The Matrix, Neo, is... (short character animation exercise)

This is my first serious attempt at a character with eyes, fingers, and lipsyncing. A guy tries to explain the Matrix in a few simple sentences. I would like some serious critique on how to improve any part of the animation.

http://www.maj.com/gallery/LGM/threedimensions/matrixchar.jpg
Character Study #3
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.94 megs
Encoder:X-vid

Thanks,

LGM

EDIT1:
Character Study #3 (first update)
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.81 megs
Encoder:X-vid

EDIT2:
Character Study #3 (second update)
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.89 megs
Encoder:X-vid

EDIT3:
Character Study #3 (third update)
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.92 megs
Encoder:X-vid

EDIT4:
http://www.maj.com/gallery/LGM/threedimensions/matrixdude.jpg
Character Study #3 (fourth update)
Time: 15 seconds
Size: 2.36 (I finally realized I need to compress the audio too!)
Encoder: X-vid

EDIT5:
Character Study #3 (fifth update)
Time: 15 seconds
Size: 2.31
Encoder: X-vid

Okay, it should work now. I resized it a tiny bit. I don’t know why it didn’t work before. Did Garth just put a file-size limit up, or something?

LGM

Hmm, thereis a problem with your animation IMHO, they seem a little bit obnoxious. Try making it more kinda like what you see people do in real life, you people make mistakes with there hands, like for instance, somone put one hand on there hip and moves and move ther hip to ther right and flings the other hand all ove rthe place while talking.

Other than that you have gotten pretty good at fluid aniamtions, NJ so far.

Although, the lips are kinda sharp, it needs to be smoother, and the cheeks need to be less square and depended on. You need to put other muscles to use in the head, maybe add some eyebrows to emphasize it.

Well, Haker, I did film myself acting out the piece several times so I’m not animating from nothing. I’m trying to make it look like real movements, but I think I’m pretty set on what his motions are, and I would like critique on if those motions look good. If that makes sense.

As for the eyebrows and simple face, I have an excuse. I wanted to keep it all as simple as possible for my first time. Just lips, just eyes. Next time I’ll try to work in more facial muscles. Thanks for watching it!

After I had posted the first movie, I let the file sit for a bit. Almost immediately I started thinking of ways to improve the hands and fingers and eyes. So hopefully I will have improved the animation in this new installment.

Character Study #3 (first update)
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.81 megs
Encoder:X-vid

Thanks for watching, and please keep reviewing,

LGM

This is pretty good, AFAICT. There are a few abrupt movements that might need some smoothing over (the way the hand stops after “all around you”, to name one), but overall the movements look nice and natural.

Overdoing the gesticulation is pretty normal in cartoony settings, so I don’t see big movements as a problem here. Au contraire, I love the way he hops left and right. :slight_smile: (In a more realistic setting you might want to tone the arm movements down a bit, and keep the hand movements focused to an area just in front of the character’s abdomen or so.)

Good work!

AFAICT? WDTM? (What does that mean?) :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for your review. I had not noticed the abrupt movement at “around you” before, I have fixed that now. I’ve also tweaked his hands and fingers more and re-aligned the audio very slightly. (I moved the entire action up 3 frames.) So here it is again:

Character Study #3 (second update)
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.89 megs
Encoder:X-vid

I did notice someone’s “unconstructive” post before it was deleted and I will answer him. This isn’t really Morpheus. It’s just some dude trying to explain the Matrix (e.g. I can’t imitate Morpheus’ voice, so I’m going in a completely different direction). :wink:

Thanks for watching!

LGM

Hehe, oops, sorry. “As far as I can tell”. :slight_smile:

Thanks for your review. I had not noticed the abrupt movement at “around you” before, I have fixed that now. I’ve also tweaked his hands and fingers more and re-aligned the audio very slightly. (I moved the entire action up 3 frames.)

And a nice improvement it was. No more crit from me. Good work. :slight_smile:

Thanks for helping, viderino. I’m glad you like it now, and I appreciate your time. On the suggestions of a friend, I’ve tweaked it a little more (adding foot movement when he waves behind himself and generally smoothing some poses). So here is a new update.

Character Study #3 (third update)
Time:15 seconds
Size: 2.92 megs
Encoder:X-vid

Is there anything that needs work?

