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[Question] Info on Animated Actors Software

 
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QtheC
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:51 pm    Post subject: [Question] Info on Animated Actors Software Reply with quote

I am just thinking about the possibility of creating videos using animated actors (talking heads or full bodies), that can be posed, talk, move, make facial expressions, etc.

I am wondering if anyone here has any knowledge or experience with software or methods for creating something like this, that are cheap and could be done on an average PC by one person in a reasonable amount of time - say a few hours or maybe a couple of days per video... (i.e. not a team doing wireframe models from scratch and texturing them for 1000's of hours).

Comments on cost, quality, options, ease of use, etc. would be appreciated... or just post a link if you find something relevant.

Thanks!


EDIT: I would be intersted in either 3D or 2D animated solutions.


Last edited by QtheC on Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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modelmotion
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:10 pm    Post subject: mac or pc? Reply with quote

u on mac or pc?
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QtheC
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a PC.

Maybe others would be interested in Mac recommendations.
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janesalteredstates
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I had an answer. I'm curious myself.
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QtheC
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

janesalteredstates wrote:
I wish I had an answer. I'm curious myself.
Which one of your states does the posting? Wink


This site has a good list of free software:
http://www.freebyte.com/graphicprograms/

Of the items there, I have used terragen (but it's been awhile) to generate some 3D landscapes - it was pretty cool, I might try that again.


DAZ

From what I can tell, you start by downloading a free program called DAZ/Studio, and then once you are hooked on that, you start buying a never ending list of "add-ons" (or possibly create your own).

Here's the free download part: http://www.daz3d.com/i.x/software/studio/b5271295f493d1f3a087e4475e83d199/?

Just looking at some of the items on, the list, this page on the "DAZ" software site has some motions and poses listings (sold in small sets to supplement the software):
http://www.daz3d.com/i.x/shop/catmain/aed65062b65be4f9858ae33f853d801c/?cat=39

Ooooh, look at these "Real emotions for Victoria 3" ... kind of freaky:
http://www.daz3d.com/i.x/shop/itemdetails/bd000465d6036b5eb9f24f575cd00367/?item=1523&cat=40

Quote:
With 50 Realistic Emotions & Expressions for Victoria 3, plus 18 Phonemes, and 26 Eye Poses.




... but then there's a complete "Victoria 4" for $50 ... I see where this is headed ... Rolling Eyes Laughing

(I haven't figured out exactly how many things you have to pay for to get something like this working, so cannot make any recommendation about it.)


Last edited by QtheC on Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:38 am; edited 3 times in total
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McPackage
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may be a little out there and I'm not sure if this does what you're looking for, but...

There's a mod for Half Life 2 called Garry's Mod. It's a tool that allows you to have fun with the physics model in Half Life 2. Once I built a car in about 90 seconds out of a couple of vending machines and some merry-go-rounds, for instance.

There's some functionality called 'Face Poser' that allows you to... pose faces however you want. I'm not sure if it allows you to animate, but check this out:

http://www.garrysmod.com/wiki/?title=Face_Poser

And here's a video where someone recreated a scene from A Few Good Men in the Half Life 2 engine:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GLbRcKhn9Z4
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ignatzmouse
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're wanting to make machinima then the software I've seen a lot of people use is The Movies, which includes the basic tools to create scenes, direct virtual actors, etc. The facial expressions are pretty primitive though.
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QtheC
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More on DAZ ... I was able to download the two files needed for the free basic version ... it comes with a Victoria doll with some fairie accessories, enough to see how a few things work. I was able to move her around, adjust her facial expression, etc. and made a single rendered image ... the thought of doing an animated scene without buying some software to automate that task looks like it would take a long time.

I will say this though, once you selected her head, there are *lots* of sliders you can adjust to change her expression, and it morphs in real time, so you don't have to do a long 'render' with each adjustment. I'm thinking a lower quality animation might be done faster just by zooming into the face, tweaking these sliders, and screen capturing to grab frames. ... but maybe there is a way to save a bunch of poses (as they are called) and render them in a long batch job to do the same thing at a higher quality. I'm sure there are lots of tricks to work more efficiently.

Anyway, here is what she looks like:

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QtheC
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I generated a quick landscape with Terragen. There are lots of plugins available from 3rd parties to modify the look of the land, water, lighting, and atmosphere. This image was created by the basic software with none of the plugins:

(download Terragen for free here http://www.planetside.co.uk/terragen/productmain.shtml ... the plugins are available under the resources section)



and the exact same scene after moving the sun and playing with the lighting/atmosphere knobs:

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QtheC
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And here, I put the faerie Victoria into the scene... adding a spotlight and pointlight in DAZ, and importing the scenery as a background...

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blahblablee
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man i really wanted to try the Gmod that McP talked about but I don't have any of the stuff needed...nor the money to get them


Edit: Thats what i get for buying halflife2 for the xbox >_<
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QtheC
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an attempt to morph the DAZ default Victoria model into a likeness of Aunt Alex (the basic download does not include a way to add similar hair)...



The eyes and mouth controls have quite a few adjustments. Strangely (I thought) there were not many ways to tweak the nose or ears, and only one adjustment to overall face shape (squareness) ... but Alex's features were fairly close to the Victoria doll model, so there is a pretty good resemblance, I think.

And here is a rough attempt to place the model into the scene:

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jobee13
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey thats awesome!

The DAZ pack was actually suggested to me (I'm interested in animation and such too) by a good friend who animates for a living, and I got the whole fairy thing going down too (unofrtunately I never really got round to doing much more with it Sad )

You could try a free trial of Macromedia Flash for some cartoony-looking animations

And I think there was a program called 3d(s)Max I used once which was pretty decent, google it Smile

But really I'm no expert Embarassed
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QtheC
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Animating the DAZ models to make a movie is pretty well supported.

I've been experimenting and was initially daunted at having to reposition the model for every frame of a video (usually 15 or 30 FPS ... that's frames per second).

But it's not that bad. First, you can get away with a lower FPS (I'm trying 8 FPS for now). Second, DAZ has "movie" rendering settings that allow you to create a "timeline" with a certain number of frames. You can pose the model at the any point in the timeline, and the software infers all the frames in between.

This is not hard to understand - it's just interpolation on each of the slider values that set the model's pose... what that means is, you can set these "key frames" carefully, then let the software infer all the transition frames between the "key frames" ... and then do a little fine tuning to add blinks, etc. where you want them.

The software can generate a video directly (I tried this and did not like the quality ... but maybe I have the wrong combination of codec, video size, etc.) or it can dump the frames as individual jpegs.

I'm going to try an animation setting key frames at about 1 per second, setting the rate of frames to 8 FPS, dumping them as individual images, and putting them together with Windows Moviemaker (1 frame per 0.125 seconds) and see how it works out.

Here is a little trial attempt (just 1 second of video):
On Photobucket:
http://s68.photobucket.com/albums/i19/QuinceTheCarpenter/LonelyGirl15/?action=view&current=AlexMovieTry2.flv

(this worked okay, but the video lost some quality when it was converted during the upload process from wmv to flv format by photobucket - I'll have to see how Revver and YouTube behave)

On YouTube: (looped 9 frames at 8 FPS 10 times)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSUo1gqZGD4

On Revver: (looped 9 frames at 8 FPS 10 times)
http://one.revver.com/watch/217073


Last edited by QtheC on Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:24 pm; edited 3 times in total
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sarahsnotebook
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

creepy and very cool!
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