The First Facial and Character Animation Tip for All Animators

clock May 14, 2014 12:23 by author christpaul

Facial animation and character animation is at the heart of the Natural Front experience. The software has been created with making these complex techniques simpler and more accessible, while sacrificing none of the quality associated with the animation.

Any professional animator knows that facial modelling in particular is extremely tricky. Even for the most experienced and gifted professional animators, facial animations can be a very time consuming process to enter into. Many animators are constantly looking for facial animation tips or facial animation advice to make this process more fluid.

One of the best and most obvious pieces of character animation advice that we can give to any would-be animator, no matter how experienced he or she is, would be to get hold of the latest iteration of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software. This program has been developed, cultivated and built with the primary intention of making facial animation easier, and eliminating many of the most bothersome aspects of facial and character animation.

Focusing on the artistic side of facial animation instead of being tied down by a series of processes that are often extremely irritating is a very liberating experience for the professional animator, and it is one that can be delivered through the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software.

Aside from this, one of the best facial animation tips that anyone should bear in mind no matter how experienced and skilled they may be is to do appropriate research before you get started. This is the number one item of character animation advice offered by the two of the most accomplished exponents of 3D animation in the world.

Pixar’s directing animators Andrew Gordon and Robb Denovan state that just jumping straight into a particular sequence, scene or shot without doing research first is taking a risk. No actor would think of attempting to play a major part without research, and animators should view their discipline the same way.

A valuable character animation tip is to prepare yourself for work in the best way that suits your job and approach. Sketching, drawing, online research and video-based work are all valid ways of preparing yourself for facial animation. animators Andrew Gordon and Robb Denovan state that you should do whatever works for you and make it a habit.

Facial animation advice is not easy to come by, so we hope to dispatch many more tips on this blog in the coming months to help you with your 3D animation creations, and to get the most out of Natural Front Intuitive Pro.



Rich Text Format 3D Animations To Become Web Standard

clock May 12, 2014 15:10 by author christpaul

The Internet and the web pages that ultimately make it up are continually increasing in both quality and complexity. One of the reasons for this is the introduction of ever more sophisticated rich text content, which is producing web pages that are ever more absorbing in terms of content. Now a Swedish developer is producing advertisements that incorporate interactivity, rich 3D graphics, and HTML5 standard technology to create a genuinely impressive visage.

Complex and absorbing advertising is nothing particularly new, of course, but the promise of 3D advertising certainly is. Goo Technologies’ new ad-creation tool called Goo Create will apparently enable this new content to be produced and provide yet another field which 3D animation is apparently breaking into.

It seems just a while ago that 3D animation was still an embryonic concept, one that had a long way to go in terms of development in order to produce lifelike animations. Yet this perception has changed so rapidly that it seems that all sectors of business all over the world seem to want to incorporate this technology into its operations.

According to Goo, the Stockholm-based company intends to become the market leader in 3D web pages that are based on the WebGL and HTML5 web standards. This is still a relatively new concept, but pages will soon be capable of running rich 3D animations in web browsers with no plug-ins, and they will work with any site that supports HTML5, and its 3D animation counterpart WebGL.

It had been thought that the day when we see genuine 3D animation in such a setting was some way away, but with the technology associated with it becoming cheaper and more sophisticated simultaneously, it may be much closer than we’d imagined.

Given that the forthcoming Playstation virtual reality helmet, Project Morpheus, has been in the news recently, a device that will enable gamers to play the latest releases in vivid 3D, this seems an appropriate time for Goo to be coming to the forefront. The company began life working on WebGL and HTML5 games, and it is from this humble beginning that it first garnered a passion for 3D, and an understanding of the possibilities associated with 3D animation.

Already, Goo claims that it has successfully created the first WebGL-powered online ad. This apparently enables a user to move through a 3D scene and look at an advertisement from multiple angles.

