Are Facial Expressions Universal?

clock March 12, 2017 17:53 by author EliciaT

More than any other film genre, animation transcends geographical and cultural borders. Language barriers don’t prevent viewers from enjoying an animated film or short. Animations in a foreign language or with no speaking at all can still tell a powerful and emotional story that we understand and connect to on a personal level.

 

Take Pixar shorts like Happy Feet for example. They are a global hit and they usually don’t even use words. Instead, they express clear emotions through facial expressions of characters, tone of music, and telling movements of characters.

Conveying Emotion

How do you convey emotions and tell a story without words? In part, it is the great animation and emotive movements. A slumping of the shoulder can signify that someone is sad or tired. Fidgeting with fingers or a restless pacing can signify worry or nervousness. Even the way someone walks can reveal character, emotion and even gender─men usually walk with shoulders and women walk with their hips.

Words are not always needed to show emotion. In fact, they rarely are. Researchers in emotion and human expression have been arguing for years if such emotions are the same from culture to culture, or if they’re different. For animators, especially if you want to market your animations in a global space, it is a key consideration.

Universal Expressions

Paul Ekman founded the idea that expressions are universal with his trip to the Papua New Guinea tribe in the 1970s. His test asked natives to respond to certain scenarios.

For years, Ekman led the argument that emotions were biologically-based, not culturally-based. From this, he aimed to prove that humankind is more fundamentally alike than it is different.

As an example of his research, he found that “96% of western respondents and 92% of African respondents identified happy faces.” Even more interestingly, Ekman reported accounts that blind people expressed happiness in the same way that people with sight did.

Ekman did uncover that certain groups of people, such as Chinese-Americans, were able to identify expressions in their native land of China more quickly than Americans were. From this finding, Ekman believed that cultures do dictate rules around emotional expression. However, it still remained true that a frown indicated sadness while a smile indicated happiness.

Westernized Expressions

However, scientists have found later that some facial expressions may not be as universal as others. A researcher named Maria Gendron visited remote tribes with little to no contact with the Western world and had tribe members react to certain scenarios.

What she found was unexpected. Unlike her research with Westerners, which resulted in neat piles of the same expressions, the tribe responded with multitudes of piles of expressions. This contradicts the long-held view that humans have 6 basic emotions. It also raises the question if Westernized expressions could be fundamentally different than those with no contact with the Westernized nations.

What it means for animations today?

These discoveries, contradictory or not, remind animators to keep cultural influences in mind when creating animations. It’s important to remember that facial expressions are powerful, especially when coupled with body language and movement.

If some facial expressions weren’t universal or easy to understand, then animation wouldn’t be such a global enterprise. NaturalFront’s easy to use software allows animators to focus on such expression, while letting NaturalFront do the heavy lifting.



How to Make a 3D Animation Project On a Budget

clock January 18, 2017 13:16 by author EliciaT

 

 

You have a specific 3D animation project in mind. You may have even fleshed out your ideas with concept art and storyboards. Whether you want to create a 3D animated film, a short film or a video game, you’ll need funds to support you throughout the process, from ideation to production and distribution.  

Unless you have enough cash saved to bootstrap, you’ll need to seek capital. Animated productions can be costly, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune to make a quality piece of work. These tips can help you create quality 3D projects, even on a tight budget.

1. Document your budget.

The first step to raising capital is to create a budget for you project. There are a number of financial benchmarks that can guide you in calculating your budget. The most important rule to keep in mind is that the bigger your production, usually the bigger your budget will need to be.

For example, say your goal is to create a 30-minute animated TV series similar to the popular “South Park.” Based on available data, you should allocate approximately $1 million per episode, which works out to about $45,000 per minute of animation.

The numbers are even more daunting if you would like to make a full 3D animated film, along the lines of “Frozen” or “Toy Story”. Figures show that you might need to allocate $24,156 per second of animation, or about $1.5 million per minute.

