During this stage of the planning process I found that I had a number of ideas that I wanted to use for a villain character. Having conducted and extract relevant research on villain characters I then became very fond of creating a character with a medieval appearance. This is mainly due to the fact that during my childhood many of my animated heroes where based in a medieval period, such as the Smurfs, Pinocchio and the movie – sword in the stone. Gathering the research based on current villain characters, assisted in the development of my character building greatly. It gave me ideas based on small details such as sword style, clothing styles, footwear etc. It was also important to document in this stage how these characters behaved in terms of body language that they used to express themselves and their use of facial expressions. Each of the characters had facial expressions that suited their personalities. This is important as it brings out the characters characteristics for the viewer much more strongly. Building the character Balthier and then planning his personality was difficult, it required much more research into the use of facial expressions and what facial expressions were commonly used to express different expressions such as happy, sad, anger and grumpy etc. Developing a moodboard and using brainstorming techniques assisted greatly in the planning stages of my character providing me with a vast library of ideas that I could use.
Once I had an idea and had gathered enough research into the construction of my character, I could now move onto the storyboard development stage. In this stage of the planning I could now begin to build my character using my chosen storyline and developing my character with the use of facial expressions and body language in each of the scenes. I designed a number of storyboards within this stage. The first storyboard that was created was totally different from the storyline now. During this stage I had to resort back to the planning stage several times to start from scratch. This assisted with the learning skills of how to plan, design and build a character better as it provided me with better knowledge each time that I had to resort back step one.
This was the longest stage of developing my character. I used my research on villains and their environments to build a basic stage for my character. I chose to use a plain white background and a single tree as this way it would keep the viewer focused on the character and his actions. I encountered a few problems during the modelling stage, one of them being problems with the ‘link’ tool and getting the hand to attach to the sword during stationary movements. After some detailed research on links and constraints within 3DS Max I decided to use modelling techniques to make the hand appear attached to the sword as problems such as these could not be resolved.
Building the character was a challenged but it was an excellent learning process for the modelling development stage. During this stage I used many of the techniques that I had learnt in previous 3D modules to assist in the construction of Balthier. Using templates on planes enabled me to create better, more accurate models of the clothing such as jumpers, footwear and trousers etc. Once all of the body parts had been constructed I then applied the skills I had learnt during the lectures and tutorial to apply the biped and skin on to the character.
Each of the scenes was created individually, this assisted greatly in preparing each of the scenes and attempting to stick to the storyboard as close as possible. It also assisted in the rendering process and piecing all of the clips together when placed within Premiere Pro. Many techniques were used within this stage of animating such as the use of Morpher modifiers etc. Using the Morpher modifier was a unique and extremely beneficial tool when it came to animating facial expressions as these could not be produced via key frames and just basic hand tools or via the biped.
I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of the modelling process and I feel that my character represents very accurate characteristics of Balthier from the planning and storyboard stages. Much of the research gathered during the planning stage has been applied during the modelling stage and has proved extremely beneficial in creating accurate characteristics for Balthier in Facial expressions and developing body language.
Balthier’s characteristics that are displayed throughout the animation show his emotions clearly and are represented clearly through his facial expressions and use of clear body language. Throughout this modelling process I feel that there are more techniques that could have been applied to the animation that may have enhanced the characteristics of Balthier’s actions. Balthier’s facial features should have been designed with more detail; this may have benefited his expressions and use of emotions to express his thoughts when attempting to remove the sword from the stone.
Rendering and Finalising
During the final stages of production of the animation I used Adobe Premiere Pro to piece together the final animation. I used premiere pro as this software is what I’m most familiar with and accepts the uncompressed rendered formats from 3DS Max. I used 3DS Uncompressed rendering format to maintain maximum quality. During this stage I used video research such as Youtube to assist in the cutting and editing of the animated video clips and making the best from the video content that I had.
I rendered the final animated video in FLV and MOV formats. I used these particular formats because they maintain the highest levels of quality and are most compatible across both Windows and MAC’s.