Hey, it's a blog! This blog exists because I posted a rudimentary test I did of a new "ephemeral rig" technique, and so many people were interested in it that I thought an in-depth examination of my ideas would be something people might also be interested in. And because I'm working on something that might become a SIGGRAPH (or wherever) presentation anyway and trying out some of these concepts in a public forum might help me whittle them down to the important bits.
I'll be expanding on the basic concepts in future posts, but the idea here is to approach CG animation in a way that reduces the complexity and time-consuming nature of the process and lowers it's cost, but makes the artist's contribution more direct and meaningful.
When I tell people I'm trying to make animation easier, they mostly at first assume I'm planning some sort of procedural system that tries to automate much of the animation process, but I'm actually doing the opposite. I'm trying to take out a lot of automation, and make the process of creating animation more direct. Within the right stylistic context, this can produce huge production speed gains.
The first real test of these ideas was on a production called The New Pioneers in 2016, directed by Chris Perry as a test for a television or film production.
I've been very gratified that The New Pioneers has been frequently mistaken for drawn animation. In fact all the character animation here is CG, and it was done with a tiny crew. I'd say I did about 60% of the animation myself, including some of the most difficult scenes--Mynn running up the tower, throwing her spear, and much of the monster--working part time over the course of about four months. The production as a whole took about five months, and never had more then four artists working at the same time. For a Cartoon Brew article last year, I put together this video showing how the process worked at that time:
Now, this was really just the first test of some aspects of the process I'm envisioning, and we hit plenty of snags and found plenty of areas where further research is needed. The animation quality isn't quite where it would need to be for a feature production, but it's a strong first step.
This blog is about how I'll take the next steps.