2. Be realistic and minimize costs.

Obviously, if you don’t have millions of dollars in upfront financing for your project, you have two choices to minimize costs. Either opt for as short an animation project as possible, or look for technological solutions that can drastically reduce the cost of each animated shot.

3. Use animation technology.

Most savvy animators choose the second option. Technology has increased efficiency and improved processes in every industry, including art and animation. Until recently, constructing realistic 3D facial models and animating them was a time-consuming and expensive process. Traditional methods of 3D facial animation could chew up a huge portion of your overall project budget.  

However, using unique facial animation software like NaturalFront, it’s possible to take an animation project that might take days or weeks and turn it into a process that lasts just a minute – without any need for rigging, morphing, keyframing or motion capture. In fact, once you have an image of a face you’d like to animate together with an audio track, it becomes a relatively easy process to animate and synchronize facial movements.

You can easily see why streamlining this process pays off immediately. If you can save even a few days on the animation project, you’re potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in production costs.

4. Where to get funding

Once you’ve locked down your budget and made it as trim as possible, you can start looking for sources of funding. If you’re not a major studio, you won’t have as many options to cover costs – such as reaching out to brand managers for lucrative product placements.

But, depending on the type of project and your location, government funding and grants may be available. Search for arts foundations and festivals near you. Often, arts organizations will have opportunities that artists can submit applications to and receive funding.

You can also raise money on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Tubestart. This is where animation software can also play a huge role in helping to get your project off the ground. Every great crowdfunding project needs a great reel or trailer. Using animation software like NaturalFront, you can quickly put together the footage to create a two-minute teaser video for your project.

The process of creating a 3D animation project can be expensive. However, by planning ahead, leveraging technology and tapping into the power of the crowd, it’s possible to put together an animation project that won’t break the bank or require you to max out your credit cards.



 



7 Animation Festivals to Look Forward to in 2017

clock December 27, 2016 15:43 by author EliciaT

Animation festivals are prime spots to mingle with other animators and industry leaders, learn about and test cutting-edge animation technologies and be inspired by new animations. Many festivals even offer contests and competitions for animators to show off their skills and recognize their talent. Often for busy animators, finding the time to travel and go to them can be a challenge.

Each year, there are hundreds of art and animation festivals held around the world. But, these 7 animation festivals should be at the top of your list.

1. South by Southwest (SXSW)

One of the biggest and most well-known events is South by Southwest (SXSW). The film festival portion is held in Austin, Texas from March 10-19 and honors the winners of categories like animated shorts, documentaries and more. The deadline for the 2017 admission has passed but there are many more reasons to attend the festival than to compete or celebrate the winners. It is one of the most attended events for industry leaders and features some of the most innovative animation technologies.

2. Sundance Film Festival

Another well-known and prestigious event is the Sundance Film Festival. Top film directors, writers, animators, actors and other creators gather to view and honor the best in the industry.  One of the greatest benefits of attending one of the Sundance festivals is that tickets can give you access to early film premieres as well as exclusive parties and events with industry professionals.  

The festival is taking place from January 19-29, 2017, in Park City, Utah (United States). The submission period for 2017 has already passed, but Sundance has several other international events held at different locations and times throughout the year. An international festival will also be held in London in June 2017.

3. GLAS Animation Festival

A lesser-known, yet intimate event, GLAS Animation Festival is held in Berkeley, California from March 2-5, 2017. Although smaller, it is sponsored by some top animation companies and influencers such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Brew. Also, special guests like animation legend Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) make it a can’t miss event.

GLAS Animation Festival 2016 Trailer from GLAS Animation on Vimeo.

4. Annecy International

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival takes place in Paris, France from June 12-17, 2017. The festival partners with Mifa, or the International Animation Film Market. It is a great event to make connections with networks and others that are interested in financing, selling or distributing animation content.

5. Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film

One of the top annual animation events in the world will be held in Stuttgart, Germany from May 1-7, 2017. The festival showcases film, video and computer game animation. During the event there are multiple film viewings as well as an award ceremony. You can submit an entry to the festival until January 15, 2017.

