2nd Edition

Digital Character Development
Theory and Practice, Second Edition




ISBN 9781482250770
Published September 10, 2015 by A K Peters/CRC Press
304 Pages 140 B/W Illustrations

USD $78.95

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Book 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 book presents 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

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Author(s)

Biography

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.