We got to work with our pals over at Tilapia Film on another cool documentary. This project was originally going to film the scientists using a standard video production crew, but because of Covid, the production couldn’t film them with a camera crew. Instead, the directors conducted interviews over Zoom and recorded those conversations using low-resolution web cameras. Once the interviews were cut down and spliced together, we used a unique rotoscope technique to animate their faces (and at times) hands.
Our technique started with drawing one key style frame per scientist in a vector paint program. In this case, since we knew we were going to animated in Toon Boom, we used that package’s native drawing tools. We then applied deformers around all of the stroke features and finally, animated the deformers to animate the face. It was still a time consuming process, but the benefit of this technique is that by deforming the image, we never lost “paint” and therefore we could combine ink and paint into one step. That innovation allowed us to save time and money. And because we still animated the deformers by hand, we maintained a real hand drawn feel. The clients loved the results and so did we. What do you think?
Here’s an example of some raw footage we were given:
Here’s Shaunna’s style frame that served as the basis for the animation rig:
And here’s the final animation. Notice how we smoothed out the jump cuts.
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