6. D23 Expo

If you are a Disney fan, which most animation enthusiasts are, D23 Expo is the place to be. Although more of a fan convention than a film festival, it showcases what is next for the world leader in animation. There are also special events with Disney filmmakers and celebrities as well as fun events like a Mousequerade costume contest. The convention will take place in Anaheim, California, from July 14-16, 2017, and tickets are on sale now.

7. VIEW Conference

The VIEW Conference will be hosted in Turin, Italy from October 23-27, 2017. The event will host some of the biggest names in animation. Here are just a few of the expected 2017 guests: Mike Mitchell (TROLLS Director), Conrad Vernon (Sausage Party Co-Director) and Byron Howard (Zootopia Director). Besides the amazing guest speakers, the conference holds animation workshops, recruitment events and a Games Bootcamp.

 



The Animated Films We Can't Wait to See in 2017

clock December 13, 2016 08:12 by author EliciaT

As a whole, the animated film release set for release 2017 may not be as exciting as 2016. But, with big successes like Zootopia, Inside Out and Finding Dory, there’s a lot of hype to live up to.

Also, a lot of major studios like Disney and Pixar are gearing up for the huge films they’ll be rolling out in 2018 and 2019. (Toy Story 4, Gigantic, The Incredibles 2, etc.) However, there are a few animated releases that have us counting down the days until we can see them in 2017.

5. Coco

If you’re annoyed by the growing number of sequels and prequels studios keep dishing out, here’s some good news: Disney Pixar is releasing a new original film called Coco. The film is inspired by the Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It follows the story of a young boy named Miguel who explores what would happen if we could actually talk to our dead family members. Lee Unkrich (aka the director of Toy Story 3) directed the film. The film premieres a little after the actual Dia de Los Muertos holiday on November 22, 2017.

4. Cars 3

 

After the horrible Cars 2 sequel and the even more disappointing spin-off, Planes, nobody was asking for a Cars 3. But, we’re getting one in June of 2017. Mostly, we are excited to figure out what was going on in that extremely dark trailer that showed Lightning McQueen crashing.  

3. Despicable Me 3

If you love animated series, then you’ll want to check out the third film in the Despicable Me franchise. The film has a new villain named Balthazar Bratt, but still has the same lovable characters that made its predecessors successful. You can watch it in theaters in late June.

 

2. Captain Underpants

The upcoming Captain Underpants movie has a release date of June 2, 2017. There are still a lot of details shrouded in mystery though. Some details that have been revealed have excited many fans of the popular comic book series that it is based on. Ed Helms and Kevin Hart are leading the cast, and it’s being animated by Mikros Image and produced by DreamWorks Animation.

2. The Lego Batman Movie

 

When The LEGO Movie came out in 2014, it was a smash hit. But, there was one character that stole the show: Lego Batman. Audiences loved the unique and comical spin on Batman so much that he’ll have his own movie in 2017. If the trailers are any indication, it is going to be amazing.

With venture animators, witty writing and clever casting choices (Billy Dee Williams is voicing Two-Face), it could be an even bigger hit than The LEGO Movie. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until February 10 to find out.

For animation lovers, there are a few gems in the 2017 release schedule to look forward to. What are your top animated film picks for 2017?

 


Is There A Skills Shortage In The Games & Animation Industry?

clock October 22, 2016 08:30 by author EliciaT

 

Think back to video games and animated movies from 5 or 10 years ago. If you take a look at the computer graphics quality of the 2003 Finding Nemo and compare it to the 2016 Finding Dory, the difference is astonishing. The same can be said for almost every film or video game series when compared to its predecessors. How has the 3D animation quality of films and games evolved so much in the span of a few years? Technology and innovative creators are revolutionizing the industry.

The requirements for a professional animator today are increasingly technical. According to a UK study, software and programming are two of the top skills needed in gaming, animation and visual effects. In fact, over half of the jobs in gaming look for coding and developing skills.