As 3D technology becomes more prominent and affordable, there is no doubt that 3D animation will become even more popular. Although 3D animation is already a multi-billion dollar industry, the future could be brighter still for 3D animation as an art form.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro Receives Glowing Testimonials

clock May 4, 2014 11:33 by author christpaul

Our new Natural Front Intuitive Pro software has been out for some time now, so we wanted to take a little time this week to share some of the feedback that we’ve received from animation professionals all over the world. The response has been enthusiastic and gratifying, and we’re really excited about working with professional animators to produce even more mind blowing animations moving forward.

Paul Lee, the founder & CEO of Cannysage Studios in Norwalk, California, recently sent us his thoughts on Natural Front. Paul is  an animator with 15 years of professional experience in video game development and film, and praised Natural Front’s powerful 3D facial animation production. Paul added that Natural Front’s combination of power and affordability has met his needs completely. “Because of the small budget and tight deadline, having software that allows me to achieve the end result quickly is paramount. NaturalFront IntuitivePro meets our needs perfectly. Nowhere else can I find such a powerful combination of the speed of production and performance of the end result! I've developed an everyday dependency for this software in our production pipeline.”

 

Michael Bitsakis, the founder of GDRS Animation Studios in Thessaloniki, Greece couldn’t believe that a 3D animation package could deliver top quality results without utilising such industry standard techniques as rigging, morphing and motion capture. But Michael has found himself blown away by the capabilities of Natural Front, comparing its innovation to that of the first iPhone. Mr. Bitsakis particularly praised the quality of animation offered by Natural Front Intuitive Pro. “What surprised me the most was its animation – you can set a pose to whatever you like very intuitively with a few clicks, and animation is fully automated. With its export, I can instantaneously get the 3D facial animation in both Maya and Max. As the owner of a small animation studio, I have no doubt NaturalFront software can significantly lower our production time, maintain higher margins and get us more clients.”

We have also received glowing endorsements from professional animators in Japan and Italy. Mitsuru Kouzail, the President & CEO of StudioGX Inc located in Setagaya-ku,Tokyo, Japan was also effusive about Natural Front Intuitive Pro’s facial animation features, and how much time they save. Mitsuru stated that “the great thing about this software is how it substantially speeds up facial animation. I don’t think there’s any other software on the market right now than can do what Natural Front Intuitive Pro does.” While Giulia Ferrando, the Director of yLAn Studios in Peschiera Borromeo, Italy, waxed lyrical on the extent to which Natural Front Intuitive Pro speeds up the animation process. “Vastly improving production time, it's not only a must have for any professional 3d artist; it's also a game changer for less experienced 3d designers and small-to-medium studios, since it gives you a simple, solid and fast way to create and animate photo-realistic 3d faces of any kind.”

You can read full details of numerous testimonials we’ve received from professional animators on our testimonials page. Although we’re proud of the feedback we’ve received thus far, we’re constantly working on improving Natural Front Intuitive Pro, and this is achieved through a continuous feedback loop with our customers. Sign up for the software today, and you can benefit from a free thirty day trial and help us shape the ongoing Natural Front 3D animation revolution!



Natural Front Intuitive Pro 2.0 Animation Package Released to Expectant Public!

clock April 25, 2014 14:13 by author christpaul

After a lot of hard work and anticipation, we are delighted at NaturalFront that we have been able to release the next version of our NaturalFront software. NaturalFront IntuitivePro 2.0 is now live on our website, offering animators a powerful new package with which to create world-class, absorbing animations.

NaturalFront offers a great deal of animation flexibility, but the Natural Front Intuitive Pro 2.0 software is particularly adept at dealing with facial animation. This bugbear of many animators is made much easier and more intuitive with NaturalFront’s unique features and package, and there will be many a professional animator who is relieved to hear this news.

We believe that the unique technology offered by Natural Front Intuitive Pro 2.0 offers a vast and welcome departure from any other 3D facial modelling package. This is the fastest, slickest, smartest and easiest to use animation package on the market, and offered at a price which is affordable for the more moderate budget.

