Digital Character Development: Theory and Practice, Second Edition, 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Digital Character Development

Theory and Practice, Second Edition, 2nd Edition

By Rob O'Neill

A K Peters/CRC Press

304 pages | 140 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2015-09-10
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Description

Digital characters are a driving force in the entertainment industry today. Every animated film and video game production spends a large percentage of its resources and time on advancing the quality of the digital characters inhabiting the world being created. This bookpresents the theory and practice behind the creation of digital characters for film and games using software-agnostic descriptions that apply to any animation application. It provides insight from a real production environment and the requirements that such an environment imposes.

Digital Character Development: Theory and Practice, Second Edition covers the following key topics that are valuable to professionals across a wide spectrum of disciplines:

  • Evolution and history of digital characters, which is critical to understanding the theory and techniques behind how characters are developed
  • Contemporary issues, such as the "Uncanny Valley" phenomenon, that affect character design decisions
  • Process of building characters: anatomical considerations, character motion systems, deformation (muscle and skin) systems, facial setup, and rig synthesis and construction
  • Animation technology: keyframe strategies, curve interpolation, motion capture, procedural animation, artificial intelligence, crowd simulations, and interactive characters
  • Future of digital characters, including research questions that remain outstanding and the challenges for work beyond them

The second edition of this book has been significantly updated to reflect the latest trends and innovations in digital character development. It includes interviews with 15 leading character development professionals that provide unique insights into the challenges and ingredients for success in this field. With rich illustrations and visual code examples throughout, this book provides a comprehensive roadmap to character development for both professionals and students.

Table of Contents

AN INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL CHARACTERS

Overview

Overview of This Book

Defining Digital Characters

Roles in the Creation of Digital Characters

Conclusion

Further Reading

Contemporary Issues Related to Digital Characters

Viewer Perception and the "Uncanny Valley"

How do Style and Use Dictate Setup?

Case Studies in the Psychology of Digital Characters

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Josh Carey, Rigging Supervisor, Reel FX Creative Studio

Bio

Q&A

History of Digital Characters

Introduction

The Evolution of Digital Characters

History of Digital Characters in Films

Overview of Digital Characters in Interactive Media

Further Reading

Interview: Tim McLaughlin, Associate Professor and Department Head, Department of Visualization, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University

Bio

Q&A

Character Technology and Code

Commonalities between Software

Programming and Scripting

Presentation of Algorithms in This Book

Further Reading

Interview: Daniel Dawson, Lead Character Technical Director, DreamWorks Animation

Bio

Q&A

CHARACTER TECHNOLOGY

Introduction to Character Technology

Nomenclature

The Pipeline for Digital Character Creation and Maintenance

Surface Types of Geometric Meshes

Modeling Concerns for Animation

Modeling Concerns for Video Games and Real-Time Engines

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Wade Ryer, Character Technical Director

Bio

Q&A

Anatomy for Character Setup

Character Motion Systems and Anatomy

Anatomical Direction

Anatomical Terms of Motion

Joint Mechanics

Comparative Anatomy

Further Reading

Interview: Lee Wolland, Character Technical Director, Consultant

Bio

Q&A

Motion Systems

Matrices and Joints

Joint Rotations

Rotation Order

Euler versus Quaternions

Joint Naming and Placement

Joint Hierarchies

Anatomically Influences Hierarchies

Constraints and High-Level Control

Forward and Inverse Kinematics

Dynamics and Simulation

User Interface and Visualizing the Motion System

Real-Time Engine Concerns

Conclusion

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Cara Malek, Character Technology Body Lead, DreamWorks Animation

Bio

Q&A

Deformation Systems

Physiology of Muscles

The Polygonal Model as Skin

Deformation

Skinning and Enveloping

The Deformation Rig and Pipeline

Deformers

Layered Deformation Methods

Shape Interpolation

Dynamics and Simulation

Spring Mesh and Relaxation Deformation Methods

Deformation Order

Real-Time Engine Concerns

Conclusion

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Robert Helms, Lead Character Technical Director, DreamWorks Animation

Bio

Q&A

Face Setup

Introduction

Anatomy

Psychology behind Facial Expressions

Face Shape Library

Emotions through Face Shapes

Visemes and Lip Syncing

Eyes

Interfaces for Facial Animation

Dynamics and Simulation

Real-Time Engine Concerns

Conclusion

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Nico Scapel, Creative Director, Faceshift

Bio

Q&A

Rig Synthesis

Introduction

The Rig in a Scene

Motion System Inventory

Deformation System Inventory

Face System Inventory

Documentation

Real-Time Engine Concerns

Conclusion

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Stephen Mann, CG Supervisor, Shade VFX

Bio

Q&A

Rig Construction

Introduction

Rig Building Blocks

Referencing

Build Systems

Example Build System: The Arm Module

Constructing Deformations

Animation Data Transfer

Variation Systems

Rig Publishing

Conclusion

Exercise

Further Reading

ANIMATION TECHNOLOGY

Introduction to Animation Technology

Definitions of Animation

Integration of Animation Techniques

Interfaces for Animation

Further Reading

Interview: Javier Solsona, Senior Character Technical Director, Sony Imageworks

Bio

Q&A

Traditional Animation Techniques

Classic Principles of Animation

Curves and Interpolation

Driving Versus Driven Motion

Clip-Based Animation

Sound

Real-Time Engine Concerns

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Stephen Candell, Lead Character Technical Director, DreamWorks Animation

Bio

Q&A

Motion Capture

Marker-Based Motion Capture

Motion Capture Data Cleanup

Skeletal Solvers

Pipelines for Motion Capture

Motion Retargeting

Marker-Less Motion Capture

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Brad Clark, Character Technical Director, Consultant

Bio

Q&A

Procedural Animation

Functions to Control Movement

Scripted Animation and Procedural Actors

Using Physics to Control Movement

Behavioral Animation

Artificial Intelligence

Crowds and Variation Systems

Hair and Clothing

Exercise

Further Reading

Interview: Terran Boylan, Lead Character Technical Director, DreamWorks Animation

Bio

Q&A

Case Studies in Character Interactivity

"Alphawolf" (2001) By the Synthetic Characters Group at the MIT Media Lab

"Tartarus" (2006) By Alan Price

"Moviesandbox" (On Going) By Friedrich Kirschner

Further Reading

Interview: David Hunt-Bosch, Rigging Tech Art Lead, Bungie

Bio

Q&A

CONCLUSIONS

The Frontiers of Digital Character Development

Further Reading

Interview: Ken Perlin, Professor, Media Research Laboratory, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University

Bio

Q&A

About the Author

Rob O’Neill is a Character Technical Director Supervisor at DreamWorks Animation. Prior to joining DreamWorks, he was an Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute where he was Director of the Digital Arts Research Lab, and a founding partner of Kickstand Animation.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COM012000
COMPUTERS / Computer Graphics
COM012040
COMPUTERS / Programming / Games