Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"...sewing machine" Lip Sync Breakdown

Living up to the promises of my previous post (for once), here is my process for animating lip sync.

I decided to use the "Malcolm Rig" (courtesy of AnimSchool) for this piece. I mainly wanted to try out a new rig. I have been looking for a new rig that balances appeal and functionality, as Norman is beginning to feel dated, and I think that Malcolm may be a wonderful rig to play with.

I'm curious to see how well he holds up to a little customization, but that will come later on in this shot (so for now, enjoy two dead-eyed, identical Malcolms!).

On to the lip sync-- I usually will animate lip sync first, with the character in a default pose (sometimes, if I'm having trouble getting a feel for it, I will pick a single pose that conveys the primary emotion of the clip and work from there). This gives me an opportunity to get a feel for the clip from countless playblasts and timing tweaks. It's works better, for me, than to sit with headphones on doing nothing, listening to the clip on loop over and over again... feels more like progress. I also find that subtleties in the way a character forms the words, or holds his/her mouth gives me better ideas for the overall performance (more on this-- and how it relates to this particular piece-- later). For this clip, I chose to animate the lip sync in 4 separate passes (including a quick polish pass).

I also want to keep track of the number of hours I spent on this clip, as it is right at 20 seconds, so I can keep track of my potential footage output. I have a decent idea of the speed that I work, however, I have never carefully logged hours. It is also interesting to give a more exact number to friends and family who always ask. I will list the hours spent between each playblast and a running total at the bottom of the post.

Pass 1: Mouth opens and closes (3 hours)

Pass 2: Mouth narrows and widens (2 hours 30 minutes)

Pass 3: Lip curls and additional jaw movements (3 hours 30 minutes)

Edit: I ended up doing polish on this pass. I got pulled away from it right as I was about finished, so when I got back I just went ahead and trucked through some polish. Only added about an hour of work-- subtle things-- smiles, frowns, jaw nuances, asymmetry of the mouth, etc. Also, added some tongue movement on the hard "L"s. Overall not perfect, but plenty good for now.

Pass 4: QUICK polish and basic eye expressions ( hours)

Once this piece is done I may come back and elaborate on each pass in greater detail, however, I think that they pretty much speak for themselves. I will be working on staging/blocking 1, shooting reference and attempting to flush out as much performance as I can get to tomorrow. I will also briefly set the stage with my imaginings of who each character is and how I will attempt to bring that into the performance in my next post.



Total time spent- 9 hours

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