The new release is mainly aimed at professional animation studios, and has been designed with this market in mind. Consequently, it is possible to achieve world-class results with NaturalFront Intuitive Pro 2.0, with realistic character and facial animations a particular speciality of the software. We have built on our experience in creating facial animation software to make the process of producing 3D facial animations with our latest package even more simple and straightforward than in previous NaturalFront releases.

To encourage new users to try out this fantastic piece of software, we are offering a free thirty day trial of the new NaturalFront Intuitive Pro 2.0 edition. And as if this wasn’t enough of an incentive to find out about what Natural Front has to offer, you can even win a year’s free access to the full version if you offer us feedback and are subsequently selected as the lucky winner of our free prize draw.

NaturalFront’s curve controlled modelling offers you the opportunity to create fabulous results in an incredibly short period of time. Curve contolled modelling, a fundamental part of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro 2.0 release, makes numerous time consuming elements of 3D animation obsolete, saving you time, money and greatly assisting your animation productions.

To read more about our this latest NaturalFront Intuitive Pro 2.0 software, browse our updated website. You can download this fantastic animation package today and start taking advantage immediately of the 30 day trial offered. So what are you waiting for?



Natural Front Intuitive Pro Release Imminent

clock March 25, 2014 14:41 by author christpaul

We are very excited at the moment, as the release of the latest version of our NaturalFront software is imminent. We believe that this breakthrough technology will achieve a literal revolution in 3D facial modelling, and provide the slickest 3D animation package available, at the usual affordable price.

The world-class professional results that can be achieved with NaturalFront offers incredibly speedy animation solutions which are also intuitive and user-friendly. In this latest NaturalFront release we have built on our experience in creating facial animation software to make the process of producing 3D facial animations even more simple and straightforward than in previous NaturalFront releases.

We strongly believe that all professional animators at all levels of the ainmation industry can benefit greatly from the NaturalFront software. We are offering a free thirty day trial of the new NaturalFront Intuitive Pro edition as usual, and you can even win a year’s free access to the full version if you offer us feedback and are selected as the lucky winner of our free prize draw.

NaturalFront ensures that realistic 3D facial animation can be achieved at a fraction of the expense and time that must be invested in other approaches. With NaturalFront’s curved controlled modelling, you can produce double the work in half the time, and get incredible and absorbing results.

We have long since prided ourselves on ensuring that the NaturalFront package renders some of the most laborious animation techniques obsolete, but the new Intuitive Pro version achieves this even more profoundly. With NaturalFront Intuitive Pro there is no need for rigging, no need for morphing, no Need for key-framing and no need for motion capture. We’re sure that professional animators will be rubbing their hands with glee at that prospect!

Another unique element of NaturalFront is that we adapt and evolve the software on a lightning fast and ongoing basis based on your direct feedback. We value our customers extremely highly, and a continual feedback loop is at the heart of NaturalFront’s ethos.

We pride ourselves on this interactive approach – if you see something you'd like added to, or changed within, NaturalFront let us know - because we can usually get your idea created and updated quickly. And if we can’t, we will work tirelessly to do so in the medium-term. We greatly value our users and their feedback and consider our users as more than customers, rather we view all NaturalFront users as a genuine community helping build the software together.

To read more about our NaturalFront Intuitive Pro software, browse our website, or you can download a beta version if you want to check out the 30 day trial.

 



New Chinese 3D animation to debut in Europe

clock January 7, 2014 04:15 by author christpaul

In an indication of the growing importance of the 3D animation genre, the first Chinese 3D animated feature length film ‘Boonie Bears’ (Chinese name: Xiong Chumo) is to hit screens all over the Western world in due course.

This new 3D animated picture has been produced by Fantawild Animation Inc., Mr. Cartoon Pictures, LEVP and Zhujiang Film. The storyline of the movie is centred around the relationship between two bear characters, with the main character Vick altering his relationship with an antagonist from enemy to friend as the pair go off in the search of lost treasure. 

