comics are done by him, but the animations are done by a pro studio and have professional voice actors. Apparently, his comics are a hell of a lot more popular than I thought.

I don't think his business model will work out, but I wish him nothing but luck. These episodes look top-notch, from the preview.

The bad news is that I was right: it looked expensive, and it is expensive. I want the ability to produce top-notch animations cheaply. :P


Patrick Dugan said...

That memetic approach I told you about might be a hot ticket for good animation on the cheap, the only real content you'd need to generate new animations would be hueristics appropriate to the action and character involved. Of course, implementing and testing that idea would be expensive in itself, but there is always a way.

Craig Perko said...

I did some face-stuff a while back that used memetically-driven animatics, so I know it's possible. It just takes some really killer middleware.

Patrick Dugan said...

Yeah, but just think of the market for said middleware. Damn, I wish I could get some VC money without too many IP related strings.

Patrick Dugan said...

BTW, I'd really like to see a build of that, if it wouldn't be too much trouble. How does it stack up to FaceFx and FaceGen?

Craig Perko said...

These days, I'm a better programmer. I have plans to re-build it and put it into Machine City, since I should be able to work full time soon.

It's 2D, so it doesn't stack up against any of the 3D stuff out there. It's a cartoon.

However, in its favor, it supports a wider variety of faces without expensive modeling, better body/face language, and is cheap to run. I could run at least five of my faces in the same amount of "computation" as one animated 3D model.

Of course, computation is close to free these days...

I'm still having some trouble with the mouth, which is the most expressive part of the face. Of course, they are also having trouble with the mouth, so, hey.