Software skills alone are a requirement for over 64 percent of positions in the animation industry and 31 percent in the video game industry.

Filling these open positions with talented workers with the right technical skills has been a difficult challenge for some. According to the same survey, 47 percent of gaming and animation employers state that finding qualified applicants with the tech skills to fill these roles has been a major hurdle.

Global Animation Outlook

From a global perspective, the skills shortage isn’t as great now as it was last year, but there's still a significant demand. In a LinkedIn report of the top skills that employers are looking for in 2016, game development went from 24 to 29 and computer graphics and animation dropped 20 slots from 17 to 37. It is also important to note that 8 of the top 10 skills were technical.

The need for professionals in the video game and film industries to have digital skills is greater than ever, because cutting-edge technology is in high demand. Creating a full length animated film or a video game often takes years at the biggest studios. Industry leaders are searching for ways to create beautiful productions more efficiently and thanks to technology it’s possible.

For instance, 3D printing has accelerated the modeling process in stop-motion. Facial animation has been one of the most challenging aspects for animators. But, software like NaturalFront’s Facial Animation Software uses advanced algorithms to make realistic and accurate facial animations. Facial models are generated in minutes by using photos of real human faces, which makes the process more efficient and lifelike. Once a facial model is created, it will have realistic animation built-in.

The game and animation industries are increasingly reliant on computer technology. As technologies evolve, studios will be on the lookout for tech savvy, creative professionals that not only keep up but innovate.



The Uncanny Valley: What It Is and How to Avoid It In Your Animation

clock September 8, 2016 21:29 by author EliciaT

 

If you are a gamer, professional animator or animation enthusiast, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the “uncanny valley”━and also, that you should avoid it at all costs. To designers and animators everywhere, the uncanny valley is something that you never want to see in your work.

What is the Uncanny Valley?

Today the term is common lingo in the art and animation industries, but it started out in a different field. The coin was termed in 1970 by Masahiro Mori, a Japanese robotics professor who studied how humans react to non-human beings.

He found that when we are exposed to increasing depictions of realism the amount of emotion or connection we feel for the non-human depiction increases. However, once the level of realism crosses a certain point, where the inanimate object becomes almost too real, we are repulsed.

The chart of the below response shows that when inanimate objects look not quite realistic, our emotional connection to them immediately drops off. Instead of these inanimate creations being perceived as life-like or realistic, they are as dead as a corpse. Furthermore, when these corpse creations are animated to move, it starts to look more like a scene from Night of The Living Dead or Resident Evil. Unless you are creating a zombie animated film or game, you don’t want your characters falling into this realm.

 

(image source: Smurrayinchester)

Why the Uncanny Valley Can Ruin Your Animations

The problem with the Uncanny Valley in animation is not that a creation is too realistic. It is that it is almost but not quite realistic. Something is off in the way a 3D model is constructed or animated that makes it creepy and off-putting to viewers. Some highly anticipated animated films like The Polar Express and Beowulf bombed at the box office and were harshly criticized because they made this fatal animation mistake.

How to Avoid the Uncanny Valley

The key in beating the Uncanny Valley is in quality modeling and animation, but also in expressive facial animations. Usually, it is in the facial expressions of computer-generated characters that the flaw becomes the most noticeable.

Don’t give the dead eye.

The phrase, “the eyes are the windows to the soul,” is more accurate than you may think. For example, psychologists and researchers have conducted several experiments that show that eye shape, movement and even pupil dilation can express a person’s emotional state. For instance, your eyes are different when you give a fake smile out of politeness than when you genuinely smile at something that you find enjoyable or funny. When animating, pay close attention to your characters’ eyes. 

Get rid of inconsistency.