Precedent already exists for this particular 3D animation, as ‘Boonie Bears’ already exists as an animated television series which is broadcast on Central China Television. The ‘Boonie Bears’ universe is set within an animated forest, and the storyline generally involves the heroes of the cartoon attempting to prevent the aforementioned Vick from attempting to cut down trees within the forest. ‘Boonie Bears’ was first shown in February 2012 and has become the most popular children's show in China, hence the fact that the makers have decided to produce a full length 3D animation of the television series.

There are similarities between the plot of the ‘Boonie Bears’ and a popular American cartoon series, ‘The Raccoons’, which centred around an elderly industrialist who also was obsessed with deforestation.

 

The worldwide animation market has grown over the last couple of decades, to the point today where it is quite simply one of the most important cinematic markets. Not only has the marketplace grown exponentially over the last few years, it it also predicted to grow rapidly in the near future as well. The global animation market is expected to grow from $122.20 billion in 2010 to $242.93 billion by 2016. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 12.94% from 2011 to 2016.

It is in such a culture that Natural Front was created in order to take advantage of the huge amount of interest in 3D animation. The huge amount of 3D character animation that is produced today is of particular relevance and interest to Natural Front, given that its curved-controlled modelling is particularly focused on making facial animation more intuitive and less expensive.

With facial animation the most time consuming and laborious element of 3D character animation, and consequently usually the most expensive, Natural Front’s technology enables you to create the highest quality 3D animations possible while saving you the rigmarole of some of the most labour intensive animation techniques. It really is something you must check out if you’re a professional animator looking to create world-class facial animations.



The Key Landmark in 3D Character Animation

clock November 25, 2013 11:20 by author christpaul

3D animation has become one of the most popular cinematic genres in the world in an incredibly short period of time. It is difficult to think of such a meteoric rise in popularity of a singular genre, but this description of the ascent in prominence of 3D animation would be entirely appropriate. It is less than twenty years ago that this approach to animation first really reaches a mass market, when Disney’s ‘Toy Story’ made over ten times its budget. This was the beginning of an industry that was to become a billion dollar success story.

Disney, a corporation naturally associated with its classic 2D animated films, did produce more two-dimensional animated movies after ‘Toy Story, and some of them such as ‘Pocahontas’ reached an audience and remain well-known. But there is no doubt that today the sole focus of animation, in the cinema at least, is on the 3D genre. 3D animation has quite simply become the industry standard, a global industry which was worth over $200 billion in 2012.

Of course, while this new commercially successful genre is viewed as a massive opportunity by major players such as Dreamworks and Disney themselves, there is no doubt that 3D animation also poses problems as well as prospects. The main issue which professional animators have with 3D animation is that it is more demanding in every respect. It costs more, it takes more time, it requires more skill from animators, and it is considerably more labour intensive, despite the assistance provided by computers.

Thus, although 3D modelling techniques can achieve incredible lifelike results, this comes at a cost. It costs time, it costs money, and it costs human endeavour. This is where Natural Front comes in. Natural Front offers powerful 3D modelling technology, which will appeal to professional animators as it is capable of producing the highest quality results. But it also encompasses unique and radical technology which can help save professional animators a hell of a lot of time and effort when crafting their creations.

The approach of Natural Front to 3D character animation is extremely innovative, but also intuitive to ensure that those who are working with it for the first time can pick up its powerful features quickly. Natural Front includes a brand new technique called curved controlled modelling, which allows professional animators to negate such time consuming techniques as 3D rigging, morphing targets, and blending shapes.

Natural Front delivers a package that is particularly adept at producing high-quality facial animations; a particularly expensive and involving, yet important, part of 3D animation. Natural Front will enable you to produce the highest quality of facial animations, yet also makes the process far easier for professional animators. It really is an excellent piece of software, and one that won’t make too big a dent in your wallet.

So why not check out what Natural Front can do for you today?



Why 3D Morphing Isn’t Necessary For 3D Facial Animation

clock October 11, 2013 23:13 by author MattW

3D morphing is one of the most used forms of 3D animation technologies. It allows animators easy access to complex and simple motions that just can’t be done by 3D rigging. On the other hand, it isn’t the best option for every situation. For example, while it is often used for facial animation, it isn’t the best option. So what makes 3D morphing so bad for facial animation?

