I have an idea that I haven’t been able to figure out.
I have a model that is anime in design. So, big eyes, kinda flat. Well, the model is for a game engine and I needed a fairly universal way to set it up for animation. I couldn’t find anything in how to animate textured eyes, and I wanted the engine to also be able to fluidly to track objects and such. To get around this I had no choice but to build a geometry eye with flattened characteristics, controlled via a bone. It works… but it is a PAIN to work with and has taken insane amounts of time to get to even a manageable level, and it STILL isn’t finished.
Well, I was watching Pixar’s A Bug’s Life one day, and was just amazed at their eyes. It had everything I wanted. The fluid animation of a round, bone controlled eye, yet the surfaces were no where near perfectly round. So I just pondered constantly: how is this possible!
I think I figured it out. I believe they used a bone driven texture system. Basically, the eye is UVWed and connected to a bone. Thanks to brilliant deformation controls and UVWing, the texture flows perfectly, unaltered or deformed, across the surface. The animator can control a bone to move it, so it is just as easy as a round geometrical eye in rotation and control, yet has no limitations to the shape and structure of the eyes.
Well here is the big question: how can one do this in blender? Can you attach a map to a bone like that? It is an anime model so I won’t have too much problems with deformation issues, So if I can just get the texture bound to a bone, the animator will have the freedom I want him to have and the game engine can do the full tracking I want as well.