Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Even though these two paintings have the same subject, still life, they have totally different characters. The bottom one has very calm and stable atmosphere, but the top one looks more aggressive than the bottom one. It even looks sort of depressed. I wanted to say here is characters doesn't have to have a body and face. Everything around us can be characters. Colors, motions, shapes... can be elements of characters.

Gesture-based interfaces

With digital convergence, gesture-based interfaces are becoming a reality, wherein hand or other gestures by the user drive software instead of a mouse and keyboard. A popular example in film was the interface in Minority Report, but real systems like that are now being prototyped. The Wii is an example of a practical system using gesture-based input.

Some systems also use force feedback or haptics to give the user tactile feedback as he or she navigates around the interface.

It is only a matter of time before animation tools get gesture based interfaces, which would give an oddly reflexive element to animating - you animate gestures in software with other gestures. The tool below is an example of existing technology, and demonstrates the proof of concept, though there is still some way to go before the technology is cheap, portable and intuitive enough to use for the animator.

I've worked on some research projects that involved gesture based interfaces myself, such as the one below which was a 3D environment navigation application driven by a user wearing special gloves.

More information at:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Expanding Motion Capture

Motion capture provides the artist with interpolation curves for all the bones in a simplified human skeleton. The resulting data can be both manipulated and weaved with other interpolation data from a variety of sources. In the first example that I created the firefighter leans forward while reaching out (keyframed) before being blown back (rigid body simulation).

The example above demonstrated a simple switch from a motion I keyframed to a dynamic simulation that was generated. This next example will demonstrate more of a weaving between keyframed, simulation, and motion capture performance data.

The ability to expand a motion capture performance beyond the motion capture stage and the limitations of the human performer while maintaining a sense of realism and fluidity is without limit.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gesture, Culture and Mirror Neurons

Image taken from

One of my earlier posts listed instances of communities that spontaneously came up with micro-languages based on gesture because of their inability to communicate via speech.

But how closely are gesture and culture related?

I recently came across an interesting study by Istvan Molnar-Szakacs and Dr. Marco Iacoboni that examines the relationship between gesture and culture using a specific type of brain cell known as a "mirror neuron". According to the article, these neurons "fire not only when an individual performs a particular action but also when he or she watches another individual perform that same action. Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the mechanism by which we can read the minds of others and empathize with them."

By measuring brain activity, the scientists found was that American subjects showed higher responsiveness to either American, Nicaraguan or completely meaningless gestures when performed by an American as opposed to the same gestures when performed by a Nicaraguan. In other words, we are programmed to respond more to our own cultural or ethnic "in-group", leading the scientists to surmise that "our brain mirrors people, not actions".

Since the perceived culture of the performer affects our interpretation of gestures, there is a cultural component to gesture. The strength of this connection is still unclear from the article I read, but would determine the impact on animation as it becomes an increasingly cross cultural medium.

Summary Of Dance and Robot Choreographer, Margot Apostolos

Highlights from Margot Apostolos's presentation on Dance and Robot Choreography. Examples of Margot's Robot Choreography are displayed and dissected by Margot as they relate to her experiences in Dance and how they relate to animation. Margot presents her experiences in conveying robot movements into smooth, more graceful and dance-like portrayals, focusing on her efforts of constructing key-frames and in-between keys in her programming to allow the robots to move along curved paths of motion.......a very important idea in conveying fluid natural motion in character animation.

Deconstructing Character Choreography and Thoughts On How Motion Capture Is Receive In The Dance Community

Margot discusses some interesting thoughts on communicating gesture and motion in her dance students. She hopes her students will plan to choreograph their own performances by de-constructing their dance choreography to express their "Movements as Sentences, and your Steps as Words" to convey, successfully, the message of their character gestures and motions through dance performance.

Margot also discusses her experiences with working with Motion Capture technology to create an interacting dance performance between motion captured character performers and live action dancers performing together and how her experiences have shown that many dancers feel hesitant or reluctant to share the stage with a screen projected motion capture character, performing the same dance choreography.