The Uncanny Valley is fundamentally caused by a series of inconsistencies. For example: 

  • Inconsistency of realistic modeling and creepy animation;
  • Inconsistency of the animation of one part of the face and another;
  • Inconsistency of the 3D face animation and the expressions of our own faces.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an animation software that could eliminate these inconsistencies? This is where NaturalFront 3D face animation software can help. It creates 3D models directly from one or more photos of a real person, and realistically simulates the movement of complex facial muscles to create believable expressions ranging from sweet smiles to bitter anger. Furthermore, the software is extremely easy to use, with nearly zero learning curve.    

Lip-sync carefully.

When audio doesn’t perfectly match with an animated character it throws us off. When that animated character is also creepily realistic, it increases our repulsion even further. Lip-syncing is one of the more difficult animation tasks, but with the help of tools like NaturalFront’s 1-Click Animation, animators can upload audio to their creations and perfectly sync it to mouth movements.

Facial animations should reflect actual expressions.

One of the huge reasons why animations fall into the ugly uncanny valley is their not-quite human facial expressions. In animation, you can either be cartoonish or overly expressive or produce expressions that are so realistic and relatable that they stir emotion in viewers. Mediocre or almost there facial expressions will land you in the valley.

However, seasoned animators know that creating believable facial animations is easier said than done. Researchers have mapped more than 3,000 facial expressions that humans are capable of conveying. But professional animators may model millions of possible facial expressions for their characters. Doing all of that in a small team or on your own is nearly impossible for most. That is why NaturalFront also aims to make facial animation easier by generating a wide range of believable expressions in a matter of seconds with its Facial Animation Software and Unity Plugins.

The magic of animation is that it can allow us to create and do things that either wouldn’t be possible or poignant if done in live-action. Creating realistic animations can stir up emotional connections to a point, but it is important to know where that limit is and how to avoid crashing into it.






There Will Be a Toy Story 4: What to Expect

clock May 12, 2016 17:09 by author EliciaT

 

When the original Toy Story film was released in 1995, it revolutionized the animation industry. It was the first feature film to be created entirely by using computer animation technology. With Steve Jobs leading Pixar in its early days, the film was renowned for its technology innovation but also for its witty script, loveable characters and unsurpassed animation.

Now, over 20 years and three successful films later, the franchise has announced that it will be adding a fourth film to continue the tales of Woody, Buzz and the rest of the beloved toys.

After the neatly wrapped up and captivating ending to Toy Story 3, the possibility of a fourth film didn’t seem to be on the horizon. However, it is, and filmmakers have a huge challenge to create another film that stacks up to its predecessors. Toy Story has been one of the rare instances, in which each film━breaking box office records and receiving critical acclaim━has been a dazzling addition to the franchise.

Too often, franchises seem cursed to create sequels that are subpar or down-right terrible, especially when they keep adding more movies to the lineup. However, Toy Story 4 may be able to break the franchise curse again and delight us. Here’s why:

 

1. John Lasseter is directing again.

The famous animator and Disney executive will be the film’s director once again. Lasseter was part of the original story development team, alongside Pete Docter (Inside Out, Up) and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E). The Chief Creative Officer of Disney has always been involved in Toy Story in some way but didn’t direct Toy Story 3. This time around, Rashida Jones and Will McCormack are reported to have joined the writing team.

 

2. Woody and Buzz will be back━along with some long-lost characters.

Since the beginning, the cowboy and astronaut have led the cast, and this time is no different. Disney hasn’t revealed too many cast details, but it is known that Tom Hanks and TIm Allen will be reprising their roles. Another character that was absent during Toy Story 3 will return━Bo Peep.

Woody’s former love interest was a prominent part of the first movie but seemed to fade out in Toy Story 2 and was missing from Toy Story 3. It is assumed that the toy had the fate of so many toys and was tossed aside or given away by her owner in between. It is likely that the next movie will reveal more about what happened to Bo Peep.

3. The story is unique.

Toy Story 4 has some high expectations to meet━Toy Story 3 is the third highest grossing animated film of all time and has a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, recent reports say that the film doesn’t plan on continuing the story from where the last movie left off. Instead, it is meant to stand on its own as a love story between Bo Peep and Woody as he sets off on a journey to find out what happened to her.

