Pixar Eyes

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.

maybe i’m misunderstanding you here, but you might try using a lattice modifier (after you’ve set up a round sphere) to change the shape. the sphere will still rotate the way it should, and you can give it the cartoony egg-shape or whatever you want.

Well, not exactly what I am thinking off. Lattices wouldn’t work that well with a game engine and I think they would cause some pretty funky distortions to textures in the kind of conditions I’m thinking of.

I’m just trying to find a way to figure out how to control the animation of a textured eye (not round) via a bone. So I am assuming the UWV or something would have to be attached to the bone in some way…

well you can have a texture follow an object (in the “map input” area of the material buttons), doesn’t look like an individual bone. you could put in an empty, parent it to the bone, and have the texture follow the empty.

Hmm. That might work. But how on earth could that work in a game engine? I have a coder but he isn’t that familiar with blender’s python. He is more of a C++ type guy.

i couldn’t say; i haven’t gotten into the GE much at all. but as far as i know, it’s a normal blender feature, i don’t think you’d need any extra python scripting, but as always, i could be wrong :stuck_out_tongue:

Hmm. That doesn’t seem to work with UVWs.

And we have our own game engine. Just I would rather have it working in blender for him to export then to try to work with him to build it from stratch.