Ann Darrow: First Animation & Lighting Tests

I’ve been given the role of lead animator for a little collaboration among members, and would appreciate feedback on this initial test run:

There are also a few stills in this post in the WIP thread.

Keep in mind the focus here is the animation & lighting. Textures and materials are a whole different subject, and are still very much WIPs.

Suggestions about and/or donations of materials and lighting methods are very welcome, as we are only three and it’s a big undertaking. I would particularly appreciate tips about materials and techniques for Ann’s gown. I like the basic design and its simplicity makes animation less problematic, but choosing & shading fabrics is not my strongest suit, so feel free to pitch in.


the animation is great. fits perfectly in the twenties. nice old school acting. if you can, change the hair. it is a little bit too tousled.

The poses are really nice, but they transition too straightforward where it’s to easy to see between which poses you are tweening. The cloth and hair physics do help, but the character herself is a bit too stiff.
Some follow through and overlapping action could vastly improve on this. These are part of the 12 priciples of animation which you might’ve already heard of. Here’s a good link that explains it in detail:

For the lighting: I’d really keep this for after the environment and materials are finished because they’ll be very important to deciding how your scene is lit.

In the matcap, the hair definitely looks too big, but it renders more compact. I based the styling on pics of Fay Wray as Ann Darrow, and for the time, she had a very “tousled” look, even when not in the jungle with Kong:

or in her publicity stills:

I tried to style the upper part of the hair system to be more controlled

but hair collision tends to puff it out, I’ll see if I can compensate. Unfortunately if I get it too close to the collision hull it implodes :frowning:

The first run-through of the matcap previz is continuous, please take a look at that. I’ll no doubt be refining the moves as the setting and storyline evolves, so thanks for the comments about overall fluidity, I’ll keep them in mind.

The lighting stills were placed in context to illustrate how the lighting changes with the progress of the action, as the camera circles the figure and Ann goes from cautious to terrified. You’re right that the lighting will need to complement the final setting, but it also has a very important psychological role to play, so these tests are explorations of that dimension as well. I’m sure I’ll be making many adjustments as the scenes play out into final form, and I also have to take into account any intercuts – even in this short sequence there will probably be at least one – and how the lighting unifies the action across such cuts.

yeah, i can see your point. but if you look at the top of her hair in fays second picture, the waves are “tighter” and i had exactly this in mind with my comment. i konw, hair is a pain in the but.

btw. how did you do the pearl neckless? i have done one by myself and getting them moving physically was hard to achieve, but i got it at least. made an invisible cloth string and paranted every single pearl on it.

Yep, that is my goal, but I’m not sure if Hair Dynamics will allow it. I have weighted the top of the hair system to 1.0 for the first three or four keys, mainly down to the side of her head, but still it puffs out when baked, I guess because of the collision settings. Trying to compensate by “tightening up” those keys is not only tricky (no way to preview the result), but as I said, it makes collision errors more likely. I may have to compromise even though I agree with your observations.

I use an Array and Curve modifier to set the basic necklace construction, and then create shape keys for the curve to animate it. The pearls are a mesh comprised of a trio of spheroids, each modeled a little out of perfect shape so they break up the repetition along the curve a little. I usually start out using a Circle mesh for the “string” element, which I then convert to a curve for use by the Modifier.

This can be used to string a number of different objects along the curve as well, including the visible “string” in the above image, which is just a thin, short cylinder arrayed along the curve like the other objects.

yeah, i have tried this but i have made a longer swinging version and the pearls moved up and down the curve.

Ann Darrow looks great, the dynamic body moves and end pose of each transition is GREAT. Only subtle shortfall is the initial moves of each sequence. This is most apparent when Ann turns her head at the start of the action sequence. Very stiff open turn and much too fast. Afterwards though, the action matches the pace of her moves up to the submissive collapse. Really, really Good Concept and work to this point. Ambitious and greatly shows expression in the body language. Hats off!!

Thanks, FXR, good points to keep in mind. The timing of the first moves is kind of hard to pin down without the sound FX and other visuals I have in mind. She is reacting to hearing the biplanes (Curtiss Hellcats, as I recall) but not seeing them in the cloud cover (but we see one in the far BG, sneaking among the clouds!). Then one suddenly erupts from just below her “horizon” and roars up to blast at Kong, causing her horrified reaction. I have the biplane & ESB tower models now and will scare up some audio FX, see if I can start knitting a real scene together.

I’ve redesigned Ann’s gown, a little more along the lines of 1933’s fashions, though I kept it short because 1) it makes animation & the cloth sim simpler and 2) pipe those gams! I also worked to tame her “tousled” hair, but now it seems a little too contrived, though the Hair Dynamics do work well with this styling. I’ll probably just adjust the Children/Kink parameters some, which does not affect the HD bake.

Wardrobe details.

I’ll not be posting again in this thread for a time, until I can get back into the animation(s). Please do hop over to our WIP thread and continue your very useful comments – I’ve already noticed much of what was said about the animation now that I have viewed it from a different set of angles. Thanks for taking the time to write me up :smiley:

Regarding the head moves. The head drives the body. It should turn slightly ahead of the shoulders, then the mid torso follows, and then the waist. Like the steering wheel of a car.

For the most part, yes, but the same is true also of the hips in many cases – ask a good tight end about head fakes :wink: At times I also use the eyes to “telegraph” motion in similar fashion. It’s all a matter of context.