After three successful works in the Toy Story franchise, a fourth film wasn’t expected. But, now that it is officially happening, the excitement of fans and animators is mounting. Toy Story 4 will be released in June of 2018.



The Most Anticipated 3D Animated Films of 2016

clock April 14, 2016 22:05 by author EliciaT

Looking at this year’s lineup of animated films, there are a number of promising titles. However, a few of the 2016 animated releases stand out from the rest. Here’s a list of the top 3D animated films to look forward to this year.

Kung Fu Panda 3

The DreamWorks Animation film is the third featuring the cuddly, karate-chopping panda Po, voiced by Jack Black. As the third installment, Kung Fu Panda 3 faces the challenge of not falling into the category of just another mediocre movie, trailing behind the success of its predecessors. However, this movie stood on its own, as creators animated it in two languages━English and Mandarin.

The storyline is not bad either. Po finally meets his biological father and visits his village with other pandas, which he must help save by training them in the art of kung fu. It is playing in theaters right now.

Zootopia

Zootopia is a 3D computer animated film by Disney’s Pixar Studios. The film takes place in a city of anthropomorphic animals. The main characters are a rabbit police officer and a con artist fox working together to find an otter that is missing. On the surface, it may sound like a simple, comedic animated flick about animals living in the big city. However, the film touches on real-world issues, such as intolerance and racism.

The animation is impressive too. Animators wanted to make sure every detail in the film was just right, specifically when it came to the fur. They studied animal hair under a microscope to aid in their animation and created unique hair types for each of the 64 animals featured in the film.

The film has surpassed expectations━it currently has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, has smashed box office records and has received widespread critical and audience praise. So far, it is the highest grossing film of the year.

The Angry Birds Movie

If you are a fan of the popular Angry Birds game, you’re probably already looking forward to the release of the animated movie. The Finnish game developer partnered with Sony Pictures to create the feature-length film. In it, the birds have more depth and story than in the game. Red, Chuck and Bomb are the three main birds that are on a mission to figure out why green pigs have invaded their island. Angry Birds fans can watch the film when it is released in May.

Finding Dory

In the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo, audiences fell in love with the lovable but forgetful Dory. This year, the film is finally getting a sequel in Finding Dory, with Ellen DeGeneres returning as the voice of the blue tang fish. This time the story focuses on Dory, as she struggles to remember her family and loved ones and embarks on a journey to find them. Along the way, she is helped by her fish friends, Hank the octopus, Destiny the whale shark and others. Marlin and Nemo make an appearance too.

However, the release of Finding Dory isn’t just exciting because it is the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo. Filmmakers also put a lot of work into it, experimenting with new animation software and techniques in order to create it. For example, animators used Renderman RIS and path tracing techniques to create more enhanced lighting effects in the water. The film opens up in theaters in June.

Moana

Another animated movie by Disney, Moana is about a girl in Oceania, who embarks on a journey at sea to get to an island━that may or may not exist. Many are looking forward to the new movie, since it is the first to feature a Polynesian princess. Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, is the voice of the demi-god Maui, while Moana is voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, a 14-year old native Hawaiian. The film is being directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Princess and the Frog) and will be their first time directing a full feature 3D computer animated film. You can check it out in theaters in late November.

 

This year, animation fans have a lot to look forward to. From animals dealing with relatable problems to cultural firsts, 2016 seems to be a promising year in animation. What animated flicks are you excited for this year?






Top Contests for 3D Animators

clock March 27, 2016 18:32 by author EliciaT

Participating in media arts and animation contests is one way to help animators share their work with others, get constructive feedback, improve their skills and maybe even make some extra cash along the way. However, there are hundreds of contests out there, some not worth the time or entrance fees. As animators time is extremely valuable, so we have picked out some of the top contests that are worth checking out.

Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

The Stuttgart competition is one of the biggest and most renowned animation events in the world. The competition runs in conjunction with the international film festival, which lasts for about six days and nights and brings animation companies and leaders from every corner of the globe. The festival doesn’t only focus on animated films either. It also has a category dedicated to computer games.

The festival takes place April 26 to May 1, 2016. Winners may have their productions showcased at the event and win a lump sum of cash.

Animation Block Party

 

If you are a young animator looking to get recognition on the east coast of the United States, then Animation Block Party could be the contest for you. The contest is international but has an entrance fee between $25 and $45, depending on when you register. The prizes aren’t as grand as some of the other contests on the list, but winners have a chance to share their media with a crowd in Brooklyn. The last day to submit your animations is June 3, 2016.

Nickelodeon Shorts Program

 

The TV network channel Nickelodeon has an annual international animation competition. The competition accepts ideas for programs and shorts that would be targeted to young kids. For animators that are in the early stages of a production, this contest may be more feasible. In order to submit their ideas, applicants must have strong visuals, which can be in the form of storyboards.

Winners receive production and development support to transform their pitches into animated shorts that may be aired on the Nick TV channel, website or mobile app. Interested applicants can view last year’s winners here. Submission is free and the deadline is April 15th.

Melbourne International Animation Festival

 

The annual festival in Australia has grown significantly since it first launched in 2001. It brings guests and entrants from all over the globe. If selected, winners are considered for other festivals like London, Sydney and New Zealand International Film Festival. The submission deadline has passed, but the festival takes place between June 21-28. 

Animayo

 

Resumen Animayo 2015 from ANIMAYO on Vimeo.

Animayo is an international festival and competition that includes animated films, video games and visual effects. It is held in different locations around the world, such as Los Angeles, Gran Canaria, Madrid and Mumbai. The application is free and winners may have their works promoted by the festival for up to five years after submission.

Animation can be a strenuous, time-consuming art form, so it is important to recognize when an individual’s hard work pays off. Participating in festivals and competitions gives animators recognition and opportunities to progress in the industry.

 



The Complete Version of the NaturalFront Unity Plugin

clock March 2, 2016 21:36 by author EliciaT

 

Earlier this month, we released the free version of the NaturalFront 3D Face Animation Unity Plugin. Now, the complete version is available to download in the Unity store. The full version gives users more freedom and offers a wide range of features that help make the animation process faster and smoother. Below are some of the main capabilities and how animators can use them in their Unity animations.

3D Avatar Creation Process

The Unity plugin revolutionizes the 3D facial animation process. Instead of spending days or weeks creating models manually, users can have a realistic, ready-to-animate facial model in seconds.

In order to generate a character with the plugin, first you need a quality headshot photo with a plain background. Upload the photo into the program, and it will prompt you to click key points on the face. Then, the program will generate a model that has around 1,000 vertices and a range of expressions, saving users hours of rigging and sculpting facial features. Creating an avatar usually takes between 15 seconds and 2 minutes with the plugin .

Synchronization and Animation

Accurate lip syncing is one of the hardest animation tasks to master. However, the Unity plugin simplifies and improves traditional lip syncing processes. After a model has been created, users can begin adding audio and synchronize it to the character’s mouth shapes and movements. Simply upload an audio file and select key points and expressions. Users can also playback the animation to ensure that the expressions and lip movements match up with the audio. Adjusting the lip sync can be done in just a few mouse clicks.

Fine Control

Some of the primary benefits that come with the complete version of the Unity plugin, are that animators have more choices and more freedom when it comes to animating facial expressions. For example, users have the ability to customize expressions by individually selecting different parts of the facial structure. This allows for animators to slightly tweak a facial animation and make it as accurate and realistic as possible.

With the complete version of the Unity plugin, animators can create facial models in seconds, synchronize audio and mouth movements, fine-tune expressions and much more. To learn more about the Unity plugin, you can watch the tutorial video that explains how to use it for facial animations. To download the Unity plugin, visit the app store here. To try the tool out first, animators can also download the free version with limited features here.





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