Thanks,

LGM

And again I bring you a new update. But this time a nice render with “cloths.” So unless someone finds fault with this version (I’m posting over at CGtalk too) it will be the final version.

http://www.maj.com/gallery/LGM/threedimensions/matrixdude.jpg

Character Study #3 (fourth update)
Time: 15 seconds
Size: 2.36 (I finally realized I need to compress the audio too!)
Encoder: X-vid

Enjoy and thanks for watching,

LGM

I see the lip-sync as slightly out.
[Edit: it’s a tiny fraction of a second is is really only noticable on a couple of sounds.]

His shadow is a bit strange because it gets lighter as it gets closer to his feet and it makes him look like he’s floating. That’s not really an animation crit as such but I noticed it straight away an dit took my eye off the anim for a short while. If this is a bufShadow then perhaps the ClipSta needs adjusting closer. If it’s not, then I’m not sure why is does this.

[Edit: Looked a couple of more times and I notice there are multiple shadows - possibly a lighting matrix? - this gives two quite strong and distracting shadows reflecting the hand movement. If they’re all spots then this would explain the lightness at the contact point. Maybe turn off shadow for one or two of them]

Interesting dude though. Very nice.

Thanks, Andy. Where exactly are those places where you see the lipsync out? Is it when he says “Neo” and “Wine?” It’s hard for me to see it, but I think those are the places.

Ahh, clipstart. I’ve never changed clipstart on a spotlight before. I didn’t know that a bigger value makes the shadow closer to his feet. Huh. The other shadow was a (sad) attempt at that effect you can get with ambient occlusion. That little shadow that’s around the edges of objects that meet. But now that I enlarged the clipstart value, I’ve taken out the other spotlight. And he no longer looks like he’s floating. (Thank goodness! That was one problem that I had with it in the beginning, but had forgotten about.)

Thanks a lot.

LGM

You inspire me to learn more about animation…

Nice work man

The very first words “The matrix neo…” are out of sync… slightly. That is the most noticable because he’s face-on and it’s his first words. But it really is slight and might only be noticable if you play it multiple times (especially in slow motion).

The shadows bothered me more than the lip-sync :slight_smile:

Thanks! I’m very flattered.

AndyD, you played it back multiple times in slow motion? Even I can’t play it back in slow motion. I’ll see what I can do to fix it.

Well, the shadows are fixed, as you can see by this picture.

http://www.maj.com/gallery/LGM/threedimensions/matrixdude2.jpg

I’m so glad that you caught that and could tell me how to fix it. I’ll tweak the animation and render out a new (hopefully final!) version tonight or tomorrow.

Thanks so much,

LGM

The new Quicktime Player has a half-speed setting (I’m on Mac, not sure if other OS’s are the same), it’s tucked away in a menu under Video Controls or something. I also use Mplayer to view a lot of stuff and this will reduce to a few frames per second (if it doesn’t crash).

That shadow looks great. I usually fake AO with hemis, suns and/or lamps set to varying colours and energy levels. Since these don’t cast shadows, that solves the multiple shadow problem and I turn off specular for them to avoid “studio-light” reflections.

I like to have a warm yellowish sun with a matching shadow-only spot for my main light and a nice warmish (ochre-sienna if that means anything) low-energy lamp under the ground facing upward giving warm, glowing under-shadows (like under a chin) and a purply-blue hemi overhead but opposite angle to the sun (main spotlight) with energy around 0.7 gives wonderfully cool shadows (I light secnes as if I’d painted them :slight_smile: )

Ooh, thanks for the lighting info, Andy. I learned about the yellow sun with the blue hemi opposite from The Crosswalk, but didn’t know about the ochre sienna. (Hmm, so is that a sort of cross between yellow and light red?) Also, I never paid attention to the specular button. That is really helpful to know since there’s many the time I’ve wanted to turn that off with lamps, but just let it ride. Right now I’ve got four, very low powered hemis in a square around this guy at about waist level. I think for this I’ll leave the lights the way they are, but in the futre I’ll certainly start out with your set up.

Ah, I’m on a PC and my quicktime player leaves something to be desired. I can’t even play back these AVIs on it. I know I should get the newer version, but I’m always very slow with downloading “newer versions.”

Anyway, here’s the newest (and hopefully final) version. I didn’t really change much in the lipsyncing except I moved his tongue on the “d” in “good.” You said it wasn’t that noticable, and since I can’t see it, I just left it as it was.

Character Study #3 (fifth update)
Time: 15 seconds
Size: 2.31
Encoder: X-vid

Thanks again,

LGM