Subtlety in the Face

In 3d animation, every detail can be seen. It is those small details that add a layer of complexity to our work and I wanted to talk a little about what interests me when I am trying to get that in my work. First off, not every scene calls for the smallest facial twitch. Sometimes many scene are basic and money spent on tiny details is lost. It is in those close ups that you want to add the proper amount of detail. I remember being an animator on a bugs life. John Lassiter wanted us to look at a film clip of two different eyes blinks on flick. One was a standard eye blink. It looked much like a camera shutter opening and closing. Not much ease out, the timing was the same and in general, when seen at such high rez, looked mechanical. The next example was a shot Mark Oftedahl did. The blinks he did were beautifully timed. The sides dragged , the shapes changes. They were perfectly polished and looked fleshy. Nowadays, this type of stuff is much more in the main stream of high end 3d feature animation, but back then it really opened our eyes (no pun intended). So what is in effect left in the realm of facial animation? Where can we push too? What improvements can we make? I think some of the answers lie in subtle animation. Yes, we work in a medium of exaggeration, but also one that lets us layer in detail. Of course, some of the examples I want to give are from the world of live action. Lets do a little action analysis of some of these clips…

First, lets just look at some of the “controls” our face has…

Interesting clip…. That one made the rounds in the department…

This next clip from “There Will Be Blood” Shows a lot of facial details that really add to the acting and intensity of Daniel Day Lewis’s performance. Its the stuff he does between his lines that draws you in. How he pushes his lips up, the changes and micro expression. Its a great movie to watch for acting as well as everything else.

That’s all for now. Look for some more stuff coming soon.

-Andrew