Panel Discussion About Disecting Dance Motions And Gestures From The Point Of Views Of A Dance Choreographer, Traditional 2-D Animators, And A 3-D C.G

In this video the discussion is presented to a panel of Character Animation specialists, A Dance and Robot Choreographer (Margot Apostolos), Two Disney Animators (Andreas Deja and Tom Sito), and a Sony Imageworks 3-D Animator (Maks Naporowski). The discussion is based on the question of how dance motions and gestures are conveyed in choreographed dance to elicit a successful movement of emotion, and if these same guidelines or principles of successful motion are used to critique the success of an animated movement in the choreography presented through the character animation performance.

The Yungang Grottoes

I think this is a example of gesture that is serious and holy. The Yungang Grottoes is influenced by Buddhist religion, the shape and line of the sculpture is clean. The sculpture makes me feel I am just only a small part of this world.

The folling artical is from Wikipedia
The Yungang Grottoes (simplified Chinese: 云冈石窟; traditional Chinese: 雲崗石窟; pinyin: Yúngāng Shíkū) are ancient Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the Chinese province of Shanxi. They are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture and one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites of China. The others are Longmen and Mogao.
The site is located about 16 km south-west of the city, in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains. The grottoes were mainly constructed in the period between 460-525 AD during the
Northern Wei dynasty. They are an outstanding example of the Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. All together the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site The Yungang Grottoes is considered by UNESCO a "masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art... [and] ...represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

East Asian calligraphy

I think it is very interesting. In Chinese language,the evolution of some character are formed by the gesture itself. it's called hieroglyphic.Gesture can represent something and it is meaningful. It helps people to remember it easily. The following artical is from Wikipedia--
Asian calligraphy typically uses
ink brushes to write Chinese characters (called Hanzi in Chinese, Hanja in Korean, Kanji in Japanese, and Hán Tự in Vietnamese). Calligraphy (in Chinese, Shufa 書法, in Korean, Seoye 書藝, in Japanese Shodō 書道, all meaning "the way of writing") is considered an important art in East Asia and the most refined form of East Asian painting.
Calligraphy has also influenced
ink and wash painting, which is accomplished using similar tools and techniques. Calligraphy has influenced most major art styles in East Asia, including sumi-e, a style of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese painting based entirely on calligraphy.
Historical evolution of Eastern calligraphy
Ancient China
ancient China, the oldest Chinese character we still have are Jiǎgǔwén characters carved on ox scapula and tortoise plastrons, while brush-written ones have decayed over time. During the divination ceremony, after the cracks were made, the characters were written with a brush on the shell or bone to be latter carved, perhaps by a separate individual and in a specific workshop (Keightley, 1978).
With the development of
Jīnwén (Bronzeware script) and Dàzhuàn (Large Seal Script) we continue to see "cursive" signs. Moreover, it is evident that each archaic kingdom of current China had its own set of characters.
Imperial China
Imperial China, the graphs on old steles — some dating from 200 BC, and in Xiaozhuan style — are still accessible to us.
220 BC, the emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first to conquer all Chinese basin, imposed several reforms, among them Li Si's character uniformisation, which created a set of 3300 standardized Xiǎozhuàn characters. Despite the fact that the main writing implement of the time was already the brush, few papers survive from this period, and the main examples of this style are on steles.
Then, the
Lìshū style (clerical script) which is more regularized, and in some ways similar to modern text was then developed.
Kǎishū style (traditional regular script) — still in use today — is even more regularized. It can be seen that the Kaishu shape of characters 1000 years ago was mostly similar as that at the end of Imperial China. But tinies slides have be made, in example in the shape of 广 which is not absolutely the same in the Kangxi dictionary of 1716, than in modern books. The Kangxi and current shapes have tiny differences, while current stroke order is still the same, according to old style.
simplified Chinese script was created by the Chinese communist government after World War 2, in order to promote simplification of writing and increase the literacy rate. Simplified script is often considered a corruption of general Hanzi text and is not used in calligraphy.
Cursive styles and hand-written styles
Cursive styles such as
Xíngshū (semi-cursive or running script) and Cǎoshū (cursive or grass script) are "high speed" calligraphic styles, where each move made by the writing tool is visible. This styles especially like to play with stroke order rules, creating new visual effects.
Native writers, moreover, create their own style and stroke order rules to ease and speed their own use, which imply wide variations in the resulting character shapes from one word and one writer to the same word by another writer (and other stroke order/shape).

