Class 5 is now well underway for me at AM.
Seeing as I'm still not quite ready to share my finished work on my Thief shot, I thought I might as well share this series of faces.
We were free to choose any seven facial poses we wanted, actually. But I took it as an opportunity to consolidate my understanding of "the primary colors" of expression, so to speak.
Apparently Ekman went on to add a whole bunch more "basic" emotions after these had been formalized. But they're an excellent cornerstone in the whole facial posing and animation process.
For those not familiar, the idea behind these expressions is that they have been demonstrated to be understood in all cultures, across the board. Both the exressions and the moods they communicate are therefore believed to be instinctual, part of what's written into our fundamental human nature. It's interesting to think about this, just how much of what we are is granted from the get-go. For example, if I'm not mistaken, other examples of this sort would include our ability to use and understand a tonal musical system, the ability to recognize and interpret faces, our inherently social nature, and it may be that the list just goes on and on.
This was the first bit of AM assignment work with which I used my own rigs. I think they're standing up quite well so far, I'm happy about that. They still lack contour controls for the mouths and eyes. If I get back to animating them in a meaningful way again, I'll need to attend to some of these details that could really give them final polish. But as first efforts.. not half bad. I'll point out that I spent quite a lot of time refining them, bit by bit over the course of years. It's great to dust them off and put them to some work once again.
Strengths and weaknesses: Bishop, while having some very nice fine tuning controls, still leaves me wishing for more. More wrinkleage, especially in terms of the smile crease. I find it tough to do without that, for emoting. But every rig will have limitations, and complexity is often as much as sign of poor design as something advantageous.
Aside from just having gotten access to "super Bishop", as I like to call him (Bishop 2.0, which can be made into all sorts of characters), the AM-exclusive rigs suite has now been expanded to 10 new rigs. Where to find the time to try them out? It's a very welcome development, and they're quite an interesting set of creatures. I'm particularly happy to see male characters with "meaningful shoulders" in the set. Bishop's shoulders are a bit limiting, they're so narrow as to seem almost non-existent, and don't convey much visually as a result. Or maybe it's just his big head that makes them seem that way. Anyway, nothing to complain about, not in the least. Animation Mentor's rigs are awesome, all-told, and designed specifically to take growing animators through their paces one important element at a time. All, of course, without the distractions of rigging and CG: it's all about character animation, "plain and simple" (or antithesis thereof).
Over Christmastime I did some explorations in splining. It's kind of academic, but I may share it in a future posting.