2D Games That Are Not Based On Skeletal Animations 3D Character Animation – Introduction to Motion Capture and Free-form Animation in 3D Max & Maya

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3D Character Animation – Introduction to Motion Capture and Free-form Animation in 3D Max & Maya

A popular (yet often expensive) way to animate 3D characters is by using motion-enhanced software. Motion capture dates back as early as 1915 when Max Fleischer invented it, using only cameras and stills. In its early stages it was the study and capture of human and animal environments, known as rotoscoping. This information is used to help the actors in funny plays, such as “Koko the Clown” and “Snow White”. The pioneer of turning this work into animation is Walt Disney, which is without a doubt the most successful and well-known 2D animation.

It is now used to digitize human movements using specialized equipment, often in the form of a motion-sensing suit worn by the individual. These stages vary in complexity and cost, the more advanced stages often require post-processing such as cleaning the data. There are four types of motion capture systems. It’s time inertial motion capture systems, which use a number of small sensors to track the movement of joints and limbs. This data is then sent wirelessly to the host computer, which does not require external tracking equipment such as cameras etc. These units cost around £25,000 (Wiki 2008).

Device motion capture systems are in the form of a set of semi-rigid plastic rods, containing a number of potentiometers that measure the movement and angle of the joints. The suit is worn as an exoskeleton, with a control box located on the user’s waist or back. The advantages of this system are that it is occlusion free and the price is low from £12,500 (Wiki 2008), making it a popular choice for small studios and educational institutions.

Magnet systems use a series of coils through the fabric that measure changes in voltage and current, to determine the position and orientation of parts of the fabric. The advantages of this are similar to mechanical systems, in that they are not subject to occlusion or interference from reflective surfaces. However, they are vulnerable to EM and electrical interference.

The most modern and by far advanced motion tracking system Organic Movable Mobility System (MMC), which was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show 2008. Subjects do not need to wear clothes or any kind of sign system. Instead, the system uses complex algorithms to identify and make sense of human movement, finding what part of the body is what. However, it has difficulty detecting subtle movements of certain areas, such as fingers and eyes as reported by Wiki (2008) “These systems work well with large movements, but tend to have problems with fingers, eyes, hand movements and small movements. “. As the external tracking system technology improves, without a doubt it will be able to capture every movement and expression well.

Similar to traditional 2D animation, 3D animation can be created by hand. This is the cheapest and slowest way to play a character in 3D. Similarly, in order to create realistic animation, the artist must have a good understanding of human/animal movement. It includes incorporating physics and emotion into these movements, such as the density of characters and human behavior. Both of which will affect how the character moves, especially in basic travel. An important part of making this happen, is to create good connections.

This is done by making sure that the weight distribution between the bones is smooth, for example a bias of 33% / 50% / 66% to bone A. This is contrary to a direct bias like 25% / 50% / 75% which creates a hard deformation, while a curved surface results in a very smooth deformation. The most important is to add a ring of verticals affected by both bones. Allowing these bones to deform the distant parts of the compound, your creature or person will be much better. This method should be applied to any joint. The crimping that occurs due to the nature of the 3D joint can be corrected using the Skin Morph modifier (in 3D Max). Most tight bends can be made using 12.375% / 33% / 50% / 66% / 87.6% gradient to a bone. As we add more gradient values, it takes longer to set the deformation with Skin Morph. This method of gradient falloff can be applied to any character rigging application among the thousands of 3D applications available.

In my next article I will guide you through the process of creating a very simple composite in 3D Max.

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