Modeling for Animation | WebReference

Modeling for Animation

Modeling for Animation

By Nathan Segal. October 10, 2003.

In last month’s column, the focus was on Animation Tips and Tricks. This month, we’ll go deeper into the process of modeling for animation. With any animation project, one of the key issues is planning, which involves many steps to ensure the integrity of your project.

“One of the first things you need to think about is how the model will be used.” said Lisa Williamson, Technical Marketing Specialist for Alias Software. “This will help you understand if you need a highly detailed model because it’s going to be close to the camera.”

Note: This will determine how much time is to be spent on background elements. If they never get close to the camera, time intensive work on these models would be wasted effort. Keep it simple and use smaller textures. This will reduce your rendering time.

Williamson continued: “You also need to consider if the model will be rigged and if it will need to be lip synced. Creating a storyboard can help you define the parameters of use for your model. The storyboard will help you place your character in the scene and you have to think about how close they’ll be to the camera. For instance - if you’re not getting closer than a medium to wide shot you can model the character differently than you would in a close up scene and the storyboard will help you understand the model needs.”

More About Modeling

Other issues that you can explore with storyboarding are what types of models you need for the scene and what they need to do. You’ll discover whether you need organic shapes or not and how to design your workflow.

Before you begin the modeling process, it’s important to create sketches or collect images that will help you build your model. As a minimum requirement, you need images from the front, side and perspective. Depending on whether you’ll need to illustrate other parts of the model, you’ll need images of the back, underside and top. It’s also important to describe how the model will be used in a scene, such as doors opening, etc.

In the beginning, it can be difficult to know where to start. Over time, the process will become easier, but if you’re constantly switching between various forms, the process will change and it may feel like you’re starting over. Regardless of that, it’s important to set up a workflow at the outset. Nothing is as frustrating as spending hours on a project, only to hit a wall and find that you have to start over.

In addition, 3D is often extremely time-consuming. It’s necessary to budget this precious commodity, otherwise you can run out of time before a project is completed. Don’t get caught up in small details that will have little impact on your finished scenes.

On the issue of NURBS vs. Polygons, Williamson said: “In the past, NURBS were used mainly for organic models and polygons for hard surfaces. Today it comes down to the personal preference of the animator.”



Created: June 5, 2003
Revised: October 10, 2003