Experimental Animation - Interview with a Parking Warden

Hi guys, a small team of us made this experimental animation using our animation system, most of the 3D models are made with Blender and imported into our tool. In true spirits of machinima making, our tool will allow users of non-animation backgrounds to design sets, and direct realtime-rendered movies/animations.

Here are some screenshots of our video, rendered in realtime.

The low res video can be seen on youtube

or download hi res in full


Hey, very cute production. I was actually surprised at how good it was compared to my initial impressions at the pictures (no offense, but the models aren’t too great :P)

But the novelized story on such a seemingly boring job was quite genuinely clever and brilliant. The facial animation brought more life to the character than I expected (despite looking like a Lego man sticker).

In fact, I’m rather curious … how do you combine 2D animation with the 3D character (is it just an animated texture?), and if so, how do you time the voice with the animation? Do you synch the voice and animation first, and then paste it onto the 3D in Blender?

Great job, actually!

My initial impression was that this was going to be a sophomoric attempt at animation with a sub-par storyline. In reality, I thought both to be very cleverly done. I especially liked the 2-D dodging video game sequence. In terms of the modelling, it could have been better, but the cartoony quality of the characters really sold it, I think. Actually, this may be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen done in Blender, especially the Hadouken from the rickshaw driver. Brilliant.

Hi thanks for the comments. And don’t worry, feel free to critique away. :wink:

I would like to clarify a few things as I probably didn’t explain them quite clear enough in the first post. Although all the 3D contents and the post-production are done in Blender, we made this animation with a software we wrote. You might think of it as a real-time game engine but instead of for playing games, we’re targeting it for making short animations such as this one. Making this interview was a way for us to identify in our own pipeline and system what features might be important or need optimizing and what’s not. We’ll be making more experimental pieces like this as we keep developing our software, so please watch this space. :slight_smile:

As you guys probably have picked up, right now our characters have this rather distinctive look. It’s a style that we’ve settled on for now, although since this animation was done we’ve made some changes to the generic mesh already to make it look better. New characters can be built in blender and imported into our engine.

The face was indeed a 2D texture, but not exactly an animated texture, but a dynamic texture which can be changed in real-time. That means as the animation is going in our engine I can change anything on the face, make the eyes blink or what not. During the making of this animation the lip-syncing was done by hand, but we’ve since built a semi-automatic lip-syncing module which shorten the production time significantly.

The current work-flow is: “make 3D-content in blender” & “make 2D content in Inkscape & Gimp” -> “import various assets in our engine” -> “animate in our engine” -> “render from our engine” -> “post-process done in blender”.

Right now our engine is still pre-alpha, but ultimately we would like to release our software to the public so even people that don’t have 3D or animation skills can make their own low-budget animations.

It was very funny. I subscribed to your channel and hope to see more animations like that one.

I am so freaking interested in your software project… You actually do the animation in your software tho? Hmm… i have about a billion questions I’d like to ask you. I think some of the machinema crowd would also interested. Is there some IRC room you hang out in that i can come pester you with questions and stuff? To do it here i would need about a page and a half worth of space :stuck_out_tongue:

I was going to ask you how you got your shadows to calculate on your low-poly models, and then read that you used the other engine, so that explained it :stuck_out_tongue: I imagine this project of yours started due to the same problem that i am facing now dealing with lighting of low-poly models, or was it for some other reason? I’m currently sort of building / working on various assets and doing some tests for a series of shorts with a similar approach in the models and stuff.

Also, nice animation :smiley: The idea is good, sort of reminds me of something Aardman did with interviews of people. Is this really a real audio clip from an interview or what? Keep making them, regardless, it’s an awesome idea.

That was actually pretty funny. The facial animation was great and the style of environements and characters were very consistant to the end. I don’t have anything to crit here, even the editing and pacing were well done.

slap ahkun’s hand and take over, :ba: tag team style

Hi guys, I’m part of the ThinkingCactus team that made this animation as well, figured since there’s been some good feedback I might come in and say a few words too.

Thanks for the overwhelmingly positive response, you guys are way too kind. Perhaps to start you off, I would say that some of our sound stuff wasn’t as good as we wanted, but in our defence sound processing is something that we just starting picking up for making these animations, and hopefully we’ll soon get better.

@Postmodern_Boy: thanks alot, we’ll do our best.

@Squiggly_P: We’re happy to answer your billion and one questions, unfortunately we’re trying to stay away from irc a bit right now(since we want to spend as much time as poss on this project if you know what i mean :p), though if you drop us a line at ‘[email protected]’ we’ll definitely arrange something. Indeed the machinema crowd is our primary target audience right now, so would be great to get more interaction with the guys, what they say will probably become gospel to us.

To answer some of your questions so far:

  • no, the animations are done in blender as small singular segments (such as wave, or 1 cycle of walk, etc) and then controlled in our software, so characters can walk while waving and what not
  • we started this project since we wanted to make games, for a living if possible of course, but the game market is waaaay too saturated, new comers gets beaten to a pulp if don’t have big financial backing to start with, so as an alternative we’re doing the other thing we love, animations, and we don’t want to limit this art of story telling to only the people who can model and animate
  • yeah, my friend told me it reminded him of Aardman’s Creature Comfort…
  • we recorded the interview ourselves, and changed the pitching and speed around so that it doesn’t sound like the person that voiced it (um… that person being… me.:p.)

@Hippie: thanks for your kind words. To us the most important thing in a good animation isn’t high-poly count or crazy displacement maps(although those might come), but the consistency of style throughout and its story telling execution. Glad you like it.

Fpois, I was wondering how characters are controlled in your software? Does it use a script-based interface or are they controlled in real-time (live puppeteered)?

That was great!!! The only thing that bugged me was the ninja looked like he was wearing two sets of clothes. Other than that it was amazing, well done!!!

Great animation, love the style! :slight_smile:

ok, wheres Wu? <<’’ >>’’

Nice animation, well… some of the animation like the monkey falling when the building collapsed looked a bit, well, slow…
but generally i liked it a lot! :smiley:

Haha, that was really awesome! Great stuff, I really enjoyed watching it. Look forward to seeing more from you!

I look forward to seeing this software you come up with when it’s finished! Make sure you post it on BA somewhere :slight_smile:

Keep it up man!

I really enjoyed it. The style was simple but very effective. I found the shadows distracting. Too dark for midday

The part with the falling objects and the mini game is my favorite!
Very funny and believable story :wink:

My question is: What method did you use for face animation? Is it time consumming?