Are you ready for some more 3D deliciousness? Then, ready, set, read!
Just to recapitulate, in my previous article, I explored storytelling through the 3D motion comic style. If you haven’t read that article yet, you can rectify your situation by clicking here.
The 3D motion comic style video is pretty engaging, but I was itching to go beyond those frozen characters and put some life into them. The cure for the itch was to roll up my sleeves and get down to some serious 3D animation in Blender. And lo and behold, the characters came alive!
As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, here is the proof of concept (PoC) video. Not to mention, turn up the volume before you hit that play button because… you know why…
I devised a 14-step process to develop this video, but I am not going to bore you with that process now. Just remember the name Adobe Mixamo. I added it to my earlier mix of Blender and MakeHuman to animate the characters in this video.
Now, a little bit about Mixamo. It is an online product by Adobe, which is used for applying animations to 3D character models. According to the Adobe Web site, Mixamo is available free for anyone with an Adobe ID and does not require a subscription to Creative Cloud.
Once you import your 3D character model into Mixamo, you can search for prebuilt animations, such as walking, sitting, etc. and apply them to your model. After applying an animation, you can download the model and import it into Blender to develop your scenes.
Mixamo is a great tool for 3D character animation, because it simplifies the animation process to a great extent. In the traditional process, developers either manually animate the 3D models, which can be a tedious process, or else procure motion capture (mocap) data and apply it to the 3D models, which is not as user friendly as animating using Mixamo.
Keep in mind that lip sync and facial expressions cannot be applied in Mixamo. I applied facial expressions to the models using MakeHuman and lip sync directly within Blender.
At this point, let me segue into a related tool, also by Adobe, called Adobe Fuse. If you do not prefer to use the open source MakeHuman tool for character development, you can choose to use Adobe Fuse as an alternative. According to the Adobe Web site, for a limited time, Fuse is available as a free beta to Creative Cloud members.
Fuse is also a 3D character development tool just like MakeHuman, which is actually used to develop customized 3D characters for Photoshop projects. But, you can import these 3D characters into Blender also.
As I was developing this PoC, I noticed that Mixamo animations did not perfectly apply to the characters developed using MakeHuman. But, since both Mixamo and Fuse are under the Adobe umbrella, I believe Mixamo animations should work as intended with the 3D models developed using Fuse.
In my future work, I would like to improve lip sync of the 3D character models. I only wish there was an easier way to achieve good quality lip sync in 3D. As of now, the existing techniques are cumbersome.
I can’t wait to apply all this 3D greatness to my future projects! Your thoughts and comments on this article are welcome!
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