Why is 3D Morphing a Bad Bet for 3D Facial Animation?

There’s no doubt that 3D morphing has its uses. It is one of the premier animation technologies. It just isn’t as good for facial animation as it is for less complex animations. 3D morphing works by creating a series of poses of an object that are outside of its neutral position. These poses, or blend shapes, are then blended together in rapid succession to create movement.

This is fine for movements that are fairly large scale, or that don’t need to be that precise. With 3D facial animation, animators need to be able to control the smallest movement of the muscle underneath the skin in order to create the motion of facial expression. 3D morphing can do this, of course, but it requires a ton of morph targets in order for it to work. That means that the animator needs to create and manage every single target, and then use them as they correlate to the other targets and the neutral expression. This is time consuming and just plain difficult to do. Curve Controlled Modeling is a much better option.

What is Curve Controlled Modeling?

The better option is called Curve Controlled Modeling (CCM). This is a 3D animation process that uses complex calculations to simulate the movement of underlying muscle. It is designed specifically to control objects that have multitudes of movement positions. It uses complex data curves called Non-uniform rational B-spline or NURBs. These are complex equations that calculate and display the position of each muscle in the face, as well as their complex interaction.

Why is it Better?

CCM is better because it allows animators to have full control over the complex movement of the face without having to spend a ton of time setting up morph targets for every potential facial expression. This means a lot less time spent on the animation, and more control while it is being produced. Obviously, the complex the animation is, the more time CCM can save you.

Conclusion

The best way to do an animation is as simply as possible. The fewer points of stress on an animation, the easier it will be to finish and the better it will look when it is finished. 3D morphing does offer benefits, and can be used for 3D facial animation, but since it requires so much work, it makes the animation process much more complex. With CCM, you can make the animation much less complex by focusing on animation techniques meant to be used on complex movements. 




What is 3D Morphing?

clock October 11, 2013 23:11 by author MattW

There are several branches of animation technology out there, each one with a specific situation where it is the best option available. One of those technologies is called 3D morphing, also known as blend shapes or morph target animation. It is usually used in concert with 3D rigging to achieve more complex animations. So, what is it, and what is it good for?

What is 3D Morphing?

3D morphing is fairly easy to understand. It is a method of animation where there is a neutral position, and several “target deformations” or morphs. The software and animator then use those morphs to transition between movements. This can be done between just the neutral position and one target deformation or the neutral position and several target deformations, depending on the complexity needed.

Basically, think about it like striking a pose. Each morph target is a separate pose, which the animator can blend and switch between to simulate movement. This can be done on a large or small scale. The smaller the scale, the more morph targets (generally) the animator will need to use.

3D morphing is great for animations that do not require a skeletal structure, which is why it is often used in concert with 3D rigging. The rig will take care of the motion of the major parts of the 3D object, while 3D morphing will animate the smaller aspects of the object that are outside of the rig’s control. For example, you could set up a rig that moves the legs and arms of the object. Then, in order to simulate a pin pick on the skin, you would use 3D morphing to do the motion of the skin as it is being pricked.

What is it Used For?

3D morphing is primarily used for non-skeletal animation. It is great for animating things like cloth and skin. It’s good for these things because it is capable of animating “positions” of objects that aren’t tied down to a skeletal structure. It is also for this reason that it is often used for facial animation. It isn’t the best choice for that since it requires a ton of work in order to get right, since the face is capable of many minute facial expressions, which require a ton of morph targets.

3D morphing is also used for environment animation. For example animating the movement of leaves on a tree, or the breeze blowing through a woman’s hair. The motion of these things is basically several positions being switched between and blended very quickly to simulate movement.

Conclusions

3D morphing is one of the most useful types of 3D animation. It allows animators to process objects that are outside the skeletal structure of an object, and allows them minute control over the movements of the objects it is applied to. That means that it is good for both complex and simple animations. In an upcoming article, we’ll talk about the downside of 3D morphing when it comes to 3D facial animation.

 



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