Glove puppetry

this is traditional puppetry in Taiwan.The gesture and color is dramatic and vivid, because that the original idea is from local opera.There are some kung fu actions. the gesture is acting by the hand.Combine the gesture and dress and voice, I can feel the character.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sun Wukong puppet in pò·-tē-hì.
Glove puppetry (
POJ: pò·-tē-hì; Chinese: 布袋戲; pinyin: bùdàixì), also known as budai mu'ouxi, shoucao kuileixi, shoudai kuileixi, chang-chung hsi (pinyin: zhǎngzhōngxì), xiaolong, or zhihuaxi is a type of local opera using cloth puppets that originated during the 17th century in Quanzhou or Zhangzhou, in China's Fujian province, and has been historically practiced in Quanzhou, Zhongzhou, Chaozhou in Guangdong, Taiwan, and other parts of southern China. The puppet's head uses wood carved into the shape of a hollow human head, but aside from the head, palms, and feet, which are made of wood, the puppet's torso and limbs consist entirely of cloth costumes. At the time of the performance, a gloved hand enters the puppet's costume and makes it perform. In previous years the puppets used in this type of performance strongly resembled "cloth sacks," hence the name, which literally means "cloth bag opera."
Glove Puppetry performances
Glove Puppetry (Pò·-tē-hì) performances, similar to those other types of
Chinese opera, are divided into a first half and a second half show. During the first half, known as the "show platform" (戲台), the audience is shown a demonstration by a master puppeteer on the stage. The second half consists of the puppet master, the orchestra, and the spoken parts. Several key points of a show to be appreciated include: the dexterity of the master puppeteer's manipulation of the puppet, the accompaniment of the orchestra, and the poetic spoken parts of the voice actors. With few exceptions, from traditional pò·-tē-hì to modern performances, human vocal music and operatic singing is rarely heard.

Character gesture

This is the character gesture which I apply in chinese art.I did this painting in my undergraduate.It's a delicate painting.I use chinese ink to draw. I want to transmit ponder feeling from the gesture.

Tom Sito speaking

summary:(1)Facial expression is very important to the personality of the character.(2)Every scene means something to the character.(3)Animation has many different techniques.No matter what techniques we use,the performance is the most important concept.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Miwa Matreyek

Miwa Matreyek's work (which was presented recently at the department's Redefining Animation symposium) stands at an interesting juncture between animation and performance. Typically, an animator performs through the animated character, but in Miwa's case, she performs with the animation. Thus, for example, she interacts with projected animation during her live performance.
In a sense, her work questions the distinctions we create between live-action and animation (and even different forms of animation), and invites us to think only about the performance, echoing the comments of our guest speakers this semester.

Here is a video of her at Platform Int'l Animation Festival this year:

Check out for more.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

character emotion change

It's pretty embarrassing to upload this footage, because it was almost my first character animation test- the actual first character animation was character bouncing ball. But the reason I'm uploading this footage is I think it could be a good example of changing emotion and status of a character. Well... enjoy.

Andreas Dejas speaking

1. Good, fancy drawing is just a minor element for a great character animation; good performance and acting are the most important.
2. Animators should understand the inside of the characters- what's in the character's brain and heart.
(We'd be better study about the character before we really start animating.)
3. Animators should love their characters; animators should have honor and responsibility on the characters.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Applying Data

Applying motion capture data is relatively simple. After capturing the data during the shooting process, and reconstructing the data (filling interpolation gaps), one only needs to take the resulting c3d data and apply it to a specifically named character skeleton. In the example I created (above) it shows a character comprised of 2D surfaces being driven by a skeleton with motion capture data applied.

This example shows the same character holding a torch with a fire particle emitter parented to the tip.

Capturing Data

This is an example of a motion capture shoot. As you can see I'm wearing a suit with markers. I'm standing in a volume surrounded by twenty 4-mega pixel cameras that are shooting 120FPS. When shooting motion capture performances, the performer assumes a T-pose before and after the performed action to aid the next process which is data reconstruction. As you can hear I like to make my own sound effects to enhance the performance.

Maks Naporowski & Motion Capture

During Maks Naporowski's presentation regarding motion capture he made two key points:

1. (Patriot) - When in the pursuit of authentic motion use performers who are trained to move in the desired fashion.
2. (Spiderman) - Despite the design / limitations of the character being driven by the motion capture data, the data will indicate the source performer's design / limitations. Spiderman was keyframed because the motion needed to be super-human and nothing less.